Wholemeal muffins basic recipe (no sugar)

For those on a no-yeast diet, muffins are a good bread substitute (I’ve used to to make ‘bread’ & butter pudding too!). I have used this super-simple recipe countless times and lots of friends have asked for it, so here it is.

[Taken from Xandria Williams, Overcoming Candida: The Ultimate Cookery Book (London: Vega, 2002)


Traditionally these are made with a small amount of sugar, but you can omit the sugar and still enjoy the muffin. Try the following basic recipe and then experiment with variations of your own.

Makes 10-12 muffins

2 cups wholemeal flour (can substitute with barley or oat flour)
2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Mix together the dry ingredients in one bowl: flour and baking powder. In another bowl, mix the wet ingredients: beat the eggs and combine with the milk & oil. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix.

Place portions in well-oiled muffin tray and bake at 180°C350°F for about 15-20 mins. When you can smell the muffins they are about done and test them with a skewer.


I usually put in a combination of the following ingredients (always with fruit to make up for the omission of sugar):
– 1 chopped apple
– 1 or 2 mashed bananas
– dried fruit
– cocoa powder
– rolled oats (sometimes used leftover cooked oats)
– seeds & nuts
– vanilla essence
– cinammon
– freshly pureed fruit in place of (some of the) milk
– yoghurt in place of milk

Cheese & garlic make a savoury muffin that is delicious to accompany a hearty soup.


21/6/08 update: I now use a different basic recipe, which uses buttermilk/yoghurt and gives a better texture.

The ingredients for the new basic recipe is as follows:

2 cups flour(s)
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda

1 cup yoghurt or buttermilk [can be substituted with plain milk + 1/4 tsp citric acid]
1 or 2 eggs
1/4 cup oil/melted butter/ghee

Sift dry ingredients. Add to wet ingredients. Mix quickly and bake as above.

Do check out my other muffin recipes (all of which can be made without sugar if so desired).
Green tea, azuki beans & pine nuts
Apple, soy milk and okara (no sugar)
Tahini soy muffins (no sugar)
Spelt pumpkin muffins (no sugar)
Kamut cranberry muffins
Gluten-free pumpkin muffins with carob topping


19 Responses

  1. hi MMMM,
    i was so happy to have stumbled upon your blog! like u, i have some food intolerances and was so happy to find your recipes!! esp this one!!

    one question i have – i hope you don’t mind me asking! have you done a food intolerance test before? I am seeking some advise becuz i’m thinking of getting a test done – but dont know where to find a reliable tester. tks!


  2. Hi Ee-Leen,
    I was first tested some years ago by a homeopath who used bioresonance testing and kinesiology techniques and nowadays I get help from a kinesiologist. See my posting:

  3. oh thanks Niceties/MMMM (sorry I don’t know how to address you:))

    wow! i just went to ur other blog. so u mean u make all those fantastic goodies, and you can’t eat them or?

    I love your NiceRecipes blog!! It’s got all the recipes I have always been looking for!

    Btw, if you suspect wheat/gluten intolerance (like what I’ve experienced recently) – I have found that spelt flour is a very good substitute for it – all the health books said it can be substituted one-for-one for wheat. I used to think it’s very expensive ($6.00 for 500g from Organic Paradise) – but after comparing a spelt pancake cost ($0.30)(I made 10 pancakes from approx 250g flour) to what a McDonald’s hotcake and those bakery waffles cost – I am starting to think that actually I can eat within my budget and still eat very well in terms of food quality and I don’t have to settle for all that junk!

  4. Thank you so much for all your kind comments and also the fantastic food & shopping suggestions! I didn’t know about spelt (haven’t done enough research on gluten-free yet) and all the gluten-free recipes in Sue Dengate’s Fed Up book & cookbook involve combining many types of flours – very inconvenient (and expensive).

  5. hallo MMMM/niceties,
    spelt is not gluten-free! like u, i found all those gluten-free recipes for cakes/etc very very troublesome – and honestly, i think that if one wants to avoid gluten in SIngapore – one should just eat stuff like 9-layer cake etc, those chinese snacks – instead of trying to make gluten-free versions of those angmoh-recipes. you know what i mean?

    anyway, about spelt – its not gluten-free, but i have read that ppl who can’t tolerate wheat can tolerate spelt & oat quite well, so that’s why i’d go along with spelt. (i eat oats every day and have no problems).

  6. Ah OK! Thanks for the clarification!

    I agree with you about Asian snacks. Which is why one of the things on my to-do list is to learn about how to use the many different flours commonly found in our supermarkets: glutinous rice flour, white/brown rice flour, potato starch (Failsafe??), sweet potato flour (Failsafe??), green bean flour etc. (Fortunately for me, I can tolerate a wider range of things now so even if not 100% Failsafe, as long as I don’t eat too much, it should be OK.)

