And just like that, I’m fully acquainted with the Muffin Man.
No, that’s not the name of the new Sex & The City reboot. It’s simply my thought process as I sit here yet again, regaling you with a tale about magnificent muffins.
I’m no muffin mastermind, and I’ve certainly never considered myself an expert in the very technical world of baking. As a matter of fact, if you know me well, you’re fully aware that I strongly prefer the savory end of the cooking spectrum.
You can taste as you go when you’re cooking, adding a dash of this, a splash of that. Baking doesn’t really conform to those rules.
But with a multitude of muffin recipes close at hand, I’ve actually started to enjoy the process of baking too.
Don’t tell my friends I said that or I’m going to have to start baking cakes for their one-year-old’s birthday parties instead of being able to whip up cheesy sliders at the last minute!
In this recipe, the rolled oats (folded into the batter and sprinkled on top) add a generous portion of fiber – not to mention vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Instead of butter, we call on coconut oil to keep with the vegan theme.
Freshly grated Granny Smith apple adds moisture, sweetness, and a little tang, and applesauce also parades around in the batter like butter (so you don’t miss any of that tasty fat).
When it comes to dried fruit and nuts, I often just grab whatever is nearby. If you’d prefer to use pecans and dried cherries, I won’t be offended. And if some chocolate chips happen to fall into the batter, these healthy goodies might even appeal to your kiddos. Play with what you have.
Now that I’ve got your attention (you, who isn’t fully comfortable conjuring up any sort of baked good but was intrigued enough by the words “vegan” and “oat” to take a look), I’ll give you the top two secrets I’ve learned along the way in my muffin-baking adventures.
First, there’s the step that no one ever talks about: letting the batter rest in the fridge.
This resting process (which can be done in as little as one hour or overnight) isn’t a requirement, but boy does it make a difference if you have the time. Also, this only works if your ingredient list calls for double-acting baking powder.
If you’re using other leavening agents, this trick won’t have the same effect.
Luckily, these vegan oat muffins call for a hefty tablespoon of baking powder, so the longer the batter sits, the more the starches in the flour absorb the liquids and swell. This happens regardless, but since the baking powder reacts twice – once when you mix the wet and dry ingredients and again when the pan goes into the oven – it helps facilitate the gluten’s relaxation process.
Developing gluten overnight is something I never would have cared about in the past, but here we are.
And what are we left with? Muffins that are sturdy without being tough.
My second secret is simple.
Stop filling the wells in your pan only two-thirds or three-quarters of the way full if you want bigger end results. This may seem like an obvious suggestion, but in the past when I’ve followed the recommendation to avoid filling the pan up all the way, I’ve been disappointed.
Do you want majestic muffins that are grand and high-domed like the ones at your local bakery?
No need to get crazy, but being a little more lavish when distributing your batter will result in a more impressive final product that I guarantee you’ll be inclined to bow down to.Print
Naturally sweetened with coconut sugar and apples, these oat muffins studded with dried cranberries and walnuts are a healthy vegan treat.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup rolled oats, divided
- 1 tablespoon double-acting baking powder
- 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons coconut sugar, divided
- 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk (plain or vanilla), plus more for thinning as needed
- 1/2 cup applesauce
- 4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted and slightly cooled, divided
- 1 medium Granny Smith apple, peeled and grated (about 3/4 cup)
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners (or spray with non-stick cooking spray).
- In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, 3/4 cup of the oats, the baking powder, 2 teaspoons of the cinnamon, and 1/2 cup of the coconut sugar. Whisk to combine.
- In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the almond milk, applesauce, and 3 tablespoons of the coconut oil.
- Gradually fold the dry ingredients into the wet, making sure not to overmix. Fold in the grated apple, walnuts, and cranberries. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight.
- Just before baking, preheat the oven to 400°F and prepare the muffin topping. In a small bowl, stir together the remaining rolled oats, cinnamon, coconut sugar, and oil to combine.
- Spoon even amounts of the batter into 8 muffin cups, filling them to the top. Evenly sprinkle with the oat topping.
- Bake until the muffins are golden-brown and a toothpick comes out clean or with just a few crumbs attached, about 20-25 minutes.
- Let the muffins cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, and then transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling.
- Store leftover muffins in an airtight container on the counter, or tightly wrap and freeze individual portions.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Category: Muffin
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Baked Good
Keywords: muffin, vegan, oat, apple, walnut
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Gather, Prep, and Measure Ingredients
Measure the flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, coconut sugar, almond milk, applesauce, coconut oil, walnuts, and cranberries.
