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Archive for January 31st, 2007

Alda’s Beautiful Sweater

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

Alda of The Iceland Weather Report knit a circular-yoke traditional Icelandic wool sweater for her daughter. It’s beautiful, please go take a look and tell her how nice it is!

Recipe: Teff Spice Muffins

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

tefftomatomuffins.jpgWowie, I did it. If these are not perfect muffins, then I’m unable to attain perfection. They have been tested by folks who can eat all foods and declared delicious. I say when I can bake like this, my food limitations do not matter. As Brian likes to say, “this is gourmet!”

I know you folks like recipes and this one is ready to share. I have made at least a dozen versions of these, more likely three dozen, since early September. The ones I made today are the best of all. They taste a bit like a bran muffin and have a dense texture closer to gingerbread than anything I can think of.

Warning: You surely do not have all these ingredients in your house. My town is not a very fancy food town but I can get the unusual ingredients at my health food store or the grocery near Michigan State University which caters to international students (Goodrich Shoprite). Let’s face it… I can not eat most of what you have in your cupboards, so I am learning about other great foods. You get to learn about the goodies from me. I figure that works out pretty well.

If you live where this sort of grocery is not available, you can get the Teff Flour and Arrowroot Starch from Bob’s Red Mill online. I have ordered from them several times and they are good people. You can not get flours fresher than buying through the mill, you know? The quality is wonderful. They do not always ship next day, but a little waiting is worthwhile. They will indicate right away when they do expect to ship.

(They also have a good recipe database including several Teff recipes. Their Teff muffins are also good but they call for 2 eggs and baking powder, both of which I avoid, so I embarked on the “no egg no gluten” recipe quest… which finally worked after nearly five months of experimentation.)

The muffins are at their best while still warm. They will get stale more quickly than wheat-based baked goods, and will be fairly firm in 24 hours (though a short microwave stint does improve them). Enjoy them while you can (in the first 4 hours is best) and loosely wrap them in a plastic bag as soon as they are fully cool. This is one reason I chopped my recipe in half (to only 6 muffins), so that I would not waste food.

Today I made 6 muffins in the morning, shared with hubby, then made 6 in the afternoon, shared with my helper and later with hubby after dinner. Yum! (They are really filling, heavier than wheat baked goods… and teff is a very high-protein grain so they pack a decent nutritional makeup for something sweet.) They also are so rich I don’t like butter/margarine with them (I normally eat other muffins with margarine).

Note: These muffins happen to be gluten-free. However, some of my friends who eat gluten-free foods also do not eat sugar. You can try to substitute stevia powder, but I have never done it so you are on your own there. I’m guessing they will not have the same outer crust without sugar, but it would be worth a try.

For the record, I include crushed tomato both because it needs acid to make the baking soda fizz, and vegetable matter to keep them moist (teff baked goods tend to stiffen quickly without it). I do not tolerate most fruit well, but if you do not tolerate tomato (or do not have any) you can use applesauce. It is not nearly as tasty that way, though… tomato is a very flavorful ingredient that complements the cloves and cinnamon very well. I have a World War II-era spice cake recipe which calls for tomato juice, and it is also lovely.

Without further ado, here is my recipe (sorry to my non-US readers, it’s in cups only, not metric… I just don’t know how to convert):

LynnH’s Teff Spice Muffins
(makes 6 cupcake-sized muffins, easy to double)
Dry Ingredients:
1/2c PLUS 3Tbsp Teff Flour (not Teff grain)
1/2c Teff Flour PLUS 3Tbsp Brown Rice Flour
1/4c Brown Sugar
1/4c Arrowroot Starch or Tapioca Starch (fine flour, not tapioca for pudding)
Rounded 1/4tsp Baking Soda
1/2tsp Ground Cinnamon
Dash Ground Cloves (Optional)
Dash Ground Nutmeg (Optional)
Dash Ground Allspice (Optional)
Dash Salt

Wet Ingredients:
2Tbsp Oil (I used light “pure” Olive Oil)
3/8c (same as 6Tbsp) Water
1/2c Crushed Tomatoes (or thick tomato Sauce without other spices, I used Eden Brand)

Preheat oven to 350F.

Oil muffin pans with spray (or wipe with oil).
Place dry ingredients in mixing bowl. Blend thoroughly with large wire whisk. It is OK to leave small lumps of brown sugar. If this bothers you, try white sugar but I think you lose flavor if you do that.

In smaller bowl, mix wet ingredients with whisk. Add to dry ingredients quickly and blend together just until all ingredients are moistened. Do not over-mix or your muffins will not rise well.

Divide batter evenly into six muffin cups. They should be cupcake-sized, I use my 1/2c measuring cup to scoop and distribute the batter. If your muffin pan is for twelve cupcakes, place your batter along the edges of the pan.

Bake. In my oven (which sometimes takes longer than recipes specify, even though two oven thermometers say that it is calibrated correctly) these need 21-25 minutes. As soon as a toothpick poked in the center of the largest muffin pulls out clean but a little moist, they are done.

When they come out of the oven, you can instantly turn the pan over onto a cooling rack and the muffins should drop out without prodding (don’t let them go on the floor, you would be sad to lose one).

For the record, the tomato makes a rich and wonderful spice batter which does not taste at all like tomato. However, only about one tablespoon of the vegetable matter needs to be tomato (sauce or juice or crushed tomatoes). The tomato is the acid which reacts with the baking soda to leaven/raise the muffins. You can replace the rest of the 1/2 cup of tomato with canned pumpkin (or leftover baked sweet potato or winter squash). Make sure if you use leftovers that they are fairly wet, you may need to mix in a little water with them.