Even though my family doesn’t have a garden, every year we are blessed with homegrown produce from friends.
Last year I traded homemade bread for bags of fresh tomatoes. Another year a kind neighbor gave us cucumbers and collard greens. And this year we were given a bounty of giant summer squash from a friend that was more than willing to share a bag or two.
After she sent me this picture, I was a little worried…
As much as we enjoy squash ’round here, that would have been a bit much, but she only brought part of the bounty. (Thanks Ash!) :)
One of my favorite things to make with squash is squash bread. Although I’ve tried another recipe in the past, this year I adjusted my grandma’s zucchini bread recipe and substituted squash instead of zucchini. The result was a delicious treat that the whole family enjoys.
One of my earliest strawberry memories goes back to when I was four years old. My great-uncle visited our home in Florida, bringing a bounty of fresh strawberries. We sat at the kitchen table and I feasted on plenty of those juicy red berries with him.
And then there’s the spring evening several years back when we invited some of our Alabama neighbors over for a cookout. We sat on the back porch and ate homemade strawberry shortcake topped with fresh whipped cream.
With strawberry shortcake on my mind once again, I made these muffins. They’re moist and slightly sweet with a hint of coconut.
Moist, wheat-free strawberry muffins with a hint of coconut.
Yield: 18 Muffins
4½ cups oat flour (see notes below)
2 Tbs baking powder
1 tsp salt
½ cup coconut oil
¼ cup sucanat (or brown sugar)
⅔ cup honey
1 cup buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla
½ tsp coconut extract
⅓ cup flaked coconut
2 cups chopped frozen strawberries.
Whisk together the oat flour, baking powder, and salt.
In a saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the coconut oil, sucanat, honey, and buttermilk. (It should be warm to the touch. This will keep the coconut oil from hardening when you mix it.)
In a large bowl, mix the warmed coconut oil mixture with the eggs, vanilla, coconut extract, and flaked coconut.
Blend in the dry ingredients. Stir in the chopped strawberries.
Line 18 muffin cups with muffin liners (or grease each cup with coconut oil). Spoon the batter into the muffin cups.
Bake at 375 degrees for 20-23 minutes, or until golden and cracked.
These are delicious warm or cooled, but are better set after cooling.
Oat flour can be made by milling oats with a kitchen mill or by processing them in a food processor (or high-powered blender) until fine. I prefer to mill the oats with my kitchen mill, since that produces a finer flour, but either way will work.
Orange flavored muffins–the idea sounded delectable. Was it worth a try? After some contemplation I decided it was. The result led me to a great mathematical discovery:
Oranges + Muffins = Deliciousness
I’m not the only one that agrees with that equation. My mom and other members of my family back it up too. Consequently, these muffins don’t last long around the house. (Maybe I should have doubled the recipe. Hmm. I didn’t think of that!)
I love the smell of whole-wheat bread baking in the oven. What’s even better is a thick warm slice of it slathered with butter. Mmm…
Thankfully, I get that treat every week.
For the past seven years I’ve been the family bread baker. Baking bread has become second nature to me. It’ something I do without hardly thinking now, but it wasn’t always that way.
As much I love bread, there have definitely been times when my relationship with it has been disastrous. The early days of experimenting with unpredictable bread machines yielded “delectable” things that we nicknamed “goulash” or “puffywuff.”
Over the years I’ve gotten much better. Even though I still have much to learn, here are some tips I’ve learned:
Tips for Great Bread:
Use warm water but not hot water. Warm water activates the yeast; hot water kills it. (The water shouldn’t be hotter than 110 degrees.)
Store yeast in the refrigerator (storing it in the freezer will kill it). If your yeast is old, you might want to try proofing it.
Lightly grease your hands with olive oil when kneading or shaping the dough to reduce sticking.
Remember that dough rises best in warm places.
And lastly, have fun! Making bread can be challenging at first, but with time, it becomes second nature. If one recipe fails, don’t give up. Look around for other bread recipes and more tips about the great art of bread making.
And without further ado, here is my trusty whole-wheat bread recipe:
4 cups warm water (I use the warmest water from the tap; about 105 degrees)
13-14 cups whole wheat flour (I use freshly milled organic white wheat)
2 Tbs yeast
In a mixer with a dough hook attachment, combine the oil, honey, salt, and water. Add about 8 cups of four and the yeast. Mix until combined.
