Good Eats and Sweet Treats from My Small Boston Kitchen

Brown Sugar Oat Cherry Muffins

These muffins have been one of my favorite offerings at Flour Bakery for as long as I can remember. To other people, these always seem like a rather bland pick — why choose an oat-and-wheat-filled muffin when you can have flaky homemade pop tarts or luscious lemon scones or cream-filled brioche? I don’t really know what it is, but there’s just something about the flavors and textures that come together to make these muffins especially magical to me. They’re rich and hearty and delicious and satisfying. They aren’t always available, but when they are, they’re my go-to.

A month or so ago, I decided to start a cookbook club, and since I was planning to host the first event at my house, I settled on Flour and Flour, Too as the designated cookbooks that everyone would be working from. Paging through Flour, Too, I came across the recipe for these muffins. What a happy surprise! You probably won’t be shocked to know that the muffins came out great, but before we get to that, I want to say a few words about my new club.

Brown Sugar Oat Cherry Muffins - Sweetly Serendipity

The word “club” takes me back to my youth — when I read the Saddle Club books (anyone who loves horses as much as I do knows the series), or when I created secret clubs with my friends, or when I had to pick real clubs at school to become a part of. Clubs aren’t really something I ever envisioned myself getting into as an adult, at least not in the traditional sense. But life changes a lot and people grow up and friends move and relationships dissolve, and then you realize one day that you’re pretty lonely. I’ve felt that way a lot in the years since graduating from college, even when I was in a relationship that was steady and satisfying. Despite having a few really great friends, may of those I’ve known for years have gone away, and I’ve always felt like making more is so hard!

Brown Sugar Oat Cherry Muffins - Sweetly Serendipity

For a long time, the fear of trying to extend myself into new social situations was so debilitating that I couldn’t even bring myself to try. But then my life was disrupted in such a way that I was forced to make a fresh start, and that fresh start came with a new zest for life — for making my life what I want it to be, instead of simply hoping that someday it might change. So I started a club. An adult club. One where cookbooks are the theme, and people come together because they love food and sharing it with others. When I told my friends and family I’d started this club, many were intrigued, and asked for details. But one especially special friend told me she was proud of me for taking a leap that the old me never would have. A proactive step towards a brighter, fuller future. I was so grateful she noticed this change, but also so proud of myself. People can grow and learn so much if they simply have the will to, and it’s really exciting to see and feel that happening to yourself. It’s especially gratifying when it all happens because of a plate of muffins.

Brown Sugar Oat Cherry Muffins - Sweetly Serendipity

So maybe the muffins weren’t really the catalyst, but they were my contribution to the inaugural cookbook club event, and such a fitting representation of who I am. Full of oats and whole wheat flour — hearty and healthy and nutrient-packed. But sweet too — cherries and brown sugar — because honestly healthy is only worth it if you can have the sweets with it. I loved every inch of these less-than-beautiful muffins, and I’m so excited to know I have this recipe in my personal arsenal, for any time that I’m feeling like I could use a pick-me-up.

Brown Sugar Oat Cherry Muffins - Sweetly Serendipity

It’s worth noting that this batter is supposed to rest overnight, or for at least 8 hours. I discovered this fact at 6am on the morning of the event, a mere 5.5 hours before my guests were supposed to arrive, so my batter only had about 4 hours to rest. The recipe instructions call for over-filling the muffin tin cavities, but I think in my case, that didn’t work as well. I think I would have gotten a better domed top and a bit more firmness has I followed the directions to a T, but these still came out great. There is a winter seasonal substitute recommended, where you swap in cranberries for the cherries. Guess I’ll just have to try them again 🙂

Brown Sugar Oat Cherry Muffins - Sweetly Serendipity

Brown Sugar Oat Cherry Muffins

Ingredients

    Muffin Ingredients
  • 3½ cups rolled oats
  • 1¼ cup crème fraîche
  • 1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • ⅔ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1½ cups frozen or fresh sweet or sour cherries, pitted and chopped (I used fresh sweet)
  • 1¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Sugared Oat Topping:
  • ¼ cup rolled oats
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the rolled oats, crème fraîche, milk, and butter with a wooden spoon until well combined.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs together, and mix into the oat mixture.
  3. Add both sugars and cherries to the oat mixture, and continue to stir until well combined.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine the whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Gently fold dry ingredients into the wet oat mixture.
  5. Pour batter into an airtight container, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or overnight.
  6. When ready to bake the muffins, preheat oven to 350 degrees, and place a rack in the center of your oven. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners, or grease and flour each cavity. I greased my entire pan before putting liners in, to be sure that the muffins and their overflowing tops would come out easily. Your batter should be stiff and firm before filling the muffin tin.
  7. Fill eat muffin cup all the way to the top, and then add a bit more. It will seem like you're adding too much batter, but that's the point! This will help to create a domed muffin top. (Alternatively, if you'd like your muffins smaller, you may fill each cup less and reduce the baking time.)
  8. In a small bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, and a pinch of cinnamon for the topping, and sprinkle evenly over the muffins.
  9. Place the filled muffin tin on a baking sheet to catch any drips, and place in the preheated oven.
  10. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until muffins are golden brown and spring back when touched in the middle. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.
  11. Let muffins cool in their tins on a wire rack for about 20 minutes, then remove from their tins and let cool completely on a wire rack.
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