Baking Quick Breads (by ratio) & Orange-Saffron Muffins [Gluten-Free]

17 Fri, 2011 § 10 Comments

Early mornings are meant for the kitchen.  Flours dust the counter tops as the sun slowly reaches its way across bowls & bamboo mixing spoons.  Sometimes, 4am (or even 5am) feels too early to be awake & baking breads; but often, I relish this unique perspective of our home as the house fills with light & sweet aromas.

While I enjoy this intimate time with myself, it’s not purely selfish.  Dave doesn’t seem to mind waking to smells of freshly baked millet muffins or Summer-infused quick breads.  I look forward to sending him to work with a scone, a fresh slice of sweet bread or a muffin.

I have taken to creating more baked goods rather than buying bread from the store, especially as I am delving into gluten-free varieties.  Baking my own is less expensive, but more than that, it’s rewarding & sparks creativity.  Experimenting with gluten-free flours is becoming more interesting than sticking to whole wheat, though I still rotate in batches made with kamut.  There is much more variance & diversity of flavors & textures when you explore what lies beyond all-purpose & wheat flour.  Corn. Oat. Rice. Buckwheat. Amaranth. Almond.  Each is distinct in its nuances & offers something different to your baking.

I am becoming very partial to the combination of almond & oat.

Orange & saffron as well.

I have just started baking with a scale & following weight ratios rather than measuring by volume (ie measuring cups), which immediately amped up my confidence in creating rather than simply following recipes.  Baked goods each have a ratio of flours to liquids to eggs to fats.  What makes bread different from pancakes — & these different from pizza dough or a croissant — is not just the ingredients, but how those ingredients work in proportion to each other.  Of course, there are still many recipes out there I have fallen in love with which need little to no adapting; but baking by ratio gives me the freedom to make these recipes my own by more easily swapping flours or the type of liquid or fat I use.

Try it.  My kitchen scale set us back only $20 & is more than worth it.

To ease you into this, I did translate my recipe back into approximate volume measurements.  These will only be useful if you use the exact ingredients I did though, because each flour, oil, etc has its own specific weight.  I’m a newby just playing around, having fun & certainly no expert.  This is a great post if you are interested in learning more about cooking with ratios.

The ratio for baking quick bread is 2 parts flour: 2 parts liquid: 1 part egg: 1 part fat.  To fill a 9 x 5 loaf pan, you would need 227 grams of flours, 227 grams of liquid of any kind, 113 grams egg (2 of them) or egg substitute & 113 grams of fats.   This ratio also works for making muffins.

Almond Meal Muffins with Orange Zest & Saffron

makes 12 muffins

or slightly fewer if you want a higher muffin top

  • 110 g almond flour (~heaping 3/4 cup)
  • 117 g oat flour (~heaping 1 cup)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 131 g orange blossom honey (~1/2 cup)
  • 63 g coconut milk (~1/4 cup)
  • 34 g fresh orange juice (4T) & zest from one orange
  • 2 eggs (113 g)
  • 113 g coconut oil, melted (~1/2 cup)
  • tiny pinch of saffron, seriously only a few strands

Preheat oven to 350*F.

In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients.  Combine wet ingredients separately.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients & mix.  Fold in zest & saffron.  Divide the batter among the muffin cups, filling to the rim. Bake for 13 – 15 minutes until muffin tops are lightly golden & a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

These are crumby & moist, best eaten with a fork, fresh & warm from the oven.


Do you bake using ratios?

p.s. The first bread is my vegan variation of Marla’s Strawberry Snack Cakes.

Take-Out & In

16 Thu, 2010 § 9 Comments

Pizza seems to be the quintessential “moving day” food.  With Christine’s help, we even found a pizza place that offers vegan pizzas & local, seasonal ingredients: New Jersey Pizza Company.