    Tang yuan is a good start and I already know how to make that :). Great with bean fillings which are Failsafe. (And if you want to go Japanese, can do them mochi-style rolled in potato flour). Am thinking of trying to make ang ku kueh for the first time….

  7. wow! i really learn a lot from u! so do u have the tang yuan recipe on your blog?
    also, your other blog is so nice!

    i have a question – if you already know how to cook all those fantastic things on your other blog, (i assume you have already mastered all your grandma’s recipes!) why do you need to erm, look for failsafe recipes? i imagine u can easily modify those fantastic recipes on your other blog rite?

  8. I use this tang yuan recipe from the cookbook, Nonya Flavours: A Complete Guide to Penang Straits Chinese Cuisine:
    200g glutinous rice flour
    200ml water
    Just mix together. You’ll want to leave out the food colouring, I assume :). I’ve tried making ginger soup with no sugar to go with it.

    Hahaha, no, I have not tried out nor was I taught how to cook most of my grandma’s recipes! Also, nonya cooking is so full of chilli, spices and herbs etc that it’s a minefield if one is trying to manage a Failsafe diet!! Sometimes the nonya recipes do inspire me, see
    but most of the time, if you leave out all the spices & herbs, there’s not much of the dish left :P. Some of the baking recipes I might try, but I don’t like the frequent use of convenience foods in grandma’s recipes.

    I’m trying to find dishes & cuisines which are inherently quite plain so that by leaving out the sauces & seasonings, one can still enjoy something of the basic ingredients. I think the key to cooking around food intolerances is having a knowledge of as many kinds of ingredients and basic foodstuffs as possible so that you can creatively use them in dishes that suit one’s intolerances, without sticking to the integrity and flavours of any particular cuisine.

  9. hey thanks so much for the recipe! gee, i feel so liberated and can stop looking thru those angmoh dessert books!and finally i can find some stuff @ the supermarkets with which to make some simple nice desserts at home!

    but i didnt know that tang yuan was a nonya dessert! and oh yes, i’m leaving out the food colouring for sure!

    i didnt think ur grandma used that many convenience foods! i was getting all excited over the pandan cake recipe cuz it’s the simplest i have found so far – withotu the need to use Phoon Huat’s nasty ‘pandan essence’ and ‘pandan paste’ – those funny additives.

    i agree with u about using dishes that are inherently plain – and i wonder if u watch stuff like Jamie Oliver and Jun Tanaka – i think theirs can be easily adapted to our tastes and are really simple and quick to make.

    btw, do you have a grill pan? do u think it’s wise to buy one?

  10. Peranakans called tang yuan ‘kueh ee’ – eaten to celebrate Winter Solstice (冬至).

    Your description of the funny Pandan additives in Phoon Huat reminds me of similar things I saw in Sun Lik on Seah Street (‘fruit cake sauce’, ‘tiramisu sauce’ etc in lurid colours) and the friend who was with me (no food intolerance) also swore that she would never touch commercial pastries again :P.

    I actually don’t read many cookbooks and I don’t follow any particular chefs or food writers :) (but I do like the explanations of cooking techniques by Delia Smith http://www.deliaonline.com/cookery-school). Usually when I get inspiration to cook a particular dish I’ll read up several different recipes on the internet to get an idea of the techniques involved and then improvise from there. See:

    Yes, I have a grill pan. There’s been a lot written about the carcinogens produced when barbequeing or roasting at high heat but uh, I still use the grill pan :P for cuts of fish, beef, pork, chicken. Tastes great without any seasoning (maybe a bit of salt) and all the oils drain off.

  11. i have similar thots about those nasty sauces. like for eg, one of my cookbooks (a wedding gift) has all these recipes for making things like teriyaki from scratch. (have u seen those bottled sauces? they are so expensive and have so many additives!) which i thot was quite cool (i mean, i didnt touch that book until 5 yrs after i got married!)

    wow! i’m just wondering if i shld buy one (i already have a wok – but really dislike stir frying cuz it smokes up the whole house). btw, how’s ur waffle maker doing? is it worth the price? (i saw the takahi one selling at Giant for S$28.50 and was wondering if worth it.)

  12. Yes, I’m VERY aware of the nasties in sauces. I don’t even eat supermarket soya sauce (sugar, caramel, MSG, sodium benzoate – yuck!). Learning a little bit about food technology and the production of industrialised food can be a very eye-opening experience!

    My cooking philosophy is that anything you can buy in a bottle or tin can, you can make yourself if you put in enough effort :). And as Sue Dengate’s Fed Up book says, going Failsafe doesn’t mean giving up pizzas, burgers, chips, ice cream, cakes and cookies – you just have to make them all yourself at home.

