Remember those gingerbread muffins with jam inside?
These are like that, only different. The concept is the same, but now that we’re moving away from the gingerbread- and pumpkin-centric holidays and into citrus season, with the promise (if not actual appearance) of spring, it’s time for something a little brighter.
Fruitier. More–dare I say it–Jamtastic.
The small-batch jam company returns to QV land with Sweet Cherry Jam, which caught my eye at the farmer’s market last weekend. Cherries and almond extract together in one thick, tasty jam? I couldn’t resist. I am, after all, the person who makes a spirited attempt to eat her weight in cherries whenever they’re in season. (Alas, this jam flavor isn’t available on the Jamtastic website, but if you catch them at a local market you might be able to snag a jar!)
A recent experiment with apple muffins from the Chocolate-Covered Katie cookbook turned me on to the idea of replacing whole oats with oat flour. I already use oat flour when I make my favorite corn muffins ever to go with chili or stew, and I thought it might be equally tasty in a fruit muffin. It worked out so well with the apple ones that I employed the same tactic in this recipe. It doesn’t matter whether or not you actually have oat flour on hand. Tossing oats in a spice grinder or food processor and grinding them into a powder works just as well (it’s what I always do, since I have tons of oats on hand at any given time). It adds a hearty texture that is inherently oat-y but different from the bite you get from mixing in whole oats.
Orange gets a chance to shine here, too. Something about the smell of the cherry jam made me want to include it, so there’s both orange juice and a bit of orange zest for a light citrus zing that brings to mind the sunshine and warmth we most definitely aren’t having here in the Northeast. That’s part of what I love about citrus season, in fact: it’s smack in the middle of what’s the worst part of the winter in upstate NY. So even while the wind is busy making it feel like -20F outside, I can happily munch a little bit of citrus sunshine and think about the fact that, someday, spring will come.
Last but not least, to complement the hint of almond in the jam, I chopped up a bunch of almonds in the food processor and folded them into the batter. They give the muffins a little crunch that’s perfect with the whole grain texture of the oat flour.
One word of caution when making these muffins: make sure that you put enough batter in the bottom of the tins before adding the jam in the center. It will expand a bit as they cook and you don’t want all that jammy goodness leaking out the bottom and sticking to the pan!
You can substitute another type of cherry jam if you must, but I can’t guarantee the results will be the same. There’s something about the almond extract in the Jamtastic jam that really pulls the whole thing together. It’s a muffin you can eat when you’re ready to save the world. Or, you know, just craving something light and fruity as you stare out at the snow.
- ½ Tbsp whole flax seeds
- 3 Tbsp water
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 cup oat flour (or 1¼ cups whole oats, ground in a food processor)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ cup unsweetened plain almond milk
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup orange juice
- ⅓ cup unsweetened applesauce
- 2 Tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp orange zest
- ½ cup whole almonds
- 6 Tbsp Jamtastic Sweet Cherry Jam
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Lightly grease a large 6-cup muffin tin.
- Place the flax seeds in a spice grinder and process into flax meal. Transfer to a cup or small bowl, add the water and mix well with a fork. Set aside to thicken.
- Place the almond milk and cider vinegar in a measuring up and set aside to curdle into vegan “buttermilk.”
- Combine the flours, cinnamon, baking soda and baking powder in a large bowl and stir well. In a smaller bowl, combine the buttermilk mixture, orange juice, applesauce, maple syrup, orange zest and flaxseed mixture, stirring well.
- Place the almonds in a food processor and pulse until chopped, but avoid overprocessing into almond meal.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until just combined. Fold in the almonds. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, filling them half full. Using a tablespoon measure, place 1 Tbsp of jam in the center of each muffin. Top with the remaining batter.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (or with only jam on it). Cool in the pan for about 15 minutes, then remove the muffins to cool complete on a wire rack.
Come to think of it, these would go really well with a cup of vanilla cinnamon tea (shoutout to Divnitea, my favorite local tea brand!).
What’s your favorite flavor to enjoy as you wait for spring to come?