There are so many wonderful muffin combinations that involve some sort of nut and some sort of fruit, either dried or fresh. In this instance, we combine dried dates, which are full of natural sugar, and walnuts.
The key to making great date nut muffins is not overmixing the batter. Once the liquid ingredients are added to the dry, mix the batter by hand just until the flour is moistened, for no more than about ten seconds. Too much mixing can cause the muffins to be dry, tough or misshapen.
And if you want to spruce your muffins up a little bit, here's a recipe for a simple streusel topping you can mix up in just a few seconds.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, or 2¼ cups pastry flour, sifted
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- ¼ cup chopped dates
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts
- 1 large egg (or 2 medium)
- 4 Tbsp butter (½ stick) or shortening
- Preheat oven to 400° F.
- Combine the flour, dates, walnuts, baking powder, and salt.
- Unwrap the butter and heat it in the microwave, in a microwave-safe bowl, for about a minute, until it's thoroughly melted. Set it aside at room temperature to cool, but don't let it solidify again.
- Beat the eggs in a separate bowl and then add the sugar, milk, and vanilla to the eggs.
- Thoroughly grease and flour a muffin pan (or use paper muffin liners).
- Pour a tiny bit of the melted butter into the egg-vanilla-milk mixture and stir it in. Repeat 3-4 more times, adding a slightly larger amount of the liquid butter each time until it is all incorporated.
Note: Don't add hot melted butter to the egg mixture as the heat from the butter would cook the egg, and that's not what you want to do!
- Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ones and mix no more than ten seconds. The batter should be visibly lumpy, and you may see pockets of dry flour. That's OK! It's extremely important not to overmix the batter, or the resulting muffins will be too hard.
- Gently pour the batter into the prepared muffin pan and bake immediately.
Tip: The dry and wet ingredients, respectively, can be mixed in advance, but as soon as the wet and dry ingredients have been combined with each other, the liquid will activate the baking powder and the batter must be baked right away.
- Bake 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.