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).
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.
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
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.