These Whole Wheat Date Walnut Muffins are easy to make, delicious, and healthy. They are a source of fiber and a great grab-and-go breakfast.
I've had a lot of ideas for new muffin recipes floating around in my head recently. I think it's the fact that the weather is starting to cool down, the kids are settled into their new school year, and I'm doing a little more baking again.
Time will tell how many of these ideas will actually work out, but I can happily confirm that the first one did. Here is my newest muffin recipe - Whole Wheat Date Walnut Muffins.
When I was envisioning these muffins, I knew I wanted them to be made with 100% whole wheat flour, but that I didn't necessarily want to add any additional bran. I also knew that I wanted to soak the dates before adding them to the batter. This is actually my little secret for baking with most dried fruits.
How to Make Whole Wheat Date Walnut Muffins:
Aside from the added step of soaking the dates in boiling water, making these muffins is very similar to making many other muffins. And the soaking step doesn't even add that much time to the recipe, because you can go about making the rest of the recipe while you're waiting.
I like to toast my walnuts when I'm baking (or cooking) with them for that little bit of added flavor, but if you're really in a rush, you can skip this step. If you use nuts in baking or cooking often, I suggest investing in a nut chopper. I normally dislike single-use kitchen tools, but in this case, it's worth it.
Chopping nuts is one of those jobs that often results in mess and frustration. The nuts can roll around, making it difficult to get to get evenly sized pieces. And because they're brittle, they can go flying off the cutting board, making a mess. The nut chopper keeps them contained inside and ensures more evenly sized pieces (either coarse or fine).
Once the dates and walnuts are prepped, you can make the batter, which is very simple. Whisk together the dry ingredients in one bowl, and the wet ingredients in another. Then fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
In this case, the water from soaking the dates makes up the majority of the liquid in the batter. The dates (and the soaking liquid) also provide the majority of the sugar for the muffins. Only ¼ cup of additional brown sugar is added.
I saved some of the walnuts to sprinkle on top of the muffins, but this is totally optional. You can just throw them all into the batter if you want, and the muffins won't taste much different.
If you're not going to eat all of the muffins right away, you can store the leftovers in a large zipper bag. They will last for a couple of days at room temperature, or for a couple of months in the freezer.
Whole Wheat Date Walnut Muffins Ingredients:
- Pitted dates: be sure not to use pre-chopped dates, which are sometimes available in the baking aisle. These are typically coated in starch, which will form a paste when mixed with boiling water and might affect the texture of the muffins. You can use either medjool dates (larger, and lighter in color, often sold with the pits) or noor delget dates (smaller and darker in color, often with the pits removed)
- Boiling water: use whatever water you normally drink - tap water is fine.
- Baking soda
- Walnut halves or pieces: feel free to replace the walnuts with pecans. To make these muffins nut-free, I suggest using an equal amount of unsalted pumpkin seeds instead.
- Whole wheat flour
- Baking powder
- Buttermilk: there are lots of options to replace fresh buttermilk in baking. See the note in the recipe below for some dairy and dairy-free ideas (powdered buttermilk is particularly convenient to keep on hand for baking - find it at Bulk Barn in Canada).
- Brown sugar: either light or dark brown sugar works here
- Canola oil: or use another neutral-flavored cooking oil
- Large egg
Want more Date recipes?
Whole Wheat Date Walnut Muffins Nutrition Notes:
These whole wheat date walnut muffins can be made dairy-free by replacing the buttermilk with your favorite dairy-free plain yogurt.
Use shelled pumpkin seeds instead of walnuts to make these muffins nut-free.
Whole Wheat Date Walnut Muffins
- 10 ounces pitted dates coarsely chopped
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup walnut halves or pieces (see note)
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅔ cup buttermilk (see note)
- ¼ cup packed brown sugar
- ¼ cup canola oil (or other neutral-flavored cooking oil)
- 1 large egg
- Add the chopped dates, 1 cup boiling water, and 1 teaspoon baking soda to a medium bowl and stir gently. Let sit until the dates are softened, about 15-30 minutes. Proceed with the recipe while you're waiting.
- Turn on the oven to 350°F and prepare a muffin pan by lining the cups with paper liners or greasing the cups generously with baking spray or cooking oil. Set the pan aside.
- Add the 1 cup walnut halves or pieces to a small skillet over medium heat. Toast the walnuts, shaking the pan occasionally until the walnuts are fragrant and beginning to brown. Cool the walnuts slightly until they are cool enough to handle. Using a nut chopper or large chef's knife, chop the walnuts. Set them aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the 2 cups whole wheat flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and ½ teaspoon salt (also buttermilk powder, if that's what you're using). Set aside.
- Once the dates are softened, stir in the ⅔ cup buttermilk (or water if using powdered buttermilk), ¼ cup packed brown sugar, ¼ cup canola oil, and 1 large egg. Fold the date mixture into the flour mixture until no dry bits remain. Gently fold in the chopped walnuts (optional - reserve about ¼ of the walnuts to sprinkle on the tops of the muffins).
- Using a large spoon or scoop, fill the prepared muffin cups. The batter should be just enough to fill 12 medium-large muffin cups to almost full. Bake the muffins until a toothpick comes out mostly clean (it's ok if a couple of crumbs are clinging to the toothpick), about 25-30 minutes.
- Cool the muffins in the cups for about 5-10 minutes, then remove the muffins from the pan and cool completely at room temperature. Store any leftovers in a large freezer bag or airtight container for up to 2 days at room temperature, or up to 3 months in the freezer.