I’ve blogged about a lot of things over the past few years, but I’ve never done or wanted to do a food post. It’s not that I don’t like cooking and baking. I do. I like watching DC Cupcakes and browsing Pinterest for high-res photos of DYI cuisine. But getting up and actually preparing meal? Not so much. Left to my own devices (and someone else’s bank account), I’d eat out every night except on those occasions when I wanted to entertain guests. In which case I’d order in. But the budget doesn’t have any margin for such extravagances these days. So I am going to make myself learn how to fix food. From scratch.
My preferred diet consists of thinkThin white chocolate bars and coconut popsicles from Whole Foods, supplemented by almond chai lattes from this place. I only say this so you’ll note what a huge accomplishment it is for me to assemble real ingredients and take the time to prepare something that doesn’t entail peeling off a wrapper.
My biggest challenge is breakfast because there’s so much I can’t eat these days and I am not at all motivated to cook first thing in the morning, especially since I’ve had to eliminate coffee. I know…I’m practically a martyr. Anyway, I looked high and low for gluten-free muffin recipes and found this one in the NY Times, which means it’s legitimate. I made some modifications because I can get just a teensy bit obsessive at times. When the author of the recipe spent an entire paragraph on the benefits of a food scale, I knew I had to watch myself. The fact that I did not immediately run out to Williams Sonoma and purchase a scale accurate to within 1/1000th of a milligram tells me I am making progress conquering my inner perfectionista (or it tells me I’m broke, but let’s go with making progress). So, no scale. The author also recommends a meticulously calculated blend of gluten free flours and I just don’t have time for that. (Given that I’m currently unemployed, I actually would have time for that, but for the aforementioned reason…no.) I also wanted to be able to get all the ingredients from a single, reasonably-priced store and found some semblance of everything I needed at Trader Joe’s. So far, so good.
- 1/2 cup flaxseed flour (The original recipe calls for buckwheat flour, but I won’t eat anything with the word “wheat” in it, no matter how many people tell me it’s g-free. Plus, TJ’s didn’t carry it.)
- 3/4 cup almond flour (TJ’s has almond meal, which may be a bit more crunchy, but it works.)
- 1 cup gluten-free flour mix (I used Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten Free Baking Flour.)
- 6 tablespoons dark cocoa powder (It’s supposed to be cacao, but I just used TJ’s unsweetened cocoa powder. Get thee behind me, Martha Stewart.)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder (TJ’s carries the kind with no aluminum so you don’t end up with Alzheimer’s, which I find really considerate of them.)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup raw brown sugar or packed light brown sugar (TJ’s sells turbinado sugar that is fair trade. Because…you know.)
- 2 eggs (While I splurged on the fair trade sugar, I couldn’t justify the price of free range eggs. And while we’re on the subject, I didn’t vote for enhanced cages for chickens in 2008 either. Sorry.)
- 1/3 cup canola or grape seed oil (Grape seed oil? How many grape seeds do you need for a quart of oil? And do they at least make wine out of the grapes? I went with Canola oil. And then, because I just can’t help myself, I looked up “Canola oil” and found out it comes from rape seeds. What?)
- 1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt or buttermilk (I used yogurt, but will try buttermilk next time just because I’m capricious like that.)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 medium mashed bananas
- 2/3 cup chocolate chips (I didn’t think this would be enough. I mean, can you ever have too much chocolate? But the amount was just right.}
Directions (with my changes in red–and I eliminated some things to keep it simple):
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Oil or butter Line muffin tins with animal print baking cups. Sift Put the dry ingredients into a large bowl. FYI…sugar is not a “dry ingredient.” But you probably knew that.
2. In another large bowl
or in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whip attachment (i.e., a whisk attached to my hand) beat together the oil and sugar until creamy (hence the above note–I included the sugar with the dry ingredients (gasp) but it worked out just fine. See, I’ve already made all the mistakes for you, so you can just relax. Close your ears Martha Stewart, but I suspect if you just dumped all the ingredients in one bowl and mixed them together, the world would not come to an end–and you would still have edible muffins.) Beat in the eggs until incorporated (is this even a culinary term?), then beat in the yogurt or buttermilk, the vanilla and the mashed bananas. Add the dry ingredients and mix at low speed or whisk gently until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.
3. Using a spoon or ice cream scoop, fill muffin cups to the top. Place in the oven and bake 30 minutes, until a muffin springs back lightly when touched. Personally, I like the “toothpick test“. Makes 16-ish muffins.
[image source: moi]