March 25, 2009

Gluten-free muffins

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As I’ve mentioned here before, J and I have been trying to eat less gluten in the past few months. We wanted to see if it would make us feel different, since we both have a few digestive issues.  So far, J is feeling better, but I haven’t really noticed any difference. The stomach aches I sometimes get don’t seem tied to gluten.

Because of this experiment, I have been doing some gluten free baking, which has been interesting, fun, and yes, expensive. Gluten-free flour is not cheap. Especially because most recipes call for several different types of flour that all blend together to become a semblance of wheat. I haven’t bought any of the gluten-free flour mixes that are on the market yet, although I’m sure there are good ones. I’ve been going solo with my chickpea flour and tapioca starch (and several others).

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I’ve made several loaves of chickpea bread from Bette Hagman’s book The Gluten-free Gourmet Bakes Bread, and they are quite good. No, they are not the same as wheat bread, but they are tasty. The texture is a bit dry and spongy, but it is perfectly fine once toasted, which is the way I usually eat my bread anyway.

Last week I tried my hand at some gluten-free muffins. I had been craving some muffins, since they are a treat that I love. In an ideal world, I would whip up a batch of fruit or vegetable-filled muffins once or twice a week so we could have a constant supply in our cookie (or muffin) tin, waiting for breakfast, a midday snack, or really any time of day. Some of my favourites are zucchini, carrot, apple and cranberry. If you have the right recipe, muffins can be both nutritious and delicious. And a homemade muffins beats most cafe or store-bought ones any day, for taste and for price.

I searched the internet for some gluten-free muffins and read many a recipe before I found a few with ingredients that I (mostly) had. I used one of those as a guide for the flours, and my favourite apple muffin recipe from a Moosewood cookbook for the rest of it. I was pretty proud of myself for adapting it, because they turned out great. They tasted like yummy apple muffins, and the only difference from the wheat version was a slightly darker brown colour and a more crumbly texture.

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These passed the gluten test, too: J’s aunt and cousins, who were visiting, gobbled some up. If we stick to this gluten-free thing, I will definitely be making them again. They’re also a nice way to use some of the apples that we have been constantly eating … one of the only local fruits left. We buy our apples at the BC orchard stand at the Farmers’ Market. Lately we’ve been hooked on the Aurora variety, and they are really delicious. But … I am starting to crave some berries in this never-ending winter!

Gluten-Free Apple Muffins

Adapted from this recipe and Apple muffins from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home

I made the oat flour by pulsing some oats with my immersion blender – I’d never done it before but it worked great. But I’m sure you could leave the oats whole for a slightly chewier muffin.

2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 cups grated apples
1 tsp. freshly grated lemon peel (optional)

1/2 plus 1/3 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup oat flour (or oats)
1/4 cup almond meal
1/3 cup quinoa flour
1/3 cup tapioca starch
1  1/4 tsp. xantham gum
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon, or 1/4 tsp. nutmeg and 1/4 tsp. cloves

1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350.

In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla. Add the apples and lemon peel and stir to combine.

In a separate bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and stir just until combined. Make sure not to stir too much, or the muffins will be dense. Add the nuts if you’re using them.

Spoon the batter into oiled muffin cups, or cups with paper liners. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. A knife inserted into the centre of a muffin should come out clean.

8 comments:

Anne said...

Pretty neat stuff, and lots more work - 6 ingredients to replace the flour! Glad they were a success. I've been having low-fat and lower-fat muffins from Beanz, which are allowed on my plan. Of course I could always make my own, but that won't be happening THIS month!!
love, Mom

H.Peter said...

GF Baking is more expensive. A key ingredient for gluten free baking, Xanthan Gum, retails for up to 80.00/kg. Supply and demand I guess.


Muffins looked good. Curios what else you will bake.

Farmgrrl said...

Great blog. Not to get too technical, but I believe oats actually have gluten in them. Now I did some more reading http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gluten-free_diet
and the jury is out. I also try to go easy on the amount of flour in our diet and definitely have a strong sensitivity to dairy, it is an interesting challenge to cook without ingredients some consider essential.
Cheers!
m

Christy said...

I found your blog while searching google for "gluten free apple muffin recipe" because I'm gluten free and thought it would be nice to have some apple muffins for breakfast tomorrow.

anyway, I've been gluten free for years and began "going gluten free" as a process cutting out a few things at a time. I didn't notice much of any difference until I went all out and went completely gluten free. I have a diagnosed wheat allergy and am gluten intolerant. It's a necessity for me and I'm glad it's becomming more mainstream. Anyway, just wanted to give you my $0.02 on being partially gluten free. also to say that oats themselves are gluten free however 99% of the time are processed in a factory that also processes wheat, thereby contaminating them and making them glutenified (made up word).
:)

Isabelle said...

Thanks for all the comments folks! Yes, I had heard that oats weren't always gluten-free...I haven't gone so far as to try to search out GF ones. GF baking is definitely more expensive, but for now we're going to keep baking GF bread at least, and some other things. I'd like to post my bread recipe (it's from Bette Hagman's book) and a few other things soon. I'm also doing some baking with alternative sweeteners and would like to blog about those things in the coming months!

Shannon said...

Bob's Red Mill makes gluten free oats, as well as a huge variety of gluten free flours. Thanks for the recipe!

Anonymous said...

Delicious! Made these with a few substitutions.
Because I didn't have sorghum or quinoa flour on-hand I:
Used 1/2 plus 1/3 cup sweet rice flour instead of sorghum
Increased the almond meal/tapioca starch to cover the quinoa flour

And because I wanted to go sugar free:
Used honey and dark agave instead of brown sugar (split the 3/4 cup in half between the two)

Added, oh, about 1 tsp almond extract

They weren't quite as fluffy as the ones pictured here, but yummm they were delicious! Thanks so much for this recipe!

Nat said...

Just came across you blog and read the blurb before the recipe. Could I suggest that gluten may not be the cause of your digestive issues, BUT, wheat maybe a culprit, along with the chickpeas, apples, and others? This may seem an odd combo of foods, but they all contain excess fructose or other problem carbohydrates. It's called fructose malabsorption and a low FODMAP diet could be worth a try. It worked for me. Google it for some more info. Hope it helps :)