I love a good muffin. But for all the years I have been baking, I rarely find one that is up to snuff. I have high standards, yes, but I firmly believe that any food eaten for breakfast should not only be insanely satisfying and satiating, but also make you want to pop out of bed and devour it. A tall stack of blueberry pancakes — check. Perfectly fried eggs and crispy bacon on homemade sourdough bread — check. But muffins, to me, have never reached a level worthy of co-mingling with their other breakfast cousins. Until now.
Part of my job as a cookbook editor requires me to read a lot of other cookbooks. (My dear husband is so patient with the unyielding piles that seem to sprout up all over our living room and kitchen on a daily basis.) When I’m in the office, the floor around my desk is a veritable moat of cookbooks from the Williams Sonoma archives, simultaneously bringing me endless excitement and protection from the real world that lies on the other side. Last week when I began working on the next American Girl cookbook, I dug out The Essentials of Baking from the archives. What a gem. Not only is it insanely interesting to me to read about what people baked years ago, but also how they wrote about it. (In my next life, I want to be a food historian. Or maybe in this life, who knows.) The photos, the descriptions, the headnotes about why you should bake a particular recipe are all fascinating. And then I stumbled on the muffin chapter. Among a smattering of interesting recipes, I was intrigued by the carrot-apple-nut muffins, so I decided that this weekend I would give them a go.
Success! There are two huge reasons why I love these muffins. One: there is only 2/3 cup of brown sugar in them as a sweetener (for non-bakers, that is not a lot at all). Two: the recipe contains both whole-wheat flour and wheat bran, without sacrificing taste or texture. (Next time I make them, I’m going to increase the amounts of whole-wheat flour and wheat bran slightly, and reduce the amount of all-purpose flour and see what happens.) With only 1/4 cup of melted butter, the majority of the moisture comes from the fruit and yogurt (or sour cream). The cinnamon-sugar sprinkling on top gives them just the right amount of crunch — I also threw some chia seeds into the batter for good measure, and a little extra crunch. These muffins would be great for kids — both for eating and also helping in the kitchen. My new game plan: make a batch of these on Sunday mornings and pack them for breakfast all week 🙂
Sunday Morning Muffins
(adapted from The Essentials of Baking by Williams Sonoma)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup oat or wheat bran
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons chia seeds
2/3 cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cup whole-milk yogurt or sour cream
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/4 cups peeled, grated tart apple, such as Granny Smith (about 1 large)
1 1/4 cups peeled, grated carrot (about 2 medium)
3/4 cup raisins (or other dried fruit like cherries or cranberries)
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 400F. Butter 18 standard muffin-pan cups or line them with paper liners.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, bran, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, chia seeds, and brown sugar.
In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs on low speed until blended, then beat in the yogurt (or sour cream) and melted butter. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed just until combined. Add the apple, carrot, and raisins and mix just until evenly distributed. Do not overmix or the muffins will become tough.
Use an ice-cream scoop to divide the batter evenly into the prepared muffin pans, filling each about 3/4 full. Top with the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean, about 18 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for about 2 minutes, then turn the muffins out onto the rack. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 1 month.
Makes about 18 muffins