Gluten Free Carrot Cake Muffins with Indigo Herbs

Now, we all know that my favourite kind of cake is chocolate cake. But all types of cake are welcome here! I also have a lot of time for a good carrot cake. Carrot cake is a flavourful, comforting, pleasing option from the cake world, and I am always happy to see one. Here, we have carrot cake with a difference. This week, I am working with Indigo Herbs, who sell not just herbs but a wide range of high quality, organic, natural health products. With some fantastic ingredients from their online shop, I’ve created these gluten free carrot cake muffins.



These muffins are really simple to put together. You don’t need any special equipment, or any complicated baking skills. The muffins keep well, and are very portable. Packed full of carrots, walnuts, and dates, they’re great for an energy boost, and even a pretty legitimate breakfast choice.


Using walnut flour and coconut flour here means the muffins are gluten free, but also means they have a delicious and complex flavour. You can, of course, use regular gluten free flour, but if you’ve never worked with walnut or coconut flour before then this is a great easy introduction to these ingredients.

Similarly, you don’t have to use coconut sugar here, but it’s got a lovely coconut scent and flavour and a tempting, caramel-like colour.



If you don’t need to make these muffins gluten free, or don’t have some of the more unusual baking ingredients listed here, then I’ve included alternative options.

I use tulip muffin cases for absolutely no reason other than I like the look of them. Standard muffin cases will work just as well.

The icing can certainly be skipped, if you prefer. It’s lovely with the muffins, but not essential if you’re trying to keep the sugar quantities down.


140g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
175g coconut sugar (or caster sugar)
250g carrots, grated
100g chopped dates
100g walnut flour and 100g coconut flour (or 200g gluten free self raising flour)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder (gluten free if necessary)
3 eggs, beaten
50g walnuts, chopped
100g icing sugar
juice of 1 lemon


  1. Heat your oven to 180C/ 160C fan/ gas 4. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases. In a large bowl, beat your butter and sugar together until creamy and well-combined. Stir in your grated carrots and chopped dates.
  2. In another bowl, combine your flour(s), cinnamon, and baking powder. Begin to add your eggs to your carrot mixture, a little at a time, alternating with spoonfuls of the flour mixture, until everything is mixed together. Finally, mix in your walnuts.
  3. Divide your mixture evenly between your 12 muffin cases. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until firm and starting to turn golden. While they bake, pop your icing sugar (if using) in a large bowl and slowly drizzle in the lemon juice, mixing with a whisk or a fork, until you have a smooth, fairly thick but pourable icing – you might not need all of the lemon juice.
  4. Let your muffins cool for 5-10 minutes, then drizzle with the icing.
Disclaimer: I was kindly given the products from Indigo Herbs used in this recipe as a gift, but all opinions are my own.

Chocolate Vortex Muffins

This is a ridiculous name for a recipe, and yet it’s what I have always called these muffins, and now, try as I might, I can’t seem to think of another name for them which works for me. I think that once you have moved past chocolate, and double chocolate, and triple chocolate, you are not really supposed to start calling something quadruple chocolate: the thing has surpassed all the normal chocolate categories and become something else. If we can think of a vortex as something regarded as drawing into its power everything that surrounds it, then the title of this post doesn’t seem so odd, at least to me – I was certainly drawn into the power of these muffins and somehow ate three in a row without really thinking. It also sort of reminds me of one of my favourite things on the whole entire world wide web.

I feel like muffins have been slightly forgotten in the cupcake craze of the last decade, which makes me sad. I love a cupcake, as evidenced by the many cupcake recipes on this blog, but I still have a great deal of time for the lesser-spotted muffin, delicious as they are unadorned with pretty frosting and edible glitter. Muffins are solid, dependable, a vehicle for all manner of loveliness. Their pleasing heft and straight-from-the-oven gooey warmth should not be underestimated.


Baked white chocolate is a wonderful thing. I know a lot of chocolate lovers who spurn the white stuff, insisting that it’s ‘not real chocolate’ and is vastly inferior to the stuff with actual cocoa solids. While I know they are technically right, I don’t mind white chocolate – although it’s certainly not my favourite – and would quite happily gnaw away on the better quality varieties. However, white chocolate becomes truly lovely when baked. I don’t know why (maybe because the sugars caramelise?), but it melts more quickly than milk or dark chocolate, turns a beautiful toasty colour, and develops a surprising depth of flavour.


I feel honour-bound to admit that I was making these in a great rush, and initially forgot to add the milk. I looked at my dry, lumpy batter in confusion for a moment before remembering, and quickly dashed in the milk, swearing and beating the mixture rapidly. The muffins came out absolutely fine, so I think it’s fair to say the batter is pretty forgiving.


