Is it true that you are what you eat? If it is true, then maybe the reason I've been craving foods lately in the brightest of pink hues is because New York City has been swaddled in gorgeous, fluffy fuschia, cherry, magenta, raspberry, and palest delicate shell pink for the past few weeks. SPRING IS HERE. A late arrival for sure, considering the fact that it's halfway through May already and the cherry blossoms have only just now faded from the trees (every branch was absolutely bursting with pink blossoms about a week or two ago). This last austere winter gripped the eastern states hard and didn't seem to ever want to let any of us dour-faced New Yorkers out of our matching somber black puffy coats. But now spriiiiiiing (imagine a cartoon bluebird alighting on my outstretched finger as I say that) is here at last, and we're all finally popping out of our down-filled cocoons to reveal the bright colors beneath!
In my case, this spring awakening is also manifesting itself in the desire to make muffins.
SO MANY MUFFINS.
I had a very specific idea last week for a light, springy muffin studded with juicy little chunks of raspberry, light golden and cakey, the finishing touch on which would be a thin layer of bright, sugary pink glaze. Sounds perfect, right?
I've been tinkering with a few basic methods for a perfectly cakelike gluten-free muffin for a while now, and while it's still a work in progress, I think I have a few good ideas going. The new idea I played with this time is separating the eggs; combining the yolks with the rest of the liquid ingredients and whipping the whites into soft peaks in a separate bowl to provide structure (missing when you don't use gluten) and hopefully some airy lightness as well. So often when I make any kind of gluten-free baked good it turns out to be denser, lower, and sometimes a little more crumbly than the 'original' recipe I was trying to emulate....a fabulous improvement in some cases, but not so in a muffin. For some reason, I'm hellbent on getting a light, fragrant & tender little version of cake in a paper cup.......otherwise, it may as well be a scone, right? Not that I don't love scones. But they're not muffins.
Luckily, I think the whipped egg whites version is a strong theory. The foamy whites are then gently folded back into the batter just before it's ladled into the cups and baked, and I think the result is lighter and fluffier than previous attempts I've made. More delicious muffin research, obviously, is called for. Who wants to volunteer to come over and help me taste all this....er, science?
Glazed Raspberry Muffins
[ loosely adapted from a recipe at honey & jam ]
Makes 8 large muffins
1 cup finely ground almond meal
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 eggs, separated
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup milk
1 cup fresh raspberries (sliced in half)
For the glaze:
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 tsp milk
1 tablespoon fresh raspberries (about 3 large berries)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a muffin tin by either lightly oiling the cups or using paper liners.
Mix dry ingredients well in a bowl. In a second bowl, combine melted butter, honey and milk, add 2 egg yolks and mix well. In a third bowl, beat 2 egg whites with a whisk until soft peaks form. Combine wet and dry ingredients from first two bowls until everything is well incorporated. Gently fold in raspberries, then gently fold in beaten egg whites until just combined. Spoon batter into muffin cups immediately. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until muffin tops are golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature while you prepare the glaze.
Crush fresh raspberries in a bowl with the back of a fork (they do not need to be perfectly pureed, although you can certainly use a blender to make this glaze.....I like the slightly 'rustic' look of whole raspberry seeds and bits of fruit that shows fresh fruit was used). Add sugar and milk, continue stirring with the fork. It will seem too dry at first, then will loosen into a glaze as you stir. Pour over cooled muffins, spread with the back of the fork or a pastry brush. Allow at least an hour for the glaze to set firmly (if you're patient), or devour immediately (if you're me).
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