I will definitely be the first to admit that I'm inherently skeptical of savoury muffins, and I have no idea why. Maybe it's because I don't like muffins? (I'm more of a biscuit and yeasted pastry lass.) But when my stellar lady friend Ashleigh requested a gluten-free, vegan recipe for a zucchini and basil version, I couldn't say no. I'm really, really glad I didn't. These are pretty damn fine. They're soft without falling apart, and have a crumb that's pretty impressive for not a stitch of gluten. And there are so many variations you could enjoy. What about stirring through a handful of chopped sundried tomatoes? or olives? or caramelised onion? or roasted pumpkin? GO CRAZY.
Saffron cashew cream is also a life choice I probably should have made AGES ago. The 'holy-crap-what-is-that-flavour-I'm-not-sure-of' factor of saffron never wears off for me. It's a luscious, fragrant topping to these muffins. Or, ahem, used instead of tomato on a pizza. Or almost assuredly tossed through some pasta with roasted pumpkin. Or gnocchi. I imagine that if you added a little neutral coconut oil, and set it in the fridge, you could possibly make the best raw vegan butter. Possibly ever.
But now I'm talking crazy.
ZUCCHINI-BASIL SAVOURY MUFFINS W SAFFRON CASHEW CREAM
makes 12 muffins + 1 cup cashew cream
1 cup/160 g finely grated zucchini
0.5 cup/80 g buckwheat flour
0.5 cup/65 g sweet sorghum flour
0.75 cup/100 g brown rice flour
1 tsp baking soda
0.5 tsp baking powder
0.5 tsp salt
0.5 tsp xanthan gum
1-1.25 cups/250-312 ml mylk of choice or water
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp flax or chia meal
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 garlic cloves, crushed
small handful of basil, shredded
for the saffron cashew cream:
1 cup/120 g raw cashews, soaked overnight in water
1 pinch saffron threads
a big pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 175C/300F. Oil a 12-hole muffin tray with extra olive oil and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, xanthan gum, flax meal, and nutritional yeast, mixing to thoroughly combine. In a separate bowl, stir together the zucchini, mylk or water, vinegar, oil and garlic. Create a well in the centre of the dry mixture and add the wet. Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon. Fill the muffin holes with batter, and bake for 35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out cleanly.
While the muffins are baking, make the cashew cream by soaking the saffron in 60 ml (1/4 cup) water for 10 minutes, before draining the cashews and combining with the saffron, its soaking water and a generous pinch of salt in a blender. Blend on high for a few minutes, scraping down the sides occasionally, until a silky cream has formed. Scrape into a container and store in the refrigerator.
Remove muffins from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes, before you run a knife around the edges to remove the muffins. Eat immediately smothered in saffron cashew cream (or a really good tomato relish). Or store muffins in the fridge for a few days, heating up (or even toasting them under the grill) before enjoying.