Add about 4 more cups of flour.Mix until combined, then turn the mixer to the next speed and knead for a couple of minutes, adding additional flour as needed (about 1 or 2 more cups) until the dough no longer sticks to the bowl of the mixer.
Once the dough is no longer sticking to the bowl, knead for 8-10 more minutes or until the dough is stretchy and elastic.
Cover the dough and let it rise for about 30 minutes, or until the dough is doubled in size. Line four bread pans with parchment paper.
Punch down the dough with your fists and divide it into 4 lumps. On a clean surface, knead each lump of bread individually by hand for about a minute or so until the dough is deflated. (I rub about 1 tsp of olive oil on my hands to prevent the dough from sticking.) Shape the kneaded dough into a loaf and place it in a parchment paper lined bread pan. Repeat with each loaf of bread.
Cover the loaves with a towel and allow to rise for about 40 minutes or until the loaves are doubled in size.
Remove the towel and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place loaves in preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown. (I usually bake mine for 30 minutes in a convection oven).
Allow bread to cool for about 10 minutes before removing from pans. Slice and serve warm, or allow to cool completely and store in plastic bags*. (I use twist-tie bags.)
*To check if the dough is elastic: Grab a clump of dough, stretch it out between your hands in front of a sunny window (or some type of light source). If you can see light shining through the stretched dough before it breaks apart, then the dough is elastic and done kneading.
Since this bread does not have preservatives in it, it will only keep for about five days. It will get drier as the days go by, so I like to store extra loaves in the freezer if I know they're not going to be eaten soon.
It was almost nine o’clock at night. The perfect time to whip together a batch of chocolate muffins, right? Well, that’s what I thought the other night as I started jotting down a rough draft of the recipe. (Am I the only one that likes to write “first drafts” of recipes and then “edit” them until I’m pleased? Sigh…I guess I write too much.)
My first objective was to create slightly sweet chocolate muffins for breakfast. The first try was a success. The muffins were moist and great for a light snack or breakfast. The next objective: chocolate dessert muffins. I added extra sweetener and more chocolate chips (why not?), and the end result was an extra moist and delightfully richer dessert version. I’ve shown how to make both kinds in the recipe below. Either way, they’re good, it just depends on your preference.
Double Chocolate Muffins
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 heaping Tbsp of ground flaxseed (or more flour)
1 Tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 large ripe banana (or 1 1/2 small bananas)
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup vanilla almond milk
1/2 cup sucanat (or 3/4 cup for dessert muffins)
2 tsp vanilla (increase to 1 Tbsp if using regular almond milk)
1/3 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips (or 1/2 cup for dessert muffins)
Whisk together the flour, cocoa, flaxseed, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, puree the banana with a mixer. In a small saucepan melt the coconut oil over medium-low heat. Once the oil is melted, stir in the sucanat, almond milk, and vanilla. Heat until warm (not hot). Pour into the bowl with the mashed banana and mix until combined. Blend in the flour mixture until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with muffin liners. Pour the batter evenly into the cups. Bake at 375 for 15-17 minutes or until the tops are set (they should feel springy but not gooey). Cool a few minutes in the pan before removing the muffins from the tin and placing them on a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or cooled.
Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. Add the remaining ingredients (except the corn) and mix until combined. Stir in the corn. Pour into a greased 9″ by 13″ baking dish. Bake at 400 degrees for 25-27 minutes or until golden and set. Serve warm.
Cream the butter, applesauce, buttermilk, honey granules, vanilla and eggs. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until combined. Line 16 muffins cups with paper liners. Pour the batter evenly into the cups.
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1 Tbs whole wheat flour
2 Tbs sucanat (or brown sugar)
1 Tbs cinnamon
1 Tbs butter, melted
Stir together the streusel ingredients. Top the muffins with the streusel and press it gently into the batter. Bake at 400 degrees for 13-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean and edges are golden. Let cool for a few minutes before removing the muffins from the muffin tins. Serve warm (slathered with butter), or cooled. Either way they’re delicious!