Blueberry Cornmeal Muffins

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I am not really a muffin person. And anyone who’s tried making gluten free muffins, or baked goods knows that gluten adds elasticity to baked goods that is hard to replicate using gluten free flours and grains. Gluten provides structure and holds everything together in baked goods and without it, baked goods can easily fall apart or be unappealingly dense. If you are new to GF baking, packaged GF flours can be a good place to start but read the ingredients on the package because manufacturers often add binders and stabilizers like xanthan and guar gum into the blend.

Recipes for GF baked goods work best when a combination of flours is used, as opposed to just one. It is just a different beast than wheat flour. Oat flour is a one of the easier whole-grain flours to work with and makes great base flour in these muffins. But there are also seed and nut flours and flours made from beans and legumes. Starches are often used to lighten up and give texture to gluten-free baked goods. Each flour and starch has its pros and cons and some have stronger flavours than others. If you have the time and inclination, it would be ideal to experiment with several of them to find the combinations you like best.

I used a combination of oat and millet flours and no starch, but I am still experimenting. Oat and millet flours are known for adding structure to gluten free cookies, breads and other baked goods. Millet flour in particular is often used in recipes for baked goods containing yeast. Both flours are pleasantly mild and both can be made at home by simply throwing the whole grain into a coffee or nut grinder to make as much flour as you need, when you need it. I added cornmeal for a bit of texture. 

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This recipe makes a decent enough blueberry muffin. Like I said, I am not a big muffin fan but on the odd occasion, or when I am on the road or hiking, I will take these. They are satiating. They also pack and travel well.

INGREDIENTS

Dry

  • 1 cup gluten free oat flour*
  • ½ cup millet or millet flour
  • ½ cup finely ground cornmeal
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. cardamom 
  • Pinch salt

Wet

  • 1¼ cups non-dairy milk (both homemade and commercial rice and nut milks work)    
  • 100 ml unsweetened apple sauce** 
  • 12 dates, pitted and soaked a couple of hours to soften
  • 1 1/2  tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

2/3 cups fresh blueberries***

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F and line 12 muffin cups with foil liners. (You can also use a silicon muffin pan, but I don’t have one.  😦

If using whole millet, grind millet in a high-speed blender until the texture of flour and add to a large bowl with the oat flour and fine grained cornmeal. Add baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and salt.

Now, here’s a trick I learned when I was working as a pastry chef. To ensure that flours, grains and baking enhancers are well blended and there are no clumps, measure all of your flours, spices, baking powder and soda into a large bowl. Then, sift the ingredients through a sieve over a large piece of parchment paper. Place the empty sieve back on top the bowl. Gather the ends of the parchment and carefully pour the dry ingredients back into the bowl through the sieve. This is the same as sifting the ingredients twice, and ensures that the flours and spices are evenly distributed without getting flour all over   your counter. The parchment can then be re-used to line laking sheets and pans when making cookies or cakes. 

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Place the dates, apple sauce, lemon juice, vanilla and non-dairy milk in a high-speed blender. Pulse a few times to chop up the dates and then increase the speed to puree the mixture. Puree completely until well blended and smooth. The mixture should be thick but pourable. 

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Pour the contents of the blender into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Use a spatula to get it all out. Start folding the wet ingredients into the dry with a spoon.

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After a few strokes, add in the blueberries and continue mixing long enough to moisten the dry ingredients and evenly distribute berries. Don’t over mix. 

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Divide the batter evenly between 12 foil-lined muffin cups. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the muffins comes out clean.

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Notes:

*If you can’t find millet or oat flour, you can grind certified gluten free rolled oats and the whole millet grain in a nut grinder to make the flours yourself. I do this all the time!

**I like to have the individual 6-packs of unsweetened applesauce on hand for baking on the fly – these are the ones you buy at the grocery store. Each individual container is equal to 100 ml. However, if you are making your own apple sauce, use a scant ½ cup. Just be sure it is unsweetened.

***You can use frozen blueberries instead of fresh, but they tend to turn the batter a bluey-gray colour. The muffins won’t turn out as attractive, but if that doesn’t bother you, go for it. Using frozen blueberries won’t alter the flavour or texture at all. 

Yield: 12 muffins

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