GUEST POST: Priya’s Gluten-Free Cinnamon-Maple Muffins

September 27, 2011 § 3 Comments

I want to take a minute to give my childhood chum, Priya (writer for the deliciously delightful “muffins on sunday” blog) a mongo-mega-super-dooper thank you!  She not only came up with a kick-tush muffin for this gluten-free carb-o-holic, but she was also willing to write up a guest post and share her secrets of success with you. I’m thrilled, two-fold: First, I’m delighted to get this blog back in gear, thanks to Priya.  (On this note: I have one more month on the homestead in Maine; after that, I’ll resume blog-business as usual!)  But more than this, I’ve been so excited to share my friend with you!

Oct 21 Update: I made a slight alteration to this recipe so that it jives with the SCD diet and fellas – no exaggeration – this is my favorite breakfast.  I’m smitten.  (See SCD diet notes at the bottom.)

Take it away, Priya:

is it ok to kick a guest post off with a confession? i’ll go for it: regina’s blog was the first food blog i started reading regularly. it was a couple of years ago and coincided with some big life changes. a recent convert to vegetarianism, i had also just moved across an ocean to germany to do a masters degree. while i assumed some major changes would accompany this major move, one thing i did not expect was just how central a role cooking would come to occupy in my new life.

for better or (more likely!) worse, eating out in america is pretty dang cheap. throughout college, i would often grab dinner out multiple nights a week and not bat an eyelash. what i discovered in germany was that this luxury was no longer affordable (excluding, of course, the university cafeteria, where thousands flock to each day between the hours of 12 and 2pm for a bargain lunch). in three years in germany, i estimate i ate out no more than 15 times. total!

the wonderful upside? learning to cook! mostly through reading blogs (thank you regina! thank you internet!) and fumbling awkwardly around in the kitchen, all the while trying just as awkwardly in broken german to reassure my new roommates that there was nothing to worry about (note: there was plenty to worry about). but i happened to discover that muffins were one thing i was particularly decent at. i started making them every sunday, in fact, and a cooking blog was born.

for regina, i wanted to make a tasty muffin that was gluten-free and autumn-inspired. these cinnamon maple muffins fit the bill. a batter of coconut flour, eggs, and yogurt is drizzled with cinnamon, maple syrup, and almonds right before baking. the result: light, fluffy, sweet muffins perfect any time of day.


gluten-free cinnamon maple muffins
makes about 6 muffins, inspired by comfy belly (http://comfybelly.com/)

Ingredients for the Muffins:
1/3 cup coconut flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1/3 cup plain soy yogurt
1/2 cup maple syrup

Ingredients for the Topping:
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Method:

preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. grease a muffin tin or fill with cupcake liners.

make the muffins by combining all the dry ingredients and mixing well. add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until combined.

fill cupcake liners about 2/3 of the way with batter.

drip the cinnamon and maple syrup topping over the top of each muffin. you can use a fork to poke the topping into the batter to get it to seep through into the muffin.

bake for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. enjoy!

Diet Notes: Gluten-Free.

This muffin can easily be tweaked to fit the SCD-diet.  Here’s what I (Regina) do:
Ingredients for the Muffins:
1/3 cup coconut flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1/3 cup plain SCD-yogurt
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
1 teaspoon orange zest (optional)

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Oaty, Banana-Hunk Muffins with Buttermilk

May 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

You may raise an eyebrow, or roll an eyeball, when you see another gluten-free recipe coming from this bread-loving-carb-queen.  I’ve been hesitant to write personal jibber-jabber, but I think I’ll address one bit of drama, to answer any Qs from the eyeball/brow-crowd:

About a year ago, when I studied in Xela, Guatemala, I got some stomach parasites (or as my teacher Lesvia took to calling them, my “mascotas y bebes” — my pets and babies — leaving a smattering of eavesdropping students with the impression that I was pregnant and had lots of stray dogs).  Upon my return to the States, I took a rainbow of different medicines to try to get my stomach back in order.  The long in short: I’m still popping antibiotic pills, but heavens I do feel much better.  To help my stomach get “back on its feet,” my doc told me I might want to try to cut out gluten as well as sugar alcohols (found in boatloads of chocolate – sniff!).  While I’m not feeling tip-top, I’m on the mend, I think, and getting stronger.  I have rekindled my enthusiasm for baking (and eating!) and I’m mindful, perhaps borderline obsessive, about taking care of myself.  This past year I spent a lot of months sipping soda under a blanket on the sofa and now, I like to think I’m making up for lost time.

