When I bring up muffins in conversation, the reaction is often lukewarm. (Yeah, I talk about food a lot.) Muffins these days are a coffee-shop staple, but I would argue that if you've only had muffins from coffee shops, you really haven't had muffins at all. Muffins are best served warm from the oven, warm enough to melt the butter you slather on them, and they lose their charm pretty quickly when they cool off. The solution to leftover muffins is to reheat them in the toaster oven, which restores them to nearly-fresh status. But coffee shops can't provide a freshly baked, or even reheated, muffin, so they tinker with the formula to try to provide something that can sit on a shelf for hours and still be appealing. Well ... sort of. The long and short of it is: if you've never had homemade muffins, you really owe it to yourself to try them.
I admit, I don't often make "a few" muffins. I have a deep freeze, so when the muffin mood strikes, I make dozens of muffins, and freeze what I won't eat quickly. That way, I can thaw a few at a time, re-heat in the toaster oven, and have nearly-fresh, hot muffins first thing in the morning.
Recently it has come to my attention that not everyone has the amount of freezer space that enables this kind of hoarder-ish behavior. Or maybe you are new to the world of muffins, and not yet ready to commit to making dozens of muffins you're not sure you'll love. Maybe you just like variety in your life. For you, because I love you, I offer the following recipe.
As written, this recipe produces hearty whole-grain muffins. If you prefer something lighter, you can substitute an equal amount of gluten-free flour for the teff flour. You can also use all-purpose or bread flour if you don't want a gluten-free result. (In this case, omit the xanthan gum.) My personal gluten-y favorite version is to use whole wheat pastry flour. Whatever you choose, the results are sure to satisfy.
This recipe is an adaptation of "Frances Virginia Blueberry Gems" from Jane and Michael Stern's Square Meals - a marvelously readable book, which I cannot recommend enough. The original recipe was, as the name suggests, for miniature muffins or "gems", which require a special pan. Over the years, I've switched to mostly making full-size muffins, and experimenting with different flours. The recipe adapts beautifully. You can also substitute 1/2 cup of chopped fresh strawberries for the blueberries, which is not only delicious, but blushing-pretty. Just chop the strawberries to about the size of blueberries and have at it!
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