This healthy, high fiber, versatile recipe tastes great with any fruit combination – whether you’re in the mood for banana muffins, pumpkin coffee cake, mixed berry cobbler, strawberry rhubarb muffins, peach cobbler, or apple cranberry coffee cake – and can easily be made completely allergen free: gluten free, dairy free, soy free, egg free, nut free, etc. Depending on your mood, you can make muffins, cobbler, or a streusel-topped coffee cake utilizing whatever fresh or frozen fruit you have on hand. I make some variation of this recipe at least once a week for our family’s breakfast because it’s such a healthy and delicious way to start the day, and keeps us full all morning when served alongside some eggs, sausage or Greek yogurt.
Not only is this recipe 100% whole grain – a rarity in gluten free baking – it’s full of other good-for-you ingredients like 2 types of fruit, heart-healthy canola oil, and cinnamon, which has made headlines recently for its myriad health benefits. Because I use cinnamon, vanilla, lots of fruit, and brown sugar instead of white sugar (since the molasses in brown sugar adds a little more flavor without adding more sugar), I’m able to use very little sugar and salt without sacrificing flavor. (To find out why we limit sugar at breakfast, read this post.)
There are so many different ways to use this basic recipe that I like to make extra mixes and put them in resealable bags or containers for busy mornings or trips. When our family drove to Chicago last summer, I added Ener-G brand egg replacer to the dry mix, so all I had to add at the hotel (which had an oven) was the oil, individual applesauce cup, and 1 T. water. So easy! The cinnamon and ascorbic acid from the commercial applesauce act as natural preservatives, so the breakfast snack cake kept for an entire week in the fridge/cooler without spoiling. And the high fiber breakfast kept us from experiencing the – ahem – “sluggish digestive system” that typically comes with traveling.
Cranberry Apple Breakfast Cake with Pecans
All you need to do is assemble the basic recipe that follows and take note of a few suggestions for some of the variations. (The cobbler variation is at the bottom.) Or feel free to experiment with your own creations and leave a comment to share your great idea!
One Baking Mix To Rule Them All
Dry ingredients to make ahead, if desired (yields 1 dozen muffins or an 8″x8″ cobbler or coffee cake):
- 1 1/2 c. oats (we get Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free oats through Amazon)
- 1/2 c. whole grain flour blend, like Hodgson Mill’s GF Multipurpose Baking Mix (I make my own blend by mixing equal parts brown rice flour, sorghum flour, and millet flour, which I store in a container in the fridge. These flours can also be found on Amazon.) Or you can use whatever flour you have on hand.
- 1/4 – 1/2 c. brown sugar, depending on recipe (You may want to add this ingredient with the wet ingredients later because it tends to clump in the bag, and the amount used can vary.)
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. xanthan gum (omit if using wheat flour for non-gluten free baking)
- For egg-free recipes, also add 1 tsp. Ener-G brand Egg Replacer, then add 1 T. water when you mix in the wet ingredients. (I’ve only tried this with the cake version, and it does make it resemble more of a breakfast bar than a coffee cake.)
Basic Muffin or Coffee Cake Additional Ingredients:
- 1 dry mix with 1/2 c. brown sugar OR 1/3 c. brown sugar if making a streusel topping (see notes below on sugar for peach variation and streusel instructions)
- 1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce (or an individual applesauce cup), flavored applesauce, pumpkin, or other fruit puree
- 1/2 c. canola oil for cake OR 1/3 c. oil + 2 T. milk of choice (we use almond milk) for muffins
- 1 egg (see note under dry mix ingredients for egg-free baking)
- 1 tsp. vanilla (not extract – but you can use 1/2 tsp. extract if you prefer)
- 3/4 c. fresh, frozen or dried fruit (see notes below for variation suggestions)
Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Add applesauce or fruit puree, egg, vanilla, oil and milk (if using) to dry mix and stir until combined. Gently fold in fresh, frozen or dried fruit. Divide into 12 greased muffin cups or pour into a greased 8″x8″ baking pan. Top with streusel*, if desired, and bake cake for 24-26 minutes or muffins for 18-20 minutes. Serve warm.
*Optional streusel topping:Sprinkle 2-4 T. chopped pecans, if desired, and 2-3 T. brown sugar over top of cake or muffins. Dot each muffin with a sliver (about 1/8 tsp.) of butter or butter spread, or top cake with 8-10 slivers.