So, for a while, you might see a new type of recipe — many recipes without gluten, but ones that also show off some kick-tush grains that are equally, if not more tasty than their gluten-toting counterparts.  This muffin recipe has been tested by many (who didn’t know they were eating a muffin with an array of odd-ball flours).  The verdict: They’re wholesome, slightly sweet and, incredibly, wonderfully fluffy with great flavor.  My friend Regina (I’m not speaking of myself in the 3rd) says they’re enjoyed best with an afternoon coffee, sipped and chewed in the sun.

Ingredients:
3/4 cup buttermilk (low fat is fine)
1 cup rolled oats

1 large banana, mashed (about 2/3 cup)
1/3 cup agave nectar
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup olive oil

1/3 cup millet flour
1/3 cup oat flour
1/3 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup teff flour

2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, nutmeg, all spice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Method:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease muffin tin.

2. Mix oats and buttermilk and set aside for a few minutes while preparing the rest of the liquid ingredients.  In a separate bowl, mash banana, mix with beaten eggs, vanilla and olive oil. Combine with oats and stir until combined.

3.  In a separate bowl, prepare dry ingredients.  Toss with a fork.  Slowly mix into liquids and stir until just incorporated.  Scoop into muffin tins 3/4 of the way (they’ll rise slightly) and bake until the knife comes out clean (between 16-20 minutes).  Note: If reserving some batter to bake the following day, like most muffin batters, the consistency will thicken.  Reconstitute with two to three tablespoons of buttermilk (or another milk you have handy) before baking.

4.  Once baked, leave muffins in tin for 5-7 minutes.  With a dull knife, scrape along edges and carefully remove from the pan.  They freeze and thaw wonderfully.

Diet Notes: Gluten-free

Banana Yogurt Muffins with a Whole-Lotta Chocolate

February 5, 2011 § 2 Comments

There’s no sense in beating around the bush: While these muffins are chalk full of chocolate, in my book, this is a “slimmed-down” breakfast.  That’s not exactly a caveat, but as I am a muffin fanatic, and I don’t shy away from the decadent stuff, I think a mere acknowledgment is merited for this recipe.

The base of these little bites are a blend of white whole-wheat flour and oat bran.  While these muffins have no oil or butter, I added plain, whole-milk yogurt & mashed bananas to the mix to keep these muffins from turning into dense-as-brick hockey pucks.  (Note: I have not tried this recipe using lower-fat yogurts.  While I always encourage experimenting, whether in cooking or in the more-exact chemistry of baked goods, I imagine that a non-fat plain yogurt would certainly affect the texture of these muffins as the yogurt is the only fat source on the ingredient list.)

I’ve dabbled with the sugar ratio — if you’d like, add a bit more (1/2 a cup) but I found that the bananas (and chocolate!) added plenty of sweetness on their own, so I’ve settled on a mere 1/3 of a cup for the whole batch.

One thing to note: If you make these muffins in batches (one batch tonight, one batch tomorrow) and wind up refrigerating part of the dough, before baking the chilled dough, add a little bit of almond milk (1-3 tablespoons) so that the batter becomes more liquidy and is reconstituted back to its original texture.  While these breakfast treats are best the day-of, they’re still quite moist the second day and make great snack leftovers.  If you still have a muffin stockpile after that, I recommend freezing them and thawing them (they freeze and thaw wonderfully) before serving.

Ingredients:
1 cup white whole-wheat flour
1 cup oat bran
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 (heaping) teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 cup chocolate chips/shavings

1 cup plain, whole-milk yogurt
1 cup mashed, overly ripe banana (about 2 large bananas, preferably ripe to the point of squishy-ness and blackened skins)
2 tablespoons almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Method:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease muffin tins and set aside.

2.  Mix dry ingredients, including sugar, with a fork.  Add chocolate chips to the dry ingredients (by tossing chips/chocolate shavings in the flour mixture, chips will not sink to the bottom of each muffin).

3.  In a separate bowl, mash banana.  Add yogurt, almond milk and vanilla.  Stir well.  Add to dry ingredients and stir, just until incorporated.

4.  Fill 4/5 of each muffin (nearly to the top) with batter – they won’t rise a terrific amount.  Bake until slightly golden around the edges and when the center bounces back a bit, with the touch of an index finger (or when the knife comes out clean).  About 18-22 minutes, but keep an eye out — cooking times will vary depending on the size of the muffin tin.

Meal in a Muffin: Arugula, Butternut Squash & Sharp Cheddar Flecks

November 15, 2010 § 6 Comments

I am a muffin FANATIC.  I live for mornings that jump-start with mongo-muffins with cracked tops, splitting open, leaking berries and hiding clumps of nuts and oats.  The other day, a new muffin-recipe caught my eye: A savory, no-sweet-stuff muffin.  I’ve made savory muffins before, but mine were kind of like quicheHeidi’s pumpkin and feta muffins, on the other hand, are real muffins: Their base is two cups of flour rather than a slurry of egg and cottage cheese, and they’re flecked with delicious-sounding add-ins.

