The Muffin Method

Just came across a very detailed explanation of the muffin method with tips on how to do it properly. Much better than the sketchy descriptions I’ve written :).

Please have a look here at the ‘Pastry Methods & Techniques‘ blog.

Preservative-free dried fruit at Nature’s Farm

This is great — I’ve discovered an easily-accessible source of dried fruit, including my favourite, cranberries. Nature’s Farm has dozens of outlets all over Singapore, so it’s great if you need to stock up on dried fruit for baking at short notice.

I remember the days when it was one of the only places that stocked health foods, these days the limited selection falls far short of the many health food shops that have sprung up all over the island.

However, the dried fruit is just what I’m looking for — labelled as unsweetened and unsulphured, and the price is very comparable to my regular organic food shops.

Dried cranberries from Nature's Farm

Dried cranberries from Nature's Farm

Sorghum scones (gluten-free)

Happy Lunar New Year and wishing everyone good health (isn’t that the most important thing?) in the Year of the Ox ^_^!

Here is quick bread recipe from The Best-Ever Wheat and Gluten Free Baking Book but a change from my usual muffins.

Sorghum is grain commonly used in South Asian, where it is known as jowar (see my page on gluten-free flours in Indian cooking). Prior to my interest in gluten-free flours, I had only heard of sorghum in the context of the Zhang Yimou movie “Red Sorghum” 高梁, starring Gong Li, which takes place around a distillery for sorghum liquor.

These scones have a hard, crisp shell, perhaps reminiscent of rock buns, quite different from English scones. Unlike cake-like muffins which can be heated up in a microwave, wrapped in a paper towel, these scones need to be reheated in an oven bring out the crisp texture of the crust.

Gluten-free sorghum scones

Gluten-free sorghum scones

I made some tweaks to the recipe in the book to omit cumin, salt and sugar. Below are the ingredients I used.

DRY INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups (175g) sorghum flour
1/ 2 cup (60g) tapioca flour
1/2 cup (80g) brown rice flour
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp xantham or guar gum
1/2 cup raisins

WET INGREDIENTS

4 Tbs (55g) butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup (160g) plain yoghurt or 1/2 cup (120ml) milk

1) Preheat oven to 230°C.
2) Mix dry ingredients.
3) Beat the butter with hand mixer as if creaming (the original recipe involves creaming butter and 30g sugar).
4) Add beaten eggs and yoghurt to butter.
5) Add dry mixture to wet mixture and stir until just combined.
6) Stir in raisins.
7) Spoon the dough into large mounds onto a greased baking sheet, as I did. Alternatively, pat into a large round to be cut into wedges after baking.
8) Bake for 12 to 15 mins. Be careful they don’t burn. You might want to turn down the oven temperature halfway through or cover the scones with tin foil.

Verdict: Super! Tastes great, nice texture, easy to make. Delicious plain or with butter or cream and jam.

Thoughts on baking for egg allergy

One of my regular readers asked for suggestions on baking for her son who is allergic to eggs.

Although I don’t have personal experience dealing with this particular intolerance, my first thought is that vegan cooking/baking would be the best resource. There are many vegan recipe books, both from western and Chinese perspectives. (Buddhist vegetarians in Singapore often don’t identify themselves as vegans, even though they don’t take eggs and dairy products, so my ‘Vegetarian’ category on this blog actually refers to vegan foods.)

I would recommend vegan diets based on holistic, wholefoods principles as the recipes would been selected or adapted to be made from fresh ingredients, rather than using commercial, packaged egg replacer formulas.

I prefer to avoid things where you don’t really know what the ingredients are, or even if you do, how they have been processed. Of course, we can’t completely avoid this, but if there are ways to make things from scratch, then that’s the best way to go.

Do leave a comment if you have more suggestions for egg allergy baking :).

Gluten-free muffins with bean, rice & tapioca flours

Muffin with chickpea, rice and tapioca flours
This recipe is from The Best-Ever Wheat and Gluten Free Baking Book and like the other recipes from this book I’ve used, it turned out excellently. The book credits the recipe to the Bob’s Red Mill website by Carol Fenster, of which this is an adaptation. It’s actually a recipe for Blueberry Muffins but I didn’t have blueberries so I adapted it with the dried fruits in my fridge — sultanas and cranberries.

