Morning Glory Muffins Revisited

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summary: farmers’ market bounty; our recipe for morning glory muffins fixed; has it really been almost 20 years since I first made these?!

Morning Glory Muffins

We have been going to the Saturday morning farmers’ market near the mouth of the Humber River almost every weekend this summer. We sit on the little grassy hill overlooking the market, eating fancy pastries, drinking thermos tea, and watching the happy parade of people arriving on foot or bicycle, with their dogs and children who roll and/or bounce around on the grass, then leaving laden with big bags overflowing with beautiful vegetables, bread, fruit, etc. etc. It’s beautiful and cool so close to the lake.

When I’m there, I cannot stop buying the most exquisite cherry tomatoes. And radishes. And beets. And carrots. With the radish and carrot greens. Of course.

When we get home, I have been getting in trouble though.

We’re gonna need a bigger fridge…

Especially a couple of Saturdays ago. When I got the carrots and radishes, I innocently asked if anyone had rejected their beet greens. The boy behind the table ducked down and popped back up holding a beautiful bunch of perfect beet greens. The bunch was like the most perfect bouquet from the finest florist.

“Perfect!! Thank you!”

And then the boy scooted over to a table at the back, down he ducked again, and began to stuff a large bag with even more perfect beet greens. He suddenly noticed that there were yellow beet greens as well, and ducked down once more to jam those into the already full bag.

Wow. Wow. Wow.

Needless to say, we have been feasting on stir-fried beet greens, palak paneer (made with beet, radish, and carrot greens), grated carrots salad, as well as radishes, radishes, radishes.

All those greens have been taking up a LOT of room in the vegetable drawer. Hence, just like what happened in 2003, we still had rather a lot of carrots.

I noticed the other morning that we had an awful lot of carrots in the fridge. […] I suddenly neeeeeded to have Morning Glory Muffins. I made a huge mess in the kitchen (grated carrots, coconut, flour all over the floor and counter) but we had the most wonderful breakfast.
 
– me, Morning Glory Muffins, 13 October 2003

A couple of those carrots went into stock (T butterflied a chicken the night before for jerk chicken). And I grated one more carrot to make morning glory muffins.

I had to make morning glory muffins, after thinking about the wondrous morning glory muffins that the The Nut Club across the street from the Avon theatre in Stratford made – all those years ago in the beginning Hey Days of playing in the pit orchestra for Gilbert and Sullivan.

I would walk to and from the theatre, usually shortcutting through the department store – I think it was Woolworths… – on the way there. I adore these coffee cups I bought one day on a sale shelf. Alas, only two of the cups are still intact. I was particularly sorry when the soft green one broke.

favourite coffee cups

Often, on matinee days, we would cross the street to the cafe to have some of their wonderful morning glory muffins. (The Nut Club people also made great sandwiches!)

Nut Club, Stratford, early 1980s

It really was the most wonderful cafe. They also had a large covered glass container, on the front counter by the cash register, that was gradually filled over the summer with seasonal local fruit and whiskey (I think it was whiskey) to preserve the fruit. Alas, I had to go back to Toronto before they opened up the preserved fruits in the fall, to serve on ice cream.

But enough of that. Back to the present: I halved our original morning glory muffin recipe as best I could.

Alas. The muffins were not the same as I remembered! Not even close! They were small and dense. They tasted okay, but they just weren’t even close to being the sort of thing that would become iconic.

Clearly, I had to do a little rabbit holing to rewrite our recipe.

… a little later

Well. It turns out that the reason these muffins are called “Morning Glory Muffins” is because they were invented at the Morning Glory Inn on Nantucket Island.

Morning Glory Muffins were first created by Pamela McKinstry, the owner of the Morning Glory Café on Nantucket, which was in existence for a brief time from 1979-1982, and I would not be surprised if I found out that there were Morning Glory vines growing outside welcoming everyone to breakfast. The recipe was printed in Gourmet in 1981, and because I was such a big fan of the magazine, how sad that it no longer exists, that is when I first became aware of this recipe. It was so popular that it was re-printed in the October 1991 issue as part of an article called “25 Favorite Cookies, Muffins, and Quick Breads”; these were recipes which were culled from all of their past issues in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Gourmet Magazine.
 
– Shirl, Baker Sweet Maker | Morning Glory Muffins
Pamela A. McKinstry wrote two spiral-bound cookbooks of recipes from her restaurant, Sconset Café[…]. On page 8, of A Kitchen Collection: Sconset Café—a village café on Nantucket Island (1985), is the recipe for Morning Glory Muffins. The second book is called Kitchen Magic on Nantucket: Recipes from the Sconset Café (1987). While I personally could not find either cookbook, for purchase online (out of print/none available for resale), one of the 5-star reviews read, “amazing morning glory muffins”.
 
