Buttercup's muffins, which she notes are her own creation based off an Eating Well recipe for Apple Bran Muffins, have a couple of features of a muffin recipe that I like:
-whole wheat pastry flour (something I use a lot of in my kitchen)
- additions of wheat germ and flaxmeal
- diced peeled apple bits
However, to be fair they have a couple of things I don't like:
-addition of a dried fruit (raisin or cranberries) -- love 'em, just not in my muffins
-pumpkin butter (longtime readers of this board know of my general aversion to pumpkin things unless it's a pie on my Thanksgiving table)
-use of canola oil rather than butter
However, as with all of the muffin challenge recipes, I went into it with an open mind.
The upshot is Buttercup, you lose and win at the same time -- your score isn't good, but this recipe will remain in my repetoire because my Chowpup LOVES it. And, as you said in your original post, this is an excellent way to get good things into your child (dried and fresh fruit, whole wheat, flax, wheat germ, pumpkin, molasses, etc.). A tiny face has been chewing on these daily since I made them here in our house, and he's been enjoying them thoroughly. These muffins will be making at least monthly appearances in my oven in future, I think!
Taste: Ok, very pumpkinny. Not a plus in my book. I used the only pumpkin butter I could find, a Stonewall Kitchens' maple pumpkin butter, which probably was pretty intense. Undertones of the whole wheat flour and the wheat germ. No trace of flaxmeal, or of the apples (which melt into nothingness). And raisins, which I've said I don't like in my muffins. So, while these are full flavored and sweet, they aren't my cup of tea. 3 out of 10
Texture: A whole wheat pastry flour muffin is still going to be heavier than a white flour (with the addition of better texture and fuller flavor to balance it, usually) but these were a little too dense even with the 2 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder. Out of the oven there was no crispness or roughness to the outside of the muffin. The tops were a little greasy and flat from the pumpkin butter and the other heavy ingredients. Upon sitting the texture got worse, compacting into heavier, wettly-crumbliness that I don't like (but my 22-month old loooooves, amazing!). 1 out of 5
Mixing: Easy! 1 out of 1
Ingredients: Pumpkin butter too hard to find and not my fave anyway 0 out of 1
Baking: 1 out of 1
Freezing: Very good 1 out of 1
Defrosting: Texture same as before frozen, so 1 out of 1
Which leaves us with a score of 8. I'm sorry Buttercup -- good try. You won't win the Challenge, but you've earned a place on my Chowpup's high-chair tray!
Standings after 7 Challenges:
Lisa N Oatmeal Apple Muffins: 16
Smokey's Cranbery Apple Muffins: 16.5
Caitlin McGrath's Pumpkin Muffins: 15
muffy's Cardamom-Apricot Muffins: 13
FunwithFood's Moist and Chocolatey Muffins: 17
Muffin's Golden Grand Marnier Muffins: 6
Buttercup's Apple Bran Muffins: 8
Next is Cyndy's suggestion to add orange zest and juice to a commercial muffin mix. Not really a recipe, but I will have to try it and see how it stacks up so far to our homemade ones.