I'm so excited to share this recipe with you! And by "you", I get to mean so many people because this is a super equal opportunity recipe, suitable for the vegans, the gluten-free, the anti-sugar folks (remember when I tried to be one of those?) and the allergic. But here's the best part: they don't taste vegan or gluten-free or allergy-friendly or whitesugarless. They taste like a delicious banana maple date muffin. There is nothing suspicious about them whatsoever. You should make them and bring them to a potluck with all the allergic children you know and you will become instantly popular, probably invited to every future potlock ever. Even the ones in Indiana, which are actually called "pitch-ins". (Cute, eh?)
Anyway, I don't have much else to say about these magic muffins other than the following two bits:
1. My nephew today said he wanted to eat one million of them because they were so good. I was so flattered that I wished I could actually give him a million.
2. Not all gluten-free baking mixes are created equally. Usually when I make these, I make my own basic gluten-free baking mix based on Cybele Pascal's recipe, comprised of superfine brown rice flour, potato starch, and tapioca flour/starch. It works v. well and I will stick with her recipe generally. That said, when I make the muffins with her baking flour mix, they look like this:
Because I was not making these muffins in the comfort (and with the resources) of my own home, and because I wanted to do some experimentation before I shared this particular recipe, I tried to track down a pre-blended gluten-free all-purpose flour to use in place of my homemade blend. (I had to go to three grocery stores to find a mix that was safe for Beckett. Apparently chickpea flour and almond meal are common ingredients in these blends. (Pamela's and Bobs Red Mill brands were the ones available.)) I ended up at Trader Joe's, following a tip from my mom that they have a mix that's gotten great reviews. I found it and saw that it's comprised of the same things as my homemade blend, plus some white rice flour. I ended up using the flour and the muffins looked like this:
I know my pictures aren't awesome, but what I hope comes across is that the muffins made of the Trader Joe's flour rose much, much more than the others. They look like real muffins! And the texture is P-E-R-F-E-C-T - not a trace of sandiness. I don't think I will necessarily always use it in the future, there's something rewarding about crafting your own flour blend and using organic ingredients, blah blah blah, but I know I will buy it again, and I'll probably use it for company if it consistently results in such pretty, delicious baked goods. I am so, so pleased with it!
Here's what the bag looks like, and also the muffins, before and after baking:
These seriously are so dang good. I made a dozen about five hours ago. There are three left. And I've been not-so-subtly directed to another bunch of overripe, frozen bananas, which are evidently in need of attention...
Banana Maple Date Muffins (vegan, gluten-free, no nuts or refined sugars)
Adapted from Cybele Pascal's The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook
Yield: 12 muffins
2 1/2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour blend (Trader Josef's is my recommendation!) (12 ounces)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup mild-flavored oil
1 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (I used 5 small ones)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
3/4 cup ground flaxseed
1 cup chopped pitted dates (dried fruit or chocolate chips would be good substitutes)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a muffin tin.
Whisk together dry ingredients in a small bowl. In another bowl, toss dates with a couple tablespoons of the whisked dry ingredients. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine oil and maple syrup and mix on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add bananas and vinegar or lemon juice and mix for another 20 seconds. Add ground flax and blend 20 more seconds. Add dry ingredients and mix on low speed until everything is well combined. If the dates are not too sticky (tossing them in flour should help but might not; I've had mixed results with this approach), add them in one go to the mixing bowl and mix on low speed. If your dates are sticky, have the mixer going on its lowest speed as you add the dates manually, little bits at a time. Once combined, measure out 1/3 cup portions into the muffin tin cups. Keep adding spoonfuls of any left over batter until they are all evenly filled. (They can be a bit more filled than regular egg-and-wheat muffins. Mine were pretty full.)
Bake for 15 minutes. Rotate muffin tin 180 degrees and bake 10 minutes more. Allow to cool on a rack for about ten minutes before eating. They are good warm and just as good at room temp. They are sturdy yet moist, perfect for freezing. The last time I made them I traveled with them to Italy and they held up beautifully. Enjoy!