Apricot Buckwheat Muffins with Crystallized Ginger and Pecans {gluten-free}

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I felt fully convinced that it was in fact Tuesday this morning, thanks to the long weekend. Anyone else feeling a little disoriented?

For Memorial Day weekend, we drove out to Big Bend, which was both gorgeous and ill-advised considering the heat and crowds of other humans. After several days of road food, I came home wanting something super nourishing for my breakfasts this week — something full of fiber and, possibly, probiotic. And, if it had apricots in it (my favorite of late spring fruits) I wouldn’t complain. With these requirements in mind, I came across a New York Times recipe for blueberry buckwheat muffins that looked promising.

Excuse me while I nerd out: Buckwheat is kind of amazing. Don’t be alarmed by the word “wheat” in the name — it is decidedly not wheat, and is actually not even a grass. Buckwheat is thought of as a grain but is technically a rhubarb relative whose seeds are harvested for their grain-like qualities. It’s high in dietary fiber and a good source of high-quality protein. It’s also rich in B-vitamins, magnesium, and other super helpful stuff. Plus, in addition to being lower on the glycemic index than other gluten-free grains, its properties may have an effect similar to that of a probiotic.

For an added protein boost in this recipe, I subbed the buttermilk in the NYT version for Greek yogurt combined with water. If you don’t have Greek yogurt on hand, any kind of unflavored yogurt will do, but you’ll need to experiment with the ratio of water to yogurt, since Greek yogurt has a thicker consistency. Basically, you’re going for the same fluidity as buttermilk, so runny, but still opaque and slightly creamy. You can also sub non-dairy milk, such as almond milk, and “sour” it by adding a little lemon or vinegar and letting it sit for 5-10 minutes — the ratio I’ve seen is 1 tsp acid for every o1 cup milk.

The flavor combo in these muffins — apricots, ginger, and pecans — is really unique. They’re a little tart, and not sweet. These are not the sugar-laden, basically-cupcake kind of muffins that you’ll find at the grocery store. Credit for the idea to add crystallized ginger goes to a commenter on the NYT‘s original recipe.

A little bit more nerdy-but-important-info before we get into the baking: If you’re new to working with gluten-free flours, you’ll notice that, in the ingredients list, I indicate which flour brands I used. This is not a sponsored post. You’re certainly welcome to try my recipes with other brands of flour, but I’d do so cautiously, particularly when it comes to any pre-blended flours.

Not all flour blends are created equal — there are all-purpose kinds, cup-for-cup kinds, bread flours, cake flours, and on — and you may get a dramatically different texture, rise, or taste if you use a different flour than the one I used. Of course, not all grocery stores carry every type of g-free flour, and it’s always wonderful to experiment with what is readily available in your area buuuuuut . . . in all likelihood you’ll be best served by finding particular flour blends on the Interwebz if you’re not finding them where you live.

I have really mixed feelings about saying this, because I know how expensive gluten-free life can get, and how hard it is to store thirteen different types of flour if you’ve got a small kitchen. But for my palate (and to be honest, sanity) it’s worth it to know that I have things in my pantry that will actually work.

With specific types of flour, such as buckwheat, almond, or millet, you’ll more than likely still have success if you don’t use the particular brand I recommend, but occasionally you’ll run into differences with the flour grind that could affect texture, so just keep that in mind.

Okay, gluten-free technical talk over. On to the recipe!

APRICOT BUCKWHEAT MUFFINS WITH CRYSTALLIZED GINGER AND PECANS (gluten-free)

adapted from The New York Times

Makes 12 muffins

  • 180 grams (1 1/4 cups, approximately) buckwheat flour (I used Arrowhead Mills)
  • 100 grams (3/4 cup, approximately) gluten-free all-purpose flour mix or whole grain gluten-free mix (I used King Arthur’s All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 rounded teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup Greek yogurt + 3/4 cup water, whisked together until smooth
  • 1/3 cup canola or grape seed oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh apricots, diced into 1/4-inch pieces (roughly 2 medium apricots) + 12 apricot wedges, roughly 1/4 inch thick (1 apricot – I find it best to slice the apricot in half lengthwise, remove the pit, and then slice crosswise to get your wedges)
  • 1/2 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup pecan pieces

Preheat oven to 375. Grease muffin tins and line with parchment or muffin liners, if desired.

Sift together both kinds of flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, honey, the yogurt-water mixture, oil, and vanilla extract. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Stir until just combined — you can still have lumps, as you don’t want to overmix, but make sure all the flour gets in there. From there, gently fold in the diced apricots, ginger, and pecans.

Pour batter into muffin tins, filling each cup to the top. Add an apricot wedge to each cup.

Bake for 25-30 minutes. A fork should come out clean when done, and the tops of the muffins should be fluffy and slightly browned. Don’t be alarmed if your apricots sank somewhat — they’re there to look pretty, but mostly to make sure you get a good dose of apricot in each bite.

Remove muffins from tin and let cool on a wire rack. If you did not use liners and are having trouble removing the muffins, allow to cool slightly, then gently run a butter knife around the edge of each muffin to help release from the pan.

Muffins should last three days unrefrigerated. As with all gluten-free baked goods, these have a tendency to spoil quickly, so consider refrigerating or freezing if you hope to keep them past a couple days.

Enjoy!

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