Saturday, October 12, 2013

Banana Walnut Muffins with Oat and Millet Flour

Kitchen therapy.

Kneading dough, whisking eggs, chopping veggies, inhaling spices.  Sputter of hot oil, sting of spicy peppers, sip of red wine.

I'm happiest in my kitchen, the space that makes me aware of all five senses.  Even failed experiments bring a sense of joy that I'm hard-pressed to find anywhere else.  And the successes?  They give me hope that I can actually create something worthwhile in this world... something that will nourish, something that will bring a smile, something to be shared and enjoyed.  

That's a lot to ask from a muffin.  However, these have been tweaked and tested on a number of people, and I think they're ready.  They're moist, perfectly sweet, and ever-so-slightly crispy around the edges.  And they're not gluten-free muffins: they're muffins that happen to be gluten-free* through the use of oat and millet flour.  Isn't that how it should be?

Banana Walnut Muffins with Oat and Millet Flour
Makes about 12 medium-size or 18 small muffins

3 medium-size, very ripe bananas
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup oat flour** 
1/2 cup millet flour 
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Mix all wet ingredients together, either by hand or using an electric mixer.  

In a separate bowl, add dry ingredients except for the walnuts, and fluff together with a fork.  

Create a "well" in the middle of the bowl.  Slowly add the wet mixture into the well, and gently fold all ingredients together until mixed well, but not too smooth.  With muffins, we generally like a few lumps, which keeps them fluffy and allows the banana flavor to shine through.  If you over-mix, they'll still taste good, but will probably be a little flatter.

Fold in walnuts, and then pour mixture into a lightly-greased muffin tin.  I have precisely two muffin tins of completely different sizes (hence the yield estimate above), and found that you can fill the tins up most of the way to get the fluffiest muffins.  

Bake at 400 degrees for about 13-15 minutes, until the tops are browned and a toothpick or knife comes out clean.  (Of course, if you hit a banana chunk, you'll see banana on the toothpick/knife, so you might want to stab/check the muffin again if they look done otherwise.)

*If gluten-free is important to you, you'll want to double-check that there aren't any sneaky additives in the other ingredients, like baking powder.  

**Oat flour is not automatically gluten-free; you have to look for it on the label.  Or, you can make the flour yourself by grinding up gluten-free oats!  I buy the big bags from Trader Joe's, which I've found to be the most economical option.  You can use a food processor or a clean coffee grinder, et voilĂ : oat flour!