Little in life is better than a muffin. It’s basically cake you can eat for breakfast, and that can’t be bad.
In this case, I combine whole wheat pastry flour with all-purpose flour to create a light fluffy texture with the nutty flavor. I also tossed in chopped walnuts, a little orange zest, and all those great warming spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and clove.
The result is a breakfast treat that pairs perfectly with cold mornings and hot tea.
Why Use Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
The folks at Bob’s Red Mill offer a pretty good explanation of flours.
Basically, whole wheat pastry flour is milled from soft white wheat and has less protein than its whole wheat flour counterpart, which is milled from hard red wheat. The lower protein content in the whole wheat pastry flour creates a light nutrient dense crumb, which is why I use it in my whole wheat baking. (See my love of eating cake for breakfast above).
Swap in Your Favorite Flour!
If you want a 100 percent whole wheat muffin then by all means get crazy with the whole grains.
In this recipe you can comfortably replace equal amounts of all-purpose flour with 100 percent whole wheat flour.
The texture will be chewier and the color of the muffin will be a bit darker, but the flavor will still be rich with nuttiness, warming spices and just bit of brightness from the orange zest. I’ve made muffins both ways, and I like them both ways.
Muffin Tops Are the Best Part
I believe every muffin should be topped with something. For this recipe, I added a mixture of walnuts, cinnamon and sugar to add a little extra sweetness and a slight crunch.
More Favorite Muffin Recipes!
Orange-Spiced Whole Wheat Muffins
- For the muffin topping:
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- For the muffins:
- 1 1/2 cup (195g) whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 cup (130g) all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 cup (164g) granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons orange zest (from about 1 large orange)
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
- 1/4 cup applesauce
- 5 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
Prep the pans and oven:
Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners. Preheat oven to 400°F.
Make the muffin topping:
In a small bowl, combine 1/4 walnuts, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Set aside.
Combine the flours and spices:
In a large bowl, whisk together whole wheat pastry flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, granulated sugar, salt, cinnamon, cloves, ground ginger, nutmeg, and orange zest.
Make the batter:
In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, applesauce, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to combine. The batter should be mostly combined with a few streaks of flour.
Add 3/4 cup walnuts, stir until incorporated. Do not overmix the batter; it will result in dense muffins.
Fill the muffin cups:
Fill muffin cups to the top with batter—don't worry, this is exactly how full you want them. Sprinkle with walnut and cinnamon sugar topping.
Bake the muffins:
Bake for 18 minutes until the muffins have crested over the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. They may show a combination of loose sugar and melted sugar.
The muffins should release from the just fine, but they may touch in a few places on the sides. Not to worry. Just use a knife to cut them apart before lifting them out of the pan. If the muffins are difficult to release from the pan, run a knife horizontally between the muffin top and the top of the muffin pan, taking care not to cut through the body of the muffin.
Serve warm with a pat of butter and a drizzle of honey. Or just eat them. Either way.
Store in an airtight container on the countertop for up to five days or freeze in a zip-top plastic bag. They will keep in the freezer for up to three months.