Bread of the Month: Basking in a morning glory muffin

My mom’s got a thing against muffins. She won’t make them. She won’t eat them. This stems from a traumatic period in her childhood, where her obligations as a member of 4-H pushed her to the brink after years of being chained to an oven, churning out muffin after muffin.

It’s not the taste of muffins, necessarily, that gets to her. It’s the shape. Because if you take a muffin batter and bake it in a bread loaf pan (which I’ve done for her), she enjoys it heartily.

I came out of a muffin-less childhood pretty much unscathed, although I went through my own muffin duress/stress in junior high when the threat of a peak or a tunnel in the muffins (caused by over mixing) we were making for Home EC class was grounds for an “F.” You don’t take muffins lightly under those conditions

But these days, I don’t worry about peaks or tunnels too much, and I stir up muffins — to bake in muffin tins — from time to time. So many kinds to make, and they are mostly easy and almost always, if you have a good recipe, delicious.

They can even be somewhat good for you (although some have claimed that a muffin is just a cupcake sans frosting and bearing a healthier moniker). A morning glory muffin is a mix of many wonderful things, including grated carrots, grated apples, coconut, dried fruits and nuts.

I found many recipes for morning glory muffins. My two favorites were one from a cute little cookbook, “Perfectly Simple Muffins,” by Steven Stellingwerf (1992), which I’ve baked from for years, and a recipe by King Arthur Flour, which adds healthy whole wheat flour and orange juice to the morning glory formula.

I decided to fuse the two (as I sometimes do). I liked the proportions of the cookbook recipe (it makes 24, and I planned on giving some of the muffins to friends), but I loved the wheat flour and orange juice as extra flavor and nutrition boosters in these already loaded-with-goodness treats. I decided to use the orange juice to plump the raisins to be included, giving them juicy new life.

These little gems baked up beautifully, perfuming the house with cinnamon and all the glory that a muffin can be. Moist and tasty, the coconut and whole wheat flour, along with walnuts, gave them nutty flavor and texture. What I discovered in the few days of eating them (and wishing for more days when they were gone) is that their taste and texture improved each day as the grated carrot and apple infused more richness over time.

I might make them — in a loaf pan — for my mom. If you make them, you may let go of any muffin misgivings or fears of peaks and tunnels — in muffins, or in life.

Morning Glory Muffins
Adapted from “Perfectly Simple Muffins” by Steven Stellingwerf and King Arthur Flour (www.kingarthurflour.com)
Makes 20 to 24


1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup orange juice
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups carrots, grated
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup grated apple
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable cooking oil
3 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place raisins and orange juice in a small saucepan, heat to simmer. Turn off heat and cool completely.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl combine flours, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Drain cooled raisins, reserving the orange juice. Add raisins, carrots, walnuts, coconut, apple and sunflower seeds to the flour mixture. In a bowl, beat eggs, oil, orange juice and vanilla extract until well blended. Stir into flour mixture until batter is just lightly combined. Fill standard muffin tins that have either been sprayed with cooking spray or lined with cupcake liners at least 2/3 full of batter. Bake for 20 minutes. Do not over-bake.

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