Adding protein to your baked goods is a fine art. Too much and it’ll overpower the bake. Too little and you may as well not have bothered. Get it just right though and Goldilocks will be all over your protein muffins quicker than you can say, “vegan protein powder“.
“Baking with protein powder can really take your muffins to the next level in terms of nutrients and flavour,” confirms Amy Lanza, the culinary brains behind vegan recipes blog, Nourishing Amy. To help you devise your own protein muffin recipes at home, we’ve put together Lanza’s top tips, including some handy advice on flour and flavours. Or, if you’re after some added guidance just follow her blueberry protein muffins recipe at the bottom — an absolute classic in the protein muffins canon.
Adding Protein To Your Muffins
The key to the best muffins is to not use too much protein powder in relation to the other ingredients. You never want your batter to be over half protein, as this would make your muffins rubbery and dry, not light and fluffy. Think about the flavour profiles too when adding protein to your muffins. Vanilla is a great one as it adds a lovely, sweet flavour.
Another key pointer is to make sure your batter is wet enough which may mean adding more liquid like yoghurt, plant milk or mashed banana, as protein powder absorbs more liquid than regular flours.
Finally, think about your fats. These are essential when baking with protein powders to make the fluffiest texture – I like nut butter, coconut oil or vegan butter alternatives for the best muffins.
In terms of when to add, mix in your protein powder with your other dry ingredients like flour or ground nuts and slowly whisk with the wet ingredients to make a smooth batter. Now you can decide if you need to add a splash more liquid to make the batter thinner and smooth.
More Tips To Making Delicious Protein Muffins
The Vegan Way
There are so many surprisingly easy ways to vegan-ise a recipe. A lot of muffin recipes will call for eggs, which you can easily swap with chia or flax eggs, using one tablespoon of ground chia or flaxseed mixed with three tablespoons of water to form a gel. Half a mashed banana will also do, or you can play around with aquafaba, the water from a tin of chickpeas, with three tablespoons of aquafaba liquid equalling about one egg.
Lightly whisk the aquafaba as you would an egg and continue with your muffin mix. That said, a lot of recipes, when balanced correctly between fat, flours and protein powder will hold together on their own without added replacers.
A Dash Of Lemon
While taking into consideration the points above on balancing your fat, liquid and flour to protein powder quantities, there are a few other points to think about. I love to add lemon juice to the plant-based milk before stirring the batter together. This curdles the milk to form a plant-based buttermilk which will act as a natural binder to the mix. You can also do this with apple cider vinegar which works in the same way.
As far as flours are concerned, if you are using a gluten-free blend, make sure it contains xanthan gum, a thickener added to many flours which will help bind the batter. Oat flour is a great one to use with protein muffins and is easily made from grinding oats into a flour consistency at home. I also love to add half plain or spelt flour, and half ground almonds for a nutty taste and texture along with the protein powder.
Other flours include wholemeal, buckwheat or self-raising flour, which all behave fairly similarly. As protein powders naturally absorb more liquid than other flours, I don’t suggest using coconut flour in muffins as this also absorbs a lot of liquid and will lead to a dry, rubbery and crumbly muffin.
Cinnamon For The Win
Protein muffin flavours are great to play around with and once you have a base recipe, you can make any number of flavour combinations. I love to use chocolate protein powder and add extra chunks of chocolate which will melt in the muffins as they bake, or even some fresh cherries for a black forest gateau flavour.
Cinnamon is a great one to add to vanilla batters for a sweet-tasting muffin, and peanut butter and jelly will forever be a winning protein muffin. Add peanut butter into the muffin batter as a fat, then use vanilla protein powder and add a spoon of jam in the centre of each protein muffin.
Textures are also important, so as well as chunks of chocolate, I love to add seeds and nuts inside my protein muffins and also add a sprinkling on top as these will crisp up in the oven. If you want something fruity, adding fresh or frozen blueberries into the batter is delicious as the blueberries burst in every mouthful.
How To Make Amy’s Nutty Blueberry Protein Muffins
There are so many recipes that I love to use protein powder in and one, in particular, are my nutty blueberry breakfast muffins. They have so much texture thanks to the juicy blueberries inside the sweet nutty streusel on top and are packed with lovely vanilla notes from the protein.
They also have a great balance of flour to protein powder meaning they are still light and fluffy while being high in protein. Easy to bake, just stir all the ingredients together, divide between the muffin cases, sprinkle over the streusel and bake. Plus, they’re even tastier with a drizzling of icing.
- 300ml plant-based milk
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 90g runny almond butter or tahini
- 100g coconut sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 200g plain or GF plain flour
- 50g Form Performance Vanilla
- 80g nutty muesli, ground to a flour
- 60g nutty muesli, left whole
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 200g blueberries
For the topping:
- 100g nutty muesli
- 40g coconut sugar
- 40g vegan butter, melted
- Preheat the oven to 160Fan/180°C and line a muffin tray with 14-16 cases.
- Make the topping by stirring together all the ingredients. Blitz the 80g muesli in a blender to a fine flour (small lumps are ok).
- For the muffins, whisk together the plant-based milk and lemon juice and leave for 5 minutes to curdle. Now whisk in the almond butter, coconut sugar and vanilla essence until smooth.
- Sift in the flour, protein powder, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and add in the ground up muesli and the salt. Whisk to a thick batter. Pour in the 60g whole muesli and most of the blueberries and fold in.
- Divide the batter between the cases and top with the remaining blueberries. Sprinkle over the nutty streusel topping and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and risen and an inserted skewer comes out clean.
- Cool briefly in the tin before removing from the tin and cooling fully on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container for 3-5 days or in the fridge if it is warm. Store in the freezer for up to one month.