Cardamom Prune Teff Millet Muffins (gluten free, vegan, sugar free)


I laugh at how often I've posted lately; I really have been doing lots of things other than baking, eating, and blogging, I swear!  But, I baked these up this morning, some for me and some for a friend, and they were really good, so I felt compelled to write up a post before heading off for the day. 

I tried out a couple new things in this recipe.  First, I used teff flour. I haven't tried baking with teff flour before, which is funny, because teff is everywhere in Minneapolis.  There is a large East African immigrant population here, and you can easily find teff flour everywhere from the corner Ethiopian market to in the bulk bins at the co-op.  But for some reason, it remained as the one GF flour I just hadn't tried.  So, it was time..
I also tried a new egg substitute I've been thinking of - a few soaked prunes, a little flaxmeal, and boiling water. It worked great to hold everything together, and added a rich, slightly sweet flavor.   Actually, I didn't add any other sweetener, and just relied on the natural sweetness from the prunes.  I also added some finely minced prune (see the photo at right!) to the batter, so there would be sweet little prune bombs scattered through the muffins.  I've really missed prunes - I had left them aside when I started the anti-Candida diet last year, and hadn't gone back since.  Since my Candida is now gone, but still have some other yeast issues and still in a healing/maintainance phase, I'm cautiously reintroducing things to my life - but in moderation. While I'm not to a stage where I feel I should just eat prunes plain as a snack, I think that if used moderately and spread out in a recipe, they should be just fine.  
I used a high-protein, low glycemic blend of whole grain teff and millet flours, then added just a little arrowroot starch to help with texture.  As with many of my recipes, I soaked the flours in advance. The benefit of this is that is breaks down phytonutrients in the grain and starts the fermentation process, allowing for more easily digested starches and proteins.  Instead of using kefir or yogurt to soak, I used a mixture of water and a little apple cider vinegar, and let it sit for about 24 hours.  
These muffins turned out great - this is a dense, sturdy muffin, with a mild, spicy flavor, just a little hint of sweetness, and studded with gooey little chunks of prune.   They had a definite crumb and good texture, but were almost a little dry (I may have baked a few minutes too long).  Next time I make them I will see if I can address the dryness issue.  But overall, I really like the way that teff behaves, and think these muffins were a total success!   I spread a warm one with a little homemade ghee/flax oil/olive oil spread, and it was very good.  After calculating the nutritional information (I was curious), I was pleased to discover that "4" was the magic number:  each muffin contains about 4 grams of protein and fiber, and only 4 g of sugar.  I wasn't so pleased at the calorie or fat count, however - that coconut oil really adds up!  Oh well.  My diet may be free of lots and lots of things, but fat and calories do not happen to be in that list.  Find a few baking notes and the detailed nutrition info at the bottom of the recipe.
Hooray for teff, hooray for prunes, and hooray for these tasty muffins. 


yield: 8 muffins

1 c teff flour
3/4 c millet flour
1/4 c arrowroot flour
1/2 tsp allspice
1 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c water
1 tsp apple cider vinegar 
1 Tbsp flax meal
8 prunes (4 whole, 4 finely minced)
1/2 c boiling water
1/3 c coconut oil, warmed to liquid (or other oil of choice)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 Tbsp hot water

  1. Sift together flours in a large bowl.  Add spices and salt, whisk to mix well.  Add water and apple cider vinegar and stir, forming a thick dough.
  2. Cover and let sit for 12-24 hours at room temperature.
  1. Preheat oven to 400* F, and prepare muffin pan.  Put water on to boil.
  2. Place 1/2 c. boiling water, 4 whole prunes, and 1 Tbsp flax meal in a blender.  Put cover on blender, and let mixture sit for about 5 minutes to soften the prunes and let flax absorb liquid.  Then blend on high until mixture is totally smooth and thick.
  3. While prunes are softening,  finely mince the remaining 4 prunes, and coat prune pieces with a little millet flour to prevent sticking and sinking.  Set prune pieces aside.
  4. Melt coconut oil to liquid.  In a small bowl, whisk together oil, blended prune/flax mixture, and vanilla until evenly combined.  
  5. Uncover dough, and break apart with your hands so there are lots of small pieces.  Add prune/oil mixture to dough and mix with a hand mixer until smooth.  Taste the batter, and adjust any spices as necessary.
  6. Dissolve baking powder in 1 1/2 T hot water (it will foam!) and add immediately to batter, stirring a couple times very quickly and gently.  Add minced prune, and stir only until combined.  Do not over mix!
  7. Spoon immediately into muffin tin and place in oven.  Bake at 400* F for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

If you'd like to skip the flour-soaking step, make the following adjustments:
  • Omit apple cider vinegar
  • Mix all dry ingredients (flours, spices, salt, and baking soda) together.
  • Add 3/4 + 1 1/2 T warm water to dry ingredients first, then mix in prune/oil/vanilla mixture, then add prune pieces.
  • Bake as directed.
Try adding a handful of chopped nuts or seeds for crunch and extra protein.
If you want more prune and can handle the sugar, I'd recommend doubling the amount of minced prune for more prunetastic flavor.  The minced prune chunks only show up here and there; most people (including myself!) would probably prefer more prunes. 
These muffins are not very sweet.  If you want a sweeter muffin, add a little stevia (zero GI option) or agave/honey/maple syrup/brown rice syrup.   Just reduce the amount of water slightly to account for the extra moisture if using a liquid sweetener.
If you have a sweet tooth and a chocolate craving, I bet these would be pretty darn tasty with a handful of your favorite chocolate/carob chunks or chips thrown in the mix.
As I've been thinking about this recipe, I think that if it were modified just right, it could make a very tasty, very dense prune cake.  I'm thinking more prunes, a moister texture, a little sweeter flavor, and maybe some carob added for richness...maybe some kind of creamy coconut whipped topping...hmn...  This may have to happen sometime.  I'll have to think about this...
Approximate nutritional information:
Per muffin (8 muffins/recipe): 227 calories, 10.5 g fat, 30.5 g carb, 4.5 g fiber, 3.8 g protein, 4.3 g sugar
Whole recipe: 1816 calories, 84 g fat, 244 g carb, 36 g fiber, 30 g protein, 34 g sugar