then & now {concord grape muffins, revisited}

Sometimes even my most favorite recipes get lost in the shuffle. It’s a hazard of the job, let’s just say. I develop on average 200 recipes a year, so it’s no surprise some get buried at the bottom of the pile (or my subconscious). The great thing about sharing some of them here are comments that continue to flow in, reminding me of these forgotten treasures. I’m in awe that these waffles have been pinned more than 24,000 times.

A couple of weeks ago new comments popped up on my recipe for Concord Grape Muffins. The memory of my first taste five years ago is still vivid, pockets of jam bursting with each bite. I decided to give them a little makeover since I’ve been on this dairy-free, whole grain, no refined sugars project. Okay, so maybe it’s not such a little makeover. For starters, there’s no butter, and that changes the technique. The old recipe is what I called my biscuit-making muffin approach. You rub cold bits of butter into the flour mixture with your fingers. This results in a very light crumb, and not what you normally think of when muffins come to mind.

The new incarnation is still incredibly easy—it’s a one bowl recipe. In place of butter, I used grapeseed oil. Cashew milk fills in for the cow’s milk, coconut sugar for cane sugar, and whole wheat pastry flour stands in for the white flour. Like I said, maybe it’s not such a little makeover after all.

If you love the older version, then be prepared for a different flavor. I’m conflicted about saying that because I don’t want to deter you from giving them a try. Switching from white flour and butter baked goods was definitely an adjustment, and I haven’t given them up completely (the crumbs from a croissant on my keyboard are proof). Instead, I’ve been saving those “allowances” for lack of a better word, for my eating out ventures. I’ve noticed a big difference in how I feel having cut back on refined sugars and dairy, and see a marked improvement in Virginia’s behavior. I won’t get on my virtual milk crate, extolling the evils of sugar as crack for kids. I strongly believe in moderation, unless medical reasons dictate otherwise.

Still, I love baking and my kiddos love treats. Being more mindful of the ingredients I use feels like a good compromise for all of us. What’s nice about working with whole wheat pastry flour is that it’s an equal swap-in for white flour, so if you prefer the latter, then go for it. You won’t have the earthy flavor whole grains add, and maybe you’ll prefer it that way. The oil and cashew milk easily convert back, too, giving this recipe lots of flexibility. If you want a richer flavor, use melted butter in place of the oil. Cow’s milk (or any other milk) can be swapped in place for the cashew milk. No need to alter measurements on any of these ingredients. Like I said, flexible. A great recipe for muffins, and wise advice to get through life in general.

Here’s the original recipe for my Concord Grape Muffins.

Six Years Ago: Vegetable Fried Rice

Five Years Ago: English Flapjacks, Brooklyn-Style

Four Years Ago: New Beginnings, and Scrambled Eggs

Three Years Ago: Thoughts on a Clear Blue Day

Two Years Ago: Prosciutto & Fried Egg Tartine

One Year Ago: Sunday Evening Thoughts

Whole Grain Concord Grape Muffins

Makes 12

Music Pairing: Please Mr. Postman by The Marvelettes

I know, I know. Why is this recipe mostly in grams? This is how I bake when I’m just being me in the kitchen. No need to be diligent about taking U.S. measurement notes. I’ve said it time and again, but baking by weight is not only the most accurate, it’s really the easiest way to go. I even started weighing liquid ingredients recently. Now I can just pour everything into a bowl over a scale with no fumbling for measuring cups (and less to wash). If you must use measuring cups, the flour amounts to about 1 1/2 cups plus two tablespoons using the scoop & sweep method. The coconut sugar is about 1/2 cup plus two tablespoons. See why weighing is so much more convenient?

Oh, and a funny note about the music pairing. No relevance to these muffins, or even this post. I woke up with it on my mind this morning, and have been humming it all day so figured it was meant to be here. Now that I think about it, though, it makes sense considering the dream I had…more on that another day.

250 grams whole wheat pastry flour

125 grams coconut sugar

2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder

1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) baking soda

1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) sea salt

3/4 cup (175 grams) cashew milk

1/4 cup (50 grams) grapeseed oil

1 large egg

1 teaspoon (7 grams) vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups (200 grams) concord grapes, seeded & cut in half (see original recipe for notes on this)

Preheat the oven to 3675F (190C). Grease a 12-cup muffin tin, or line with disposable papers.

Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to a deep bowl. Whisk to combine. Pour in the milk, oil, egg, and vanilla extract. Beat with a whisk until just blended, and there are no visible signs of flour. Fold in the grapes with a spoon or rubber spatula.

Spoon into the prepared tin (I use an ice cream scoop to do this). Bake for 20 minutes, or until the centers are set, and spring back when touched. Set the pan on a wire rack, and let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. May be served warm or at room temperature.

1 Comment

  • Lynn D.

    I’m calling up my friend who has a Concord grape vine right now! I seem to recall that my mother used an old-fashioned bobby pin to remove the seeds from the grapes when she made her famous Concord grape pie.