Banana Nut Muffins (wheat-free)

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I recently decided to take a break from wheat which has been challenging, but I’ve done it before for short periods. I don’t plan on giving it up permanently, because so many baked goods that I love are better with it! Anyway, so I’ve started to dabble a bit with wheat-free baking. (I’m not concerned with my food being entirely or strictly gluten-free, so to avoid misleading anyone, I’ll just say the following muffin recipe is wheat-free.)

Last week I made a super-healthy carrot spice muffin that was wheat free, but I was the only one in the family who was willing to eat them after the first try. They relied heavily on almond flour, and were lightly sweetened with honey and raisins, so it wasn’t too surprising that they were a little on the dry and crumbly side. But I kind of appreciated that I could eat one with an egg or yogurt for breakfast, and not feel totally deprived of my baked goods (or, you know, guilty).

So, today I decided to try another wheat-free muffin recipe. We bought some more wheat flour alternatives the other day — buckwheat flour, brown rice flour, etc., so I was curious to see how they perform.

(Yield: 12 muffins)

Ingredients:

  • 5 tablespoons melted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups very ripe bananas (the riper the better!)
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup millet flour
  • 1/8 cup ground flax seed
  • 1/8 cup almond flour or meal
  • 3/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease or line your muffin pan.
  2. Whisk the eggs, melted butter, vanilla, sugar, buttermilk, and mashed bananas together in a medium bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, blend together all of the dry ingredients, including the chopped nuts.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix just until all the flours are incorporated.
  5. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups and bake for about 25 mins., or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Apple Apricot Muffins

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Apple Apricot Muffins

This recipe is slightly adapted from the Cheese Board Collective Works cookbook (2003), and we’ve been enjoying it for over 10 years. It produces a mildly sweet pastry with a moist interior, and chewy chunks of dried apple and apricot. It also features oats, pecans, and wheat germ, and uses vegetable oil instead of butter, so I think of it as existing on the healthier side of the breakfast world. It’s a good Fall recipe and will leave you sated until lunch time.

You can prep all of the dry ingredients in advance, as I did, or you can even go as far as mixing the complete batter and storing it in the fridge until the morning. There’s a short resting period required for the oats and dried fruits to soak and expand, so don’t forget to figure this in to your prep time.

(Yield: about 15 muffins)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour, plus 1/4 cup of whole wheat or spelt flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup raw wheat germ
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apples
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
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Muffin cups of batter

Steps:

  1. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the dried fruits and nuts. (I use kitchen shears to cut the fruit into pieces, which seems to go faster and be less sticky than using a knife.)
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla.
  3. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir gently until the majority of the flour is integrated.
  4. Let the batter rest for at least 15 minutes to allow ingredients to soak and expand fully. (At this point, you could refrigerate the batter until the morning.)
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease or line your muffin pan.
  6. Fill muffin cups to the top and bake for about 28 minutes. The muffins will be a deep golden brown, firm, and springy. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
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Apple apricot muffin with a little butter – yum!

 

 

Zucchini Bread

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One of my favorite things to harvest from my summer garden is zucchini. We turn it into zucchini fritters, saute it, make zucchini breakfast pancakes, use ribbons of it to sub for pasta, and of course, zucchini bread. I love the simplicity of quick breads, and the healthy-ish nature of zucchini bread. My favorite way to enjoy it is warm with a little butter, but I also found it’s delicious with pear butter. Whenever I make a loaf, it’s gone so quickly I wonder why I didn’t make two.

Here in Portland, OR, the weather suddenly became Fall about 2 weeks ago; right on schedule I suppose. This means the squash plants are quickly winding down, so I may only get a few more small zucchini.

This recipe works equally well in loaf or muffin form, although I like to add fresh cranberries when I make it into muffins. (See variation below)

(Yield: one 8×4 inch loaf or 10 muffins)

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Scallop or pattypan squash, zucchini, and cucumber

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups mixed flours (1/2 – 3/4 cup all purpose flour, plus almond flour, ground flax, whole wheat, spelt, millet, etc.)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup white or brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups grated zucchini
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • (optional) zest of one lemon
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mixed flours

Steps:

1. Grease bottom and sides of 8 x 4 loaf pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a medium mixing bowl combine the flours, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg, and set aside.

