These Moist Maple Oatmeal Muffins Check All the Right Boxes

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One of the food writing clichés I try to avoid is “you won’t miss the [whatever ingredient it doesn’t have] in this [whatever the dish is].” After all, any recipe that’s gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, meat-free, or any other specific dietary need you want to talk about should be able to stand on its own. It’s good for what it is, not despite what you compare it to or what it lacks.

That being said, when writing the introduction to my Maple Oatmeal Muffins recipe, I completely forgot to mention that they are vegan. (Yes, I added that!) Whether that says more about my comfort with vegan baking or whether they are indistinguishable from muffins made with dairy and eggs, I’m not sure.

Get the recipe: Oatmeal and maple muffins

What I do know for sure is how much I love these muffins. They’re large, tender, and barely sweet, the kind of treat that’s more like a filling breakfast than a dessert.

Because I’m not one to take the easy way out, I challenged myself to create a whole wheat muffin that was vegan and naturally sweet. I wanted something that would appeal to as many people as possible without feeling like I was settling for anything less than “wow.”

However, all of these requirements may seem disparate. In fact, they are quite complementary. Ingredients used to solve one part of the equation often help solve another problem. For example, whole wheat baked goods may be dry and crumbly. Extra moisture can give that coveted chewy texture. I decided to use unsweetened applesauce, oil and maple syrup to enhance the tenderness. Of course, these ingredients are exactly what you can use when you want something vegan and sweet without refined sugars.

I always worry about the crumbly, grainy texture that can appear with thirsty whole wheat flour, as well as without egg as a binder. My mind turned to making bread. I became enamored with porridge breads, in part, thanks to the recipes and techniques I learned from Wordloaf, Andrew Janjigian’s “bread-education” newsletter. These breads use a grain porridge cooked into the dough. As he wrote in one edition: “Because the water in porridge is locked in its starches, this allows the baker to add more water to a dough without making it stickier or softer.” » This was exactly what I needed for these muffins. Can I make it work with oats, my cereal of choice?

Get to know your oats, plus all the types and ways to eat them

The answer was a resounding yes. The key is to let the oatmeal soak in boiling water for 15 minutes. This causes them to swell and soften, trapping that liquid and ensuring that the moment the oats are added to the muffin batter and baked, they burst, melting almost completely into the crumb and giving up their starchy power to bind everything together. . Unlike many other oat-based baked goods, there are no hard flakes to chew. You probably wouldn’t even know they were there unless you found a few on the top of the muffins.

Just like I enjoy a drizzle of maple syrup on my morning bowl of oatmeal, the two breakfast staples make a perfect pairing here. Even accounting for the applesauce, the muffins were barely sweet. In fact, a few tasters thought they could be a little sweeter, so I increased the amount of dried cherries – even tart, unsweetened cherries did the trick. Feel free to swap in dried blueberries, cranberries, or raisins. Chopped apricots or figs would also be delicious.

Using whole wheat pastry flour, which is softer and lower in protein than regular whole wheat flour, was another way to ensure a tender muffin. If you don’t have it, a 50-50 mix of all-purpose and regular whole wheat flours works just as well and is perhaps even slightly less crumbly, if that worries you.

Muffins don’t need any decoration to be satisfying and tasty (without the rich ingredients!), although on subsequent days they are especially good toasted with a little butter or jam.

Get the recipe: Oatmeal and maple muffins

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