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.

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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.

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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.

Gluten-free pumpkin muffins with carob topping

Here’s another experiment with alternative flours and this one is actually gluten-free, adapted from The Best Wheat and Gluten Free Baking Book. This is my first completely wheat and gluten-free recipe made with alternative flours intended to mimic the result of wheat flour.

I didn’t have the exact combination of flours used in the book’s recipe for Squash Muffins, so I improvised from things I had in the kitchen, and I was pleasantly surprised by the palatable result. So you too should not shy away from experimenting with alternative flour mixes. To be on the safe side, I added 1 tsp of xantham gum, which not required in the original recipe.

The original also calls for pure cocoa powder, which I replaced with carob powder.

The pumpkin is such a versatile ingredient – from savoury dishes to sweet desserts, that I often like to have one lying around in the fridge as a staple, which explains the frequency of pumpkin recipes on this blog.

gluten-freecarobpumpkinmuffins-0.jpg

WET INGREDIENTS
170g butter, softened
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups pumpkin, cooked and mashed — i didn’t have enough so made up the remainder with pureed canned pears (which I have frozen in ice cube trays for easy usage) and 1/2 cup of red lentil dip. The latter was added by accident as I thought it was pureed pear! I wasn’t concerned about the mix-up though, remember how Jessica Seinfeld puts all sorts of vegetables into sweet cakes in her Deceptively Delicious recipes.

DRY INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup sugar [reduced to 1/4 cup]

1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1/2 cup oat flour
1/2 tapioca flour
1/2 cup sweet potato flour

3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp xantham gum
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup raisins, coated in a bit of flour to prevent them sinking in the batter
1/2 cup hulled sunflower or pumpkin seeds, oven dried and ground in a coffee grinder

TOPPING
2 Tbs carob powder
2 Tbs butter [I guessed the amount, and ended up with probably about twice that amount!]
2 Tbs cinnamon
2 Tbs brown sugar

1) Preheat oven to 200°C and grease muffin tins.
2) Beat butter and sugar until light & fluffy.
3) Beat eggs and add into butter/sugar mixture one tablespoon at a time and beat well after each addition.
4) Add mashed pumpkin and mix well.
5) Sift the dry ingredients together to mix thoroughly.
6) Add dry ingredients, raisins and ground seeds to wet mixture. Mix well
7) Spoon into muffin tins,
8) Spoon on topping mixture.
9) Bake in lower third of oven at 200°C for 20 minutes or until well done.

Verdict: The flours I used seem to have a relatively neutral taste and this muffin tastes less ‘odd’ than the Kamut cranberry muffins. The carob topping seemed far too liquid, although it hardened nicely. Could have done without the carob topping. Can’t detect pumpkin taste. I like the way the ground seeds add body and protein to this muffin.

Incidentally, I recently came across this excellent baking blog, Pattycake.ca, that includes many recipes for those facing gluten-free restrictions (and other special diets). Like me, the author enjoys the creative challenge of food restrictions!