Maddy Douglass

Knitter, lawyer, and safer beauty advocate in San Francisco. 

Loves coffee, crafting, and cheese plates.  


TCC | Sweet Potato & Five-Spice Muffins

Do you know the muffin man? The muffin man? You know, the muffin man? The one who lives on, uh... who lives.. um... alright, forget it. Cutesy nursery rhymes aren't my thing anyway. fivespicemuffins

Let's start over, shall we? This is a story of a girl and two batches of muffins. One was cooked correctly up until the point when she misread a line of text about a thickener (xantham gum, to be precise) and the resulting muffins more closely resembled crumbling bits of coffee cake than actual, fully-formed pastries. The other batch turned out fabulously because, let's be honest, she followed ALL of the directions that time.

Luckily for you, you'll get a snapshot of both stories. Let's just pretend this is a choose your own ending novel from the 90s and you can decide whether you want crumbly, flaky, imploding muffins, or soft, sweet, well-coagulated muffins.

ps - I looked it up, "coagulated" can apply to any liquid becoming a solid! Boo ya!

Ingredients (makes 12-18 muffins depending on how high you fill the cups)

1 large sweet potato (about the length of two palms next to each other?) 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk 3/4 cup good maple syrup (or xylitol) plus 2 tablespoons to brush on tops 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 2 cups gluten free flour >>(EXTRA SPECIAL NOTE: if the flour doesn't contain xantham gum, buy xantham gum at Whole Foods and use 1 teaspoon XG in mix - more on this later)<< 2 teaspoons baking powder 2 teaspoons baking soda 1 1/2 tablespoons Chinese five-spice powder 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

(Click through for instructional photographs on what and what not to do.)

First, look adoringly at the ideal result. Awww. I long for the day when I can place my freshly baked pastries in a linen-lined basket for all my friends and family to enjoy... until then, there's always tupperware!


Step 1: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash your large sweet potato (the first time I used two medium ones, which I think were actually yams.) Poke a few holes in it with a fork to let the air out as it cooks. Place in a bake safe dish and bake for about an hour (I found 60 minutes was exactly fine) until it's soft.


Step 2: While waiting, line your muffin tin! I used leftover muffin liners on this first batch, and there were issues with the metallic (you can't see it but those are the white ones) papers sticking to the muffin tin. I wouldn't recommend using metallic muffin papers.


Step 3: Next, combine your dry ingredients - the five spice, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and XANTHAM GUM (only necessary if your flour doesn't have XG in it.) This is the batch where I didn't realize I had to add that, instead adding an extra teaspoon of flour. I know, I know, I know.

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Step 4: Combine your wet ingredients in a bowl! This is the easiest recipe because it's really all about mixing. And smooshing. Anyway, put the almond milk, olive oil, vanilla extract, and maple syrup in a bowl on the side.

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Step 5: Let your sweet potatoes (yams) cool. The recipe says until they're completely cool, but I have things to do, so I waited until they were cool enough that I could peel them, and it seemed to be just fine!


Step 6: Peel and mash up your sweet potatoes.

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Step 6: Add the wet ingredients to your (large) bowl with the mashed sweet potato and mix with a whisk until thoroughly combined.


Step 7: Then, bit by bit, add the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined.

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Step 8: Spoon into your muffin tin and bake for about 20 minutes (still at 400 degress.) After 20 minutes, open the oven and brush (or drizzle, if no brush is handy!) a bit more maple syrup on the tops. Bake for another 5-6 minutes and then test with a toothpick to make sure the toothpick comes out of the center clean.

(Depending on how long you leave the oven open, you could even cook them for as many as 7-8 more minutes.)

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Don't these LOOK pretty? Mm hm. That's what I thought too.


Now, here's the fork in the road: one path takes you here, to Crumbtown, USA. The other path takes you to moist, fluffy, deliciously spiced treats. Observe:


No xantham gum? Crumbtown.

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Xantham gum? Just one teaspoon?


(new batch with an actual sweet potato - it's weird that it's yellow, I know, just go with it)

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(look at how they puff up!)



Heavens part, angels sing, everyone praises Maddy's baking abilities after she forces them to eat the muffins.

DSC_5338 DSC_5345 DSC_5349I think we all know which is the better decision. Do the right thing, y'all.

(This is post #2 in the TCC: Gwyneth Paltrow cookbook series. Hope you enjoyed it, and if you ever make any of these dishes please don't forget to tell me about it!)


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