I’ve tweaked Heidi’s recipe and included some of my most favorite flavors. These are not my standard, googly-eyed breakfast muffins bulging with dried fruit and nuts or chocolate and bananas or smelling of all spice and nutmeg.  These fellas are dense, speckled with sunflower seed crunches, snappy arugula bites, sweet butternut squash hunks and loads of flavor from a couple scoops of whole grain mustard and a fluffy pile of grated Parmesan and cheddar cheese.  Packed with veggies and whole grains, these guys are a stand-alone meal.  While I don’t dig into them for breakfast (I cave to my sweet muffin varieties with homemade pumpkin coffee on these chillier, Fall mornings) I’ve rather taken to these toothsome, squashy-mustardy bites accompanied by a bowl of creamy tomato soup or my favorite lip-smackin’ chili.

Ingredients:
2 cups butternut squash, cubed
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
sea salt, pepper

2 cups whole wheat flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 handful arugula
1/4 cup parsley, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese, sharp
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
2 eggs
3/4 cup plain almond milk (or milk preference)

Method:

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Roast cubed butternut squash with a sprinkling of sea salt, pepper and olive oil to coat.  Bake until fork-tender, about 20 minutes.  Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees.

2.  Meanwhile, mix flour, powder and sea salt in a separate bowl and gently mix with a fork.  To the flour mixture, add arugula, parsley, sunflower seeds and cheeses.  Toss with a fork and set aside.

3.  When butternut squash is tender, remove from oven and combine with flour mixture.  The heat from the squash will help wilt the arugula (and make the flavor more subtle and less bitter).  Add liquids and mustard to the batter and gently stir until totally incorporated.  Scoop into greased muffin tins.  Depending on the size of the tin, cooking time will vary.  In a 350 degree oven, cook smaller muffins (12-to-a-tin) for approximately 22-25 minutes.  Larger muffins (see above photo) may take 30 to 33 minutes.  Pierce muffins with a knife to test; if clean, remove from oven.  Let cool in the tin for at least 10 minutes to set.  Cool completely before packaging.  These muffins freeze-and-thaw wonderfully and stay fresh on the counter for several days.

Autumn-Spice Muffins

September 30, 2010 § 4 Comments

It was 100 degrees today; yesterday it was 102; it’s supposed to be 104 tomorrow.  WHERE IS AUTUMN!?  Tomorrow is October 1 and I’m sweating bullets.

In a futile (but savored!) attempt to usher Fall to my doorstep at a faster clip, I’ve whipped out last year’s canned pumpkin and all my fall spices.  In the last 7 days I’ve used up a quarter (a quarter!) of a jar of ground cinnamon.

Don’t be alarmed: there’s only a spry amount of spice in these fluffed-up muffins (inspired by this beautiful, vegan blog).  But, during my muffin “trials,” I’ve been simultaneously attempting to duplicate Starbucks’ “pumpkin spice syrup” to sweeten coffee, thus depreciating my spice jars at a fast pace.  Tomorrow morning I’ll be stirring Batch #4 of the simple syrup over the small, gas burner.  When I hit the spice/sugar-proportion jackpot, I’ll post that recipe.  (A few more tweaks are in order, first.)

In the meantime, here are muffins with fantastic flavor that will warm your house with really good smells.  These muffins call for pumpkin puree and brown sugar — both add extra moisture to the batter.  (Note: For the fat-conscience, that means that the oil content is minimal.)  What’s more, with these proportions of moisture and leavening agents, the pumpkin muffins — made with whole-wheat flour to boot — are airy and light.  No hockey pucks here!  Delicious straight out of the oven, these freeze-and-thaw wonderfully and stay good on the counter top for several days.

Ingredients:
1 cup white whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon each: cloves, all spice, nutmeg, cinnamon
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup almond milk (or milk alternative)

turbinado sugar (or “Sugar in the Raw”), for dusting

Method:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter/grease muffin tins.  Combine dry ingredients & sugar in a large bowl.  Mix in chocolate chips and thoroughly coat with flour mixture.  (This will prevent the chips from sinking to the bottom of the batter.)

2.  In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients.  Slowly add to dry ingredients and stir, just until incorporated.

