*Whole wheat pastry flour has a much lighter texture than regular whole wheat flour and is available at grocery stores (I found mine at Whole Foods). If you substitute regular whole wheat flour, your muffins will have a much denser texture than these. I'd say you'd be better off using a combination of unbleached all-purpose flour and regular whole wheat flour as a substitute.
- Rinse your sweet potato and stab it on all sides with a fork to poke holes in the skin. Place it in the microwave on a piece of paper towel and cover it with another piece of paper towel. Cook the sweet potato on high for 5 minutes. Then, flip the sweet potato over using a towel (it will be hot) and heat for 5 more minutes. While your sweet potato is cooking, mix together the flour, oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set them aside.
- Remove potato from microwave and use a small paring knife to cut a slit in the top of the potato.
- The skin should come off pretty easily at this point, so remove the skin completely and place the cooked sweet potato flesh into the bowl of your mixer. You should have about 1 cup of cooked sweet potato. (This can all be done with a hand mixer or even a spoon, but I think that the stand mixer just makes it really easy).
- Add the maple syrup, vanilla, and melted vegetable oil spread. Mix on low speed for about 30 seconds.
- Add the applesauce and orange zest and mix for about 30 seconds on low before adding the egg. (Make sure to add the egg AFTER the applesauce, because your sweet potato and melted butter are both pretty hot at this point, and you'll want to make sure the applesauce cools everything down first).
- Keeping the mixer on low, add about half of the dry ingredients to the sweet potato mixture.
- Then add the orange juice and continue to mix until it’s incorporated. Finally, add the rest of the dry ingredient mixture and the milk and mix about 30 seconds until the batter is just combined.
- Turn off the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Roughly chop your toasted pecans and dried cranberries, add them to the batter, and then use the spatula to fold them into the batter.
- Spray your muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray or use paper muffin cups. Use an ice cream scoop (a great baking tool) or tablespoon to fill the muffin tins approximately ¾ full.
- Bake at 375 degrees for about 22 minutes, until the tops of the muffins start to brown.
- Remove from the oven and allow the muffins to cool for a couple minutes in the pan on a cooling rack. If you used paper muffin cups, the muffins will pop right out of the pan. If you're like me and didn’t use paper muffin cups (because you never seem to remember to buy them no matter how many batches of muffins you make) just run a butter knife around the edge of the muffin, and then use the knife to ease the muffin out of the pan. (If one of them breaks as you’re trying to remove it from the pan, count it as a casualty and destroy the evidence).
Allow the muffins to cool completely before storing them, but like I said, these are awesome when they're warm and fresh out of the oven. And if you really want to impress someone, you can make this quick glaze and drizzle it over the top of the muffins.