Friday, February 22, 2013

Whole Foods Friday: Blueberry, Cherry, and Oat Muffins

We all know that more fiber is good for us, right? When it comes to baking, usually that fiber comes from whole wheat. But oats are a good alternative, and sometimes they're a better alternative. They're lighter in color in baked goods, and the flavor is milder, so they can be more appealing to people who haven't fully embraced the idea of whole grains.

I made these muffins with a combination of dried blueberries and dried cherries - about 2/3 blueberries and 1/3 cherries - but you can use any proportion, or any dried fruit that you like. I've recently decided that I like dried fruits better than fresh in muffins. The flavor is more concentrated and they're sturdy, so you don't end up with squished fruit in the muffins.

Some recipes call for hydrating dried fruits before baking. I might do something like that for a more delicate baked good, like a cake. But muffins are more robust, and they can handle the more dense fruit. Of course, if your dried fruit has been sitting around for a while and it is too chewy, you can certainly opt to hydrate the fruit before baking.

These muffins were only tested at high altitude - if you're cooking at sea level, you might need an extra teaspoon of baking powder beyond what's provided from using self-rising flour. Up here (gasp, gasp) at about a mile high, these rose nicely, but didn't over-rise, which is always a worry. And the texture was perfect.

Blueberry, Cherry, and Oat Muffins

1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup (4 1/2 ounces) self-rising flour
1 pinch salt
1 cup dried blueberries and cherries (any combination you like)
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup creme fraiche*
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spray a muffin pan (with 12 regular-sized muffins, not the giant ones) with baking spray. Or, if you prefer, line with cupcake papers.

Obliterate the oats in your food processor until you have a fine powder. It's fine if there are a few bits, but it should be mostly powder.

Combine the obliterated oats, self-rising flour, salt, and dried fruit in a medium bowl.

In a separate bowl whisk together the sugar, creme fraiche, oil, and egg. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients, and stir until it's combined.

Portion the batter into the 12 muffin cups in the pan.

If the oven hasn't quite come up to temperature at this point, no worries. Just wait for it.

Bake at 375 degrees until the muffins are golden brown on top, they spring back when gently touched in the center, and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean - about 18-20 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the muffins to a rack to cool.

*Home made creme fraiche is easy. Here's my method.