Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Carrot-Oat Muffins

Last weekend, I fell in love with my sister-in-law's super moist and guilt-free zucchini and banana muffins, a recipe she found in Martha Stewart's Everyday Food. Inspired and determined to end my streak of bad-luck baking in the past few days (flat meringue cookies, terrible bread, bubbly leche flan), I baked my own take on healthy muffins. These muffins have a lot of texture from the oats and flaxseeds, but remain nice and moist from the carrots - and they passed the taste tests of both my spouse and my toddler!

Fiber + Vitamin A for breakfast!


1 1/2 cups peeled and grated carrots
2 eggs
4 tablespoons neutral oil
1 1/3 c. whole milk
1 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. steel-cut oats
2 tbsp. roasted flaxseeds
4 tsp. baking powder
pinch of Kosher salt


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease muffin pans.
  2. Combine all wet ingredients in a bowl, including the carrots, making sure to break up the egg yolks. 
  3. In a separate bowl, combine remaining dry ingredients. 
  4. Make a well in the dry ingredients. Pour wet mixture into the well and mix ingredients together. It should be pretty wet, not clumpy. 
  5. Fill muffin molds halfway through and bake for 20 minutes or until muffins are golden. If inserted toothpick comes out clean, it's ready! 
Yields about 18 muffins or 12 "Texas" muffins.

Some history about muffins: 
  • The word "muffin" first appeared in print in the 18th century. Recipes for muffins also emerged in 18th-century cookbooks. 
  • Muffins were most popular in the 19th century, when "Muffin Men" roamed in the city around teatime, announcing their wares with bells. 
  • English muffins are quite distinguishable from their American counterparts. English muffins are light-textured rolls, flat and circular, and made with yeast, while American muffins do not call for yeast and share the same composition as cake. 
  • The English usually enjoy their muffins with their tea, while Americans eat muffins for breakfast.
For kicks, here's an 18th-century English muffin recipe from Hannah Glass's The Art of Cookery Plain and Simple. Hannah Glasse's cookbook is the equivalent of Irma Rombauer's The Joy of Cooking, a staple reference for home cooks in England and America in the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as an important reference of culinary practices in that period. 

"To a Buschel of Hertfordshire white Flour, take a Pint and a half of good Ale-yeast, from pale Malt if you can get it, becuase it is whitest; let the Yeast lie in Water all night, the next Day pour off the Water clear, make two Gallons of Water just Milk warm, not to scald your Yeast, and two Ounces of Salt, mix your Water, Yeast and Salt well toghether for about a quarter of an Hour, then strain it, and mix up your Dough as light as possible, and let it lie in your Trough an Hour to rise, then with your Hand roll it, and pull it into little Pieces about as big as a large Walnut, roll them with your Hand like a Ball, lay them on your Table, and as fast as you do them lay a Piece of Flannel over them, and be sure to keep your Dough cover'd with Flannel; when you have rolled out all your Dough, begin to bake the first, and by that Time they will be spread out in the right Form; lay them on your Iron, as one Side begins to change Colour turn the other, and take great Care they don't burn, or be too much discolour'd; but that you will be a Judge off in two or three Makings. Take care the middle of the Iron is not too hot, as it will be, but then you may put a Brick-bat or two in the middle of the Fire to slacken the heat. The Thing you bake on must be made thus. Build a Place just as if you was going to set a Copper, and in the Stead of a Copper a Piece of Iron all over the Top fix'd in Form, just the frame as the Bottom of the Iron Pot, and make your Fire underneath with Coal as in a Copper; observe, Muffings are made in the same Way, only this, when you pull them to Pieces roll them in a good deal of Flour, and with a Rolling-pin roll them thin, cover them with a Piece of Flannel, and they will rise to a proper Thickness; and if you find them too big or too little, you must roll Dough accordingly, these must not be the least discoloured.And when you eat them, toast them with a Fork crisp on both Sides, then with your Hand pull them open, and they will be like a Honey-Comb; lay in as much Butter as you intend to use, then clap them together again, and set it by the Fire, when you think the Butter is melted turn them, that both Sides may be butter'd alike, but ton't touch them with a Knife, either to spread or cut them open, if you do they will be as heavy as Lead, only when they are quite butter'd and done, you may cut them across with a Knife" (1747, p. 151).

*As I've mentioned in a past post, most recipes (or receipts, as they were called then) were written by cooks for cooks. This may look absolutely confusing for the modern reader, but Glasse's writing was praised for her clarity and correctness in her time. 

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