Have you ever baked with pomegranates? Until this week, me neither. I’m happy to report it’s not as weird as it sounds.
Pomegranates debuted last week at the grocery store in, of all places, the scratch and dent produce bins. I scour these tubs of blemished produce in red mesh bags every week, looking to score a few honeycrisp apples or three bell peppers for a dollar. Since I discovered the discount section, we’ve been eating a ton of produce. It’s appealing both for the thrill of the hunt and the simple pleasure of knowing that something didn’t go to waste.
On my last trip to the store, though, I found four bags of scuffed and wrinkled pomegranates. Three to a bag meant three for a dollar. I weighed them in my hand (seemed heavy) and felt for soft spots (none) before limiting myself to only purchasing six pomegranates. Too good to pass up, especially at that price!
But then the usual quandary set in once I got home: what to do with six very ripe pomegranates? I love eating them plain, but even my love for pomegranates has its limits.
Enter some inspiration from Beth Kirby’s blog, Local Milk: Herbes de Provence and Rose Olive Oil Cake. As written, this recipe produces a fabulous cake. I made it last week with orange zest and cornmeal and it was gone in a flash. Beth is a formidable baker, and her layers of exotic flavors over rock-solid recipes make for some very fun baking. And she provides measurements in grams for easy conversion to to gluten-free! I seriously dig her blog.
So, with the recent memory of a beautiful olive oil cake in mind, I put together these pomegranate muffins. If olive oil and pomegranates aren’t Middle Eastern enough for you, never fear! I added thick yogurt, pomegranate molasses and rose water, and of course, pomegranate seeds to ensure the message wasn’t lost in translation.
The olive oil gives these muffins a beautiful golden sheen; yogurt, tenderness; pomegranate molasses and rose water, a heady floral note; and pomegranate seeds, a fruity crunch. I was worried that the seeds would be too crunchy, but my fears were unfounded. They’re no more intrusive than walnuts in a banana nut muffin, and the color pop is to die for. A second batch using orange zest and orange flower water in place of the pomegranate molasses and rose water just emerged from the oven. I haven’t eaten one yet, but judging by the smell, you’ll want to try that combination, too.
- 260g (1 3/4 cups) gluten-free flour blend*
- 1 tsp. guar gum
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 150g (1/2 cup) sugar
- 80g (1/3 cup) olive oil
- 2 eggs
- 120g (1/2 cup) plain yogurt
- 55g (1/4 cup) orange juice
- 2 teaspoons rose water, optional
- 1 Tablespoon pomegranate molasses, optional
- 1 large pomegranate
- Preheat oven to 350F. Oil a muffin tin and dust the muffin cups with cornmeal and set aside.
- Seed the pomegranate: Fill a large bowl with cool water and slice an X into the pomegranate with a sharp knife. Peel off the skin. Submerge the pomegranate in the water and pull apart with your hands. Peel the seeds free of the pith, dropping into the water as you go. Skim off any membrane or pith that floats to the surface and drain pomegranate seeds. Set aside.
- Whisk together flours, guar gum, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Add olive oil, eggs, yogurt, orange juice, rose water, and pomegranate molasses, and stir until just combined. Fold in pomegranate seeds.
- Distribute batter into prepared muffin tins. Bake 25 minutes or until golden and springy when touched. Allow to cool 10 minutes in pan before cutting loose with a serrated knife.
- 80g (1/2 cup) brown rice flour
- 70g (1/2 cup) tapioca starch
- 75g (1/2 cup) cornmeal
- 35g (1/4 cup) white rice flour