Muffin or Coffee Cake Variations & Suggestions
Zucchini Muffins with Cinnamon Chips
- Add 1/4 tsp. nutmeg and 1 c. shredded zucchini to dry mix. (Have a ton of zucchini from the garden? Toss the shredded zucchini in a dry mix bag without sugar & freeze for later!) Don’t worry about squeezing the water out of the zucchini.
- In addition to the egg and applesauce, add 1/2 c. oil, 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract and 1/2 c. brown sugar (if not in the dry mix already).
- If desired, stir in to batter or sprinkle on top 1/2 c. Hershey’s Cinnamon Chips, found by the chocolate chips. (Trust me, you desire this.) I made mine with 1/3 c. brown sugar in the mix, plus cinnamon chips and chopped pecans on top. Mmmmm.
Apple Cranberry – the easy recipe I use when traveling or to give as a gift:
- Use 1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce and 3/4 c. dried cranberries (or raisins, if you prefer).
Pumpkin, preferably with streusel topping:
- Use 1/2 c. canned or pureed pumpkin instead of applesauce.
- Add 1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice to dry mix.
- If desired, add 3/4 c. dried cranberries.
Strawberry Rhubarb, Blueberry, Blackberry, Raspberry, or Mixed Berries:
- Unsweetened strawberry applesauce mellows the tartness of the berries, but regular applesauce can also be used.
- If using rhubarb, use 2/3 c. chopped rhubarb and 1/3 c. diced strawberries or whole raspberries.
- Instead of a streusel topping, try just sprinkling a little cinnamon and sugar.
- If using frozen berries, do not thaw, but add a few minutes to bake time.
- Be sure to let cool for 5-10 minutes since berries retain the heat.
- Instead of applesauce, cut a very ripe med. banana into chunks and place in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add oil and brown sugar, then mix on low with your hands covering the top of the bowl to keep the bananas from flying out (ask me how I know this…). Increase mixing speed to med. high and continue mixing until banana is completely mashed. Mix in remaining wet ingredients, then dry mix.
- Use 1/3 c. oil + 2 T. milk of choice for this variation.
- I used 1/3 c. brown sugar and the streusel topping.
- Substitute 1/2 c. white sugar for brown sugar.
- Omit applesauce.
- Use 2 eggs instead of 1.
- Finely chop 1 can of drained peaches or enough fresh or frozen peaches to equal about 3/4 c. (I used homemade frozen peaches that were very finely chopped.)
- Use 1/2 c. oil and no milk.
Mixed Berry Cobbler with Vanilla Yogurt
- Cobbler Variation
- 1 dry mix with 1/4 c. to 1/2 c. brown sugar, depending on taste (I use 1/4 c. for breakfast for my family, but usually 1/3 – 1/2 c. for guests or a dessert cobbler)
- 1/4 c. chopped pecans, if desired/tolerated
- 1 T. ground flax, if desired
- 1 egg (see note in dry mix for egg-free baking)
- 1/3 c. canola oil
- Enough fresh or frozen fruit (no need to thaw) to cover the bottom of a greased 8″x8″ baking pan, about 1 1/2 – 2 c.
Directions: Add egg, oil, flax and nuts (if using) to dry mix in a mixing bowl. Spread evenly over fruit until all fruit is covered by the topping. Bake 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees. Add 5-10 min. to baking time if using frozen fruit. Serve warm with vanilla-flavored Greek yogurt for breakfast or with frozen yogurt as a dessert.
Notes: Variations we’ve tried include blackberries, mixed berries, chopped peaches with mixed berries, apple, and apple with dried cranberries.
- For apple cobbler, toss peeled and sliced apples with a little apple juice (containing citric acid) or lemon juice. If using tart apples, like Granny Smith, sprinkle apples with some cinnamon and sugar.
- If using dried cranberries, soak them in hot water or apple juice to plump them up while you assemble the dry mix, then drain and sprinkle over apples. (Dried fruit on the bottom of a pan can sometimes burn.)
Wake the kids up in the morning with the delicious smell of any of these variations and you’ll have no problem getting them to get dressed and come down for breakfast.
Happy fall baking!
Read Full Post »