3. In another medium mixing bowl combine sugar, shredded zucchini, oil, egg, and lemon zest (optional). Mix well and then add the dry mixture to the wet mixture. Stir just until moistened, and fold in chopped nuts.

4. Spoon batter into greased pan and bake for 55 mins. or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 10 mins. Slice and serve; or remove from pan and let cool completely if you wish to store it or gift it. Wrap with foil or plastic wrap.

Cranberry Zucchini Muffin Variation:

Measure about a generous 1/2 cup of fresh (or slightly defrosted) cranberries, cut them in half, and mix with a tablespoon of sugar. Add cranberries to batter with chopped nuts (above). Grease or line a muffin pan and fill cups. Bake at 350 for about 20 mins. or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Yield: 10 muffins.

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Cranberry and Zucchini Muffins

(Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook 1996)

 

Oatmeal Buttermilk Date Muffins

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Buttermilk makes so many breakfast baked goods taste better. When a pancake recipe calls for milk, I almost always use buttermilk instead, because it creates such a moist tender crumb. In this recipe, the buttermilk plays a special role, by plumping the oats, which results in a surprisingly light pastry. The dates add a sweet chewiness, so be sure to use a good quality fresh date (not hard or dry) and hand chop it.

(Yield: 12 muffins)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cupped rolled oats
  • 1 cup buttermilk (I mostly see 2% fat in the groceries here, so that’s what I use)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of mixed flours (I used 1/2 cup a.p. flour + 1/2 cup spelt)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup chopped dates

Oatmeal buttermilk muffin batter

Steps:

  1. In a small bowl, combine the oats and buttermilk and allow to soak for 1 hour. (Full disclosure: I could only spare 40 mins. this morning, and they still came out great!)
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease or place liners in a muffin pan.
  3. With an electric mixer, in a large bowl cream the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir dry ingredients into the butter mixture, alternating with the oat mixture. Fold in the dates.
  5. Fill the muffin pan and bake for 20 mins., or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 – 10 mins. on a wire rack and then serve with butter.
  6. Enjoy!

 

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(Adapted from The Cook’s Encyclopedia of Cookies recipe)

Raspberry Crumble Muffins

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I’ve described these muffins before as part recipe and part invention, but totally delicious — which is all accurate! These are buttery, soft, a bit crumbly, and definitely fruity, thanks to a generous amount of raspberries. Frozen raspberries actually work best, since they don’t turn into mush when you fold them into the batter. They are definitely best enjoyed the day they’re baked, (the crumb topping wants to go soft during storage), but we often slice and toast them lightly on subsequent days and they’re still quite good. (Yield ~ 10 muffins)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups of mixed flours*
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 sugar (white or brown or a mix)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 a stick) of melted butter
  • 2/3 cup of buttermilk (regular milk is ok, but buttermilk makes a moister cake)
  • 1 1/4 cups raspberries (preferably frozen)
  • 1 egg

Topping:

  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour; or a mix of ap flour, almond meal, or oats
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

*I like to mix all purpose flour with whole wheat, almond meal, ground flax seed, and/or millet or spelt flour. You can use whatever you have on hand. I often start with 1/3 – 1/2 ap flour, and then add the others to reach the total amount needed. I find using some ap flour helps create a tender light crumb.

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Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease or place liners in muffin pan.
  2. Whisk all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, including the sugar.
  3. Melt butter (for both the batter and the topping) in a small pan or your microwave.
  4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the egg, buttermilk, and 1/4 cup of melted butterĀ and mix just until combined.
  5. Gently fold frozen raspberries into batter, and then spoon batter into muffin cups until they’re nearly full.
  6. To make the topping, combine all of the dry ingredients in a small bowl, and then add the melted butter with a fork until it forms a crumbly mixture. Distribute the topping among the muffin cups.
  7. Bake for 25 mins. or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
  8. Let pan cool on a rack for at least 5 – 10 mins. and then remove muffins and serve.

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