Melt the coconut oil by placing it in a small microwave-safe container and microwaving on high for about 30 seconds. The oil will cool to room temperature while you’re prepping the rest of the ingredients.
Peel and then grate the apple on the large holes of a box grater. Rotate the apple as you grate until you end up with just the core. Read up on how to use a box grater properly, so you stay safe in the kitchen!
The grated apple is packed with moisture, so using a cutting board with a juice groove around the edge is a great way to make sure you don’t lose any of that flavorful liquid!
Step 2 – Mix the Dry Ingredients
Using a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, 3/4 cup of the oats, the baking powder, 2 teaspoons of the cinnamon, and 1/2 cup of the coconut sugar.
Step 3 – Mix the Wet Ingredients
In a separate small bowl, whisk the almond milk, applesauce, and 3 tablespoons of the melted coconut oil together until combined.
Keep some extra almond milk nearby in case you need to thin the batter in the next step. When you mix the wet and dry ingredients together, if your batter seems especially thick or dry, you may need another splash of milk.
Step 4 – Fold All Ingredients Together
Gradually pour and fold the dry ingredients into the wet, making sure not to overmix so the batter doesn’t get tough.
The oats really soak up the liquid, so if the batter looks a little too dry and cakey, splash in a few tablespoons at a time of the almond milk until the consistency feels like cookie batter but a bit less sticky.
Delicately folding the ingredients into the batter so you don’t overmix, add the grated apples, walnuts, and cranberries.
Step 5 – Rest the Batter and Make the Topping
Cover the bowl of batter with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour, or overnight. This helps the finished product to be thicker and more robust.
Just before baking, preheat your oven to 400°F and prep the topping.
In a small bowl, add the remaining rolled oats, cinnamon, coconut sugar, and oil and stir to combine. I use a soft rubber spatula to fold the ingredients together, then use either a fork or my fingers to break up the sugar if it’s clumped together.
Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners (or spray with non-stick cooking spray). If you use a heaping 1/3 cup of batter to fill each cup, you’ll end up with 8 muffins. If you use exactly 1/3 cup, you’ll end up with 9. Either way, you won’t need to spray or line all 12 cups.
If you’d prefer to make 12 smaller versions, go ahead and spray or line all 12 cups, fill 3/4 of the way to the brim, and be sure to reduce the baking time by about 5 minutes.
Step 6 – Fill the Tin, Top, and Bake
I use a heaping 1/3 cup measure to fill about 8 of the wells a little over the top. The batter is firm enough that it will hold its shape and stay somewhat raised in the middle.
You want to fill each well a bit over the brim, but not excessively so since they would spill over while baking. This results in larger, more bakery-style, higher-domed versions.
If you’d prefer to make 12 muffins, evenly distribute the batter to each well so it’s 3/4 of the way full.
Using your fingers, evenly sprinkle the oat topping over the batter.
Bake until golden-brown and a toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs attached, for about 20-25 minutes. If the toothpick is entirely clean, that’s fine, but they will be on the drier side.
If you’re making 12 muffins, do the toothpick test after about 18 minutes. Smaller muffins will require less time in the oven.
Allow them cool in the pan for no longer than 10 minutes or the bottoms will steam and get soggy. Transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling.
Store leftover muffins in an airtight container on the counter or wrap and freeze individual portions.
Mix, Mix, Then Mix Again
Like with many recipes, achieving the best results is all about grasping a certain technique. Once you learn it, you can start getting more creative with your flavor combos.
And when it comes to muffins, we’re just talking about a few simple steps.
Mix the dry ingredients. Mix the wet ingredients. Mix them together. Fold in the fruit and nuts. Bake. Voila.
And while there’s so much more richness to the story of each specific recipe when it’s broken down, understanding that basic procedure is all you need to become the maestro of muffins.
Served up nice and warm with a cup of coffee, these vegan oat muffins have no need for extra condiments. But if you’ve got a suggestion for a sweet dairy-free spread, dish it out in the comments below! And don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it.
There’s a lot to love about apples, and applesauce is a rock star ingredient in the wide world of baking. Here are a few more recipes that rely on the sweet stuff to keep things moist for you to try next:
Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Sarah Hagstrom on June 21, 2015. Last updated on June 24, 2022.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Fanny Slater
Fanny Slater is a home-taught food enthusiast based in Wilmington, North Carolina who won the “Rachael Ray Show” Great American Cookbook Competition in 2014, and published her cookbook “Orange, Lavender & Figs” in 2016. Fanny is a food and beverage writer, recipe developer, and social media influencer. She was a co-host on the Food Network series “Kitchen Sink,” was featured on Cooking Channel’s longtime popular series “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and continues to appear regularly on the “Rachael Ray Show.”