I was going to start by saying, I love muffins. But it seemed a bit too obvious and perhaps overzealous and I began to think, do I? love muffins? I certainly like them a lot. They are a mainstay of my kitchen -- easy to mix up at the last minute, satisfying and warm for the morning. I tend to load them up with fruit and whole grains for a delicious, but also healthy breakfast bread. I've also noticed that people who don't do much baking are very impressed when greeted with freshly baked muffins in the morning.
But, I'm not sure if muffins can really be an object of love. Perhaps more of a gentle affection for something so reliable, sturdy, and dependable. Not that muffins can't be surprising or decadent (like these!), I guess I have just been making muffins for years and while I enjoy them in every way, they are more of a great old friend than a true love.
Nonetheless, I am very happy to have this friend and its many manifestations. Muffins make a great breakfast or a good snack for later, but again, I am stating the obvious. I will cut to the recipe, which is a new one I tried recently. I normally load my muffins up with fruit, but lacking that one day, I made these full of nuts and seeds and whole grains. They are truly sturdy and delicious and will keep you company without complaining or asking too much. In fact, they won't ask anything at all, just maybe a spread of butter or jam if you like that sort of thing.
Toasted Oatmeal-Oat Bran Muffins
Adapted from Mollie Katzen's Sunlight Cafe.
1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup oat bran
1/3 cup minced walnuts, pecans or almonds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
6 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 or 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (optional)
1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flower
3/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup raisins and 1/3 cup dried cranberries (optional)
Heat a medium-sized skillet (cast iron works well) over medium low. If your skillet is not season or has a tendency to stick, use a little non-stick spray. Add the oats, oat bran, nuts and seeds and toast them, stirring frequently, until they are light brown and smell nicely toasted. Its best to do this slowly and paying lots of attention so they don't burn. Add the brown sugar and granulated sugar (if using) at the very end so that it melts slightly. You can toast the nuts ahead of time and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and grease 8 or 9 muffin cups. Combine the rest of the dry ingredients and add the toasted nut mixture. Stir until well combined.
Measure the buttermilk into a bowl, add the eggs and vanilla and beat gently with a fork or whisk until smooth. Slowly pour this mixture, along with the melted butter and optional dried fruit, into the dry ingredients. Stir, making sure that all the dry ingredients are scraped up from the bottom, until all the dry ingredients are moistened. Do not over mix, a few lumps are okay.
Spoon the batter into the greased muffin cups, I usually fill them up to the top to get a good sized muffin, but you can make them less full if you want the muffins to be smaller. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven and the muffins from the pan and let cool on a rack for about 30 minutes before eating (if you can wait that long!).