My family has been eating muffins that resemble the consistency of cardboard for three years now, since I first started realizing whole wheat really is better for us. They haven't complained. In fact, I think they may have forgotten that muffins can actually taste better than that. I find myself saying, "They're pretty good, in a healthy sort of way." You know what I mean, don't you? You can taste the "healthy" in whole wheat baked goods. Where you might be able to eat two or three light, fluffy muffins, one whole wheat muffins sits something akin to a brick in your stomach.
I have exciting news to share with you, oh healthy-muffin-makers! There is a way to have lighter, fluffier muffins and still use whole grains. In fact, I actually used half stone ground spelt flour, and these are the lightest muffins I've had in years.
The secret? Soaking the flour. I've been reading back through Nourishing Traditions and tried the muffin recipe in there. It starts with soaking your flour in plain yogurt overnight (or longer.) Then you add the rest of the ingredients to the mushy sort of dough that it becomes, and then you bake them at a lower temperature, for longer. They look funny, these soaked-flour muffins. They are sort of marble-y in color, though that may come from the cinnamon I mixed in. (Our muffins were apple-cinnamon, but the options are endless.)
Here's the recipe I used:
1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 1/2 c. spelt flour
2 c. plain yogurt (I used homemade, but I assume store bought would be fine. But homemade is cheaper!)
Mix together the above ingredients, cover the bowl, and sit it in a warm place overnight.
In the morning, add
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
3 Tbsp. melted butter (or other fat of your choice.)
And anything else you might want to add - we did a good sprinkling of cinnamon and some chopped green apples.
Don't expect it to resemble muffin dough. It's almost sort of like a really gooey yeast dough after soaking in the yogurt all night. Mix it well - it takes a bit more work that your average muffin dough.
Be sure to butter your muffin pan really well. Fill the cups almost full, but not quite. Bake for about 40 minutes at 325 degrees (or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, yadda yadda, you know the drill.)
To me, these tasted only barely healthy. The texture was to die for. If you've got a sweet tooth, you'll want to add more sweetener.
Soaking flour is a great habit to get into. It requires more preparation and planning than whipping up a batch of muffins or pancakes the morning you want them, but it's worth it for the health benefits - and apparently for the quality benefits, too!