Millet Amazaké Muffins with Sesame and Anise (sugar free, gluten free, vegan, ACD)



Eager to try using some of my homemade amazaké in a baked good, I started doing a little online research to see what was already out in the blogosphere.  I came across a delightful sounding Millet Muffin recipe on Kitchen Therapy that called for amazaké, and it seemed like a great jumping off point - it was already gluten free, vegan, and xanthan free.  AWESOME!  So, I decided to tweak a few things, most notably adding a bit of toasted sesame oil and crushed anise seeds.  A couple tweaks turned into a lot of tweaks, and soon it seemed like a rather different muffin recipe all together.

They smelled very tasty as they baked, letting off a rich sesame aroma near they end.  I pulled them out, and they were dense and lovely, a beautiful golden color with nice cracks and a nubby texture.  Then I tasted one. Yum!  These muffins were moist and flavorful, with a hint of natural sweetness from the amazake, a subtle, nutty flavor from the sesame oil, and the wonderful fragrant quality of anise.  Millet flour is always a good base, and the whole millet seeds and and rice flakes add great texture.  I have my own recipe for millet carrot muffins that uses some whole millet thrown in, and I love the crunch!  On the topic of texture, these muffins were lacking a bit of definite crumb, and were quite dense - but that isn't terribly uncommon for GF baking without starches or binders or eggs.  A forgivable offense, in my opinion, and it doesn't detract from the greatness of the muffin.  They have a great body, and I really enjoy their unique flavor.  Amazaké muffins are awesome!  Not exactly falling within the realms of the ACD plan that I had intended, I'm falling off the wagon and need to get back on.  Culinary curiosity is killing my good intentions.

Thanks to the amazaké and millet, these muffins are bursting with B vitamins, niacin, thiamin, manganese, fiber, and healthy complex carbs.  Millet is a naturally alkaline grain, is high in protein, and it has anti-microbial qualities.  And all the added flaxmeal is full of healthy omega fatty acids and loads of fiber.  What does all this mean? These muffins are full of good stuff that can help regulate healthy gut flora and regulate digestion, all while providing healthy complex carbohydrates and other important nutrients.  There isn't any added sugar, which is awesome - but amazaké is higher in natural sugars than regular rice due to the fermentation process, so use your best judgement to decide if amazaké is right for you.

Any changes for next time?  My taste buds want orange zest in the mix, but sadly, I'm allergic to oranges and just not going there.  However, I think it would taste totally amazing, so I'm throwing it on as an optional add in.   I think that chopped dates would be quite decadent.  I didn't have any sesame seeds on hand, but they would be fun thrown in too, so I added some as an optional ingredient as well.  These aren't particularly sweet, so if you like a sweet muffin, feel free to add your sweetener of choice.  And finally, if you aren't into sesame or anise, feel free to omit them, adding your own spices and seasonings to the batter, or just leaving it naked.  You'll still end up with a delightful muffin, perfect for a breakfasts, a quick snack on the go, or to eat along a tasty bowl of soup.  I recommend freezing leftovers immediately; as with many GF vegan treats, these got a little dry after about 24 hours.  The frozen muffin thawed very well.

A note on amazaké:  
Amazaké is a naturally sweet traditional Japanese beverage made from rice fermented with koji culture.  I made my own batch of amazaké from scratch, but you can find amazaké rice shakes by Grainaissance in the freezer section of most co-ops and natural food markets.  In addition to a standard rice variety, they make a ton of different flavors.  Their shakes, however, contain xanthan gum, so if you avoid it, beware.   If you are in the U.K., I hear the company Clearspring makes rice and millet amazaké varieites that are both quite tasty and easy to find.

If you don't want to use amazaké, I think you could probably substitute 3/4 c cooked grain and blend with 3/4 c water.  It won't have the same sweetness as amazaké, but it would make a thick, creamy liquid base.



yield 12 muffins

3/4 c homemade amazaké base + 3/4 c water OR 1 1/2 c Grainaissance Amazake Rice Shake
1/3 c grapeseed oil or other light tasting oil
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 c millet flour
1/2 c brown rice flakes
1/4 c whole grain millet, toasted
1/2 c flaxseed meal
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp anise seeds, toasted
1 c unsweetened non-dairy milk

optional: 2 tsp sesame seeds
optional: orange zest
optional: chopped dates
optional: stevia or a glug of agave or brown rice syrup - just reduce milk quantity by the same amount if using liquid sweetener

  1. Preheat oven to 425* F and prepare a muffin tin with muffin cups or oil/flour.
  2. In a small dry skillet, toast the whole millet grains and anise seeds over medium heat until they smell nutty and fragrant, stirring often.  Remove from heat.
  3. If using homemade amazake, blend amazake base and water together in blender until smooth. With blender on high, pour in grapeseed oil and sesame oil and run until blended. If using a store-bought amazake shake instead of homemade, you can whisk together all liquid ingredients in a bowl, or use a blender to mix, whichever you prefer.
  4. In a large bowl, mix together whole grain millet, anise seeds, and the remaining dry ingredients.  Once mixed, create a well in the center.  Pour in the amazake/oil mixture, and stir all ingredients together a few times to moisten.  Gradually add non-dairy milk in 3 or 4 batches, stirring gently between each pour.  If adding orange zest or chopped dates, add now. Mix until just evenly combined and milk is fully incorporated.
  5. Let the batter rest for about 5 minutes so flour and flax absorb moisture; the batter will thicken.  
  6. Fill muffin cups ¾ full, then place in oven and bake for 25 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Let cool in cups for about 5 minutes, then remove and finish cooling on wire rack.  Chow down!  Store leftovers in refrigerator for up to 1 day or freeze for longer storage.