I hopped on the gluten-free train a couple of years ago when we were living in super-trendy and health-conscious Santa Monica, California. I didn’t think that I had Celiac disease but I was pretty excited about experimenting with all sorts of new flours. (Okay, I thought that I had Celiac’s for a minute but it was just discomfort from a parasitic stowaway from my Central America travels.) Prior to these travels, I had been making my breads and baked goods with 100% rye and whole wheat and I was ready to incorporate the quinoa, millet and sorghum flours that lined the sun-filled shelves in the baking aisle.
Too many dollars later, I was at home with several bags of flour and no plan. I started Googling “gluten-free cookies” and found out that it takes at least 18 ingredients, 90 minutes of undivided attention and a small fortune to make a batch of cookies. I also learned that it was best to make everything in it’s wee form (mini tart shells, mini muffins) and your chance of success was greater if the moon was waxing. I slid the flours into the freezer and the receipt into the recycling and worked on getting rid of the parasite.
A few months later, I ordered a very popular thin cookbook full of wheat-free desserts. I was smitten by that cookbook and successfully baked my way through half of it. Then I stopped baking and realized that everything tasted great but was I essentially eating refined starches bound with agave nectar and xantham gum. Even worse, I had no clue about the magic that took place in my mixing bowl and in the oven. I was bound to the recipes- and I was itching to experiment. I kept my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, retired the book and sighed once more when a friend shared that she had made the cookies and they had spread all over her baking sheet and were therefore unsuitable for shipping to her gluten-free sister. I had no clue why that had happened.
Fast forward a few hundred gluten-free baked goods, one culinary school degree and a half dozen moves later and enter the new approach to baking gluten-free goodies. I regret to inform you that I didn’t invent it. Rather, I stumbled upon it on the very very very popular Gluten Free Girl and The Chef blog. Alas, a commitment to whole grain flours, an eschewing of “the gums” and flexibility. Read through the whole post here and understand that this kind of flexibility is unheard of in gluten-free baking. This recipe is the perfect opportunity to take whole grains for a test drive in your kitchen. It’s pretty resilient.
The whole-grain flour mix in the recipe is 70% whole grain flour and 30% starch. I cleaned out my pantry and included organic almond flour, brown rice flour and corn flour. Then I bulked up my new, improved gluten-free whole grain flour mixture with some freshly whirred oatmeal and quinoa flour. I used arrowroot exclusively for the starch bit. Then I veganized the original.
Gluten-Free Whole Grain Muffins adapted from Shauna James Ahern adapted from Shuna Fish Lydon
Makes 12-16 muffins
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
300 grams creamed coconut (or other dairy-free milk)
2 tablespoons lemon juice (or apple cider vinegar, white vinegar)
350 grams whole grain flour mix
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
180 grams dry sugar (date, coconut, sucanat, brown, etc)
1 teaspoon salt
100 grams grapeseed oil (or canola oil)
some dried fruit
some toasted nuts
Heat oven to 350. Lightly grease a muffin tin or line with muffin cups. Put nuts on a baking sheet and toast in oven as it warms up. Approximately ten minutes.
In a small bowl, mix ground flax seed with 6 tablespoons of water. Set aside.
In a small bowl, mix creamed coconut with lemon juice. Set aside. (Note: I didn’t see much curdling action when I did this. If nothing else, the thick texture of the creamed coconut and the tang from the lemon will do a fine job of approximating buttermilk. Extra moisture and flavor are rarely unwelcome in the whole grain baked good.)
In a large bowl, mix whole grain flours, baking soda, baking power, sugar and salt. In a separate container, toss dried fruit with a bit of this mixture to prevent it from clumping together in your muffins.
Whisk flax seed mixture, coconut mixture and oil in bowl. Add to flour mixture. When almost all of the flour has been moistened, add dried fruit and toasted nuts. Mix until incorporated. Spoon into muffin tins until 3/4 full. Bake for 25-35 minutes.
Bonus: Did you know that you don’t have to bake all of your muffins (or cookies, or cakes) in one day? Most batters will last a day or two in the refrigerator. (Jacques Torres and others consider this step essential for their chocolate chip cookies.) This is great for portion control and because day-old baked goods are half off for a reason.
I just baked off the remainder of yesterday’s batter and they were fantastic. The dried apricot that I used in my version of this recipe had a chance to rehydrate and today’s batch had little wells of warm apricot jelly oozing out of every bite. Wow.
Another Note: If a very very very popular blogger can post recipes for her audience with ingredients measured by weight (as opposed to volume) then so can I. Starting with this post.