Italy has never been much of a muffin place.
This might be the reason why I have never been interested in muffins. Upon my arrival to the United States, I was able to realize two things: one, that the cupcake icing was something I did not want to eat again, and two, that muffins would be really good if it weren’t for all the butter.
I started to think of all the possible ways to make muffins moist and soft without resorting to butter. Baking is but a work of chemistry, and anyone who knows the basics of the chemistry behind baking should be able to guess their own recipes pretty easily. Still, for some reason, I thought these would turn out to be a cmplete disaster. But I was glad to taste, after quite an easy assembling process, some of the best muffins I’ve ever had.
They are moist, so, so deliciously tender, and they do stay that way. You want to build up the fluffiness, so the recipe guides you through incorporating as much air into the batter as you can, right from the start. This is why we beat up the eggs to make a sort of mayonnaise – to get eggs to fluff up, you either need to beat them with sugar or fat, and use the egg whites as a base to build up volume. As for the flours, I tried both a wheat version and a gluten free version, with no considerable difference. Much as I depise starches, the potato starch here is key to the overall softness of the final product.
I decided to go with goat’s milk products, as they are asily digested and really give these babies a flavorful kick.
The versatility and flexibility of these muffins is amazing: make them ahead, pack them to lunch or to a trip outdoors, use them for a buffet at a party, or just have them with a green salad. Also, the vegetables can be changed according to the seasons, making them a year-round treat. Keep them in the fridge once they’re completely cool.
The solutions for adding moisture are actually endless, but here I chose one of my favorite foods in the world: ricotta. Yogurt, coconut milk, puréed pumpkin and bananas would work wonderfully, too.
But those are experiments for another time.
Gluten-Free Savory Vegetable Muffins
(Makes 8 Muffins)
40 Grams Buckwheat flour
40 Grams Brown rice flour
40 Grams other gluten-free flour like quinoa or almond
40 Grams Potato starch
2 teaspoons Baking powder
140 Grams Creamy goat’s milk ricotta
50-60 Grams Grated Goat cheese
80 Milliliters Extra virgin olive oil
A pinch of Grated nutmeg
A pinch of Salt and Pepper
1 Small onion
400-500 Grams Mixed vegetables, cooked (here I use mushrooms, spinach, and Savoy cabbage)
1/4 Cup (more or less) Goat milk
Prepare the onions:
Thinly slice them and stir fry them on low heat in some olive oil. Add a splash of water to avoid using insane amounts of oil and cook them half covered until they start to brown, 20-25 minutes. Check them often to see if they need more water.
Prepare the other vegetables:
In the meantime, stir fry the other vegetables singularly: slice the mushrooms and cook until wilted. I browned the mushrooms for best results: to do so, arrange them in a pan in a singular layer, and cook in olive oil until browned on the bottom. Turn them, repeat. As for the spinach, just lightly stir fry with olive oil, salt and pepper. As for the cabbage (which is optional here), braise it in olive oil and a splash of water until wilted. Add salt and pepper.
Prepare the batter:
Preheat a fan oven to 350F˚ / 170C˚. Separate the egg whites from the yolks. In a bowl, beat the yolks and add the olive oil a little at a time, as for making mayonnaise. We want the eggs to get creamy. You might not need all the oil; save a couple tablespoons for later.
- Combine the flours, starch and baking powder, and sift them a little at a time into the egg cream. Once the mixture gets too hard, add half the milk, the reserved olive oil and start incorporating the ricotta cheese. The mixture should be sticky, like a soft dough. If it’s too dough like, add a little more milk, but don’t overdo it! Add the grated cheese and mix to incorporate.
- Beat the egg whites until very firm. Add a couple tablespoons of beaten whites to make the batter smoother, then add the rest, folding it in with a circular movement, starting from the bottom and going upwards. We want to incorporate air into the mixture. At the end, you should have a smoother, looser dough, but still sticky. Fold in the cooked vegetables, with the same upward motion.
- Lightly grease and flour 8 muffin tins, or line with muffin cups. Once cooked, they will not stick to the paper or the tins, so you don’t need to over-grease anything. Fill the tins almost all the way to the top. Cook in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on how your oven cooks. After 30′, check with a toothpick to see if they’re cooked all the way in. If they’re ready, turn off the oven and leave them in for another 5 minutes.
- Let cook a little, unmold, and enjoy warm. They are also delicious at room temperature, and they will keep outside the fridge and stay moist for days, though I dare you to make them last longer that 3 days.
- You can, of course, use regular cow milk’s ricotta and milk, and use Parmesan as your grated cheese. To make them vegan, you could use soft tofu and a plant milk.
- Change the vegetables according to season. For spring, try a mix of peas, asparagus and artichoke; for winter try Radicchio and cruciferous veggies, and for summer try eggplant, peppers and tomatoes. The possibilities are endless!
- Add seeds to increase the nutritional value: Flax, Chia, sunflower…every seed would be great with these.
Nutrition (per each muffin):
– 1g Fiber