Notes: These muffins are best when slightly under-baked in the centre, when they become gooey, volcanic, and irresistible, so do err on the side of caution and don’t leave them in the oven forever. They do keep fairly well, though, and are very hearty and chunky beings. You should get 12 good size muffins from this recipe.

I like to make these in the tulip muffin cases in the photos – you can get them from any supermarket, or even fold them yourself out of greaseproof paper if you are crafty – but obviously these are not essential and feel free to use whatever muffin cases you have kicking about.

I tend to keep back a few bits of chocolate from the main mix and push them into the top of the muffins once the mixture has been divided between cases, just before baking, to get the full effect of the glorious bronzed white chocolate.

Source: I got this recipe off the internet years and years ago and saved it to my hard-drive, and have since played about with it a bit. I’m afraid I have no idea where it was from originally, so if you do recognise it then please let me know.


175g good dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids
325g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
70g cocoa powder – not the drinking chocolate stuff, proper cocoa powder
125g light brown soft sugar
365ml whole milk
100ml vegetable oil or other flavourless oil such as corn oil
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
125g milk chocolate – either break a bar into pieces, or use chocolate buttons, which work well here
125g white chocolate – as above, buttons work well


  1.  Get your dark chocolate melting slowly in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water. Preheat your oven to 180C/ 160C fan/ gas 4. Line your muffin tin with paper cases. Sieve your dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, and cocoa powder – into your largest bowl and stir in the sugar. Make a well in the middle.
  2. Measure your milk and oil into a measuring jug, pop in your eggs and vanilla, and whisk it all up to combine. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the well of the dry ingredients, stirring to combine until evenly mixed. Working quickly now, fold in your melted dark chocolate and your pieces of milk and white chocolate.
  3. Divide your mixture equally between muffin cases and bake for 17-2o minutes, or until risen and mostly set but slightly gooey in the middle. Cool on a wire rack, or shove muffins into your mouth hot, by the handful.

Spiced Cauliflower Muffins

I don’t have a cookbook problem, I have a cookbook solution (the solution, funnily enough, is always ‘buy more cookbooks’).

I had to forcibly restrain myself from buying cookbooks for a long time, because I lived in rented accommodation and moved every year, and the last thing I needed was boxes upon boxes of heavy, large, hardback books to take with me in addition to all the other things I was lugging around. So, when we got a flat and settled a bit, the first thing I did was to buy all the cookbooks on my wishlist. The second thing I did was look at my bank balance and weep.

A good cookbook is a thing of beauty. E-readers have their place in the world, and my Kindle is certainly handy when it saves me from taking a bag filled only with books on holiday or lets me carry five hundred novels in my handbag, but cookbooks really don’t translate to e-readers. From what I can see, proper hardback cookbooks are still going strong, despite the e-book boom. Deliciously Ella, published in January this year, was the fastest selling début cookbook since records began. Looking at the Top 100 best-selling books on Amazon at the moment, I can see Mary Berry’s Absolute Favourites is number nine on the list as I’m writing this. The aforementioned Deliciously Ella is still number 15, despite having been out for seven months, and The Art of Eating Well and Cook Yourself Young are numbers 19 and 20. Not a particularly scientific proof of a claim, I know, but it’s a rough indication.

So why are cookbooks still beloved, and going from strength to strength? I adore my shelves of cookbooks because they’re beautiful. They’re jewel-bright and thick with potential delights, with the pleasant heft of a proper tome. You open them up to find gorgeous, inspiring photos. You run your hands over the glossy pictures of a tray of pillow-soft Madeleines; a steaming lamb tagine adorned with plump apricots; a golden loaf of sourdough bread with a crackling crust. You are inspired to want to create something and bring a piece of the book to life. Cookbooks are aspirational, and they encourage you to actually go and make something with your hands.

When I get a cookbook, I read through it like a novel, marking the recipes that I desperately want to make immediately.

In Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer’s Honey & Co.: The Baking Book I marked about 25 recipes.


It’s a really wonderful book. Not only is it full of interesting and accessible recipes that I’m desperate to make, it also has warmth and character. The care and attention that Itamar and Sarit have given to the recipes really shines through. I love the little pieces of history that adorn the pages.

As it happens, the first thing I made from the book was a batch of spiced cauliflower muffins. They might not naturally have been my first choice, but I had a cauliflower about to turn in the fridge, and when I opened the book at random and fell upon this recipe it seemed like food fate (I know that’s not a thing).


Source: As mentioned above, a book of beauty and joy.

