Oh, yes, fall. This is without a doubt my favorite time of year. I can't believe it has been a year (almost) since my last post. Life happens, as I'm sure you all know. Work, family, life. Sometimes there is just not enough hours in the day, and something has to give (like blogging). Well, here is a recipe to help us all slow down and appreciate the simple things in life...like jewel-toned leaves, sparkling skies and cooler breezes, even if life feels a little bit like a whirlwind sometimes.
Apples, carrots, raisins and pecans swirl about, like colored leaves on a beautiful fall day, in this rich but simple batter fragrant with cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander, cardamom and just a hint of ginger. A kiss of molasses and orange rind adds depth and character. Made entirely with whole wheat flour, you can feel good about indulging. The fruit and carrots pack a healthy wallop of beta-carotene, and the pecans and olive oil round out the heart-healthy benefits.
I adapted this recipe slightly from the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking cookbook--this is my version of their Morning Glory Muffin. I soak the raisins in warm orange juice instead of water, so not to waste any of the raisiny-goodness, and the raisins get a flavor boost from the o.j. I've added a few spices, molasses and orange rind for interest and complexity. If you prefer more muffin to fruit, reduce the amount of apple and nuts--I increased those amounts from the original recipe as I like a lot of 'stuff' in there. I did, however, omit the coconut per my personal taste preference (I love coconut, just feel it is a little out of place in this melange). So, here is another stealthy-healthy recipe that is delicious first, and good-for-you-delicious second.
Did I say how moist these are? Oh...my...goodness. The pictures in no way do these justice. The crumb is moist and tender and belies the whole wheat pedigree. Every bite is a bountiful harvest of fruity-nutty goodness.
Perfect for a fall day, and for catching up with friends...I missed you too.
Harvest Apple Muffins:
1/2 cup raisins, soaked in 1/4 cup warm orange juice
2 cups tart apples (like Granny Smith), peeled and diced small
2 cups shredded carrots (about five long, thin carrots)
3 large eggs
2/3 cup olive oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tbs unsulphered molasses
2 tbs grated orange rind
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or any whole grain flour of choice)
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 cup toasted pecan pieces, reserve 1/4 cup for garnish
Preheat the oven the 375 degrees F. Place muffin papers in two muffin pans.
Warm the orange juice slightly in a small bowl in the microwave. Add the raisins and set aside. Dice the apples and sprinkle with 1 tsp of the cinnamon (this helps prevent browning and adds a little flavor boost directly to the apples) and set aside. Shred the carrots and set aside. Sift the flour, baking soda, salt and spices together. In a large mixing bowl, beat the sugar and olive oil together, then add the eggs, one by one. Add the vanilla, molasses and orange juice from the raisins. Mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Slowly add the dry flour mix to the wet ingredients, and mix until well incorporated, then stir in the apples, carrots, raisins, orange rind, and 3/4 cup of the nuts. Scoop into muffin papers, almost to the top. Sprinkle with remaining nuts if desired, and bake approximately 25 to 28 minutes or until a wooden skewer comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in the muffin pans, then remove to cooling racks. Yields approximately one and one-half to two dozen muffins.