Cinnamon Spice Apple-Pear Muffins

Baking mode nearly paralyzed me this week. With morning temps at -20 degrees this week, we had not one, but *two* snow/ COLD days, and the combination of surprise days off school and frigid air put me in such a mood to play baker/pastry chef I was oh so tempted to set wheels in motion for an alarming heating bill later this month. The desire was mostly played out in my mind this time, however, because I had plenty of tasks with impending deadlines beckoning me away from the oven on my list. We also started, finally, to kick our Boston training into gear in earnest, so the treadmill (which I can't even jokingly call the dreadmill, being such a beloved safety net during bouts of creampuff wussiness when it comes to the cold) was making demands of its own. I have to say, though, treadmill time dictated not just effort but also reward (at least that was my interpretation), and I did get to make these super easy and tasty, wholesome, aromatic muffins. I had a lone, sorry looking pear just begging to be made useful sitting in my fridge. I'm not sure how it got to that point, really. I love pears (who wouldn't?). They can be so rustic and unassuming yet so plumply elegant; they have these wonderful names that sound like assorted nobles, like Bosc and Bartlett. And they pack in some great nutrition, full of fiber, and good sources of vitamins C and K, copper and more. I like adding them to salads and oatmeal, and enjoying them on their own, so why didn't I just eat the darn thing? For whatever reason, it sat in the fruit bowl, then, as it began to ripen too close to becoming soft, I moved it to the fridge, where time stood still in terms of firmness, but it browned a bit more. I thought about making whole wheat pear gingerbread, but couldn't resist experimenting with something new, having been gifted a whole two days in a row off to do so. These are not necessarily the most attractive muffins (mine came out a little bit tan and lumpy but looked beautiful when sliced in half, only I can't show you authentically because I didn't make the time to take my own pictures and called upon a close match in Flikr instead). They are, however, really lovely (which is somewhat evidenced by the lack of original photo, since once opened up for sharing, they didn't last very long). Lightly sweet but thoroughly spiced, they're moist and fragrant, and taste something like spice cake, yet lean on oil and sugar, and made with whole wheat pastry and oat flours. Hope you enjoy them like we did. : )

Cinnamon Spice Apple Pear Muffins

Yield: 12 muffins

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup skim or almond milk
  • 1 medium ripe pear, diced
  • 1 apple, peeled and diced

1. Place oats in a food processor and grind into flour. Add whole wheat pastry flour and process to combine.

2. In a mixing bowl, mix oat-flour mixture with baking powder and spices. In a small bowl, lightly beat egg. Add in olive oil, applesauce, and milk, stirring to combine. Fold in sliced apples and pears.

3. Pour batter into prepared muffin tin.  Bake at 400 degrees F for approximately 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Photo credit: Flikr user Akane86