The “vegan” pizzas aren’t anything fancy, but at least they seem open to a request to leave cheese off — which usually wins me the are-you-Crazy? glance — & they even offer vegan cheese.  The in-house crust, made daily, is fresh & amazing: slightly crisp yet still soft on the inside.  They also have a house-made mozzarella which Dave quickly approved.  My vegan calzone hit the spot.

Our quick-assembly cardboard box dining table fit right in with our “moving day” theme.  All that was left was something cold to wash it down.

We bumped into a woman at the store looking for a saffron-infused beer, & I was more than happy to help her find it.  If I had to choose only one spice for the rest of my life — which would just be cruel anyway — it would be saffron.  It’s difficult to describe what saffron tastes like, so I tend to agree that “to taste saffron is to know how unnecessary words are in the vocabulary of joy.”  Honeyed musk just came to mind, so maybe that’s a good description.

We almost missed the “cold” part of our drinks, because we didn’t realize the fridge was off.  Nothing a quick chill in the freezer [while roasting a side of broccoli] didn’t remedy.

I usually go for a glass of wine & am a dark beer gal when I grab a beer, but I enjoyed this Midas Touch by Dogfish Head Brewery.  The bitterness of the barley played well with the subtle sweetness of the honey & grapes as well as the delicacy of the saffron.  I don’t really think of beer as an after dinner drink, but this is really nice!

That was our take-out…& while it’s easy to get caught up in the take-out mood during move-in week, we opted to quickly fill the pantry & cook a delicious meal that still satisfies that mood.

Natalia discovered mochi recently & reignited my excitement over what has sort of become a staple in our home.  This kicked me out of my typical mochi waffle mode & has made me think of other ways to use it.

Mochi Dumplings are a favorite.

I really want to love dumplings when we dine out, but they are usually somewhat of a disappointment to me; they are generally too chewy, & it’s rare to find them without pork.  I love this so much more than any I have ever tried at a restaurant.

Baked mochi creates a dumpling that is chewy on the inside but still crisp on the outside.  They make a quick & versatile meal; you basically make stir-fry then stuff.  It is a perfect way to use up aging produce & the best method I have found to sneak cabbage into Dave — mwahaha — he didn’t even taste it!  Plus any excuse to make peanut sauce rocks.

Cabbage & Leek Stuffed Mochi

filled 12 mochi dumplings

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

  • 1 leek, thinly sliced into half moons

Saute ~3 minutes.

  • 10 small, baby bella mushrooms

Remove & discard stems [save for other use — I fed these to Eisley].

Thinly slice caps.

  • ½ a small head of cabbage, sliced thinly [~1 cup] or other winter green

Add mushroom & cabbage to skillet & saute 8 – 10 minutes.

Deglaze with braggs or tamari if needed.

  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1 daikon radish, grated
  • 1 T mirin

Add & saute 5 – 8 minutes more, or until tender & most of the liquid has cooked out.

Stir in sesame seeds [ground sunflower seeds are a good substitute if you happen to forget sesame seeds like I did].

  • 1 12-oz package of mochi, cut into 2″ squares & baked according to package directions [I really like the super seed one by Grainaissance].  Should make 12 squares.

[I put the mochi in the oven around the time I add the cabbage & mushrooms.]

Allow the puffed mochi to cool enough to handle.

Carefully slit each one open with a knife & use a fork to stuff with stir-fry.  This is a bit sticky & awkward; they don’t have to be pretty — they will still be delicious.

Peanut Dipping Sauce

  • 3 T coconut milk
  • ¼ C natural peanut butter [we like chunky]
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes [a nice sub for red chili sauce a.k.a cock sauce]
  • 1 T honey or other sweetener
  • 1 T toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp lemon zest [I would have preferred lime juice, but a lemon was all I had.  I just used the zest to give it a hint of citrus without making it too “lemony”]

Combine all ingredients in a blender & puree until smooth.


What is your favorite take-out?

What is your favorite homemade take on a favorite take-out?

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