Sticky Pumpkin Flax Muffins for a Grey Winter Day (gluten free)

Breakfast on a cold, rainy day in NYC.

Yesterday was one of those mornings.  I awoke to a barely lit room despite the fact that it was 9am.  Before I opened my eyes I could hear rain pitter-pattering on the air conditioner outside my window.  Yes, here there’s no lulling drop on shingles.  It’s a wet, alley cat kinda life.

I dragged Mitra along the sidewalk, battling to keep my oversized red umbrella from flying off into the Hudson.  Rain pelted sideways, and the poor dog kept tying to climb up my legs as I desperately implored her to “just pee, pee please, baby, and then we can go inside”.

Only seconds later, defeated, the dog unrelieved, I closed the umbrella and we sprinted back home.

Because in that tiny moment, it had hit me.

It’s here.

Those dark, wet, sticky months in the northeast when everything just feels damp.  When un-waterproofed boots mean feet will be molested by a foot of frozen slush that had somehow passed itself off as level sidewalk.  When subway tunnels become wind tunnels.  When snow somehow manages to fall horizontally.  When buildings are overheated and New Yorkers are steamed.

As we raced to my building we passed gourds and tiny pumpkins abandoned in windowboxes, their flesh sagging over the edges and most likely putrid inside with stank innards.  Discarded Christmas trees cried on the curb, fearing the moment when they would turn into mulch, most likely pondering on why they grew for years only to be adored for a scant few weeks.

At least that’s what I was thinking on their behalf.  I love trees.

Two years ago I spent the dark months backstage in a warm theatre on run crew: reading books, drinking tea, catching up with my dear friend Lily and occasionally holding a curtain for an exiting actor or moving a piece of prop furniture.  Not a bad way to spend the grey period.

Last year I spent most of my time downtown with the delicious man I was dating.  One night we walked to the Angelika, hated the film (Blue Valentine – yes, I hated it), then exited the theatre into 4 inches of snow.  Happy, bundled and loving NYC, we walked back to his place under fat flakes, stopping to take pictures for tourists, arriving home soaked.

This year I’ve got a  bundled-up pup, a fully outfitted kitchen where treats are rolling, good friends coming and going, and work that I love.  As much as I fear these post-holiday, dreary months, they’ve always brought me a sense of hibernation that truly is refreshing.  Next weekend I head out to the furthest corner of Cape Cod to do a show, get pampered in a posh B&B and walk on the frozen beaches.  In February I plan to bunker in my Louisa May Alcott attic at my friends’ in Southhampton, where I’ll walk Mitra and Mia on another frozen beach and gaze out romantically at the bay as I type.

But until then, I need this in my life:

Sticky Pumpkin Flax Muffins with apricot and blackcurrant jam (and butter... I'm bad....)

I was complaining to one of my editors the other day the agony that is going to a coffee shop and seeing a pathetic little shriveled gluten free muffin in plastic alongside their overstuffed, glutenous counterparts.  These muffins have now satiated that grumpiness.

I recently got a delivery of gluten free flour from Better Batter to test a recipe for an article I’m working on.  Yes, the flour will be used for it.  But after the seasonal revelation I couldn’t curb my impatience to try it out, especially as I always blend my own flours and never have the ease of one already prepared.  I’m a big fan of the Better Batter flour from this trial, so far. More info on that to come that I’ll link to down the line.

I used the oversized-6 muffin tin for these babies, and admit that I ate TWO AND A HALF of them yesterday!  And the one pictured above for breakfast this morning.  They’re sticky and dense, perfectly sweet, and inspire being layered with butter and jam and enjoyed along some strong coffee and a newspaper in print.  I wasn’t originally planning on posting them as they weren’t exactly what I’d pictured in my head, but a visiting friend couldn’t stop saying “mmm, these are SO good” as she at one.  She encouraged me to share.

Oh, I added some flax because it makes my body happy.  And used organic pumpkin so that I didn’t have to use butter so they’re dairy free and low in fat!

Happy January, bloggerreaders.  Hope you’re staying warm.

Jacqueline

My favorite with these was tart apricot jam

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour.  I used Better Batter, which already has xanthan gum in it and a lovely neutral-flavored mix of flours
  • 3 Tbsp ground flax seed meal
  • 1/2 cup palm sugar
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin or sweet potato puree
  • 1 cup warm milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, optional

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350°.  Lightly grease 6 oversized or 12 normal muffin tins.
  • In a bowl, whisk together flour, flax seed, sugar, baking powder and baking soda.
  • In another bowl, beat eggs thoroughly.  Add pumpkin / sweet potato puree, milk and maple syrup.  Beat / whisk thoroughly to combine.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until combined.  Fold in nuts.
  • Pour equally into muffin tins and bake for 30-35 minutes, until springy to the touch.
  • Try not to eat too piping hot – I dove right in and have a light burn on the top of my mouth to prove it.
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19 Comments

  1. j3nn says:

    These look fantastic! I have a box of Better Batter but haven’t tried it yet. This looks like a good place to start. :)

  2. Rachel says:

    Muffins make everything better! I think I’ve been in denial about my need for muffins recently. I should really bake some of these. Sticky muffins are my favorite!

  3. Jennie says:

    Those look great! I have yet to make many gluten free recipes, but this one is definitely one I will try. They look delicious!

    • Muffins are a great way to step into gluten free baking as they’re rather forgiving and take on whatever kind of flavor and extras – nuts, fruit, chocolate – you load into them. Good luck!

  4. Kiri W. says:

    Oh, these sound fantastic! Sticky always makes for a lovely muffin – and I love that you healthified them! In Cleveland, due to the lake effect, we get snow from November to April, sometimes into May, and I can definitely relate.

    • I never got as far up as Cleveland, but with the wind and cold I get living by a river I can only imagine what you get up there! Good luck, and cheers to muffins!

  5. Sasha says:

    Mmm… can’t go wrong with a sticky muffin on a cold day.
    You hated Blue Valentine?! I found it a bit depressing but very realistic.
    The Angelika is one of my favorite places in New York :)

    • I wasn’t a fan of Michelle Williams. She REALLY bothered me. And I found it to be self-indulgent. But I know I’m in the minority on that one. I love the Angelika too. IFC is my favorite, then Film Forum, Paris and Angelika all close behind :)

  6. ohshineon says:

    These look fantastic. I know October and November are the “pumpkin” months, but I have to say I’m less ordinary and love using that sweet can of love any time when my heart desires to. Thanks for the recipe- it looks so simple!

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