I pretty much gave up on store-bought muffins a long time ago. It only took one or two disappointments to make me avoid them; maybe it was the “bran” muffin that was timid and cakey, overly sweet, and obviously dyed with brown food coloring; maybe it was the even “cakier” sugar-encrusted blueberry muffin with only 3 blueberries in it. Those are breakfast cupcakes, people. If I wanted cake, I would order cake. When I order a muffin, I expect something I can really sink my teeth into. Something that will stay with me a good part of the morning, not give me a sugar crash by 10 a.m.
These muffins, on the other hand, combine the earthy sweetness of roasted sweet potatoes, the light caramel chewiness of dates, and the hearty goodness of oats, wheat bran, flaxseed, soy, wheat germ and cracked whole wheat in Hodgson Mill Multigrain Cereal. No simpering breakfast cupcakes here; these have a firm, springy texture that makes you take your time and savor each bite, and just enough sweetness to go great with a cup of coffee. I love the body and texture Multigrain Cereal brings to baked goods—if you like these, you might also want to try my Multigrain Pumpkin Pancakes.
The one make-ahead component is the sweet potatoes: they need to be roasted long and slow to get nice and caramelized. For mine, I pricked them with a fork a few times, then put them in a pan (to catch the drips), and popped them in the oven as it was preheating to bake a batch of mini-cupcakes. It tooka good hour to an hour and a half to really get them roasted through. They look really blackened, but they small absolutely wonderful, like caramels. Let them cool, peel them and scoop out all the nice soft bright flesh (packed with vitamin A and C, I might add).
If you bake a lot, like me, it’s easy to throw a couple in while another project bakes. If you don’t bake often, then you can make the process worth your while by roasting a bunch at one time, and you can freeze the extra in one-cup portions for other baking pursuits.
Once you’ve got the sweet potato squared away, time for the super-simple “quick bread” baking process – mix your dry mix in one bowl, your wet mix in the other, add dry to wet, and then stir in any add-ins.
I am having a love affair with dates right now, so I added a ton; if you aren’t as smitten, you can cut back. If you’re using fresh-chopped dates, separate them as you add them because otherwise they’ll stick together and clump.
Twelve fairly full cupcake tins and about 20 minutes later, you’ll pull a dozen tall, vibrantly orange muffins (with a slightly blackened date slice on top . . . whoops) out of the oven.
One tip I got from the original recipe that I’d like to pass on and/or open for discussion is that you can keep these muffins from going soggy on top by letting them cool sideways—either lay them on their side on the cooling rack, or twist them out of their cupcake cup and lay them sideways inside the cup. This way, the steam doesn’t permeate the muffin top. I actually think it helped. Has anyone else ever heard of this?
Look at that crumb — the proof of the muffin is under the top. (Or something like that).
I present to you a “Grade A,” real, authentic multigrain muffin, packed with nutrition and flavor. These muffins will not leave you wondering an hour later whether you actually ate breakfast. You might just be ruined on store-bought muffins too, after trying one of these . . Welcome to the club. It’s going to be a grain day.
Multigrain Sweet Potato Date Muffin
Adapted from Good to the Grain Sweet Potato Date Muffin
1 cup Hodgson Mill Multigrain Cereal, dry
1 ¼ cups Hodgson Mill Naturally White Flour
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
¼ cup vegetable oil (may also use coconut oil, or softened butter)
½- 2/3 cup brown sugar or maple syrup (depending on your sweet tooth)
½ cup buttermilk (or substitute plain yogurt)
¾ pound sweet potato, baked and scooped out of peel (about 1 1/2 cups)
6-10 large dates, chopped (about ½- ¾ cup, depending on how much you like dates)
Preheat oven to 400° F. Line muffin pan with liners, or lightly grease with nonstick spray.
Mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk to get rid of clumps. Mix the wet ingredients — oil, egg, sweet potato, buttermilk and sugar or maple syrup in another bowl. Add dry mix to wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Gently stir in chopped dates, separating them as you pour them in so they don’t clump. Batter will be thick.
Pour or spoon into prepared pans and bake 10 minutes at 400° F, then reduce heat to 350° and bake 15-20 minutes more. Muffins are done when lightly browned on top and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
Let muffins cool. (See above about laying muffins on their side while cooling to prevent soggy tops.)
Notes: Makes 12 muffins. Keeps about 3 days in airtight container in cool place.
For a creamy, slightly sweet “schmear” or light frosting, blend softened cream cheese with a little bit of maple syrup and cinnamon–about one ounce cream cheese to one teaspoon syrup and a pinch of cinnamon.