Yields 18 muffins / Homemade muffins make a welcome gift or a wonderful addition to a holiday brunch. Buy whole walnuts for this recipe, crack them carefully and use the walnut halves to house tiny presents or make tree decorations.

Prep Time: 15 to 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 to 30 minutes

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup unbleached white flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground cloves
1 teaspoon orange zest (grated peel)
12 dates, pitted and chopped
3/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 ripe bananas
3/4 cup maple syrup or concentrated fruit sweetener
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup fresh cranberries
2 cups grated apple
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly oil muffin tins or line with paper muffin liners.

2. Put flours, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cloves in a large mixing bowl; stir and set aside.

3. Place dates and hot water in blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Add juice, yogurt, bananas, syrup, oil and vanilla extract; blend again. Add eggs and cranberries and pulse for a few seconds, just long enough to break up cranberries.

4. Add wet ingredients to dry mixture. Fold in grated apple and walnuts and gently mix together using a minimum number of strokes.

5. Fill muffin cups to top with batter. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.