Sweet apples and tart cranberries, both harvested in the fall, are beautiful compliments to each other in many recipes. I love this Apple Cranberry Pie, and this recipe for Cranberry Apple Oatmeal Muffins is another one of my favourites for fall baking.
What Makes This Muffin Recipe So Good
Not only does this muffin recipe combine apples and cranberries, but it also has dates and walnuts. Dates are a natural sweetener, so this recipe has no refined sugar. A small amount of maple syrup adds a touch of sweetness and lovely maple flavour.
Walnuts add crunch, and oats give these muffins a great texture as well as nutritious goodness. I used 1:1 gluten-free flour, but you can use all-purpose or whole wheat flour.
Here’s What You Need To Make This Recipe
I’m using fresh cranberries here, but you can substitute dried cranberries.
I made this recipe with medjool dates, but any variety of dates will work. You can buy dates already pitted, or you can pit them yourself
Any variety of apple can be used. The outcome will be different depending on the tartness or sweetness of the apple variety. I used an ambrosia apple which, which adds sweetness to this sugar-free recipe.
I like to toast the walnuts (read further for how to toast). You can skip this step, however, toasting the walnuts really enhances their flavour and texture. Which, in turn, enhances the flavour and texture of your baking.
Use quick-cooking rolled oats, not instant.
Regular all-purpose flour is perfect, but you can use whole wheat flour, or half all-purpose and half whole wheat. Using whole wheat flour will make for a heavier, but still delicious muffin. It will also add fibre and nutrients. If gluten is a problem for you, use a 1:1 ratio gluten-free flour blend, or try almond, coconut, quinoa, or another alternative non-wheat flour. Keep in mind when using any other flour besides a 1:1 gluten-free blend, you may need to use less, or you may need to add more milk. This is because the different flours vary in liquid absorption ability.
I used almond milk, but any milk, either dairy or non-dairy will work equally well.
This recipe uses olive oil, which adds a fruitiness to the already fruit-filled muffins. You can also use vegetable oil.
Use a large egg. The egg, and all the other ingredients, should ideally be a room temperature for the best possible results. If you want to bring ingredients to room temperature quickly, here’s how: How to Bring Butter, Eggs & Dairy to Room Temperature Quickly
Please use the real thing. “Pancake” syrup is simply corn syrup with artificial flavour and colour added and is not a substitute for pure maple syrup.
How To Toast Walnuts
For the best flavour and crunch, toast the walnuts. It’s very easy and doesn’t take long at all. You can toast the nuts in a skillet on the stovetop or you can use the oven. For a small amount of nuts, like the 1/2 cup in this recipe I use the stovetop.
To toast nuts on the stove, heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the nuts to the pan in a single layer. Nuts are naturally high in fat, so there is no need to use any oil. Stir or shake the pan to keep them from burning, and heat until the nuts become fragrant and toasted, about 5 minutes.
To toast nuts in the oven, preheat the oven to 350°. Place the walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 6-7 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes.
For both toasting methods, keep a close eye on them. Nuts can burn very easily. Transfer the toasted nuts immediately to a plate so that they don’t continue to cook.
How To Make These Muffins (Step By Step)
Muffins are almost always made by the same method, called appropriately, The Muffin Method. These cranberry apple oatmeal muffins are no exception.
1. In a large bowl whisk together the dry ingredients
2. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients
3. Add the wet ingredients, along with any add-ins, to the dry ingredients.
4. Combine with a few quick strokes, mixing just enough to moisten the dry ingredients. (lumps are fine) This step is important, as over-mixing will cause the muffins to be tough and filled with air pockets.
Tips For Perfect Muffins
Always use the Muffin Method outlined above, mixing the wet ingredients separately from the dry ingredients.
Don’t over mix. (This can’t be overemphasized)
Combine the wet and dry ingredients right before baking. (Don’t make the batter ahead of time).
Line the muffin pan with paper liners. Lining the pan eliminates the need for greasing, ensures that the baked muffins will not stick, makes cleanup easier, and extends the life of your pans.
Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.
Ingredient Variations For Oatmeal Muffins
Here are a few variations for the add-ins. Instead of:
Dates: Raisins or Diced Prunes
Cranberries: Dried cherries, strawberries, or apricots
Walnuts: Pecans, cashews, or slivered almonds
Apple: Pear or a grated carrot
More Fall Baking Ideas
Fall Baking is perfect for using seasonal ingredients. If you love it, too, here are more delicious fall baking recipes for you to try!
- Apple Ricotta Cake (Gluten-Free Cake)
- Apple Walnut Spice Cake
- Pumpkin Pecan Muffins (Gluten-Free)
- Pumpkin Spice Loaf
- Cranberry Walnut Bread
Cranberry Apple Oatmeal Muffins
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup quick-cooking oats
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup milk
- 1 egg large
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 large apple peeled and diced
- 6 dates pitted and chopped
- 1/2 cup cranberries
- 1/2 cup toasted walnuts chopped
- Preheat oven to 375°
- Line a twelve cup muffin pan with paper liners, or use cooking spray.
- In a large bowl combine the flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
- In a smaller bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, olive oil, maple syrup and vanilla.
- Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture
- Add the apple, dates, cranberries and walnuts
- Stir just until dry ingredients are moistened
- Spoon into prepared muffin pan cups
- Bake in the centre of the oven for 20 minutes
- Cool in the pan for five minutes before transferring the muffins to a rack to cool completely
- Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2 days