Walnut Amasake Bittersweet Chocolate Muffins


Baking with microbes

Almost everything we bake, brew cook or ferment contains one or more microbes. Bacteria, yeasts, fungus and other fermented products that already contain microbes (like miso, milk kefir, and vinegar) work exceptionally well in and with baked goods.

Even if you set aside the yeasts common in bread baking, we almost always use shio-koji instead of salt, milk kefir or amasake instead of milk, and often lacto-fermented fruits,vegetables and even grains in baking.

Muffins and tea breads are basically are usually the same batter baked in different size baking pans. Obviously a bigger pan means a longer baking time, maybe 45 minutes as opposed to 30 minutes at 350F for the 8 big muffins that this recipe makes.


Ingredients

Our rules of muffin making as well as tea breads are simple.

  • The batter should be just barely mixed
  • The batter should be on the wetter side
  • Never fill a pan more than two thirds full
  • Add 1 tsp baking soda with the dry ingredients
  • Mix ins like nuts go with dry ingredients
  • Fruits and/or flavored essences or sauces go with wet stuff
  • Don’t mix in wet fruits or ferments until the end if color maters
  • Let muffin batter rest and puff up before spooning into cups

Half baked at 15 minutes. Looking good.

The recipe for these muffins pretty much follow the standard muffin ratio that every baker has memorized. Butter by weight equals sugar by weight. That combined weight is the weight of the flour. It’s also the weight in whatever measurement system you are using in liquid. In most cases add-ins like nuts or berries should never exceed in volume the sugar or flour volume.

Because we add a fermented or microbe inclusive ingredient to our baked goods – typically of a lower, acidic pH – we always add baking soda with the powder. Sourdough leavened muffins follow a different procedure based on bakers ratios that we’ll explain in another post.



  • 8 ounces or 1 1/2 cups or 236 grams all purpose flour or other
  • 4 ounces or 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar or other
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 4.3 ounces or 1 cup or 124 grams roasted chopped walnuts
  • 3.1 ounces or 1/2 cup or 90 grams bittersweet chocolate chips/chunks
  • 1.2 ounces or 2 TB or 32 grams shio-koji (or 1 tsp salt)
  • 8 ounces or 3/4 cup or 230 grams rice amasake (or nut or dairy milk)
  • 1 TB vanilla (or chocolate extract or mirin or soy sauce)
  • 4.5 ounces or 2 extra large or 126 grams eggs (or two vegan eggs)
  • 5 ounces or 1/2 cup or 156 grams dark maple syrup
  • 4 ounces or 1/2 cup or 112 grams roasted walnut oil (or butter/oil)


Procedure

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Have bottom shelf ready for one or two muffin tins.
  • Prepare the tins with grease or just paper linings.
  • Mix flour, coconut palm sugar, baking powder, roasted chopped walnuts, bittersweet chocolate chips/chunks together
  • Whisk your eggs, walnut oil, maple syrup, vanilla, amasake, and shio-koji together well. Add to just incorporate with the dry ingredients.
  • Add add ins if you have reserved them to maintain the color or spacing of the add ins in your batter. *Check your chocolate to ensure it is non-dairy if vegan baking
  • Spoon about 4 ounces into each of 8 prepared muffin cups.
  • If using a smaller muffin tea or mini-muffin pans remember the rule – never more than 2/3 full.
  • Bake at 350F for 30 minutes in a pre-heated oven.
  • Don’t open the oven door until 20 minutes have elapsed.
  • Internal temperature should be 205 F, or a clean toothpick.
  • Remove muffins from oven and let rest 30 minutes away from heat.
  • Place on wire rack for further cooling after removing from the pan.


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Struffoli

Struffoli is a traditional Italian holiday sweet that has many names and different regional variations. My grandmother used to make a very simple, tasty, and crispy version by rolling out tiny balls of dough that were fried in light olive oil until golden brown. Then they were covered with honey and colored sprinkles.

My version is fermented like Chinese noodles were thousands of years ago, made with garbanzo bean flour, and topped with lactofermented sour cheeries steeped in honey cooked to the soft ball stage with a traditional Japanese umeboshi (apricot) liquor. I made these recently and my family would not touch them.

They are very tasty, gluten free, and when made with a pasta maker and a sharp knife very easy. They don’t have the same crisp crunch or taste of her dozen eggs, five pounds of flour recipe, but only a fool would try to replicate the different treasures made by their grandmother.

  • 2 1/2 cups (300 grams) chickpea flour
  • 1/4 cup (48 grams) milk kefir
  • 1 tsp shio-koji (or salt)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 TB vanilla

Ferment in refrigerator for 48 hours, then add:

  • 1 TB baking powder
  • 1/4 cup Haiga rice bran or rice flour
  • 3 TB refined coconut oil
  • 1 tsp Xanthan gum, guar gum, agar or tapioca starch

Refrigerate another 24 hours. Either roll out thickly, or put through the thickest setting of a pasta machine. You could also make thick spaghetti or thick flat pasta and cut the strands into little pieces about a quarter inch thick. Refrigerate to harden.

Fry until golden in two batches of 350F light olive oil. Drain. Let them cool as with all gluten free items before tasting or transporting. Coat with pre-made honey Choya (plum liquor) sauce.

  • 1/2 cup (78 grams) sour dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup (118 grams) honey
  • 1/2 cup (92 grams) water
  • 1/4 cup of Choya that has been boiled down to a quarter of it’s volume.

When the syrup reaches the soft ball stage – it will look very much thicker – and is foaming remove from heat and pour on warm dough and mix. Caution this is very hot sugar! Mold into a ring or mound. Toasted blanched almond slices can be added.