Banana Blueberry Morning Muffins
Gluten-free, refined sugar-free
When I was younger, my parents never really let us have breakfast pastries (PopTarts excluded). My sister and I really only got to indulge in a cinnamon roll, croissant or a muffin on the weekends.
One of my favorite memories of this was on Martha’s Vineyard. I would always want to wake up early with my dad, jump in our boat and head into town to get coffee, pastries and the newspapers at a cafe called Espresso Love. It was not only my time to eat muffins, but also my time with just my dad, no siblings around. I think that this is why It just feels normal and right to get a muffin as a treat every weekend. Muffins on a weekday just seem weird to me.
Carrying on this tradition, one of my weekend rituals, while living in New York City, was a Saturday morning walk from my apartment in Brooklyn Heights to Irving Farm cafe in Gramercy Park to get their blueberry flax muffins. They were perfection. Not too sweet, chewy but soft and always kept me full for the walk home and then some. I have tried to find those muffins in Boston and even tried to order them, but no luck. So I tried to recreate them.
A couple important ingredients go into getting that super soft, moist crumb, perfect level of sweetness, and a little bit of crunch to keep things interesting.
Yogurt in bakes goods is pure magic. First things first, when you are picking a yogurt for baking, always go with full fat and plain. You want the full fat version for two reasons: fat is flavor and full fat has a lower sugar content. The more fat is removed, the more sugar is naturally in each serving. By using a full fat yogurt (only use a full fat yogurt), you will get a super moist muffin. The tang from the yogurt (coming from the formation of lactic acid in the culturing process) gives a unique flavor and helps to activate the leavening agent. Buttermilk or yogurt will give you a light, soft crumb and a boost to the flavor when added to any muffin, bread, cake, whatever.
Since I usually only eat Greek yogurt, I used Greek yogurt in this recipe. If you are using plain, runny yogurt, use 1/3 cup since regular yogurt has a higher water content. I would avoid using any flavored yogurt, even vanilla because they often have a lot of sugar added to them and it becomes harder to control the sweetness.
Lastly, with yogurt, go for organic and grass-fed whenever possible, Grass-fed yogurt has almost a cheesy flavor (in the best way possible) so you really get the full tang you want.
Most of the time, I use flax meal as an egg substitute in baking, but that’s not the case in these muffins. The flax meal here is to give added fiber and help to give structure to the muffins. Baking is essential chemistry. One of the issues with gluten-free baking is you lose the structure that gluten provides. Gluten is a protein that naturally occurs and helps, along with eggs, sugar and fat, to create the aeration and structure of baked goods.
Sometimes I will use tapioca flour as the binder and chew-giver in recipes, but with this one, I went with flax meal. Flax meal gives the protein and chew that makes these muffins taste a little whole-wheaty (if that makes sense) and an added boost of fiber.
While some folks say that you can make your own flax meal in a high powered bullet, I would recommend using store bought, specifically Bob’s Red Mill. No matter how powerful your blender is, you will not get as fine a meal as some of the store bought ones. Since the flax is being used as a flour replacement, you want to make sure you can get it as finely ground as possible.
No, these are not chocolate muffins. So why the cacao powder? Raw cacao powder does not really impart a strong chocolate flavor or dark color. I made this recipe two different times: one without cacao powder (using more oat flour) and one with. The one with the cacao powder just had a deeper flavor, more roasted or toasted.
Now when I say cacao powder, this is not the same thing as cocoa powder. Cocoa powder has been processed to remove the natural fat. This process mean cocoa will have a deeper chocolate flavor and darker color. Cacao powder is much lighter in color (it’s almost the color of buckwheat flour) and has a mild earthy, yet fruity flavor.
A muffin is a blank canvas really. You can add in whatever you want to the batter: chocolate chips, chopped nuts, dried fruits, coconut flakes, granola, really the list goes on. For me, I really only like berries, specifically blueberries in muffins. What can I say, I like the simple things. I also happen to think that blueberries and bananas are a match made in muffin heaven. I like to use frozen wild blueberries; they’re smaller, slightly sweeter and easy to use from frozen.
Let’s talk about nuts. I like pretty much all nuts but there is one nut that I do not accept in muffins: walnuts. Personally, I think that walnuts, while they are good for you, do not really add much in the realm of flavor. My other mark against them is the waxy texture that they take on during baking. If you are going to add a nut to these muffins, I say for with pecans. They have a buttery flavor and keep their crunchy texture after baking. If you aren’t into pecans, cashews or almonds are also a great addition to these muffins. Not into nuts? Add pumpkin seeds.
Lastly a little tip: make these and serve 6 and freeze the rest; you’ll have muffins ready to go for the rest of the week to take with you to the office, pack in school lunches or just an easy at-hand snack.
It’s muffin time. Tag me, @yespleasebakes if you make these or any other lovelies!
165g smashed bananas (about 2 large bananas)
160g/1/2 cup grass-fed, whole milk Greek yogurt (you can use nut milk yogurt)
30g/3tbsp olive oil
118g/3/4 cup organic coconut sugar
1 large, pasture raised egg
132g/1 cup gluten-free oat flour
36g/1/4 cup ground flax seeds
20g/ 1/4 cup organic raw cacao powder
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
120g/1 cup wild blueberries (fresh or frozen)
120g/1/2 cup chopped pecans
Preheat the oven to 350F and line a standard muffin tin with paper or silicone liners. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oat flour, flax meal, cacao powder, baking powder and salt. Add the blueberries and nuts, tossing to coat the blueberries in flour.
In a large bowl, toss in the peeled bananas and smash with a whisk. Smash until mostly smooth with some chunks (we all likes some chunks). Add the olive oil, yogurt, coconut sugar and egg and whisk until smooth.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Use a 2 tablespoon cookie scoop to dollop the batter into the prepared muffin pan. Top with more blueberries.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, just until the middle of a muffin springs back after you press it gently with your finger.
These are delicious warm from the oven or a day later, toasted, sliced and smeared with almond butter or cream cheese.