Delicate, delicious, gluten-free, low-sugar muffins

September 19, 2021 at 10:45 pm (breakfast, B_(2.5 stars, like), Muffins and quick breads, Other) ()


This is the second recipe I’ve tried from “Whole Food Cooking Every Day: Transform the way you eat with 250 vegetarian recipes free of gluten, dairy, and refined sugar” by Amy Chaplin. I’m always looking for muffin recipes that don’t just feel like (a) more wheat in our lives, and (b) dessert in disguise. Chaplin has three base muffin recipes in her book—a vegan gluten-free recipe, a gluten-free recipe with eggs, and a grain-free recipe. Then she has a bunch of flavor variations that you can combine with any of the base recipes. I made the gluten-free recipe with eggs as my base, and tried two different flavor combinations: spiced seeded winter squash muffins and zucchini, lemon, and walnut muffins.

Spiced seeded winter squash muffins:

The first step in the base recipe calls for a combination of millet flour, oat flour, almond flour, coconut flour, and baking powder. I used my coffee grinder to grind whole millet and rolled oats to flour. I used ground almonds from the store for my “almond flour,” and some ancient coconut flour I bought years ago and never really used. (I smelled it and it still smelled nutty and fresh, not rancid at all!) If I’m going to make these muffins more often I think I will make a big batch of the dry base mixture and keep it in the freezer.

The wet part of the base recipe calls for 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice, 1/2 cup almond milk (preferably homemade), 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1/3 cup extra-virgin coconut oil, 1 Tbs. vanilla extract, 2 medium eggs, and 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt.

First of all—fresh-squeezed orange juice—is that really necessary? I’d rather have a recipe that uses entirely pantry ingredients for the base. I wonder what would happen if you used frozen orange juice or just more milk plus a little vinegar? I feel like if she’s going to include something annoying like that in the recipe, she should tell you why it’s essential.

I didn’t have any almond milk so I just used cow’s milk. The amount of vanilla and salt both seemed rather high, but I followed instructions. The final muffins tasted a tad salty to me. Next time I’d cut it down. And why does she have you add the salt to the wet not dry mixture? That’s unusual.

The recipe calls for 1/3 cup coconut oil. That seems like a lot. But maybe since there’s not a lot of sweetener in the recipe you need more fat? I actually forgot to measure my coconut oil. I spooned some out into a little bowl and melted it in the microwave, and had been planning on measuring it in it’s liquid state before adding it to the bowl, but I totally forgot and just poured it in. Whoops. My little bowl holds about 5.5 ounces, and it was probably less than half full, so if anything I probably put in too little?

To make the spiced seeded squash muffins you add 1.5 cups mashed squash to the base recipe, along with mixed toasted seeds, and a surprisingly large amount of spices (1 tsp. each nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom, and 1/4 tsp. allspice). I was out of cardamom though, so I left it out. Instead of adding the pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame seeds, I added walnuts and pecans, and I didn’t measure them, just threw some in. I was planning on using some leftover mashed sweet potato instead of the squash, but when I went to put it in it turned out I only had 1 cup. Since the recipe doesn’t say to adjust the base’s dry or liquid ingredients in any way, I figured it probably wouldn’t matter. And it didn’t because the muffin texture turned out fine. But I still find it weird. You’re supposed to add 1.5 cups of squash puree and you don’t have to cut back on liquid or add more flour? What kind of magic is that?

So one other very weird thing about this recipe. The base recipe and all the variations all say they make 10 muffins. Who makes a base recipe for 10 muffins? All muffin tins hold 12 muffins. That’s so weird. I split the batter 12 ways and the muffins weren’t huge, but they didn’t seem particularly small either. I guess if you want a proper overhanging muffin top you should only make 10.

So as you can see I didn’t follow the recipe perfectly, but still the muffins turned out well. As promised, they have a super light, delicate crumb. They were definitely not sweet, but I didn’t feel like they needed any more. They were sweet enough for me, but Derek added jam to his. What did surprise me was how much grease was left in the pan. I baked them in foil baking liners and the outside of the foil and the inside of the baking tin was just covered in coconut oil. Did I mis-measure and put in too much? The muffins themselves tasted rich, but not at all greasy. Maybe somehow the coconut oil just leaks out into the tin? Despite of how rich they were, Alma ate two muffins slathered in butter. She didn’t say anything about the sweetness level, and declined the jam when Derek offered her some.

Update November 2021: We just finished off the last of the frozen pumpkin muffins and I think I am less excited about them now. Alma wouldn’t even touch the last one. She just had tempeh for breakfast. There’s just something too oily about the muffins maybe? Maybe they are better fresh and not frozen and reheated? Or maybe they need to be reheated in the oven and not the microwave?

On to variation number 2!

Zucchini, lemon, and walnut muffins.

I actually had to make a whole new base recipe for my second batch, and this time I tried to use the weight measurements instead of the volume measurements, but my volumes were so far off the amounts she specifies I wasn’t sure what to do. I ended up splitting the difference and putting in somewhere between the weight and volume measurements. I did however properly measure the coconut oil this time, and I actually put in a bit less than the recipe called for, but the muffin liners were still coated in coconut oil. Weird. Maybe I should bake them in paper liners like the recipe calls for? But wouldn’t that just result in greasy paper?

This variation has you add 3 cups grated zucchini (water squeezed out) to the muffins, along with 3 Tbs. / 12g. grated lemon zest, and 3/4 cup raw walnuts. I used yellow summer squash instead of green zucchini. When I went to add the lemon zest I discovered Derek had bought non-organic limes that say that the skin is not to be consumed. (They spray it with antifungals.) So instead I used lime zest from 4! limes, but it still wasn’t anywhere near 3 Tbs. of zest. But the final muffins had plenty of lime zest flavor, so I am glad I didn’t have any more limes. I forgot to measure my walnuts. Whoops.

This time I used a scant 1/2 tsp. salt instead of the full 1/2 tsp. The muffins were still salty, but not as bad. I think I might cut the salt back even a bit more. Maybe her sea salt is coarser than my fine table salt?

This time the batter completely filled my 12 muffin tins. To the tip top. The recipe definitely wouldn’t have worked if you only made 10 muffins.

The final batter was quite a bit looser than the sweet potato batter, but the muffin texture turned out almost identical. Weird. This recipe seems to be rather forgiving. Derek tried one of the yellow squash muffins for breakfast and said it was even better than the sweet potato muffins.

A few additional notes:

She says the 2 Tbs. of coconut flour in the non-vegan recipe is to absorb the extra liquid from the natural sweeteners. I assume she means the veggie puree/grated veggies? Or maybe the maple syrup? But the vegan recipe has those as well, so why doesn’t it need the coconut flour? Maybe the flax seed absorbs the excess moisture?

She says it’s important that you don’t serve the muffins warm out of the oven. They have to cool before the structure sets.

1 Comment

  1. Nutritious, delicious, practical vegetarian breakfast ideas | The captious vegetarian said,

    […] you could cut that back if you want to use less added sweetener. Another new discovery is these gluten-free, low-sugar muffins, which you can make in all kinds of flavor combinations. So far we’ve tried zucchini lime and […]

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