When trying to back healthy, we have all heard the old adage: "Replace butter or oil with applesauce and it will be much healthier!"
Thought I've done it many times now, and feel like I know when its appropriate, when I first heard this advice, I couldn't possibly believe it! How could applesauce possibly replace butter or oil in any recipe to be helpful?
Sad fact: it can't! There are dozens of substitutes for butter and oil (including avocado, greek yogurt, and more), and one important part of learning to bake healthier (or vegan!) is to learn which subsitution to use for any recipe.
Applesauce becomes your best friend for two main situations. First, if your recipe calls for oil! That's the best time to use it, but you can use it in place of butter!
The best to use applesauce as a butter replacement is when baking cake-like recipes (such as a vegan bread, cupcake, etc.). But, you have to choose what recipes in which you can successfully make this replacement carefully! If you are cooking a very light, fluffy cake, applesauce will not give the same final texture, and you'll end up with a cupcake or cake that doesn't dome. Quick breads, muffins, and cakes with a heavy chocolate base will do better.
Additionally, since applesauce tends to give more moisture to the cake, you might want to add a bit of extra flour or baking soda in order to balance out the affects of the applesauce! I know this is vague advice, but it really does go recipe-to-recipe.
The more you bake with applesauce, the better you will become at discerning how much of a substitution to make, as well as how to recognize from the batter whether or not you need to add more dry ingredients!
If you're just trying to get a healthier dessert, replace half the amount of butter in your recipe with applesauce; if the recipe calls for one cup of butter, use half a cup of butter and half a cup of applesauce. If you don't mind a denser, more moist bread, or you're trying to bake vegan, replace all the butter with applesauce to cut out all the butters (and more calories and fat!)
My absolute favorite adjustment to make is in oatmeal based muffins! When you replace any butter or oil in these mixes with applesauce, the oats seem to absorb the extra moisture well, and you get an even more delicious muffin than you would have with full fat!