Monday, March 23, 2009

Anything You Need Muffins

This another long post, but I think it is worth your time. if you are interested in learning the ins and outs of successful gluten/allergy-free cooking.

I first learned about universal recipes from book two of the Tightwad Gazette's three book series, written by Amy Dacyczyn. I have used its muffin recipe so often that the book naturally opens to that page. Ms. Dacyczyn now has the six years of her Tightwad Gazette in one book. I understand from Fun Foods on a Budget, that there are more universal recipes in The Complete Tightwad Gazette. This is exciting to me, because I find this recipes easiest to convert to to my allergy free needs. So, as soon as I am done with my present stack of books from the library, I will be borrowing The Complete Tightwad Gazette as a part of my next stack.

Ms. Dacyczyn's universal muffin recipe, in the second book, was designed to help her readers create a muffin that is cheapest in their area of the country, and to meet their individual dietary restrictions. I personally don't like to call them restrictions. There are far too many other choices to enjoy; to leave yourself in that place of loss you felt when you first learned you had to go without some food. Or as in my case many favorite foods.

In todays blog I hope to further the ability of my reader to create an allergy-free muffin recipe. Because gluten-free bake goods tend to dry out don't make more than you can eat in two to three days. If they do go dry don't throw them out. Break them up into a bowl, top with fresh fruit and a milk of your choice, just like you would a bowl of cereal or strawberry shortcake. I will give a shorthand version of the recipe at the end of this posting.

Gum: Let me start with the important ingredient in gluten-free baking, Guar gum and/or Xanthan gum. These two gums work like a glue, binding the gluten free flours together, so they will hold the air bubbles needed to make light and fluffy bake goods. Guar gum is my favorite because it is corn free. However, for those Celiac's that have trouble with diarrhea, this may not be the right choice, as it is also sold as a laxative. For those with corn allergies, Xanthan gum may not be the right choice, because it is a substance scraped off the fermentation of corn.

Grain: Use 2 cups any combination of flours from the many gluten free grains.

  • brown rice

  • Sorghum flour

  • quiona flour or flakes. Flakes will not work well by them selves, you must have flour as your base ingredient.

  • almond meal

  • millet flour

  • teff seeds

  • bean flour

  • corn flour

  • cornmeal, this one will not work well by its self.

  • or flake cereal, this one will not work well by itself.

You can, also, substitute 1 cup cooked grain for 1/2 cup of the dry flour and decrease liquid to 1/2 cup. My favorite mix: 1 cup rice flour, ¼ cup quiona flakes, ½ cup millet flour, and ¼ cup Garbanzo bean flour.

Milk: Use 1 cup of any milk of your choice. You can use buttermilk or sour milk (add a tablespoon of vinegar to 1 cup milk). If you want to substitute fruit juice for part or all of the milk you will have a need to raise the protein content. I do this by adding 1 tsp of unflavored gelatin. Raising the protein can, also, be done by using bean flour or nut meal as part of the flour mix.

Fat: You can use

  • up to 1/4 cup vegetable oil. Choose a light oil such as canola, safflower,or sunflower.

  • Another choice is to use 4 tablespoons melted butter,

  • margarine.

  • If using a butter substitute keep in mind these are usually lower in fat than butter and will effect the moisture of your muffins.

  • The fat can be reduced or omitted with fair results if using a "wet addition,” like mashed bananas.

  • You can also substitute any crunchy or regular nut butter for part or all of the fat.

Egg: Use 1 egg or choose one of the following substitution choices:

  • Ener-G Egg Replacer - follow directions on box.

  • 2 tbsp cornstarch, or arrowroot starch, or potato starch = 1 egg

  • 1 heaping tbsp soy powder + 2 tbsp water = 1 egg

  • 1 tbsp soy milk powder + 1 tbsp starch + 2 tbsp water = 1 egg.

  • 1 banana = 1 egg in cakes, so they make a good low fat choice here.

  • 1 tbsp milled flax seed and 3 tbsp water = 1 egg. Light, fluffy cakes!

Sweetener: Choices

  • between 2 tablespoons to 1/2 cup sugar

  • up to 3/4 cup brown sugar

  • up to 1/2 cup honey or molasses

Baking Powder: Use 3 teaspoons. If using cooked grains, or more than 1 cup of additions, increase to 4 teaspoons. If using buttermilk or sour milk, decrease to 1 teaspoon and add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. For those with corn allergies there are many websites that have a corn free baking powder recipe. This works just as well as the store bought, except when you haven't used it in a while. Just be sure to shake the container to reactivate it, this my grandmother taught me was the way she did it, back in her day.

Salt: You can omit or use ½ tsp.

The following ingredients are choices and a clear example as to why you should not think of your allergies as simply restrictions. All combinations use no more than 1 1/2 cups. If using more than 1 cup of wet additions, decrease the milk to 1/2 cup.

Dry Additions: Nuts, sunflower seeds, coconut, dried fruit such as raisins, cranberries, or apricots, and so on.

Moist Additions: Blueberries, chopped apple, freshly shredded zucchini, shredded carrot, and so on.

Wet Additions: Pumpkin puree, applesauce, mashed cooked sweet potato, mashed banana, mashed cooked carrot, and so on. If using 1/2 cup drained, canned fruit, or thawed shredded zucchini, substitute the syrup, or zucchini liquid for all or part of the milk.

Spices: Use spices that compliment the additions, such as 1 teaspoon cinnamon with 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg or cloves. Spices could include a teaspoon of parsley and a pinch of marjoram. Another great flavor is 2 teaspoons grated orange or lemon peel.

Jellies and Jams: Fill cups half full with a plain batter. Add 1 teaspoon jam, or jelly and top with 2 more tablespoons batter.

Topping: Sprinkle cinnamon sugar, or poppy seed on the batter in the tins.

Non-sweet Combinations: Use only 2 tablespoons sugar and no fruit. Add combinations of the following: 1/2 cup shredded cheese, 3 strips fried-and-crumbled bacon, 2 tablespoons grated onion, 1/2 cup shredded zucchini, 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese.

Anything you need muffins

2 cups of you choice flour or flour mix

1 teaspoon Guar gum or Xanthan gum

3 teaspoons baking power

½ teaspoon salt

¼ cup more or less sweetener

2 tablespoons fat

1 egg or egg substitute

1 cup milk of your choice

To make muffins, combine dry ingredients, and then mix in wet ingredients until just combined and no longer dry. Grease and flour a muffin tin and fill the cups full. Gluten free does not rise like glutenous, so you needn't worry about it overflowing here. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes (give or take 5 minutes).