    Waffle-maker was a wonderful buy! I’m prepared to invest in a lot of different equipment so that I can make as many things at home as possible and expand my eating options. If you read the list of nasties on the labels of commercial frozen waffles, you will never touch those again either! Considering that my doughnut baking tray was already $20… But sometimes cheap electronics don’t last long, my Iona steamboat-grill can’t heat up properly after using 3 times and verrry lehcheh to take back for servicing (plus taking time off work or taxi fare to send & collect in proportion to cost of the item… not worth it!) :P.

  13. […] stash of baked goods on hand for snacking, whether at home or on the go. This works wonderfully for muffins, scones, cupcakes, doughnuts, waffles and bread. As soon as the baked items cool, I put them in a […]

  14. i definitely dont go for those frozen waffles. yucks! what drove me was i just found out that the neighbourhood bakery waffles (which i can’t tolerate very well becuz they put milk or something inside that gives me indigestion)have gone up in price from $.0.80 to $1.00!that’s what prompted me to make spelt pancakes (since i dont hv a wafflemaker) and substitue the milk with coconut milk!

    but, how on earth do u make soy sauce at home!??!? don’t tell me u go for bragg’s liquid aminos.

    i also bot a morries steamboat grill and the grill can’t heat up enuff to cook even eggs properly. now i only use the steamboat functon to cook wholegrain rice for freezing.

  15. Your spelt & coconut milk pancakes sound delicious! If you hadn’t had the problems with your neighbourhood bakery, you might not have come up with such a wonderful recipe :). Silver lining to the dark clouds of food intolerances :).

    Haha, you are right, it’s pretty hard to make your own soya sauce at home :). Actually I buy organic shoyu and tamari. Mitoku brand, macrobiotic-grade shoyu in particular has an amazing taste, quite unlike any soya sauce I’ve ever had in my life: rich, deep, fermented flavour. It’s quite pricey ($12.40 for 500ml at Eat Organic), but since I don’t take soya sauce on a regular basis (limited tolerance) I don’t mind splashing out on it to use as an occasional seasoning. Read about it here:

    Incidentally, Meid-ya at Liang Court also stocks some Mitoku products and cheaper than health food shops :).

  16. […] (I used Waitrose organic sultanas which I had lying around in my fridge). From my experience with no sugar muffins, if you use plenty of fruit, you can easily produce a delicious cake without adding any sugar at […]

  17. hi MMMM,
    wah, shoyu sounds really expensive man! but u must try Nature’s glory! (i just popped by on Saturday – their shoyu is cheaper than Eat Organic, I think).

    and thanks to u, i am so inpsired by this bento thing now. i aspire to cook nicer-looking lunches for me and my girl from now on! i have been subsisting on ugly, unappetising looking porridge on days when i cook, and MSG-laden outside food when i don’t. i can’t bring myself to eat the porridge i prepare for her (becuz she eats so little, i make a batch of porridge comprising of mixed grains (eg millet, quinoa, etc) and freeze into ice cubes for her – and i also add one cube of homemade chicken stock and then add in whatever pureed veges i feel like adding for her on a particular day, plus fish / pork. )

    i love stir frying (do you have a chinese wok? they work wonders!!), but really dislike the oil that pervades my kitchen after that.

    i’m making bread this coming week, from spelt flour ( nature’s glory sells them much cheaper than organic paradise and brown rice paradise) – 500g for $3.00. i still dont dare to eat outside bread since i’m still recovering from allergy – and have been starving for snacks!

  18. Hi Canton Pixie,

    Yah! I must get to Nature’s Glory soon! Thanks so much for the tip. BTW, I’ve tried another Japanese brand of organic shoyu but it can’t compare to the amazing flavour of the Mitoku one. But yes, at that exorbitant price, it’s only for special occasions!

    Glad my bento postings have inspired you. I have to acknowledge a huge debt to http://lunchinabox.net for inspiring me! I have suffered through many very ugly and unappetising lunchboxes myself so I really know the feeling :P.

    Love the porridge/stock ice cubes idea for your daughter. Guess it’s the same as single-portion freezing for adults, just in baby size :).

    Most of my meals at home consist of brown rice plus one stir fried meat dish and one stir fried veg. By using Failsafe veg, plus only leeks, garlic and salt for seasoning, can still get tasty meals – only a bit monotonous. Because it’s usually in single portion for myself, a small frying pan is better. We do have one huge wok for cooking family meals though. I recently threw out the horribly worn out & peeling non-stick wok (yuck!) and splashed out on a 5-ply stainless steel one which will hopefully last decades…

    Enjoy your spelt bread for next week :).

  19. […] of the approaching Dong Zhi festival, but because I was inspired by Canton Pixie’s comments here. She suggested that if one is trying to avoid wheat, rather than trying complicated gluten-free […]

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