by Caroline

This time of year, with school in full swing and the afterschool events (in this house, piano lessons and soccer practices) getting going, I’m thinking more about good snacks than usual. The boys need something when I pick them up from school, and often eat another small snack after we get home, before dinner.

And so I keep pulling out my favorite mixing bowl, an inheritance from my late mother-in-law. It’s nothing fancy, but there’s something particularly appealing about its low, sloping sides, the solidity of the white ceramic, that sweet scallop detail around the edges. I keep reaching it down from the cupboard and and filling it with muffin batters and wonderballs. This week, when a friend brought me homemade applesauce from her tree, I looked for a new way to bake the applesauce into a good after school snack, and found it in Veganomicon, the cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, the fabulous women behind Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and the new Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar!. Try them; you don’t need to be vegan to like them.

3/4 milk (soy, rice, almond and cow’s milk work equally well)
1 t apple cider vinegar
1 c unsweetened applesauce
3 T vegetable oil or (2 T oil plus 3 T ground flaxseed meal)
1/2 brown sugar
1 1/2 c all purpose or whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 c oat bran
2 t baking powder
1/2 baking soda
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t salt
1/2 c raisins, dried cranberries, or chopped dried apple pieces (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 and line a 12-cup muffin pan with muffin papers.

In your favorite bowl, whisk together the milk and vinegar; let it sit a minute to curdle. Add the applesauce, oil and brown sugar and whisk well to combine.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, then fold into the applesauce mixture. Stir just until combined. Fold in the dried fruit, if using. Scoop batter into muffin cups and bake 25-30 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.