Wife Jan asked for oat muffins for breakfast, while I was up to my elbows in flour making hand pies, I said I would do it. Normally, I would make banana oat muffins with pecans and blueberries, but when I checked my supplies I found I had neither bananas nor pecans. However I did have plenty of pistachios and apricots—and a new variation of the recipe was born.
Karl’s Pistachio and Apricot Oat Muffins
1 ¾ cups rolled oats
½ cup AP flour
½ cup brown sugar
1 Tbs. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. Kosher salt
2 Tbs. butter
¾ cup milk
½ tsp. vanilla
½ cup pistachios
½ cup dried apricots, diced
1. Place the oat meal in a large skillet and toast it over high heat, stirring constantly to prevent scorching, until golden brown (about 10 minutes).
Tip: This is actually a critical step. You want to toast the oats, but not scorch them. One important trick is to sift out the oat dust from the raw oats before putting them in the pan. This is because the dust will burn before the rolled oats are even starting to be toasted. By removing the dust you avoid having a burned oat taste to your muffins. Underdone is better than over done in this case. You want most of the oats well browned, but with no oats very browned.
Note: This sifting process produced about two tablespoons of oat dust. I added it back to the pan during the last minute of toasting.
2. Take ¾ of a cup of the toasted oats and put them in a blender and process them to a fine meal.
3. Put the whole oats, the oat meal, the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt into a medium bowl and mix well.
4. Melt the butter and drizzle it over the dry ingredients.
5. Scramble the eggs in a measuring cup and then add half of the milk to the cup.
Tip: This allows you to thoroughly mix the eggs and milk together without splashing the mixture all over the place.
6. Add the rest of the milk and vanilla to the measuring cup and mix them in.
7. Make a well in the dry ingredients and stir in the eggs/milk mixture.
8. While there is still some dry flour in the bowl, fold in the nuts and diced apricots.
Tip: For a quick bread, you do not want to overwork the dough, because it will make the muffins tough. This is the opposite of yeasted bread, where you are trying to develop the gluten to give it its structure.
Note: A quick bread is more of a batter than a dough. As a result, it can be a bit looser, more like pancake batter. When you add the nuts they may dry out the batter too much, add as much extra milk as you need to have a damp, but not soggy, batter.
9. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
10. Pam-ed mini muffin tin and fill each cup with the batter.
11. Bake for 25 minutes, until an inserted tooth pick comes out clean.
Tip: Halfway through the baking time, rotate the pan to ensure even baking—the back of the oven is always hotter than the front.
12. When your mini muffins are done, remove them from the baking pans and cool on a wire rack.