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Eric Akis: Oatmeal muffins rich with in-season apples, walnuts, raisins

A hearty breakfast you can hold in your hand
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These oatmeal muffins are enhanced with bits of apple, walnuts and raisins. ERIC AKIS

A warm of bowl oatmeal with add-ins such as apples, raisins and walnuts is a pleasing, sustaining breakfast. That combination of ingredients, not surprisingly, will also work well in other creations, such as baked goods, including muffins.

The types of oats I used in my muffins were rolled oats, sometimes called old-fashioned oats. They are made by steaming and then rolling oat groats to produce thin flakes. Those oats are nutritious and contain such things as fibre, B vitamins, minerals, such as potassium and iron, protein and other good things.

Before making the muffins, I soaked the oats in milk and apple sauce for 30 minutes to soften them, which helped to make them tender when baked. The apple sauce in the recipe also replaces the oil often added to muffin batters.

I also soaked the raisins I used in the muffins for while, but in this case the liquid was hot water, used to plump up that dried fruit before adding it to the muffin batter.

With regard to the apples, you can use just about type in the muffins, whether it’s a B.C. grown McIntosh, Spartan, Braeburn, Honey Crisp, Fuji or other type. After peeling and coring the apple, just be sure to cut it into small cubes, as larger bits of apple won’t be cooked through in the time it takes to bake the muffins.

Before adding the walnuts to the muffins, I toasted them in a skillet, which helps to awaken their nutty flavour and makes them crunchier.

The recipe yields nine large muffins. If that’s too many for you, share some with a friend or family member, or freeze the muffins you won’t eat now to thaw and enjoy at another time.

Oatmeal Muffins with Apples, Walnuts and Raisins

Oat-rich muffins enhanced with bits of in-season apple, toasted walnuts and sweet raisins.

Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus soaking time

Cooking time: 20 to 22 minutes

Makes: nine large muffins

1/2 cup raisins

1 cup rolled oats, plus some for sprinkling

1 cup 2 per cent or homo milk

1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce

1/3 cup walnut pieces

1 cup all-purpose flour (see Options)

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp salt

1 large egg, beaten

1 1/2 cups diced, peeled, cored apple (see Note)

• vegetable oil spray

Place raisins in a small bowl and cover with 1 cup hot water. Let raisins soak and plump up in the water until needed.

Combine the 1 cup oats, milk and apple sauce in a mixing bowl. Let oats soak for 30 minutes to soften.

While oats soak, place walnuts in a small skillet and set over medium heat. Heat the walnuts a few minutes, until lightly toasted, and then transfer to a cutting board. When nuts have cooled, coarsely chop them.

When oats have done soaking, mix the beaten egg into that mixture. Drain the raisins in a small sieve and squeeze out any excess water from them.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Place flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a second mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Now, using a spatula or spoon, mix in the apples, raisins and walnuts. Add dry ingredients to the oat mixture and mix gently until well combined.

Lightly coat nine cups of a 12-cup non-stick muffin tin with oil spray. Fill those nine cups with the muffin batter, ensuring it rises above each cup by 3/4–inch inch or so. Sprinkle the top of each muffin with a few rolled oats

Bake the muffins in the middle of the oven 20 to 22 minutes, or until they spring back when touched in the very centre. Let muffins cool 10 minutes, and then remove from the pan. Enjoy muffins warm or at room temperature.

Note: One very large apple, or two medium ones, should yield the diced amount needed here. Diced in this recipe means to cut the apple into 1/4- to 1/2-inch cubes

Eric’s options: 1/2 cup whole-grain or whole-wheat flour could be replace 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour used in the recipe.

eakis@timescolonist.com

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.