Almond-Flour Apple Muffins

Why matzo meal has no place in Passover pastries!

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Imagine your favorite apple cake. It probably has a tender crumb, a cinnamon-forward flavor, and comes packed with juicy apples, right? Okay, now imagine that apple cake as something you can snack on all Passover. I know. I am swooning too.

These unassuming, quick-to-make muffins are delicious, deeply satisfying and (cue the jubilant trumpet sounds): contain no matzo meal! For generations, Jewish home cooks have relied on smashed up matzo, a.k.a matzo meal, and matzo cake meal (same thing, just more finely ground) to replace flour in their Passover baked goods. As a result, we have collectively suffered our way through muffins, cookies, and cakes that have a taste reminiscent of sawdust. I loathe matzo meal so much, I made a video about it for Tablet (*see below), which features an almond-pear cake that is a cousin to these muffins.

Today, thanks to the ever-expanding world of gluten-free and paleo baking, there are a variety of Passover-friendly flours to choose from like coconut flour, cassava flour, tapioca flour, quinoa flour, and banana flour (yes it’s a thing, and it makes delicious pancakes). Almond flour is the original matzo meal alternative, however, and it is also my favorite. Sephardic cuisine includes a variety of baked goods based on finely ground almonds and eggs - including marunchinos, which are the more delicate precursor to today’s macaroons.

Thanks to almond flour (and a little bit of potato starch to round things out), these muffins have a wonderfully nubby texture, and not just in a “good for Passover” kind of way. The yogurt adds heft, as well as a welcome bit of tang to offset the sweetness. And the apple-to-batter ratio is appropriately obscene. I hope you try them over Passover! I have a feeling you will end up making them all year long too.

Almond-Flour Apple Muffins

For muffins:

1 3/4 cups (160 g) finely ground almond flour

1/4 cup (50 g) potato starch

2 teaspoons baking powder (yep, it’s kosher for Passover!)

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 large eggs

1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar

1/3 cup (60 g) brown sugar

1/2 cup (125 g) plain, unsweetened yogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (yep, it’s kosher for Passover!)

2 cups (230 g) peeled and finely chopped apples (about 2 medium apples)

For topping:

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts, optional

  1. Make the muffins: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. Whisk together the almond flour, potato starch, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

  2. In a large bow, whisk together the eggs, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until well combined and a little foamy. Add the yogurt and vanilla extract and whisk to combine. Add the dry mixture to the wet and use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to mix until just incorporated. Add and fold in the apples. Divide the batter equally between the muffin cups (they should each be about half full). 

  3. Make the topping: Stir together the granulated sugar, cinnamon, and walnuts, if using, in a small bowl, then generously sprinkle the top of each muffin with the mixture. (You might not use all of it - save the leftovers in a covered container for another use. Oatmeal comes to mind.)

  4. Bake the muffins until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, and the tops spring back when gently pressed, 15 to 17 minutes. Remove from oven and let muffins cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

*Here’s that Tablet video that I shot in the “before times,” meaning February, 2020 - just a couple of weeks before Covid changed everything. I look forward to the day when I can once again casually eat a piece of cake, indoors, while standing next to other people!

2 things I’m loving this week.

The Pandemic Post. The zine we all need right now! This digital and print zine was originally designed to support Covid-19 relief efforts, and has evolved into a gorgeous publication (each issue still raises money for justice-focused orgs). The most recent issue includes a story by Sara Softness called The Sisterhood of Jewish Cooking, about the storied history of Jewish community cookbooks. Thanks to Jake Jeppson for alerting me about it!

Lilith Magazine. On the subject of great publications, Lilith is an old school Jewish feminist magazine that remains 100% relevant! I am a subscriber, and am continually impressed by their ability to turn out thoughtful, inclusive, fascinating, and often hilarious content, issue after issue.