Notes: This recipe makes six muffins, which was perfect for our small household, but do double it if you’re feeding a crowd. I think they’d be excellent for a brunch – it’s nice to have something a bit different. I’d love to try a version with broccoli, feta, and wholemeal flour – I think the recipe could be adapted fairly widely. Anyway, I made it pretty much exactly as it was in the book and I didn’t think it needed changing.


1 small head of cauliflower
1 tsp salt

for the muffins

175g plain flour
30g caster sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
4 eggs
150g melted butter

for the topping (marked ‘if you like’ in the book, but I think essential)

3 tbsp mixed seeds
3 tbsp grated Parmesan


  1. Break the cauliflower into large florets, making sure there are at least six large, distinct, pretty pieces to add to your muffin cases. Bring a large pan of water to the boil with your salt, and then pop your cauliflower in and cook it for 5-10 minutes. You don’t want it to be completely soft, but a knife should be able to penetrate the stem of each floret. Drain it, and set aside to cool.
  2. Heat your oven to 190C/ 170C fan/ gas 5. Get a muffin tray, and line six holes with cases. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl then add your eggs one by one and beat well. Fold in your melted butter.
  3. Dollop a spoonful of batter into each muffin case and then try to place a big floret of cauliflower up in each. Don’t worry too much if they fall over or slightly to the side. Cover your florets with batter and fill the cases almost to the top. Combine your seeds and cheese, and sprinkle the top of each muffin with the mixture. Bake the muffins for 15 minutes, until golden, slightly risen, and set.

Vaguely Healthy Breakfast Muffins

I often find breakfast tricky. It has a lot of limitations that other meals don’t.

I mean, sure, on a weekend it can be glorious. Pancakes studded with bursting blueberries, omelettes fat with cheese and ham, croissants shining with jam and butter, a steaming plate of bacon and eggs, home-made granola adorning berries and Greek yoghurt… what was I saying?

On weekdays, though, there’s time pressure – assuming you have to be getting out of the door and to some sort of job at some stage. You’re probably feeling a bit bleary and not up to cooking, or indeed eating, anything too elaborate. The idea of making your own batter for something is laughable.

I, personally, am a bit of a precious cow about eating the same thing every day. While my wonderfully unfussy partner would happily have an eat-by-numbers series of identical breakfasts forever, I tend to get bored. So, I set about finding recipes to make up this ‘Vaguely Healthy Breakfast’ series. ‘Vaguely Healthy’ only got in there because if I’m eating something pretty often, even I admit that the thing shouldn’t be peanut butter, Nutella, and raspberry jam on toast (don’t pretend that doesn’t sound delicious).

So I’ve started looking for things that are easy, have at least some nutritional value, and that can either be pre-prepped or made quickly. Enter: muffins.


Vaguely Healthy Breakfast Muffins

Source: Recipe (minimally) adapted from the ever-wonderful BBC Good Food.

Notes: I thought these were good when I made them as per recipe, but lacking in a little flavour. I have swapped the honey for maple syrup, added a pinch of salt and some more spices, and mixed in raspberries with the blueberries for some added sharpness and a more complex taste. I also use Greek yoghurt instead of natural, as I like the tang. Since they use wholemeal flour, Greek yoghurt, seeds, fresh berries, oil instead of butter, and maple syrup instead of sugar, they qualify as ‘vaguely healthy’ in my head. If this supposition is incorrect, please don’t tell me, because I don’t want to know.


2 large eggs
150g Greek yogurt
50ml rapeseed oil (or any reasonably unflavoured oil you have lying about)
100g pureed apples (I used baby food because it’s all rock and roll over here)
1 ripe banana, mashed
4 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g wholemeal flour
50g rolled oats
1½ tsp baking powder
1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
100g mixed blueberries and raspberries (or whatever you think would work really – blackberries, apricots, grated apple…)
2 tbsp mixed seeds


  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with 12 large muffin cases.
  2. Whisk up the eggs, yogurt, oil, apple puree, banana, maple syrup and vanilla in a large bowl, until it’s all well-combined. Chuck everything else, except the seeds, into another bowl, and mix that together too.
  3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry slowly and mix until smooth. Don’t overmix (I kind of hate this instruction in recipes as OBVIOUSLY I wouldn’t overmix something on purpose, but basically mix it until it’s just combined and you can’t see any flour patches and then stop). Divide the batter between the cases – I find an ice cream scoop best for this.
  4. Sprinkle the muffins with the seeds. Bake. Mine only took 15 minutes at 160C in my fairly fierce fan oven, but you will know what is best in yours. You want them to be golden and well risen. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
  5. Can be eaten as is. They’re also nice sliced, toasted, and spread with butter. The really great thing is that you can freeze them, so make a batch and that’s twelve breakfasts sorted right there.