I'm going to update this post with better pictures of the final product the next time I make these muffins (edit: updated!) because, I don't know if you've heard, but it's been a little cloudy on the East Coast lately! I didn't want to wait to share this recipe though, because it's so good and this is the perfect time to enjoy it. The number one reason I was so antsy waiting for cranberries to hit the shelves this year was so that I could make these hearty, delicious and not-too-bad-for-you muffins. For the past couple years I've been baking them as a side with Thanksgiving dinner, as a quick breakfast or snack, and as a gift for friends- there's something so cozy and appealing about home-baked muffins that everyone loves!
I took the base recipe for these from Allrecipes and then started tinkering away with substitutions and lots of additions. You can make all kinds variations with these muffins - chocolate chips, blueberries, whatever you like - but my favorite combo is fresh cranberries and pecans with some warm fall spices.
2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 medium apples, peeled, cored and pureed - or equivalent of sugar-free applesauce
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves (I like a lot of spice, you can cut down on these if you prefer.)
2 tbsp fresh grated ginger (optional)
fresh cranberries (small ones whole, large ones cut in half)
raw unsalted pecans, broken into chunks
In a bowl, soak oats in buttermilk for 15 minutes. Stir in egg, sugar, apple puree and optional ginger. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices; stir into oat mixture just until moistened. Stir in cranberries and pecans (I just eyeball the amounts). Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full. Bake at 400 degrees F for 16-18 minutes or until muffins test done. Cool in pan 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack.
Substituting apple for the oil in this recipe gives them a texture that's not only soft and moist but nicely cohesive, a little more spongy than crumbly, which I like because I think crumbly muffins are a pain to eat!