Once upon a time, a New England chef in a Nantucket café invented a wonderful muffin, and named it after the café, the Morning Glory Café. The Morning Glory Café closed in 1994, but the muffin lived on.
Nantucket is a wonderful little island, very near Cape Cod and also in the state of Massachusetts. Nantucket has a population of between 50,000 – 60,000 in the summer and only about 11,000 in the winter. It is not easy to be on an island off the East Coast in the winter. Nantucket is charming, upscale and known for being a summer place for the rich. Its 18th century architecture is preserved, as is its environment. It is up to us to preserve the Morning Glory Muffin.
But what is the morning glory part of the muffins? Morning glories are flowering plants that include 1,000 species. They open into full bloom in the early morning, and just a few hours later their petals start to curl up and close. Morning glories are native to China, where they were first used as medicinal plants, in particular because of their laxative properties. Later, the Japanese began to cultivate it as an ornamental flower. Gradually, Morning glories spread all over, and many, many years ago the sulfur in its juices was used to vulcanize rubber. The Aztec priests used it for its hallucinogenic properties. Nowadays we cultivate them around our homes because they are pretty vines.
Now that we’ve got the background and vocabulary out of the way, we can talk about the actual muffin. Muffins are always individual, and not light and fluffy like cake. Instead, they are dense, textured and sometimes even savory. They are about the size of a cupcake because they are often baked in the same tins, but they are not a dessert, but instead a brunch or a breakfast treat. Cupcake batter is beaten until creamy and smooth, just like a cake. Muffins are usually mixed with a spoon by hand, and contain whole-wheat flour or some other substitute for white flour. They are generally considered to be healthy, while cupcakes are generally considered to be high-fat, high-calorie, unnecessary fun food. Cupcakes always have frosting; muffins never have frosting, but occasionally might have a bit of a glaze.
All this finally brings us to the Morning Glory Muffin, which is full of nuts, grains, seeds, veggies and fruit. It’s no wonder the recipe is still popular. They are great for breakfast, a snack, or just to feel like you’re back in the 1970s. If there are any ingredients you don’t like, just substitute them for something else. For example, you could substitute raisins for dried cranberries, seeds for more nuts, and so on. In other words, Morning Glory Muffins contain “everything but the kitchen sink”.
Makes: 12 large muffins Cooking
Time: 45 minutes
2/3 cup raisins
2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups peeled and grated carrots
1 large tart apple, peeled, cored & grated
½ cup shredded coconut, sweetened or unsweetened
2/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup sunflower seeds (can substitute for same amount of wheat germ) (sunflower=large yellow flower in the Asteraceae family)
3 large eggs
2/3 cup of vegetable oil (vegetable oil=cooking oil, usually extracted from seeds)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ cup orange juice
1. Preheat oven to 190o C, (375o F) and grease 12 muffin tins.
2. In a small bowl, cover the raisins with hot water and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger & salt.
4. Stir in the carrots, apple, coconut, walnuts, and wheat germ.
5. In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, oil, vanilla & orange juice. (stir vigorously)
6. Add to the flour mixture, and then stir until evenly moistened. (stir= move around with spoon or other implement)
7. Drain the raisins, squeezing out any excess water, and stir them into the mixture. (drain=remove liquid) (squeezing=applying pressure to extract liquid)
8. Divide the batter between the prepared muffin tins or cups. (prepared=greased)
9. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the muffins are domed and a toothpick inserted in the center of one comes out clean.
10. Remove the muffins form the oven and let cool in the pan on a rack for about 5 minutes.
11. Turn the muffins out onto the rack covered with paper towels and cool completely. The paper towels will absorb excess oil.
You can bake your muffins in paper cups, aka cupcake pan liners or baking cups, if you want. This makes cleanup easier. You can spray grease or not the cups, your choice. Paper cups help to prevent burning and keep your cupcakes soft and fresh longer. However, with the paper cups, the shape of the muffin changes; the entire muffin rises while baking. Without the paper, the center rises much more, forming a dome.