Friday, February 22, 2019

Einkorn Apple Muffins - Baking with PNW Grains



Well, the last of the Seattle Snowpocalypse has almost finished melting - just a few piles remain at the edges of our driveway and steps where my sweet husband diligently shoveled it. We got more than a foot of snow, which is incredible for Seattle! I've never seen or even heard of this much snow actually in the city, in all my years growing up here and visiting family when we didn't live here. We couldn't go anywhere for days! Our road got plowed, but the steep side streets on our hill were basically sledding runs for two weeks.

So I just stayed inside all warm and cozy, baking up a storm with all the wonderful flours I recently ordered from local growers and millers. These muffins are adapted from a Joy of Cooking recipe with 100% einkorn flour substituted for the all-purpose flour. I also substituted olive oil for butter, because I couldn't get out to the store! And I made them heart-shaped, of course, since it was Valentine's Day. They turned out absolutely fantastic.

I am so excited about locally grown grains right now! I'm also fascinated by the milling process and how changes over the last century have affected local grain economies, which were once common. Last month, I attended the Cascadia Grains Conference to learn about all the fabulous things local farmers, millers, malters, brewers, and bakers are doing in the Pacific Northwest. And as soon as I got home, I started ordering samples.

Camas Country Mill is in Oregon's Willamette Valley near Eugene, and they stone-mill their grains, which means that the whole wheat kernel is ground up together, including the bran and germ. In a roller-milling process, as is used for most flours, the bran and germ are typically separated from the kernel and if a whole wheat flour is desired they add some bran back in. For more info on these processes, check out Amy Halloran's article, What's the Difference Between Regular and Stone-Ground Flour?

Bluebird Grain Farm in Washington's Methow Valley grows and mills their own grains on a hammer mill, which also keeps the whole wheat kernel together throughout the process and doesn't heat it up as much as stone milling.

Palouse Heritage grows heirloom grains on their farm in Eastern Washington and gets them milled at Fairhaven Organic Mill, which is also a stone mill.

Einkorn is one of the earliest cultivated forms of wheat, technically a different species (Triticum monococcus) from modern wheats (Triticum aestivum). In French it's called petite ├ępeautre; in Italian it's piccolo farro. Einkorn is higher in protein, healthy fats, and minerals than most wheat. It has low gluten, and the gluten has a simpler structure than in other wheats. Most importantly, it's delicious! Super nutty and rich tasting. I'm sold. Especially for muffins, where you don't want to overmix the batter because you don't want the gluten to develop and make them tough.

Einkorn Apple Walnut Muffins

1 1/2 cups whole-grain einkorn flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups coarsely grated apples
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
5 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 400F. Grease a muffin pan or line with paper cups.

Whisk dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. Whisk eggs and sugar together in a large bowl, and add the grated apples. Let them stand for 10 minutes to allow the juice of the apples to release. Add the oil and nuts. Fold in the flour mixture until just combined - it should be lumpy.

Pour into muffin cups - only fill them about 2/3 full so that they don't overflow in the oven. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. This takes about 14-16 minutes for regular muffins, a bit longer for my big heart-shaped muffins. Let the muffins cool for a few minutes before removing from the pan. If they stick, run a knife around the edges to loosen them.

Enjoy!

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