Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells With a sweet kernel
-- To Autumn by John Keats
When autumn comes round the seasonal wheel, with its winds & cooler mornings & lengthening nights, I get the inspiration to re-meet my oven, to fill my kitchen with the warmth of something roasting, slow cooking, or baking.
It is not that I don't use an oven during the warmer months, but in summer it is much less common for me to roast roots, bake a pie, or slow cook a dinner. In summer, the hearth of the world is lit from without & as we enter into the colder, darker months, it becomes up to us to be the ones who keep the hearth lit & warm from within.
This week in early October, I found myself visited by the desire to disrupt my normal morning ritual of reading on the patio with a cup of black coffee & instead decided to bake something lovely. I honestly cannot recall the last time I baked anything, it feels like ages ago. So I took a glimpse at my pantry, a little slim on baking supplies but on the shelves: pistachios, rolled oats, baking powder & soda. And of course, the cherries in the freezer...
About an hour later, I was pulling fresh muffins out of the oven & the kitchen smelled sweet, warm, & lived in. I had almost forgotten the feeling of baking something, of experiencing the very real transformation of a liquid becoming solid & rising with the heat. Ever since I was little, I loved to bake & follow the instructions on the flour dusted pages of a cookbook, seeing how far I could push past their guidance before I totally changed the exact alchemy of a recipe into something inedible.
And so it is that every fall I remember my love for creating for the sake of enjoyment, I recall my love for sharing something delicious with my loved ones & friends, & I rejoice in the feeling of connecting to so many memories I have wrapped in the scent of cardamom & vanilla extract wafting from an oven.
Perhaps you enjoy baking at this time of the year, & perhaps you'd like to try your hand at the muffin recipe I half-concocted/half-followed? Find my recipe for these simple, gluten-free, autumnal muffins below:
2 cups oat flour (I blend 2 cups old-fashioned oats to make the flour)
a heaping 1⁄3 cup of maple syrup
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 heaping teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup applesauce
½ cup milk of your choice (I like macadamia milk for this recipe)
¼ cup olive oil oil
1 large egg
3 drops of your favorite autumnal flower essence
1 cup of chopped frozen cherries
½ cup - ¾ cup chopped pistachios
Preheat the oven to 355º F. Lightly grease muffin tin cups with softened butter (or line with muffin papers). The batter will make 12 muffins without mix-ins, and up to 15 muffins with mix-ins.
Thaw your frozen cherries for a bit to make them easier to cut + use a mortar & pestle to make a coarse grind of your pistachios.
I make my oat flour by blending 2 cups rolled oats in my coffee grinder! Alternatively, your can use a food processor. The consistency of your flour should be fine & powdery.
Add the 2 cups of oat flour into a large mixing bowl.
Next, add cardamom, baking powder, baking soda, & salt to your flour--mix together with a whisk.
Push flour to the sides of the bowl to make a little valley of flour. Into the center of this valley, add the: egg, applesauce, vanilla extract, flower essence, milk, oil, & maple syrup. Blend well into the flour, scraping down the sides halfway through with a rubber spatula. I like to add a dash more milk into my batter if it is looking too thick.
Stir in your cherries & pistachios to the batter with the rubber spatula.
Immediately divide the batter between the prepared muffin cups (the batter will thicken as it sits). I typically fill each individual tin about ¾ full to allow them room to rise while baking.
Bake for at least 20 minutes, rotating pan at the 10 minute mark.
Depending on how large your muffin tins are, it may take a bit longer for them to bake thoroughly! You can tell your muffins are done when the tops are set & a sharp knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Once out of the oven, let your muffins cool in the pan for a few minutes before enjoying with softened butter & tea or coffee or saving for later in an airtight container.
May these fill you with nourishment & delight ~