Carrot Muffins

Scented with allspice and laced with shreds of carrot, these muffins strike a balance between sweetness and spice. The streusel topping adds crunch and extra flavor while spelt flour and oat bran lend an earthy flavor. This recipe can double as a morning coffee cake—imagine a rustic version of a carrot cake—if you bake the batter and streusel in a 9-inch round pan instead of individual muffin cups.–Kim Boyce

LC Perfect Muffin Tops Tip

We’d like to take credit for the brilliant technique contained within this recipe, but we’re too honest. (Actually, it’s not honesty, it’s guilt from our Catholic childhoods.) It’s Kim Boyce, author of the award-winning cookbook Good to the Grain, and not us who suggests filling only alternate baking cups with batter. This niftily allows each muffin enough room to have a proper domed top, rather than become all smooshed and stuck to its neighbor. Brilliant, yes?

Our small contribution to this conversation, however modest, is that we like to fill a few of the empty cups partway with water. This humidifies the oven which, in turn, does wonders for the muffins’ moistness. Not that these little lovelies need any help.

Carrot Muffins Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 20 M
  • 55 M
  • Makes 8

Ingredients

  • For the streusel topping
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons spelt flour
  • 2 tablespoons oat bran
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • For the muffins
  • Butter, for the tins
  • 1 cup spelt flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup oat bran
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely grated carrots, about 2 medium
  • 2 ounces (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 cup buttermilk (regular or lowfat or nonfat is fine)
  • 1 large egg

Directions

  • Make the streusel topping
  • 1. Measure the flour, oat bran, sugars, and salt into a bowl. Add the butter to the dry mixture. Rub the butter between your fingers, breaking it into smaller bits. Continue rubbing until the mixture feels coarse, like cornmeal. The more quickly you do this, the more the butter will stay solid, which is important for the success of the recipe.
  • Make the carrot muffins
  • 2. Preheat the oven to 350°F (176 °C). Rub the muffin tins with the butter.
  • 3. Sift the flours, bran, sugars, allspice, baking powder and soda, salt, and cinnamon into a large bowl. Stir the carrots into the dry ingredients.
  • 4. In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter, buttermilk, and egg and whisk until thoroughly combined. Using a spatula, mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
  • 5. Scoop the batter into 8 muffin cups, using a spoon or an ice cream scoop. The batter should be slightly mounded above the edge. Sprinkle the streusel topping evenly over the mounds of batter and press it into the batter slightly.
  • 6. Bake the muffins for 32 to 35 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. The muffins are ready to come out when they smell nutty and their bottoms are a dark golden-brown (twist a single muffin out of the pan to check). Remove the tins from the oven, twist each muffin out, and place it on its side in the cup to cool. This ensures that the muffin stays crusty instead of getting soggy. These are best eaten warm from the oven or later that same day. They can also be kept in an airtight container for up to 2 days, or frozen and reheated.
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:

Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Tracey G.

Mar 04, 2011

Baking with whole grains makes me feel smug with the superiority of my healthfulness, but I’m ultimately disappointed when the baked goods taste “healthy.” These carrot muffins left me both smug and satisfied. The spelt flour gives them a warm, nutty texture that’s especially perfect for fall. The crunch of the streusel is a nice complement to the soft crumb of the cake. I baked this in a cake pan as suggested, adding a few minutes to the bake time. Since it was nearly impossible to check the bottom of the cake for doneness, I used its nutty aroma as the indicator to take it out of the oven. This is a great recipe for breakfast, when you’re craving a muffin but don’t want something too sugary.

Testers Choice
Tamiko Lagerwaar

Mar 04, 2011

These are delightfully spicy, moist, and tender muffins. They embody everything that a carrot cake should be, and the streusel just elevates them. I’d make these again in a heartbeat, and would love to try the rustic cake version as well. I made these gluten-free, and they adapted perfectly, although some may not be able to do this due to the oat bran. Next time, I might add some raisins, but that’s just because of my preference for raisins in carrot cake; they really don’t need anything else. Kudos!

Testers Choice
Rebecca R.

Mar 04, 2011

These muffins were delicious, as well as light and tender—which is unusual for a whole grain muffin. The spices were perfect, and the topping dressed the muffin up for company. My only issue was that it was a sweeter muffin than I typically like for breakfast, making it more like cake than a muffin. Of course, what’s a muffin other than an excuse for eating cake for breakfast?