If you’ve read my posting on Gluten-free, yeast-free bean bread or my improved recipe for gluten-free, yeast-free bean bread, you’ll notice this flour mix also uses chickpea (garbanzo) bean flour and tapioca flour, although the other flours and proportions are different. An additional ingredient here is the gelatin powder, which I purchased in Phoon Huat. Like the bean bread recipe, this uses the muffin method (explained here).

And the results of this recipe are actually much better than the earlier bean bread ones! There’s only very minimal sinking of the muffin tops after baking, and the inner texture has more even rising, with no centre that is denser than the outer sections.

A highly recommended basic recipe.

DRY INGREDIENTS

1 cup (140g) chickpea (garbanzo) bean flour and/or fava bean flour [I used all chickpea flour from the Indian grocery store]
1/2 cup (110g) rice flour
1/2 cup (80g) tapioca flour
2 tsp flaxseed meal
1 tsp unflavoured gelatin powder
2 tsp xantham gum
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup (100g) sugar or 170g honey [omitted]
1 tsp sea salt [omitted]

WET INGREDIENTS
1 cup (235ml) milk – rice, soy, nut or dairy milk
1/2 cup (55g) butter, softened [I used coconut oil instead as too lazy to melt the butter]
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup mixed dried fruit [original recipe calls for 1 Tbs grated lemon peel and 1 cup blueberries]

1) Mix dry ingredients together.
2) Whisk together wet ingredients.
3) Combine wet & dry ingredients. Stir till just mixed, be careful not to overmix.
4) Fold in fruit.
5) Bake in preheated oven at 200°C for 25 mins.

Gluten-free cornbread muffins

Cornbread Muffin (gluten-free)

Cornbread Muffin (gluten-free)

There is a wide variety of flours made from mazie. The Best-Ever Wheat and Gluten Free Baking Book lists the following types:
corn flour — used to make cereals, pastas, breads and tortillas
corn grits — coarsely ground from white or yellow corn
cornmeal — comes as both yellow and white meal, often used in Mexican dishes
cornstarch — a refined product made from white corn used as a thickener [IMPORTANT: this is often referred to as 'cornflour' in Singapore and other places]
popcorn flour — ‘full of flavour and is similar to cornmeal’, can be used in baking or as coating when frying meats.

I have to admit this description still leaves me rather confused about the differences between corn flour and corn meal. Browsing the descriptions of Bob’s Red Mill products does make things clearer, despite the fact that Bob’s Red Mill offers a mind-boggling array of corn-based flours:
Organic Wholegrain Corn Flour
Golden Masa Harina Corn Flour
White Masa Harina Corn Flour
Fine Grind Cornmeal
Medium Grind Cornmeal
Organic Medium Grind Cornmeal
Coarse Grind Cornmeal
Corn Grits–Polenta
Blue Cornmeal
White Cornmeal

Anyway, I happen to have some Bob’s Red Mill Medium Grind Cornmeal in the fridge, hence my choice of this recipe from The Best-Ever Wheat and Gluten Free Baking Book. Generally, I find that this cornmeal gives a distinctly gritty texture (and very hard grits! you can see them as white flecks in the photo). I dislike crunching on those hard bits so in future I would definitely choose a finer grind.

My postings are lagging so far behind the actual event that I can’t remember the details of the baking process! Mainly, I can’t recall if I added the maple syrup, and if so, how much I used. I have no problems with completely unsweetened muffins, and I have successfully adapted all muffin recipes by simply omitting the sweeteners.

*********

WET INGREDIENTS

1 cup buttermilk (see substitutes for buttermilk)
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup (55g) butter, melted
1/2 cup (60ml) maple syrup

DRY INGREDIENTS

210g yellow cornmeal
65g cornstarch
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt [omitted]
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup plain nuts, chopped [omitted]

Mix wet ingredients. Mix dry ingredients. Add the two together and stir till just combined, do not overbeat.

Spoon into greased muffin tin, or 8- or 9-inch square pan.

Bake in preheated oven at 220°C for 15 minutes. [Can't remember if I followed the baking instructions precisely, it seems a bit too hot to me, muffins might burn. Standard muffin baking temperature is 180°C.]

Verdict: Nice texture, good taste. For some reason, the cornmeal grits weren’t so obvious to me in this recipe.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 27 other followers