Apple Oatmeal Muffins

It’s fall, the weather is cooling (somewhere) and we’re diving into the season’s familiar flavors. Lucky for us, that includes crisp, sweet tart apples. In a world where most produce is available year round, there’s still something about tasting something in season that is particularly satisfying. Apples, particularly ubiquitous and endlessly available, are best when freshly picked and right out of the orchard.

Our weekly produce deliveries now include an assortment of apples and we couldn’t be happier to include them in our rotation. They typically show up on our brunch plates, sautéed in butter and sweetened with maple before joining Jason’s crazy delicious multigrain pancakes. A recent batch of Granny Smith apples ended up in these tasty muffins where they add both sweetness and moisture. The addition of leftover cooked steel cut oats further helps keep the muffins from drying out. Both apple and cooked oats reduce the need for moisturizing fats. For those of us who pay attention to such things, the reduced fat and added fiber mean these become everyday muffins, perfect for breakfast with a little yogurt or as a snack whenever our hunger begs for a quick fix.

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Apple Oatmeal Muffins

1 large granny smith apple, grated
2 cups leftover oatmeal (preferably cooked with diced apple)
2 eggs
½ cup melted butter (minus one tablespoon for topping)
½ cup kefir
⅔ cup plus brown sugar
½ tsp salt
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1½ tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

6 tbsp oats
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp melted butter

Preheat oven to 350F.

Spray muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray or line with muffin papers.

In a large bowl, whisk together the grated apple, leftover oatmeal, eggs, melted butter, kefir and brown sugar until smooth and there are no clumps of oatmeal. Add the salt and whisk a few more times.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Fold the flour mixture into the wet mixture until combined. Be careful not to over mix.

In a small bowl, mix together the rolled oats, brown sugar, and melted butter for the topping, set aside.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. These will be big muffins so don’t worry if the muffin tins seem to be over filled. Sprinkle the muffins with rolled oat topping and place on the middle rack of the oven, bake for 22-26 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. If you’re worried about the muffin batter overflowing, place a sheet pan under the muffin tin.

Cool the muffins in the pan on a rack for a few minutes then remove from pan.

Pancakes Extraordinaire

Ah, Sunday! Sleep in, wake up to a steaming cup of coffee and J’s unbelievable muesli pancakes. We’ve developed our own muesli blend and we think it puts all others to shame. This wonder mix acts as the base of the pancake batter. The resultant pancakes are rich, moist, fluffy yet substantial, full of flavor and extraordinarily nutritious. Think whole grains, dried berries, a variety of raw nuts and a couple of nut meals, flax seed and flax meal … you get the picture (below). We’ve been eating this muesli for a couple of years now. Our typical consumption is fairly straight forward: a half cup of the muesli mix and enough kefir to make it soupy goes into the fridge the night before. By morning, the mix has thickened and the rolled grains have softened. With a little chopped fresh fruit of whatever variety, this breakfast is complete.

J adapted a great America’s Test Kitchen whole grain pancake recipe to include our homemade muesli. The adapted recipe calls for some of the muesli mix to be ground fine in a food processor. The batter includes the ground muesli as well as a bit of whole muesli mix, some whole wheat flour, butter and eggs, milk and yogurt. After the batter rests a while, the pancakes are cooked on our griddle and topped with fruit compote, a little maple syrup or yogurt.

This well-tested pancake recipe never disappoints. The time from prep to table is shorter than you might guess and reminds us that packaged pancake mixes are for the very confused. If you have a box of pancake mix in your pantry, throw it out. Now, clear that space in the cupboard and fill it with a nice hand-mixed batch of muesli. You’ll use it for more than just pancakes, but this breakfast treat is a perfect place to start!

– Steve

Muesli Pancakes

[Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, by Matthew Card. The official recipe is only available to premium subscribers.]

I usually hate pancakes. And don’t even get me started on Bisquick® pancake mix or the kind that you find at Denny’s or any of the chain diners. They’re usually gummy and bland and soaked in artificial “maple” syrup leaving you needing to brush your teeth and feeling a bit queasy after you eat them.

I found this recipe when I was subscribed to Cook’s Illustrated and I had just discovered my muesli recipe. I now can recite the recipe by heart, that’s how many times I’ve made it. And even though I’ve never made the original Cook’s Illustrated version I think my version is just as good if not better.

1 ½ cups kefir
½ cup whole milk
2 eggs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups (8 ounces) original muesli mix
¾ cup (3 ¾ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup (2 ¾ ounces) whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

Mix the kefir and milk together with the eggs, butter, and vanilla. Set aside. Finely grind the muesli in a food processor, add to a large bowl with the flours, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix dry ingredients together then add the wet ingredients. Mix until fully incorporated. Let the batter sit while you heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add a little vegetable oil to the skillet and a small amount of the batter to test the pan. If it’s too hot reduce the heat, not hot enough, raise the heat. After the heat is sufficient and consistent, add a ladle full of batter 2-3 ounces into the oiled pan. Cook for a few minutes on the first side before flipping them over.

If you have made pancakes before you know the routine. If you’re new to making them it might take a few tries before you get the hang of it. Trust me, its not that hard. The worst thing that can happen is that the pancakes get smooched together or fall on the floor. If they fall on the floor, pick them up and brush them off, if your floor is clean, or throw them away if you have a dirty floor. These pancakes freeze wonderfully and make a great weekday breakfast that’s just as quick as  a bowl of cereal and milk. Give them a try and let us know what you think of them.

– Jason