Hello, friends! The calendar finally rolled over to Spring last week, and it was as if the heavens flipped a light switch, turning the sunshine back on. For those of you in the midwest, I’m sure you’ll agree that this winter has been brutal. Dark, cold and windy with little sunshine to cheer our souls. And so, I hibernated through the winter, standing quietly in my kitchen on weekend mornings warming the house with stews and soups, but with little energy to create something new for you to try. Of course, we had a little snow on the first day of Spring to test our limits, but when the sun finally broke through the clouds, it felt like we had made it. The crocuses and daffodils could not be far behind.
This Easter weekend has been the gift we have all been waiting for. Friday was a stunning 40 degree day, with beaming sunshine and the people of Chicago were all smiles with faces turned up to the sky to drink in that Vitamin D. Mark and I took the day off from work and spent the morning tromping through the woods – Mark geocached while I rested on a log watching the deer graze and basking in the warm sunlight. We had tacos at Big Star, and then buzzed downtown to take in a few hours at the Art Institute and a stroll through Millennium Park. Heavy coats and hats were shucked, and the city was bursting with energy as we all awoke from our long winter’s slumber.
I woke up this morning with an itch to bake – something light and fresh for Easter breakfast. Browsing through Instagram, I saw Sarah’s picture prepping for a fresh batch of muffins, and I knew that was just what I wanted.
Do you remember when frozen yogurt first came on the scene in the late 80s, in the days of low-fat diets and bran muffins? Lake Orion’s very first yogurt shop, right across the parking lot from LS Foods (where Mark bagged groceries), made fantastic homemade muffins. Mom & Dad would take us there occasionally after church, and we’d get to pick out the muffin of our choice. My very favorite muffins were the orange cranberry with a tiny crunch from millet.
I remembered that Heidi Swanson had a recipe in Super Natural Every Day for millet muffins, and found just the blank canvas I was looking for. I adapted Heidi’s recipe, making it gluten free and played with the flavors to capture that cranberry crunch I was after. The finished muffins have a delicate orange flavor from the zest, good structure and a tender crumb thanks to the greek yogurt, and I adore the slight crunch from the millet. This will definitely be my base recipe for all muffins going forward.
Gluten Free Orange Cranberry Millet Muffins
adapted from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day
280g All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Mix (I use Shauna’s blend, but you can just as easily use a mix like Pamela’s, Bob’s Red Mill or Cup4Cup)
⅓ cup raw millet
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp xanthan gum
½ tsp guar gum
½ tsp fine grain sea salt
½ tsp cinnamon
1 cup full fat greek yogurt (Greek Gods is my favorite)
2 eggs, beaten
8 T butter melted & cooled
½ cup honey
Grated zest of 1 orange
Juice of half the orange (about 3 T)
½ tsp orange flower water
⅔ cup dried cranberries
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, with a rack in the upper ⅓ of the oven.
- Combine the flour, millet, guar and xanthan gums, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk to combine and aerate. Set aside.
- Melt the butter in a 3 cup measuring cup, or another mixing bowl.
- Whisk the eggs in a small bowl.
- Add the greek yogurt, orange zest, orange juice, orange flower water and honey to the melted butter and stir to combine. Add the beaten eggs and stir until fully incorporated.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, sprinkle in the cranberries, and fold together with a spatula until fully incorporated.
- Scoop the batter into greased muffin tins, a generous ¼ cup per muffin.
- Bake on the top rack for 15 minutes, then move to the lower middle rack for another 6 minutes. Muffin tops will be well browned, and test with a toothpick – if it comes out clean, the muffins are done.
- Cool in the muffin tin on a baking rack for 10 minutes, then carefully slide a knife around the edge of each muffin, and turn each one out onto the cooling rack to cool for another 5 minutes or so before slicing and enjoying with a thin skim of butter and cup of coffee.
What’s your favorite muffin flavor combination? Share in the comments below!