04 December 2013

Pear Spice Muffins (wheat-free)

Since incorporating almond flour into baking around here, I've really been wanting to use it in tandem with other flours that aren't grain-free. But it's not, of course a one-to-one substitute. Recipes designed to utilize all-almond (and coconut) flour are abundant, but what about those incorporating some spelt, barley, oat and flours other than wheat...less easy to find. That was what sent me into a flurry over those brown butter espresso chip muffins I photographed in the last post--the workings of the almond, oat and spelt flours together: finally three of my favorites all made it into the bowl at once and had a party. The result was lighter than a typical all-almond flour muffin with lovely crumb from hearty but not heavy, spelt, and the moisture was just right. And though I'd make those brown butter, espresso + chocolate muffins daily if I could, I just had to cast a seasonal spell on the whole thing and reinvent it for fruit and spice. Hello pear and clove and vanilla (and brown butter).

In terms of the spices for this muffin, you want to strike the perfect balance between just-shy and overly-dominating. I opted for a little of everything based on what I had on hand. I didn't want to gingerize them too much, so just a small pinch fresh grated ginger along with a hearty teaspoon vanilla paste went into the wet ingredients. A few whole cloves got ground with the oat flour and a pinch cinnamon perfumed it all for good measure. You could surely experiment with some cardamom or even stick to just vanilla. I loved the hints of other spice notes at play though, and the scent of the cloves seeping into the batter will infuse your entire kitchen...

I think we talked about roasting pears before for baking. Giving them that 20 minute dry-bake in the oven and leaving them to cool for a bit is a good trick for combating any potential steaminess that tucking a fruit like pear into a muffin might bring. Here I don't dry them out as  much as I would for scones but when they cool, I fold them into the batter and even throw a few atop the muffins before sprinkling on a little walnut-brown sugar spritz. Enjoy just cooled down perhaps with a little light honey drizzle.

Pear Spice Muffins
Makes 5 regular


4 Tbsp/55g salted butter (or coconut oil- note I used about 3 T butter and the rest coconut oil) 
1 egg
40 ml plain whole milk yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup + 2 T (~48g) spelt flour
2 1/2 Tbsp (~15 g) oat flour (grind rolled oats)
1/2 cup (~55 g) almond flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3 whole cloves, ground
1/4 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 medium or 1/2 a large green pear, diced

1 Tbsp chopped lightly toasted walnuts
1/2 tsp brown sugar


First, preheat the oven to 375 F and place diced pear on a parchment-lined sheet and bake 20 minutes, then allow to cool.

To make muffins: Preheat oven to 350 F and grease 5 holes in a tin with a little butter. Set aside. Brown the butter: Set a saucepan to medium heat, toss in butter and let bubble and fizz until brown specks start to form at the bottom and it turns amber. Do not burn. A light browning is just fine. Immediately transfer to a bowl to cool. If using part coconut oil, whisk that into the cooling butter. Set aside.

Whisk to combine flours, sugar, salt, baking soda and powder, cinnamon and cloves (note: I whizzed the cloves with the oats in a clean coffee grinder when making the oat flour), set aside.

Whisk egg, yogurt, cooled butter, vanilla and ginger together. Smell it... : )

Toss 1/4 of the cooled pear into the dry mix and stir to coat. Pour wet into the dry and give a few stirs, just to combine, toss almost all the rest of the pear in and fold together just barely. (Leave a little handful pears for the tops)

Scoop batter into tins, filling 3/4 full, stud tops with a few more pear pieces then sprinkle with walnut/brown sugar mix evenly.

Bake about 20 minutes in oven, until a tester comes out just clean and the centers are just cooked through, then cool in the pan a few minutes. Carefully twist muffins out and cool on their sides (like lead photo) for another minute or two, then cool by themselves on a wire rack for at least 10-15 minutes. Enjoy just warm or freeze and reheat in a low oven.

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