I know I posted another muffin recipe not all that long ago, but there's a perfectly good reason for that... you see, I've been on a bit of a muffin kick lately.
Muffins are the perfect workday breakfast - just snag one as you dash out the door to catch your bus, no cutlery or reheating required. Sure, muffins may not rank that high on the virtuous breakfast scale, but when you make your own, you at least have the option to keep the fat and sugar content in check. Heck, these even have some wheat germ thrown in for bonus health points (and they also taste pretty good, if I do say so myself).
This recipe is a particular favourite of mine because I love the combination of fresh apples, dried cranberries and toasted walnuts in its various incarnations. Aside from muffins and other baked goods, this tasty little trio is also a great addition to a simple green salad with a garlicky dressing, and also makes a gorgeous fruit crisp with apples and cranberries in the filling and some walnuts added to the topping for maximum crunch.
Another thing I love about this recipe is how much wiggle room it leaves for substitutions. So go ahead - use pears or carrots instead of apples, swap in raisins or any other dried fruit of your choice for the cranberries, and/or replace the walnuts with whatever nuts you like (pecans or pistachios would be particularly nice, I think). I'm even tempted to see what happens if I sub molasses for some or all of the honey, but that can wait until another day...
Apple, Cranberry and Walnut Muffins
Makes 1 dozen muffins
3 Macintosh apples, peeled, cored and grated
½ cup honey
¼ cup walnut or canola oil
¼ cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups flour
½ cup wheat germ
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup roughly chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly grease the cups of a 12-cup muffin tin, and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together grated apple, egg, honey, oil, milk and vanilla until combined.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, wheat germ, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Add the apple mixture, along with the cranberries and walnuts, and stir just until all the ingredients are moistened and no floury streaks remain (be careful not to overmix - you'll get tough muffins).
Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.
Absolutely. You'll want to increase the flour to a full 2 cups to compensate - or swap with 1 cup white flour and 1 cup whole wheat if you want a slightly healthier option.
I'd highly recommend going with the wheat germ if you can, though. It's not a particularly expensive ingredient, and you should be able to find it in most supermarkets (try near the health foods or organics, next to the flours or with the hot cereals). It'll stay fresh for a really long time if you store it in a sealed container in the freezer.
Do you think you could do it without the wheat germ?