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.

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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.

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Improved recipe for gluten-free, yeast-free bean bread

I loved this recipe so much that I made it again with twice the quantities and with some tweaks to try and improve the result.

I modified the quantities of ingredients given in the recipe in my last posting. The quantities this time I used were:

FOUR FLOUR BEAN MIX
chickpea/garbanzo bean flour – 1/3 part
green/mung bean flour – 1/3 part
sorghum/ jowar flour – 1/3 part
tapioca starch – 1 part
cornstarch – 1 part

DRY INGREDIENTS
Four Flour Bean Mix (see above) – 4 cups
Xantham gum – 3 tsp
Baking soda – 1 tsp
Baking powder – 2 tsp
Salt – 1 tsp

[omitted brown sugar and egg replacer]

WET INGREDIENTS
Eggs – 4
Butter, melted – 6 Tbs
Light argave syrup [in place of honey] – 2 Tbs
Buttermilk – 1 1/2 cups
Water about 1/4 cup

METHOD: Muffin method

Having had problems with tunneling of large airholes and heavy texture the last time, I did away with the use of an electric mixer to avoid over-beating. I made this in exactly the same way I make muffins – quick and easy, by hand.

1) Sift all dry ingredients thoroughly.

2) Mix wet ingredients.

3) Mix dry and wet ingredients until just incorporated. Do not overmix.

4) Pour into greased baking tins. Do not fill tins more than half-full as the batter will rise about three times its volume. This happened even though I reduced the amount of baking powder to the same quantity I use for my muffins.

5) Bake at 180°C for 55 to 60 mins, covering with aluminum foil after 30 mins.

When the loaves come out the oven, as they cool, they will rapidly deflate (see photo above). I’ve never seen this happen before with other baked goods. However, the final result was still pretty good. The photo below illustrates the light crumb texture that looks remarkably like ‘real’ bread.

Gluten-free, yeast-free bean bread

Today I tried out the basic yeast-free bread recipe from The Gluten-Free Gourmet Bakes Bread by Bette Hagman, using the Four Flour Bean Mix described in my previous posting with the standard supermarket flours using in Indian cooking (Mustafa being the only supermarket I know that stocks them, though!).

The result was rather uneven: some parts did not rise much – the very smooth, close-textured parts – and other parts had huge air bubbles.

However, taste-wise and in terms of ‘mouth-feel’, I’m pleasantly surprised! The very green smell from the green bean flour disappeared after baking, and the bread was springy to the touch, much like real bread (despite the cake-like appearance). Actually, the texture reminds me very much of kueh lapis!

I tried it with a variety of savoury and sweet toppings as well as plain with butter, and it tasted fine every time. I couldn’t stop eating… how wonderful to be able to eat ‘bread’ and not be worrying about exceeding my wheat & gluten limit.

The recipe for a small loaf:

DRY INGREDIENTS

2 cups Four Flour Bean Mix : I used 1/3 part chickpea flour, 1/3 part green bean flour, 1/3 part sorghum flour, 1 part cornstarch, 1 part tapioca starch
1 1/2 tsp Xanthan gum
3 Tbs brown sugar [which I reduced to 2 Tbs – still rather sweet]
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp Egg Replacer [omitted; Hagman uses this to provided additional protein and leavening power]
1/2 tsp salt

WET INGREDIENTS

Eggs – 2 plus 1 white [I used 3 small whole eggs, also because I omitted the Egg Replacer]
2 Tbs melted butter [replaced with ghee as I was too lazy to melt butter!]
1 Tbs honey [replaced with light argave syrup]
3/4 cup buttermilk [used substitute]
approx 1/3 cup water [used much, much less]

[Hagman also uses optional dough enhancer, which I have omitted completely here.]

Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease loaf pan(s) and dust lightly with rice flour.

Whisk together dry ingredients.

In a large bowl, beat eggs and egg white(s). Add melted butter, honey and buttermilk. Blend with mixer on low speed.

