Ah, I just love the beginning of summer. My pool has opened, my peas are coming in, and fresh fruit at the market is abundant. Last week I scored strawberries and cherries! The Family Garden was selling both, and I wanted to use my first quart of sour pie cherries to experiment with another Love Muffin. Here’s my long-range goal… and you can be part of its success! Be brave.
I plan to publish an E-book early next year, featuring 24 recipes for muffins that are based on my basic Love Muffin recipe. These recipes will follow the growing seasons in the Midwest (Some months may be quite the challenge, admittedly.). If you recall, I shared my Love Muffin recipe a couple of months ago and featured some ideas for creating specific flavors. It’s time to expand that. My fondest hope is that I can raise a little money for a favorite green cause—like supporting local farmers or their strongest champions and that—together—you and I will continue to inspire each other to buy local, eat healthy and be brave in the kitchen.
Here’s how you can help: while I have about 12 really good muffin recipes ready to roll, I’m about 12 short. Be my inspiration—what seasonal fruit or vegetable would you love to see in a muffin? What are your most successful muffins that could conform to the basic Love Muffin recipe? Share! And I will share the credit in my Love Muffin E-Book. I also welcome suggestions for where to donate part of the proceeds. I’d like whoever gets the money to be involved in sustainable environmental stewardship and be supportive in some way to small, organic farming and/or community-driven wellness.
Now, on to more Love Muffin magic with these yummy and GLUTEN-FREE Cherry Almond Oatmeal Delights. Of course, I could have made a cherry pie—these little coral gems would make a wonderful pie (And I still might because they will be around for a couple of weeks.)—but I was looking for a new challenge. Could I take sour cherries and turn them into a muffin… a gluten-free muffin to boot? Yes, I could!
The trick was to get the cherries sweet enough (because they are very sour) but still keep the entire sugar content of the muffin relatively low. I pitted the cherries and macerated them the night before with a half-cup of coconut sugar. Really, any sugar would work—raw, brown, unbleached cane sugar, you pick. Overnight, they got very syrupy and sweet and developed that “cherry pie” flavor I was looking for. I knew they would be too runny to just dump in the batter, so I drained them but reserved the juice, some of which went back into the muffin as part of the liquid sweetener (The rest of that syrup was destined for my smoothie.).
To make them gluten free, I used one cup of almond flour and two cups of quinoa flour for the three cups required in the basic recipe (These flours also added a lot of protein, so win-win!). I used only one-half cup oat bran, substituting the other cup with organic rolled oats to create a heftier batter. As long as your oat products are certified gluten free, you should be fine. Just keep in mind that while oats, in and of themselves, do not contain gluten, they are often cross-contaminated with other flours. For anyone with Celiac disease or high gluten sensitivity, it could be disastrous. In addition, I doubled the amount of egg (two instead of one), eliminated the two tablespoons of oil, and changed the half-cup of ground flax seed to a quarter cup and added a quarter-cup chia seeds, which become gelatinous when soaked briefly and act as a good binder. So here’s the recipe:
- One cup organic almond flour
- Two cups organic quinoa flour
- One half-cup organic, certified gluten-free oat bran
- One cup organic, certified gluten-free rolled oats
- One quarter-cup freshly ground organic flax seed
- One quarter-cup organic chia seeds
- One teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
- One tablespoon aluminum-free baking soda
- Spices: One heaping teaspoon each ground ginger and ground cardamom
- One teaspoon sea salt
- One cup organic buttermilk (Buttermilk will add richness without a lot of extra fat. I recommend Kalona.)
- One and one-half cups pitted sour cherries, soaked overnight with one half-cup sugar and drained with syrup reserved (I thought coconut sugar worked really well here, but use what you have.)
- One cup plain Greek yogurt (As always, my yogurt choice is from local Windcrest Dairy Farm.)
- Two large eggs, slightly beaten
- Two teaspoons pure almond extract
- One-quarter cup raw organic honey (Raw honey is much thicker than processed honey, and I think this helps the consistency of the batter.)
- One half-cup toasted, chopped almonds
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- In a medium bowl or large measuring cup, whisk the two eggs, the flax seeds, chia seeds and buttermilk in a bowl. Set it aside to thicken for about five minutes.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk the following until well combined: flours, oat bran, rolled oats, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. If you chose a dry sweetener instead of the raw honey for all or part of your sweetening agent, add it here and combine.
- Add the yogurt and a few tablespoons of the reserved cherry juice to the buttermilk mixture and whisk to combine. Stir in the cup and a half of cherries.
- Make a well in the dry ingredients; fold wet ingredients into dry using a large wooden spoon. The batter will probably be quite thick; continue to add tablespoons of the reserved cherry juice until you get a thick but workable batter. Be careful not to add too much juice and do not overwork the batter. It should be well combined but not totally smooth.
- Fold in the toasted almonds
- Coat muffin pans with cooking spray and fill three-quarters full. These are big muffins and will usually puff over the top slightly. For a little bling, sprinkle with raw sugar just before they go in the oven so they sparkle and have a sweet crunch on top.
- Bake 20 minutes.
- Cool in pans for five minutes, then remove and finish cooling on baking racks. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the muffin cups if the muffins are stubborn about leaving the tin.
These muffins are a bit stickier than muffins with gluten. They are more reluctant to leave the tin, so you might consider paper muffin cup liners for these. Even though they are gluten free, they are very moist and flavorful.
I do talk about gluten sensitivity a lot, don’t I? Once it enters your family—for instance, my daughter has been diagnosed as gluten-sensitive but not as having Celiac disease—you sort of become obsessed with ingredient labels, food quality, eating journals and other time-consuming, mind-boggling things, like keeping up with current (never-ending) research. If you are in the same muffin tin on this, you might want to read an article in one of my go-to publications, Delicious Living Magazine, called Getting to the Gut of Gluten Sensitivity. It may not give you definitive answers, but it will give you an idea of where the research is headed and how best to navigate through the plethora of remedies, new discoveries and similar problems others face by explaining a little more about how all those little bacteria in your gut are working—or not working—and why gluten, alone, may not be the only culprit.
Another thing I talk about all the time is my wonderful Land of Goshen Community Market, and I just gotta brag a bit more. Two of my favorite guys were at the market this week—potter extraordinaire John Boss and magnificent musician Graham Pagano. It is such a treat to talk with John about his craft and his passion of the art and to window shop for gifts–maybe something to grace my own table! And my feet just would not stop tapping to Graham’s guitar and harmonica. One last shout out to Bruce Haas, my CSA farmer, who was kind enough to give this blog a nod on his Facebook page. I really am a very lucky green gal!