Bread of the Month: Considering a muffin with flax appeal

lede_muffinI’m not sure where flaxseeds currently sit among the healthy food trend “it girls.” For awhile, it was nearly insisted upon to put flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, flaxseed meal or some other interpretation in nearly everything, from cereals to smoothies to breads. I believe now that chia seeds are claiming more attention, but I don’t keep up. I can’t. It changes all the time. But if something is getting attention, I think what’s most important is getting to the truth of why.bobs01

Whether flaxseed’s 15 minutes are waxing or waning, the bottom line is: it has always been and will continue to be…good for you. What makes it so? Flaxseed, said to be one of the world’s most oldest known cultivated grains, has only in recent years been touted as a rich source of omega fatty acids (said to be good for the heart), high fiber content and substance in nutrients such as calcium, B vitamins and antioxidants. Just a mere couple of tablespoons packs nearly 3 grams of fiber, so simply sprinkling some in your oatmeal can boost its already nutritious game.

book01Flaxseed and oatmeal team up in a recipe from the new Food52
cookbook, “Baking: 60 Sensational Treats You Can Pull Off In a Snap” (2015) — Cranberry, Oatmeal, and Flaxseed Muffins. As a fan of the Food52 website (founded by food mavens Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, who cook 52 weeks of the year, get it?), I availed myself to this irresistibly beautiful cookbook as a Christmas present to…me!

To kick off the year — and baking from this book — I settled on this recipe. Why not begin with a treat less guilt-ridden than, say, the Magic Espresso Brownies that adorn the cover (which, I promise, I will be making at some point).

measureThis muffin recipe, adapted by Merrill Stubbs from Du Jour Bakery in Brooklyn, includes whole wheat flour, cranberries, brown sugar, buttermilk and a whole lotta cinnamon, along with the rolled oats and flaxseed meal. My first time using flaxseed meal, I noticed its similarity in appearance, texture and taste to wheat germ.

berriesThough the recipe called for fresh or frozen cranberries, I opted for another suggestion of using dried cranberries, since I had megadoses left over from the holidays. I also deviated from the recipe by substituting unsweetened apple juice for the water. And, since the recipe makes a high volume of muffins — 24 — I decided to cut it in half.

scoop01Having made an oatmeal muffin before that called for letting the oats sit in liquid to moisten for a bit before baking, I did the same with this batter. I dolloped the mixture into delightful paper muffin cups — the floaty, origami-like versions that resemble blooming tulips. I thought the elegant cups would make a nice contrast to the dense, earthy muffins.

Just slicing the baked muffin in half, one can witness the goodness…the dark texture made from the cinnamon, brown sugar, whole wheat flour and flaxseed meal; the punctuation of whole oats and bursts of juicy cranberry. And if all healthful aims could taste this yummy! These muffins are like the best bowl of oatmeal, slightly chewy and full of flavor. I particularly love the high amount of cinnamon, my favorite spice.

They are a great way to spend the afternoon baking and every morning, eating. And flaxseed has found a new, if latent, fan.
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Cranberry, Oatmeal, and Flaxseed Muffins
From “Baking: 60 Sensational Treats You Can Pull Off In a Snap” (2015)
By the Editors of Food52 (www.food52.com)
Makes 24 muffins

5 cups rolled oats
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
2/3 cup ground flaxseed or flaxseed meal
4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup neutral oil, such as vegetable oil or mild coconut oil
3/4 cup water
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two standard-sized muffin pans with paper liners.

In a large bowl, stir together the oats, flour, brown sugar, ground flaxseed, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Add the eggs, buttermilk, oil, and water and mix until just combined. Fold in the cranberries. Spoon the batter into the lined muffin cups, filling each to the top.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Let cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before serving.

Blogger’s Note: I cut this recipe in half for 12 muffins, but if you wanted to make the full batch, I’m sure these hearty muffins could withstand freezing. I used unsweetened apple juice in place of the water and substituted dried cranberries for the fresh.
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