3.  Spoon batter into greased muffin tins.  Sprinkle with turbinado sugar (or “Sugar in the Raw”).  Depending on the size of each muffin, the baking time will vary.  For very-large muffins (with approximately 1/2 cup of batter per muffin), the cooking time hovers around 25 minutes.  For smaller, 12-muffin tins, the baking time ranges between 16-19 minutes.  Test with a knife; when it comes out clean, remove muffins from oven and cool, in the tin, for at least 10 minutes.  Run a dull knife around edges of each muffin and slowly lift from tin.  Allow time to cool completely before packaging.

Diet Notes: vegan

Zucchini Spice Muffins

August 26, 2010 § 1 Comment

Upon returning from Guatemala and California, I started perusing my bookmarked cookbooks, flipping through crispy, new Cooks Illustrated & Bon Appetit magazines and revisiting old recipes that could use a face-lift.  Since gardens are exploding with zucchini and summer squash, I decided to tackle zucchini bread.  I started with an old favorite, then tweaked the whole grains, oil, zucchini and sugar.  I fiddled with the proportions until I landed this combination, below.  I find these muffins even moister than the original version, which I can tip my hat to the molasses and brown sugar swap-out.

One thing to note: In my Zucchini Chocolate Cake recipe, I expel as much liquid as possible from the zucchini before adding it to the batter, so as to not add any additional moisture to the cake.  In this recipe, the extra moisture is desirable, so I simply shred the zucchini and place it directly into the batter.  No sugaring, no osmosis!

Ingredients:
2 eggs
1/3 cup veg oil
¼ cup molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup brown sugar

1 + ½ cup shredded zucchini

½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup oat bran
½ cup white flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon all spice
bit of nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt

few dark chocolate chips to sprinkle on top

Method:

1.  Preheat to 350 degrees on convection or 375 in a standard oven.

2.  Mix wet ingredients and set aside.  In a separate bowl, whisk dry ingredients.  Fold into wet ingredients in alternative batches with the shredded zucchini.

3.  Scoop into muffin cups or a greased muffin tin and sprinkle with a few chocolate chips.  Bake approximately 20-23 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool completely on a cooling rack before packaging or freezing.

Diet Notes: Nut-free

Banana Crumb Muffins

February 13, 2010 § 2 Comments

I’ve been experimenting with a new muffin recipe.  While I promise not to walk you through each of my blunders, Cooks’ Illustrated-style, I thought I’d take a moment to share two distinct changes I made from the original recipe, and why I veered off course.

If you take a peek at the ingredient list below, you’ll see a 1/3 of a cup of vegetable oil.  The original banana crumb recipe – inspired by Marcia, a Tucson Bunco Babe – called for 1/3 cup melted butter.  While that recipe yields delicious, flavorful results, I found that when I swapped oil for butter, the muffin was so moist it seemed to melt in my mouth.  What’s more, when I used oil, the shelf life of the leftovers was longer and maintained the texture, while my buttery muffins grew stale and chewier in the same amount of time.

The second distinct change I made was the inclusion of brown sugar in the batter.  I recently learned from the latest Cooks’ Illustrated magazine that brown sugar – like corn syrup – is hygroscopic (meaning both corn syrup and brown sugar attract and retain water).  That’s why cookie dough that contains high levels of either of these two ingredients yields moister, chewier cookies. The original muffin batter calls for 3/4 cup of sugar.  I swapped out a third of the sugar and replaced it with brown sugar.  The results were wonderful: the muffins were moist with a subtle, warmer flavor that I attributed to the more molasses-y taste of brown sugar.

For the record: I love dense muffins (especially berry-bran!).  But this time, I wanted to create a light, airy muffin that you might eat with an afternoon cup of coffee or tea.  I was aiming for coffee cake, not pound cake.

Muffin Ingredients:
1 cup white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 bananas, mashed (approx. 1.5 cups)
1/2 cup evaporated cane sugar
1/4 cup lightly-packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

Crumb Topping:
1/4 cup lightly-packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter

Methods:

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease muffin tins.  In a medium-sized bowl combine flour, soda, powder, salt and spices.  Combine with a fork.

2.  In a separate bowl, lightly beat egg.  Add banana, sugars, oil and vanilla.  Mix until thoroughly incorporated.  Slowly add flour mixture to liquid, gently stirring.  Stir just until incorporated; don’t over-beat.  (If the batter is over-stirred, gluten will form, yielding a denser muffin.)

3.  Prepare crumb mixture: combine flour, cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl.  Break in butter until the dough resembles coarse peas.  Set aside.

4.  Ladle muffin batter into greased tins.  Fill 3/4 of the way to the top.  Sprinkle with crumb topping.  Bake 15-18 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.  Let sit in muffin tins for about 5 minutes before removing.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  These muffins also freeze and thaw wonderfully.

Diet Notes: Nut-free

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