The first day of autumn isn’t for a few weeks, but if Starbucks is selling their pumpkin spice lattes, than I declare it to be fall. Also, the enormous pile of apples in my kitchen declares it to be fall. The last few years I’ve been just swimming in apples from my parents’ trees and a girl can only make/eat so much applesauce, regardless of how delicious hot, fresh apple sauce tastes.
My favorite (only) local vegan restaurant has baked pancakes, which I always feel silly ordering because they’re basically just pancake batter baked in a muffin tin. But man are they delicious, like a pancake-muffin hybrid. After trying it out at home, I realized that pancakes that way is actually even easier than cooking them on a griddle, so I have no excuse for ordering those pancakes (and really, who would want to when they have a killer vegan BLT on the menu?).
To make these pancakes even more crave-worthy and to use up some of my apples, I made a quick caramel-y filling. It can be whipped up while the pancake batter takes a quick rest and tastes so freaking good. I popped the extras in the freezer to have for quick, healthy breakfasts during the workweek. If you’re wrestling with kids in the morning, I just know these would be live savers. They’re delicious as-is, but I wouldn’t argue with a little powdered sugar or honey drizzled on top, either.
4 medium apples, peeled and chopped into 1″ pieces
2 tbsp butter or coconut oil (vegan butter works great)
½ tsp lemon juice
½ tsp cinnamon
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and spritz a muffin tin with nonstick spray.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, chia seeds, and 2 tbsp sugar. Add the vanilla and almond milk, whisking until smooth. Set aside to let rest/let the chia seeds soften.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the apples, 2 – 4 tbsp sugar (to taste), lemon juice, cinnamon, and a dash of salt. Reduce heat and cook, stirring often, until the apples are soft and a caramel-y liquid has thickened in the bottom of the pan.
Into each muffin well, spoon 1 – 2 tbsp of batter (enough to cover the bottom). Layer the apple mixture on top, distributing evenly and including the extra liquid from the bottom of the pan. Top with the remaining batter.
Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean (relatively clean, soft apple will likely stick to the toothpick).
Nutritional estimate assumes you use unsweetened almond milk. If you’re worried about sodium or sugar, these can be reduced or even eliminated based on your preferences (realizing that you won’t get a caramel-like sauce on the apples without added sugar). Altering the salt content typically impacts leavening, but for this recipe there is minimal impact.
The muffin wells will be VERY full and will overflow slightly when cooking. It will look like it’s a mess, but as you can see in the photos they actually stop spreading pretty early in the baking process and come out of the pan easily.