I realized this week that I hadn’t made muffins in ages. I used to make them frequently on weekend mornings, but for some reason I just fell out of the habit. Does that happen to you, too?
I was excited to make these muffins for a number of reasons. This was my first time baking with coconut sugar, spelt flour and sweet potato. Three new ingredients that could possibly go awry — what was I thinking? Happily, none of them did. And to top this baking experiment off — literally — I sprinkled the muffins with oatmeal mixed with another new twist in the kitchen, caramel also made with coconut sugar. And shazaam, that worked out too. (Sorry to keep you in suspense, but that recipe is coming next week.)
These muffins turned out high and light, but not at all dry. And that caramel oatmeal crunch earned its name: it brought a crisp, slightly sticky bite along with a touch of deep, sweet flavour.
I’ve been curious about using coconut sugar since it’s considered more natural and has a lower glycemic index level than granulated white sugar. It’s granulated, but dark in colour. I found it behaves much like granulated white sugar, but delivers a deep (think along the lines of molasses) yet subdued sweetness. I also used white spelt flour in place of the usual unbleached white flour. I’m not sure just what impact it had on the final texture of the muffins, so I’m going to try it in some tried and true old recipes to better understand how it works. And as for the sweet potato, since it has a stronger flavour than pumpkin, I added a restrained amount. Plus, orange provided the high note of flavour in these muffins, keeping the sweet potato from dominating.
My only misstep in this recipe was the cardamom. Here’s the thing about cardamom and me: I really, really want to like it. Trouble is, I haven’t quite acquired a taste for it yet. Somewhat recklessly, I tossed far too much into the batter. I’ve adjusted for this in the recipe by reducing the amount and suggesting it be optional, in case you’re also developing your cardamom crush.
Saturdays may be for sleeping in, but tomorrow morning I’ll be getting up bright and early, just out of eagerness to enjoy a couple more of these muffins.
Orange & Sweet Potato Muffins with Caramel Oatmeal Crunch
Note: It’s worth baking off a sweet potato for this recipe. I was making a couple different recipes featuring them so baked several, but one medium-large one should do the trick for this recipe. I cut mine lengthwise, placed cut side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and baked in a 400 ℉ oven until tender, about 45 minutes. I flipped them over to cool for a bit, then scooped out the flesh and mashed it up with a fork. No big deal! In future, I’ll make some in advance, portion the mash out for this recipe and freeze.
Line a 12-cup muffin tray with paper liners and pre-heat the oven to 375 ℉.
- 1-1/2 cups white spelt flour
- 1/2 cup large flake oatmeal (plus more, see below in list)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- (optional) 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- zest of one well-scrubbed orange
- 3/4 cup orange juice (I squeezed three oranges and included the pulp)
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup coconut sugar
- 2/3 cup mashed sweet potato
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
- 1/3 cup large flake oatmeal
- 1 tbsp coconut sugar caramel (I haven’t tried it, but maple syrup may work as a substitution)
Mix the flour, the 1/2 cup of oatmeal, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and cardamom (if using) in a large bowl and set aside.
In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, combine the orange zest and juice, egg, oil, sugar and sweet potato. Stir well and pour into the dry ingredients. Stir with a fork until just mixed, then add the walnut pieces. Mix in with a spatula, scraping the bowl well.
Mix the remaining oatmeal and caramel in a small bowl until the caramel is well-distributed.
Scoop the batter evenly into the prepared muffin tins. An ice cream scoop makes even and easy work of this. Sprinkle the caramel oatmeal on top of the batter.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Place the tin on a cooling rack for five or ten minutes, then turn out the muffins and set upright to finish cooling. Of course, that’s not to suggest you wouldn’t want to eat them warm.