August 25, 2009
This past weekend I experimented with whole grain baking thanks to inspiration I received from the cookbook Super Natural Cooking by blogger Heidi Swanson. I picked up the book during a recent weekend excursion to New York’s Hudson Valley. Driving about 1 1/2 hours outside of NYC with my foodie friend, Norah Burton, we visited the quaint towns of Hyde Park (home to the Culinary Institute of America), Rhinebeck and Red Hook among a few others.
In addition to taking a self-guided tour of CIA, looking for area farmers’ markets and interesting shops, and stumbling upon a couple of great restaurants, we visited Greig Farm in Red Hook. This small farm was full of ripe, u-pick blueberries.
Although the weather made it a bit too hot for us to pick that afternoon, we went out into the fields to taste a few berries and take photos before driving a short distance down the road to the farm’s store, Gigi Market. That’s where I stumbled upon Heidi’s book, which is all about cooking with whole, natural ingredients, including a wide variety of whole grains.
Wanting to share a recipe with you not from the book, but inspired by the cookbook and my trip to Greig Farm, I came up with my version of blueberry muffins that are delicious and provide you with the good nutrition that whole grains offer.
Often times, people think whole grains mean a dry and flavorless baked good, but with techniques that often include blending different types of flours or adding certain ingredients such as yogurt, whole grain baking can result in tasty textures and flavors that are higher in protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals than regular all-purpose flour.
My blueberry muffins recipe calls for whole-wheat pastry flour, which is milled from soft wheat. It helps give muffins and quick breads a more tender texture than you would get from using regular whole-wheat flour. Some recipes call for part whole-wheat pastry flour and part all-purpose flour, but I decided to go all the way and use all whole grain flour. The yogurt helps to make the muffins moist and tender.
If you never or rarely bake with whole grain flour, give this recipe a try. It just may entice you to experiment a little more with whole grain baking. Thanks to Heidi Swanson’s cookbook, I’m already looking forward to working more with whole grains in my kitchen.
Whole Grain Blueberry Muffins
Makes 14 muffins
2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup of natural cane sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup whole, plain yogurt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1-1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons whole milk
1-1/2 cups blueberries
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl, fully whisk together flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. In another bowl, fully mix together melted butter, yogurt and almond extract. Then, add eggs and briskly stir to combine.
Create a well in the flour mixture and add the butter, yogurt and egg mixture stirring together briskly with a rubber spatula. Be sure to incorporate all of the flour until just combined (do not over mix). Then fold the whole milk and blueberries into the batter.
Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper muffin liners and fill them to the top with the batter. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes. When muffins are done, they will begin to brown on top.
Remove muffins from oven and allow them to cool in the pan for a few minutes before transferring them to a baking rack to cool a few minutes more. Serve muffins warm (tastiest) or at room temperature.