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Fresh, warm muffins on Sunday morning.

There’s nothing like getting up late on a Sunday morning, getting a fire going in the woodstove, and sitting down with warm, delicious muffins within about a half an hour.

I found this great recipe for whole wheat oatmeal raisin muffins in a Cooking Light magazine a few years ago and I’ve been making them regularly ever since. It’s become my go-to muffin recipe. These little beauties are moist, full of fibre, and very tasty.

Now that I think about it, these muffins launched my “make ahead” habit. Soon after I found this recipe, I was planning a series of about 25 meetings with staff in all our offices through the spring and summer. I decided to make a batch for each meeting. The idea was to come bearing gifts to start forging relationships.

Yes, I’m crazy. I know. But I swear it really was entirely doable.

When I made the first batch, I mixed up the dry ingredients for another two or three batches in plastic bags. That way, if I was pressed for time, I could throw the muffins together in just over a half hour, and tah-dah!

A bag of pre-mixed dry ingredients makes for fast muffins.

I now do this make ahead mixing for staples like banana bread and biscuits as well. It means I can enjoy warm, freshly baked yummies without much fuss on a lazy weekend morning…or even on a busy weekday morning, because I can shower and dress in the 20 minutes it takes for these muffins to bake.

(I wish I had a picture of my original storage system for these bags of dry ingredients. You see, I have cats and I just knew they’d get into the bags if they weren’t securely stowed away. I lived alone at the time and almost never used my ancient, energy hog of a dishwasher. So in went the bags, lined up just like they were dinner plates. Weird, I know, but it worked like a charm.)

A few tips about these muffins:

  • You can substitute other things for the dried fruit. I don’t care for cranberries so I’ve always either upped the amount of raisins and dates, or substituted pumpkin or sunflower seeds. H loves blueberries almost as much as chocolate, so I now make them with about a cup of fresh or frozen blueberries. Play with it, see what works for you.
  • Don’t skip the step of letting the batter stand for 15 minutes. It softens the oatmeal and plumps up the dried fruit. However, you don’t have to let it stand in the mixing bowl. You can spoon out the batter into the muffin tin and go about clean up and other things done during those 15 minutes.
  • You can make this batter ahead of time. I don’t know how much ahead of time, but at least a day is ok. I found this out when I had the batter mixed and something came up, preventing me from baking the muffins. I covered the bowl with plastic wrap and stuck it in the fridge. The following day, I figured it couldn’t hurt to try baking them and they turned out just fine.
  • No racks required.

    Cooling racks? We don’t need no stinking cooling racks. Use a fork to gently pry the muffins out of the tin and tip them onto their sides. They cool well and you have one less thing to wash.

So maybe next Sunday morning, you’ll roll out of bed and whip up a batch of these lovely little muffins. They’re great served with cheese and grapes or fruit salad. Enjoy.

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