– Mary Cokenour, Food Adventures of a Comfort Cook | Multiple Personality Disorder Muffins aka Morning Glory Muffins
[Pamela] McKinstry’s original morning glory muffin recipe uses white flour, one cup of oil (for a mere 12 muffins!), and a whopping 1-1/4 cups of sugar. Sounds more like a cupcake than a muffin to me! […] Since the recipe seemed like it woulds be sweet enough from the pineapple, applesauce, and raisins [in the Loonyspoons Cookbook version], I decided to cut back on the sugar even further to 1/4 cup and used 100% whole wheat flour. I also opted for unsweetened coconut instead of the sweetened stuff used in both the original and Looneyspoons recipe. The final product ended up more than adequately sweet
 
Lisa, More Spinach Please | What’s the story morning glory (muffins)?

Apparently, as Earthbound Farm’s culinary consultant, Chef Pam McKinstry published her slightly revised Morning Glory Muffins recipe for their website. It is listed on their website as “The Original Morning Glory Muffins”, calling for peeled and grated apple and frozen pineapple chunks, as well as carrots, nuts, raisins, etc. etc.

No wonder the muffins I made the other day turned out like pucks. They didn’t have any apple in them!

It isn’t at all clear to me why the 1900 House Bed and Breakfast (where I found the recipe way back at the end of the last century) left out the apple. That makes no sense. Back into our recipe went the apple!

And I must add that I absolutely blanched when I saw that Pamela McKinstry’s original recipe called for sweetened grated coconut. Even the Earthbound Farm’s (with their “love for the land and for wholesome food”) recipe calls for sweetened coconut! Why!?!!

Here is our new Morning Glory muffin recipe:

Morning Glory Muffins

Morning Glory Muffins, Revisited
based on Pamela McKinstry’s (Morning Glory Cafe) recipe published in Gourmet Magazine 1981 and 1991, Amy Traverso’s (The Apple Lovers’ Cookbook) take on the recipe, and our earlier recipe (based on The 1900 House Bed and Breakfast Website’s take of Morning Glory Muffins)

makes 12 Muffins

Dry Ingredients

  • 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • pinch cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp seasalt
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

Wet Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sunflower oil
  • 1/2 cup canned crushed pineapple, with juice
  • 1 cup grated carrot (1 large-sized carrot, approx 100 grams)
  • 1 medium-sized apple, unpeeled, cored and grated (approx 180 grams)
  • 1/4 cup Thompson raisins
  • 1 large egg
  • No vanilla at all (was 1/2 tsp)
  1. Turn the oven to 375F.
  2. Oil twelve muffin tins. Set aside.
  3. Mix dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl.
  4. In another bowl. Using a wooden spoon, stir in sugar and oil together. and . Whisk egg before adding it. Add pineapple, carrots, apple, and raisins. Mix well.
  5. Pour the egg mixture into dry ingredients. Stir just enough to mix together.
  6. Evenly distribute the batter in the greased muffin tins.
  7. Place the muffins on the top shelf of the oven and bake at 375F for 20 to 25 minutes until they are golden brown and a skewer poked in the centers comes out clean.

Allow to cool briefly on a rack before removing from the tins. Serve warm. Butter is nice but not necessary. These muffins are delicious with goat’s cheese as well.

Morning Glory Muffins
Morning Glory Muffins

We sat on the porch this morning, feasting on morning glory muffins with goats cheese and apricot preserves, watching people under umbrellas scurrying to work in the pouring rain.

(Remind me to rave about the apricot preserves!)

What a glorious way for us to begin the day!

You Asked For It, Gourmet, November 1981 Q. My husband and I had a wonderful breakfast at the Morning Glory Cafe on Nantucket, which featured Morning Glory muffins. Any chance of getting the recipe for these?
Lynn B
[…]
A. Guaranteed to get any morning off to a glorious start are
Morning Glory Muffins
Morning Glory Cafe

Into a large bowl sift together 4 cups all-purpose flour, 2+1/2 cups sugar, 4 teaspoons each of baking soda and cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir in 4 cups grated carrot, 1 cup each of raisins, chopped pecans, and sweetened shredded coconut, and 2 apples, peeled, cored, and grated. In a bowl beat 6 large eggs with 2 cups vegetable oil and 4 teaspoons vanilla […] Makes about 30 muffins
 
– ‘You Asked For It’, Gourmet November 1981, p. 132
As GOURMET’s 50th-anniversary year advances into the season of cool, clear days and frosty nights, the warmth of kitchens fragrant with the scent of home-baked cookies, muffins, and quick breads holds a special appeal. Accordingly, and in the spirit of continued celebration, we have reviewed our inventory of a half-cenutury’s worth of recipes and have selected twenty-five favorites for such an autumn day of baking. […] [F]or muffins in the rise-and shine brigade are […] carrot- and coconut-enriched “morning glories.”
 
– ’25 Favorite Cookies, Muffins, and Quickbreads’, Gourmet October 1991, p. 174, 178

This entry was posted in baking, cakes, pastries, cookies, etc., food & drink, memory, posts with recipes on by .

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