I wanted to feature fresh figs in an easy to make muffin, one that could be prepared quickly for breakfast, or a snack. These have fresh fruit flavor, texture from walnuts, and a "cap" of vanilla sugar. They are the best combination of a simple culinary technique and fresh, seasonal ingredients. —Donna
12 standard-size muffins
whole wheat flour
butter, melted and cooled
small fresh figs, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
Vanilla sugar, for sprinkling on the muffins before baking
Preheat the oven, with a rack set in the middle, to 350°F. Line a standard muffin tin with paper cups or grease thoroughly with butter. Make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours, salt, baking powder and soda, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Whisk together to blend and set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the buttermilk, whole milk, eggs, cooled butter, and vanilla paste. Whisk together until smooth and blended. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and start to stir together gently. Just before the flour is completely incorporated, add the chopped figs and walnuts and fold them into the batter. Use a spatula to scrape the bottom of the bowl and blend in any remaining dry flour. Portion the batter into the prepared muffin tin, filling each cup to the top. Sprinkle the top of each muffin with vanilla sugar.
Bake the muffins for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they are firm, golden brown, and a tester comes out clean. Allow them to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove them to a wire rack to cool sufficiently for you to handle them. Serve warm, with butter, cream cheese, or marmalade (orange is great with these). Muffins can be stored, airtight, for 2 to 3 days, but their crunchy sugar cap will soften with time.