Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Banana Raspberry Muffins

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Do you know what's so special about these muffins? (Besides the fact that they look and taste awesome?) You can make them with whatever bits and pieces of grains and seeds and nuts and flours you have lurking in your fridge, freezer and cupboard, and they will be a.m.a.z.i.n.g.


Here's the secret... Soaking!

Yes, if you soak your grains, seeds, nuts, etc, overnight in water with a little bit of something acidic (like apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, whey or yoghurt), you will be amazed at the difference in the texture. The soaking softens the grains/seeds/nuts so that you don't have that dry, gritty texture that can often be the outcome in gluten free baking. And it helps to break down the anti-nutrients that cause irritation to the gut, and helps to release the beneficial nutrients. Basically, it makes them much easier to digest, AND yummier!

[Note: If you're worried about using the soaking water, don't be. You don't need to throw out the water that the grains have been soaked in, as the soaking actually causes the phytase to increase and break down the phytates. The phytates aren't just leaching out into the water and staying there, they are being broken down. The only reason you would throw out the water and rinse the grains is if the water tasted sour or bitter.]

Okay, so don't think I'm telling you this because I've got this soaking thing all under control. I'm the world's worst 'last minute' cook - I get a sudden inspiration and have to make it right away! Which means....ummm... unsoaked. But when you can, it is best to think ahead - prepare, soak, ferment, sprout... all that good stuff. :)

A good way to plan ahead is to think about breakfast tomorrow at dinner time tonight. If you'd like to have muffins, pancakes, waffles or crepes for breakfast, either grind the grains up and then soak overnight with the liquids from the recipe, or in some cases (like these muffins), soak the grains & nuts whole. To use whole grains/nuts it needs to be a recipe that has quite a lot of liquid - a batter, not a dough. When you blend it, it needs to be able to create a 'vortex' in the Thermomix - if it doesn't, it's too thick for this method.

I have posted a few of these 'blender batter' recipes before, but I've been going through a lot of my older recipes and tweaking them to reduce the sugars. So here's one of my latest versions of the Blender Batter Muffins, with a lot less sweetening, and my latest combo of grains, seeds and nuts.

By the way, if you don't have a Thermomix, you can try this method in a really powerful blender that crushes ice. But please don't burn out the motor and blame it on me. Unless you just really want a Thermomix, so you're purposely breaking all your appliances so your partner will give in and let you buy one. ;) Otherwise, you could just buy the pre-ground flours and mix them in a mixer with the liquids, then soak overnight, and continue with recipe. Your call.

Makes approx. 2 dozen regular sized muffins

1. First of all, prepare the grains, seeds & nuts for soaking. This needs to be done at least 12 hours (or up to 24 hours) ahead. Weigh them into a glass bowl or dish, then weigh in the liquids. (Set the empty dish on the top of the Thermomix, zero scales, and weigh in the grains, water, etc.) Cover, and set aside for the night.
- 290g whole grains and seeds, your choice *(see note)
- 40g raw almonds (or sunflower seeds/pepitas for nut free version)
- 200g water
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar (or whey/yoghurt/lemon juice)

(Note: For the muffins in the photo above, I used a couple of handfuls of buckwheat kernels, some millet, a little bit of quinoa, some brown rice and a couple of Tbspns mesquite flour. There's so many different gluten free grains and seeds that you can use - amaranth, teff and sorghum are great too - whatever you have, just so long as it all adds up to 290g. Although if you use a lot of buckwheat you'll need more water as it soaks up the moisture. And don't use coconut flour because it works differently and the ratio of flour to water would be totally out.)

2. When you're ready to make the muffins, tip the soaked grains, seeds & nuts into the Thermomix bowl (with the soaking water) and add oil, syrup, cream, bananas and eggs; then blend on speed 9 for 2 minutes.
- 20g macadamia oil (or other light flavoured oil)
- 60g pure maple syrup (or honey)
- 30g coconut cream (or milk of choice)
- 2 large bananas
- 2 large eggs

3. Scrape down sides of bowl and make sure mixture is smooth. If not, reblend for another minute. Once smooth, add the baking powder, soda and salt, and just barely mix in on speed 5 for 5 seconds.
- 2 tsps baking powder
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt

4. Pour mixture into muffin cups, filling to 3/4 full. Top with a few raspberries, and bake in 190C oven for 20-25 minutes, or until skewer inserted in muffin comes out clean.

Variation: For Banana Spice Muffins, add 1 tsp cinnamon & 1/2 tsp nutmeg to batter, leave the berries off, and sprinkle muffins with cinnamon and Rapadura or coconut sugar before baking. Can also add a couple of handfuls of pecans or walnuts to batter with the baking powder & soda.
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