Tahini Breakfast Bars
I am the type of person who always thinks about food. Literally if you see me walking down the street, somewhat spaced out, there is a very good chance that I am thinking about what I am going to eat next or what I want to try to bake next. Food is my life and I am totally ok with it.
That obsession is why I always eat breakfast. The idea of skipping it just does not compute. For me, I am a sweet breakfast person. I will either have yogurt with lots of cinnamon and almond butter, oatmeal with collagen peptides and cinnamon, or even a waffle-banana sandwich. What can I say? I have a sweet tooth.
That being said, I am always looking for ways to keep breakfast from being too sweet. I mean, you don’t really want to feel like you are eating dessert for breakfast all the time. One of my favorite ways to tamp down the sweetness is with tahini.
Almond or peanut or cashew butters all have a deep roasted flavor that can certainly go savory, but with the slightest bit of sugar added and that savoriness is gone. But tahini has such a unique savory, earthy and deep flavor that can stand up to sugar. The runny tahini is a the perfect base for a little remix of that breakfast crumb cake. No butter needed and a heck of a lot less sugar.
Just a few key ingredients and pieces of equipment make this recipe easier.
No no, Millet. Not mullet.
There are a lot of different gluten-free flours out there, but I have learned that some are definitely better than others, depending on what you are making. Millet flour has become my new favorite gluten-free flour. Not only is it good for you, but it makes a mean cake.
Millet is a good source of fiber, protein, vitamin B, amino acids and is easier to digest than many other gluten-free flours. It is also great for making gluten-free cakes because it produces a more delicate, soft crumb than, say, oat flour.
Tapioca Flour Power
In gluten-free baking, there is one thing that can always be tricky: binding. Gluten, a protein developed in wheat-based baking, gives breads, cakes, etc. body and structure. Gluten gives you that chew in a baked good. When you take gluten out of the equation, you need to find a way to replicate it.
Popular stabilizers are Xantham Gum or Cornstarch, but I like to use those as a little as possible. Hello Tapioca Flour. Tapioca is made from cassava root, this is incredibly starchy and acts a great binder or thickener.
These bars need that binding since millet flour is such a delicate flour. Tapioca flour is a staple for gluten-free baking so stock up. My good friend Bob and his Red Mill makes a great one. Tapioca flour is not expensive and a little goes a long way; so, it will last you a bit.
Eeny Meeny Tahini
I have tried so many tahinis. As I said, I am obsessive. I like to investigate and research every ingredient to make sure that I get the best I can. A lot the tahinis I tried required SO MUCH mixing when I first opened them, but I could never get them completely mixed. I basically would always end up with tahini flavored oil and a brick of solid tahini at the bottom of the jar.
Then, I picked up Soom tahini at my local cheese and specialty shop. First, I loved that it was single source tahini, meaning all the sesame seeds in there come from 1 place. Second, it is lady-owned. Win. And then I got it home and I hardly needed to mix it and the flavor was so much richer than most of the other tahinis I tried.
It might be a little pricier, but for me, it is worth it. You can order it directly from Soom or find it on Amazon. But if you don’t want to order something, Whole Foods’ 365 brand organic tahini is another great one.
That Kitchen Scale. It’s Worth It.
For so long, I did not own a kitchen scale. I just used my measuring cups. But then I started doing bigger batches, trying to halve recipes and trying to calculate the measurements in cups was a nightmare. I finally caved when I wanted to make a traditional German cookie recipe and it was all in grams.
Now I use my kitchen scale every day. I will admit that I mostly use it to measure out wet ingredients because I hate trying to measure nut butters or oils in cups and then I have to wash them so I can measure the rest of my ingredients. It’s so easy to just set a bowl on top of the kitchen scale, zero it and then pour my wet ingredients into the bowl. Kitchen scales are not expensive, don’t take up a lot of space and will become one of your favorite tools.
I have a small one from OXO that has not let me down. Do yourself a favor and add it to your tool belt.
Enough chitchat. Let’s bake.
4 oz (about 1/2 cup) Soom Foods tahini
2oz (about 1/4 cup) organic agave nectar
2 oz (about 1/4 cup) organic cane sugar
2 oz (1/4 cup) warm water
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lemon
3/4 cup gluten-free millet flour (can use oat flour or spelt flour if you are not gluten sensitive)
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup frozen wild blueberries (you can use fresh as well)
1/2 cup gluten-free rolled oats
1/4 cup dark brown sugar or coconut sugar
2 tbsp tapioca flour
1/4 cup vegan butter, cold and cut into small cubes
Dash of ground cinnamon (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350F and line an 8in square baking dish with tin foil or grease it liberally and line with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, combine the crumble ingredients. Use the tips of your index finger and thumb to smush the vegan butter into the oats, tapioca flour, sugar and cinnamon. You want it to like like wet sand. Stash in the fridge while you throw together everything else.
Time for the bars. In a medium bowl, whisk together the millet flour, tapioca flour, baking soda, ground ginger and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl set over a zeroed kitchen scale, measure out the tahini, agave, cane sugar and warm water. Whisk it together until fully combined and smooth. This will take a little elbow grease. Add the lemon zest, vanilla extract and large egg. Whisk again to combine until smooth.
Using a spatula, fold the flour mixture into the tahini mixture until incorporated. Gently fold in the blueberries and pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Drop dabs of the crumble topping over the top of the tahini batter. If you want to be extra, sprinkle more blueberries over the the crumble.
Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the center is set.
Let cool completely before slicing. This is absolutely divine drizzled with coconut or almond yogurt mixed with a little lemon zest. You can also serve it as.a summer dessert with scoop or vanilla non-dairy ice cream.