Not so long ago it seems I was making muffins for our family on a weekly basis. I’d bake a batch or two on the weekend (sometimes making extra for my mom) and the boys would enjoy them throughout the week — in their lunchboxes, after school or as a grab-and-go on their way out the door. But muffin making eventually gave way to bars (a dragon lives forever but not so little boys) and over the past couple years, I think I’ve only made muffins once or twice.
Something about the return to school this week had me feeling nostalgic about this quick bread and when that feeling collided with a stand of gorgeous seasonal berries spreading blue, well, these happened.
If you haven’t had a chance to experiment with spelt flour yet, this simple and tasty recipe may be a great place to start — and you won’t have to drive all over town looking for it either; you can find spelt flour in just about every grocery store now (Bob’s Red Mill is a popular brand).
Once a European staple, spelt is among the oldest cultivated grains — it gained popularity in the West over the past decade mainly because of its nutritious properties but also because many find it easier to digest than its distant cousin, wheat.
Like wheat, spelt contains gluten (and would therefore not be appropriate for individuals with celiac disease) but the protein in spelt is different from the protein in wheat and many individuals with sensitivities find it easier to digest. The water soluble characteristics of spelt are also said to make the grain’s impressive range of nutrients more bioavailable (easier to absorb).
From a foodie point of view, one of the things I love most about spelt is its soft, silky texture. It works beautifully in baking and also imparts a subtle nutty flavor. Its gluten content also means that you can substitute spelt flour for wheat flour 1:1 without compromising the texture of baked goods.
I’m calling this a breakfast muffin but of course you could eat it any time of day. If you know someone who is a reluctant breakfast eater though, these delicious bites might just do the trick while quietly being a nutritious choice. The spelt in tandem with flaxseed, milk and egg, delivers a solid amount of protein to these muffins with natural bursts of flavor coming through in the banana, abundant blueberry, maple syrup and vanilla.
In terms of texture, if you haven’t baked muffins/bread entirely from whole grains before you will notice a difference. Or, as my husband might say, you’ll know you’re eating something healthy (wink). I’ve been baking with whole grains for over 15 years now and I find the texture the most appealing part but what I often recommend is to take it in steps – using half whole grain and half regular flour and simply increasing over time as you habituate. The sweetness is also very mild (which makes you realize just how much sugar is in standard baked goods because there is plenty of natural sweetness going on in this mix) but this too can be modified over time. Eating well isn’t an all or nothing proposition. I’m a big fan of slow and steady.
I hope you enjoy discovering spelt flour within these bursts of juicy berry and be sure to read the Notes in the recipe card below for best results.
To all of the moms and dads who are sending sons and daughters off to school this week, I’m sending you all a big hug and dose of encouragement – it’s a busy and full week for all ~ ❤️ ~
- Wet Ingredients:
- ½ cup milk (or milk substitute)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 large ripe bananas, in pieces
- 1 egg
- ⅓ cup pure maple syrup
- Dry Ingredients:
- 1 + ¾ cups whole grain spelt flour
- ¼ cup ground flaxseed
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 + ½ cups fresh blueberries
- Preheat oven to 375 F
- In a large mixing bowl combine: banana, vanilla, olive oil and milk. Using a mixer, blend the ingredients together until creamed - the mixture should take on a lighter and fluffy appearance.
- Add the egg and maple syrup, and blend to combine.
- In a separate bowl combine: spelt flour, ground flaxseed and baking soda, using a spoon to hand mix.
- Add in 1 cup fresh blueberries to the dry ingredients, mixing gently to combine and taking care not to mash the fruit.
- Add dry ingredients to wet ingredient bowl and mix only until combined. Try to avoid over-mixing as this hardens the batter.
- Spoon the muffin batter into a nonstick muffin tin (with or without cups) about ¾ full.
- Divide remaining blueberries on top of batter (dropping them here and there).
- Bake the muffins for approximately 20-24 minutes or until the muffin tops have gently browned and are firm to the touch.
- Remove the muffin tin from the oven and allow the muffins to cool and collect their flavor for 15-20 before unmolding and enjoying.
- Makes 12-14 standard size muffins.
Banana Whip - blending the banana thoroughly with the other moist ingredients not only distributes the flavor throughout the muffins it is also another great tool in creating levity and moistness in the whole grain batter.
Molds - I used paper cup liners for the photos in this post however I find silicone muffin molds the most practical and useful - (no tugging and no muffin left behind, everything slides out easily in one piece) - a worthwhile investment and you can find them at many hardware stores at a very reasonable price.
Flavor - I find these muffins gain flavor over time. Be sure to allow them to sit for at least 15 minutes after you take them out of the oven to allow the muffins to cool and the flavors to develop.
Storage - you can store these muffins in an airtight container or ziploc bag in the fridge for up to 3 days. The muffins also freeze beautifully.