If you are looking for the most tender, moist and delicious gluten free muffins on the planet, then you will love what I’m about to share with you. Creating a masterpiece muffin is not as difficult as you may think. Sure there are different flours to use and liquids to measure, but every step is worth it once you bite into a yummy, warm muffin.
And the greatest thing is that practically any muffin recipe can be adapted to be a gluten free muffin – love your chocolate chip muffins? Those can be made gluten free. How about a tart, cranberry muffin? Yes, those can too. It’s all a matter of substituting the right ingredients and being willing to experiment.
Some of the experimenting is already done for you however. Below are 10 tips for making the softest, tastiest muffins ever.
1. Always start with room temperature ingredients. This is vitally important with gluten free baking. Gluten free flours can go rancid (spoil) very quickly. For this reason, the recommendation is to store them in the refrigerator or freezer. But using cold or frozen flour inhibits your muffins from rising and baking properly. So always take out your flours and other ingredients ahead of time. Eggs may be quickly warmed by floating them in a bowl of warm water for 15 minutes or so. Flour usually takes at least a couple hours – measure out the portion you need and let it sit covered on the counter.
2. Different muffins call for different flours. Gluten free flours have widely different tastes and textures. While they all have defining characteristics, each of them produces a different end result. Sorghum or brown rice flour are very common choices with muffins. Coconut flour is a great addition for a sweet, yummy muffin. Hazelnut flour is equally as delicious for sweets. The trick is to look at the recipe and then decide if you want to sub in a ¼ cup or ½ of another type of flour. Hint, hint: The taste from hazelnut flour may be just perfect for your chocolate chip muffins.
3. Over-mixing is not a bad word. Read any wheat-based muffin recipe and you’ll see the words, “do not over mix batter” somewhere on the directions. In contrast, you won’t find this with a gluten free muffin recipe. This is because there is no wheat in the batter to watch out for. Wheat works the gluten and can produce heavy results if it’s overworked. One word of caution though – gluten free muffin batters still do not need to be stirred until they’re smooth as silk. Some lumps are ok.
4. The batter will look different. Don’t think you did something wrong when your batter is looking more like a thick cake than a tender muffin. Gluten free batters are thick. The reason is due to the fact that gluten free flours absorb more moisture than wheat flours.
5. Give those muffins a good rest time. Once you’ve portioned out your muffins, allow them to sit in the pans for about 5 minutes before popping them into the oven. This is a secret little trick to baking muffins with nicely rounded tops.
6. Gums are necessary in gluten free muffins. You may have heard of xanthan gum or guar gum. These stabilizers take the place of the gluten that’s in wheat based recipes. Adding a stabilizer creates that wonderful, bread texture of a gluten free baked good. Most bakers use xanthan gum, but that is really a personal preference as guar gum is just as effective at achieving the same results.
7. Expandex is great for texture and rising. Expandex is a relatively new product that is used as a thickener
and to give breads a nice full appearance. Expandex is essentially modified tapioca starch and can be used in recipes as a substitute for some of the flours or just as an addition in your recipe. From the Expandex website, “to increase expansion on your sorghum flour-based bread, add ¼ – ½ cup of Expandex.” For muffins, start with a small amount and see if the results give your muffins an added boost.
8. Give your wheat-based muffin recipes a try. Change out your flour, cup for cup for gluten free flour and then add ½ tsp. xanthan gum for every cup of flour. Muffins are quite easy to mix up and since there is usually no rise time, you can check your results fairly quickly.
9. For added moisture, honey, sour cream, yogurt and brown sugar work wonders. These ingredients add a nice punch of moisture to any recipe and work really well with gluten free recipes. If your recipe doesn’t already call for it, try adding in a small amount – you might be pleasantly surprised.
10. Keep a watchful eye on your oven. Your muffins will bake in about the same time that a regular wheat-based muffin recipe will bake. And the same toothpick test also holds true (stick in the toothpick, if it comes out clean, they’re done), but what is different is the rate at which gluten free muffins dry out. It’s almost within a minute. So keep an eye on the baking time and remove them promptly.
Hopefully these 10 tips have given you some golden nuggets for your next muffin baking endeavor. Gluten free muffins are one of the easiest ways to get started with gluten free baking/living – once you master them, you’ll be excited to jump into baking bigger and better things, like yeast breads!