Add dry ingredients and continue to blend on low speed.

Add ‘sufficient water to make the dough the consistency of cake batter.’ This was the hard part! What is the correct consistency? I’ve seen a whole range of consistencies of cake batters. Anyway, using my judgement, I only needed to add about a tablespoon of water. The batter was strange-looking because of all those sticky flours, the cornstarch and tapioca starch, not at all like cake batter.

Beat 1 minute on high.

Spoon into prepared pans and bake for 55 to 60 mins, covering with aluminum foil after 30 mins.

Problems

* The bread rose tremendously in the oven the collapsed afterwards, which suggests that I should reduce the amount of leavening agent next time.

* The texture was very uneven, it did not affect the taste, but certainly is less than ideal. Bette Hagman constantly gives strict instructions to follow recipes exactly as substituting ingredients may end up with a different result. As usual, I can never follow a recipe precisely so I guess I will have to keep experimenting.

* Hagman also suggests that overly dense texture might be due too much liquid, and from my experience with muffins (which is what this essentially is – a muffin method, dry + wet ingredients then mix) is that it could also be case of over-mixing. I might just make this by hand next time; the mixer is unecessary and might have contributed to the over-mixing.

Verdict

Whatever the problems, I was really pleased with the result. I fear the little test loaf in the freezer won’t last long at all. Am definitely making this again, and at double the quantity :).

Here are Hagman’s quantities for a large loaf:

DRY INGREDIENTS
Four Flour Bean Mix (see above) – 4 cups
Xantham gum – 3 tsp
Brown sugar – 1/3 cup
Baking soda – 1 tsp
Baking powder – 1 rounded tablespoon
Egg replacer – 2 tsp
Salt – 1 tsp

WET INGREDIENTS
Eggs – 3 plus 2 whites
Butter, melted – 6 Tbs
Honey – 2 Tbs
Buttermilk – 1 1/2 cups
Water (more or less) – 1/2 cup

31/10/08 Update: experimented with this recipe a second time, making some tweaks and getting a much better result. Read more here: Improved recipe for gluten-free, yeast-free bean bread.

Substitutes for buttermilk

I’ve mentioned this several times before but I’ve never really written it up properly and have decided to do so to have a quick reference for myself.

If using citric acid, going by this recipe for using citric acid to replace lemon juice, then
1 cup milk + slightly less than 1/4 tsp citric acid.

In all cases, let the mixture stand for five to ten minutes before using.

1) From GourmetSleuth:

These subs. are good for baking and batters – not for uncooked foods like dressings.
For 1 cup buttermilk select one:
1 cup milk + 1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup milk + 1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 cup milk + 1 teaspoon cream of tartar

2) Other pages give different quantities:
1 cup milk plus 1 3/4 tablespoons cream of tartar
1 cup milk plus 1 1/2 Tablespoons of fresh lemon juice OR 1 1/3 Tablespoons of cider vinegar to above milk amount.

3) For dairy-free alternatives, these suggestions from Dairy-Free Made Easy by Alisa Marie Fleming, Fleming Marrs:

Recipe I [too vague to be helpful :P]
2 to 3 tsps of lemon juice, apple cider vinegar or cream of tartar to one cup of non-dairy milk (rice, soy, oat etc.) —

Recipe II [very interesting!]
1/4 cup silken tofu
1/2 cup + 3 Tbs water
1 Tbs lemon juice or vinegar
pinch sea salt
–> Blend all ingredients together

4) This page extracted from The Gluten-Free Baker Newsletter has a thorough write-up including tips on:

* improving consistency by making 1 full cup, even when only 1/2 is required
* in recipes, to check for consistency rather than volume of the liquid when using low-fat milks
* differing results when using non-dairy milks
* in gluten-free recipes, if substituting regular milk with buttermilk, add 1/4 tsp baking soda to the dry mixture for every 1/2 cup buttermilk