I have not been achieving my full festive fall potential this season. I have yet to taste my first apple cider donut or pumpkin latte of the year, I haven’t made it apple picking, I missed my students’ annual pumpkin carving event, the only foliage I’ve intentionally gandered at was out the window of a train speeding from NYC to DC (though I have to say, it was especially spectacular), and on Halloween, at my insistence, we skipped the parade happening one avenue over and stayed in eating Indian food. What I have done, however, is find a new favorite muffin that hits many of my fall cravings at once, with pumpkin, apple, and delicious spice. Not too shabby for a (relatively) healthy breakfast treat.
My love of a healthier breakfast muffin is well documented, but I figure there’s always room for more. Especially a recipe that is finally actually all whole wheat flour, something I’ve been searching for for a while. Being all whole wheat definitely didn’t make these taste “too” healthy–the dominant taste, thanks to the pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice really is one of fall, and happily not of dirt (as my awesome father describes most whole wheat foods). The muffins are also, as they original recipe title suggests, “super soft.” I admittedly find that descriptor sort of weird (do I want my muffins to be really soft? I mean, I don’t want them to be hard, but…?), but, dang it if it isn’t in fact true. These are very soft muffins! Soft enough to make the added crunch of walnuts and chia seeds a welcome contrast.
These muffins were a big hit in my house. Not a huge surprise, since almost every time I mention baking something or wanting a sweet treat, Hal asks, “with pumpkin?” The man is a fall fan: for the cold weather, the clothes, and I think especially for the pumpkin-ness of it all. I don’t know that he realizes he’s falling into a stereotype with this. Haven’t we all read an article (probably, real talk, in Cosmo or Glamour) talking about scents that drive men wild, and been surprised to find pumpkin pie on the list? Just me? Anyway. I’m not necessarily in a mood to make a pumpkin pie whenever asked (because, real talk again, that would be almost weekly–like I said, serious fall fan), so these muffins are a nice compromise.
Looking at this recipe again, it occurs to me that you could really up the fall factor with a sprinkling of roasted pepitas on top. I’d also like to try subbing olive oil for the veggie, since that works so well in my other favorite pumpkin muffin recipe. Next time. And there will most certainly be a next time: these muffins are super simple and speedy to make, and freeze really well. Definitely worth throwing together quickly one night after dinner, to have breakfast ready to go for the rest of the week.
whole wheat apple-pumpkin muffins
adapted from The Comfort of Cooking
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
2/3 cups unsweetened applesauce (two 4 ounce cups)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup chia seeds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners and lightly oil cups (or use non-stick cooking spray).
Stir together flour, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and powder, and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center, and all all wet ingredients. Mix until dry ingredients are just absorbed. Add walnuts and chia seeds, stir lightly to combine. Fill muffin cups to the top, and sprinkle with additional chopped nuts if desired (I did not desire, but who knows what crazy things you might get up to?).
Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.