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Flax muffins are pastry-like breads shaped into small cakes by baking them in a pan made for that purpose. The batter has a base of flaxseeds, or meal from the ancient grain of the same name. Flax can be used in batter in a number of ways, adding a variety of nutrients to the standard muffin ingredients and may accompany add-ins like fruit and nuts. General preparation is similar among flax muffin recipes.
Linum usitatissimum, or flax, was one of the earliest crops to be cultivated. The small seed is almond-shaped with a smooth, glossy shell that comes in hues ranging from deep gold to reddish-brown. Flax is typically available in either seed form, ground into meal, or pressed into an oil. Ground meal allows the body to better absorb the grain's nutrients. The grain has a high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids, over 20 percent of the recommended daily intake of fiber, and a variety of micro-nutrients, including manganese, magnesium, and folate, among others.
Flax can be added to muffin batter in a variety of ways. Whole flax seeds may be added for a muffin with a slight crunch, while flax meal may be used in place of a portion of the flour in muffin batter to add fiber and texture. Butter may be replaced with flax oil in a muffin recipe, as can milled flax seed, though a slight increase of wet ingredients and lowering of oven heat is typically necessary. Flax seeds and meal can also be used instead of eggs in the muffin batter for a chewy, smaller cake.
Flax muffins generally include several basic ingredients, including flour, leavening agents, and wet ingredients. Flour typically forms the base of the dry ingredients, and whole grain or gluten-free versions may be used to add nutrition or for flax muffins to meet specific dietary needs. Leavening agents like baking soda and baking powder are usually necessary for a fluffy muffin, as are eggs. Oil, milk, and sweeteners like sugar, honey, or syrup are usually added as well. Additional add-ins include fresh or dried fruits, nuts, and seeds, as well as bran and oats.
The dry ingredients are sifted together, and the wet ingredients are whisked, stirred, or beaten together. Dry ingredients are usually slowly mixed into the wet mixture, then whisked or beaten to form a batter for flax muffins. The finished batter is then poured into muffin cups or a pan and baked for 20 to 45 minutes, depending on the recipe. Flax muffins may be eaten warm or stored in an airtight container for several days.
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