English Muffins

As I’ve previously mentioned I haven’t had much luck making gluten-free breads. I found a new method in a cookbook entitled The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook. Their flour blend however includes dry milk powder which doesn’t work for those of us allergic to dairy. It’s also heavy on the carbohydrate flours – white rice, potato starch and tapioca. And their English muffin recipe includes eggs and cornmeal (for dusting the muffins). So I gave it a go and here’s what actually worked. I left their flour mixture the same, same ratios without the milk powder.

It took me awhile to try this because it is quite a long recipe and somewhat complicated but I finally decided if I took it step by step it wouldn’t be bad and it wasn’t. In fact, it was quite simple, just took a while to complete all the steps but the tasty muffins are definitely worth it. The frozen ones I was buying were tough on the outside, almost impossible to slice while these are easily split with a fork. Says it makes 10 but I got 11 and several of them are quite small so I think next time I make them, I’ll increase the individual muffins and perhaps only get 9 instead.

Prepare 2 medium size baking sheets by dusting with ground millet (or if you can use it, cornmeal which is the traditional coating for English muffins). It takes approximately 1/2 cup so process the whole millet in a food processor to a medium grind (coarse is too little and fine makes flour which doesn’t work either, we want it the consistency of cornmeal. Sesame or poppy seeds would also work.

In a large bowl combine:

4 tablespoons ground flaxseeds

2/3 cup aquafaba

Let sit for several minutes to form flax gel. While that happens, in a smaller bowl combine:

1 1/2 cups white rice flower

3/4 cup brown rice flour

1/2 cup potato starch (NOT potato flour)

1/4 cup tapioca flour or starch

3 tablespoons powdered psyllium husk

2 tablespoons date sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast (or 1 packet which is 2 1/4 teaspoons)

Stir to mix in the yeast before adding:

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Whisk into the flax gel:

2 cups warm water (approximately 110 degrees)

2 tablespoons oil or melted vegan margarine

In increments, with a hand mixer or heavy spoon (stand mixer would be better with a paddle if you have one), mix the flour mixture into the wet mix. When it gets too thick for the hand mixer, use your hands (with gloves) and keep mixing until the dough comes together. It’s about the consistency of cookie dough.

With wet hands form about 1/3 cup of dough into balls (I’ll probably do 1/2 cup of dough next time) and set them on the dusted baking sheets widely spaced, about 5 per sheet (so they have room to rise). I heated my oven by setting it at 170 degrees for approximately 2-3 minutes before turning it off. Cover the muffin balls with a clean kitchen towel and place in a warm place to rise for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.*

Remove them from the oven and make sure the rack is on a lower-middle setting. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Uncover the dough and using a greased spatula, flatten the balls to approximately 3/4 inch disks. Dust the tops with the millet (or cornmeal).

Spray a 12″ skillet with non-stick cooking spray. Heat over medium heat before placing 4-5 muffins in the pan. Brown over medium heat and brown on each side (about a minute per side). Repeat with the remaining muffins. If the muffins begin to puff up, gently press them down, doming isn’t what we want and means you’re probably cooking them too long. Transfer to a clean baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake until firm, about 30-35 minutes, rotating baking sheet half way through cooking. Cool on a cooling rack for at least 15-20 minutes before splitting with a fork and toasting. Store unsplit muffins in a zip-lock bag for up to 3 days. I put 2 per sandwich bag, sucked out the air and then put the sandwich bags into a gallon freezer bag and put the extras in the freezer.

*In a previous life, when I lived in a house with steam heat radiators, I used to place my bread dough to rise on a towel on top of a radiator. It worked quite well as long as the heat didn’t get too hot while they were on there!

Pumpkin Spice Muffins (dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, sugar-free, soy-free, vegan)

This is a very moist muffin, almost decadent in flavor with all the spices added.  Yet with the garbanzo beans ground into the wet ingredients, it has some protein along with the carbohydrates.  Its sweetened with dates so there’s no added refined sugar.  Because its gluten-free, it needs to cook a little longer than a regular muffin and it also needs to be made in regular muffin/cupcake pans rather than the jumbo (or the teeny ones would work but you’ll get more than the dozen).  And its versatile, you can make it with pumpkin, sweet potato, or butternut squash (or a mixture of squashes).

Prepare 12 muffin/cupcakes by grease and flouring them.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a blender or food processor, combine until smooth:

  • 1 cup drained garbanzo beans
  • 2 cups (or 15 ounces if you’re using canned) pumpkin, sweet potato or squash
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates (using the ones mixed with flour will help dry the batter)
  • 1/2 cup dried prunes (or you could use dried figs)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Meanwhile in a large bowl combine:

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose gluten-free flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates

When the wet ingredients are well mixed and all solid bits are broken down, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and hand mix until all the flour is combined.  Divide as evenly as possible between the muffin cups and bake for 20-30 minutes depending on the size of your muffins.  If you’re using the teeny muffin pans, baking time will probably be only 10-12 minutes.  These are so tasty that they don’t need cream cheese or butter but can be eaten just as baked.  Be sure to let them sit 10-15 minutes after removing them from the oven so that they dry out a little more in the baking pan.

Apple Blueberry Muffins (dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, soy-free, vegan)

Blueberry muffins are a summer family tradition in my family that I’ve had to forgo for many years now.   I can remember in my youth, the whole family going to the Meader farm to pick blueberries after supper and then we’d go to the lake for a swim to cool off.  The next day, along with freezing most of the berries, my mother would make blueberry muffins to go with a cold salad (like the salmon salad on this blog) for supper that night.  It would probably also be accompanied by some sliced tomatoes.  This is a simple, quick recipe that makes light and moist muffins.  The tapioca flour gives the outside a nice crunch.

Preheat oven to 375 degree and grease  6 large or 12 small muffin tins.

In a large bowl combine:

  • 1 3/4 cups brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 teaspoon stevia
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk of choice, unflavored
  • 1 cup of chunky applesauce, unsweetened (or pear sauce to make pear & blueberry muffins)
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries dredged in 2 tablespoons brown rice flour
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar

Mix until all the ingredients are well combined; gluten-free baked goods often need a little more mixing than their gluten counterparts.  The mixture should bubble up while you’re mixing it when the vinegar hits the baking soda.  If its too thick (should be the consistency of mashed potatoes), add a little more milk by tablespoons.

Spoon into the greased muffin tins making sure all the muffins have equal amounts of batter.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Best enjoyed warm.