Testers Choice
Carol Anne Grady

Mar 04, 2011

These carrot muffins do a rather fine balancing act between sweet and savoury. The streusel topping is wonderfully crunchy, and the muffins are soft and warm with spices. They’re a lovely treat for elevenses, or breakfast, or after lunch, or before dinner…

Testers Choice
Fran Brennan

Mar 04, 2011

I’d wanted to try something from the Good to the Grain cookbook for a while, so this testing period gave me just the push I needed. I’d never used spelt flour before, so I was curious about its taste and texture in a muffin. Even before I put them in the oven, I tried the batter and knew these would be terrific. The aroma during baking was incredible. I had a tiny bit of trouble getting them out of the pan after baking, but it wasn’t enough to put me off of this recipe. The muffins didn’t disappoint: they were dense, but not too heavy; nutty and flavorful, but also sweet and redolent of spice. The streusel topping was excellent— a great texture and taste (not too sweet). My kids loved these muffins—even my super picky 7-year-old devoured them, as did his even-more-picky best friend (who hates carrots). The only change I’d make is adding more carrots. I thought 1/2 cup didn’t seem like enough in the scheme of things. Overall, these were a huge hit in our house, and will go into our permanent rotation.

Testers Choice
Nancy A. Mosher

Mar 04, 2011

Don’t pass these by because they’re good for you—they’re also delicious as a breakfast treat or a snack with coffee or tea. The carrots add moisture and flavor to the muffins, and we really liked that they weren’t cloyingly sweet, like many other muffins. The topping is crunchy and adds a bit of sweetness, balancing everything out.

Testers Choice
Jean Moats

Mar 04, 2011

These muffins are both sweet and savory. The addition of allspice and cinnamon to the batter yields a spicy fall taste, while the streusel topping gives them a crunch, making you think how healthy they are with the oat bran and spelt flour. For me, the recipe made 12 muffins instead of eight, using regular muffin pans. TIP: Be sure to butter the muffin tins well, or the muffins will stick in the pan.

Testers Choice
Judy O.

Mar 04, 2011

This muffin had a tender crumb and a very delicate taste. I substituted all-purpose flour for the spelt flour, and used wheat germ instead of oat bran in both the muffin and the strudel topping. I ended up with 10 nicely domed muffins. If I had followed the recipe, I doubt the results would have yielded a better muffin than these. These were yummy.

Testers Choice
Annie Barron

Mar 04, 2011

These muffins were delicious. The use of whole grains gave them a subtly nutty flavor without any heaviness, so they’re an excellent way to slip something healthier to the whole-grain-phobic! My only quibble with the method was the recommendation to balance the muffins atop the tins for cooling. I couldn’t keep mine from falling back in, but they did just fine cooled on a rack. I’ll definitely make these again.


Comments
Comments
  1. Donna says:

    I always love your little side comments about your upbringing. I wish I could remember the title of one of your essays – it had to do with your father and I laughed till I almost cried. Thank you.

  2. RisaG says:

    I was wondering why the muffin pan wasn’t completely filled. These look really good. I have some cooked carrots in the freezer. I will be making these soon. I love muffins of all kinds.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      I’m rather accustomed to not filling muffin cups to the top of the pan, simply to allow space for rising during baking. Prevents the batter from spilling over onto the top of the pan and creating burnt-on blackness that requires scrubbing! Also, the more modest the size of the muffin, the more evenly it can bake, keeping it moist and not underdone in some spots and overdone in others…

  3. Sara says:

    I somehow missed this post, but made these last Thursday as a matter of fact. Must be something in the air. I don’t typically like carrot cake, for example, so it’s surprising I even went for these. But they were wonderful. I was shocked, in fact, by how much I loved them. They were slightly sweet, (just enough, as other commenters have already noted, and not too much) yet still hearty enough to feel wholesome. I will definitely be making again!

    • Dan Kraan, LC Community Moderator says:

      We’re very pleased that you enjoyed them so much, Sara. Did you use the “alternate baking cup” method when making them?

      • Sara says:

        I didn’t entirely fill a 12-cup muffin tin. I could only fit 8, and some grew together a bit. Although they certainly rose beautifully! When I put the streusel on the unbaked muffins, I almost thought there was too much, but when they baked it was clearly just the right amount, as the quantity accounted for the increase in surface area as the muffins rose. Very clever!

    • David Leite says:

      Sara, so glad you liked them!

      • Sara says:

        Me too! You can’t go wrong with this book, I’m surprised how much I turn to it. Wanted to mention that not having oat bran around, I just used regular ol’ oatmeal in its place and it turned out fantastically!

  4. Is there a reason why you wouldn’t use muffin tin liners/papers? Also wonder if anyone made these without the streusel topping?

    • Beth Price says:

      Hi Jacqueline, I think that you could certainly use liners if you prefer. I might give them a shot of cooking spray just so you don’t leave some of the muffin behind. As a streusel lover, I would never dream of omitting that topping but maybe someone has tried it that way? Anyone?

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