Carrots in baked goods don’t exactly constitute a serving of vegetables, especially considering that carrots typically make their appearance in layer cakes that are slathered with cream cheese frosting. While a classic carrot cake can be delicious, it isn’t the only way to bring carrots into your baked goods – they can be incorporated in to breakfast and brunch bakes, too! These Whole Grain Harvest Carrot Muffins are great way to incorporate some carrots into your daily baking with no frosting required.
These muffins are definitely reminiscent of carrot cake, but they are a bit heartier and much less sweet. They are packed with shredded carrots, chopped nuts and raisins, along with a generous dose of baking spices. I used cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and vanilla – all ingredients that you’ll find a in carrot cake – as they compliment the natural sweetness of the shredded carrots very well. The primary sweetener in the muffins is brown sugar (not carrots!), which adds a subtle molasses flavor and some extra moisture to the muffins.
To get a heartier texture, I used white whole wheat flour, which has a softer texture than regular whole wheat flour while retaining some of the extra nutrients that you get from it. White whole wheat is available at most grocery stores, but you can substitute a blend of equal parts regular all purpose and whole wheat flour if you can’t find it. With a blend, you’ll get some of the nuttiness of the whole wheat flour without making the muffins overly dense or heavy, a similar result to using the white whole wheat flour on its own.
After baking, the muffins are moist and tender, with plenty of warm spice to balance out the sweeter flavors of carrot and brown sugar. You’ll want to warm them up and serve them alongside a steaming mug of coffee on a cool morning, while you watch the colors of the leaves change.
These muffins have an excellent flavor on their own, and I typically serve them as-is or with a side of whipped cream cheese. If you want to dress them up, you can serve them already spread with cream cheese and sprinkled with chopped, toasted nuts – which tie in nicely with the nuts in the muffins. The muffins are ready-to-eat on the day they are baked, however they will keep well for 1-2 days after baking when stored in an airtight container.
Whole Wheat Harvest Carrot Muffins
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots (2-3 medium carrots)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup finely chopped, toasted pecans or walnuts
Preheat oven to 375F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, spices and salt.
In a large bowl, whisk together vegetable oil, brown sugar and egg, stirring until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the shredded carrots, followed by half of the dry ingredient mixture. Stir in the buttermilk and vanilla extract, followed by the remaining flour mixture. Stir in raisins and chopped nuts. Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin cups.
Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and the top springs back when lightly pressed.
Turn muffins out to cool on a wire rack before serving.