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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Turning Tricks in the Gluten Free Zone

Image: Sea Muffin Bakery. Thanks!

My sister in law just realised a few months ago that she is celiac. Suddenly a reason for why she was always tired, queasy and tended to...um...chunder more than most...OK, ALL people I'd ever met. She had the most sensitive stomach of anyone...now we know why. It's like a miracle - she's got more energy, feels better and as long as she cuts out the gluten she feels great.
Downside to all this tho - good gluten free baking is really hard to come by. Especially breads and muffins...you can buy some premade gluten free rice bread in the local grocery store but have you actually tasted that sh*t? It's like stale cardboard that's been left out to get even more stale...unless you toast it or turn it into french toast you're pretty much out of luck for soft baking...or so I thought.

My brother and I have had a deal the past few years - he loves my muffins, so I bring by a dozen muffins at least once a month if not more...it's an excuse to hang out and visit and he gets yummy baked stuff...fair deal really. I can make people happy with my food - how cool is that?Thing is, this changed when his wife was diagnosed- she'd look sadly at the muffins...often tempted enough to eat one. This was no good. I couldn't bear knowing I was making her ill with delicious foods, so I did some foodsearch, on the hunt for celiac baking recipes and ideas. There are some great gluten free cake mixes out there (honestly, better than a lot of regular cake mixes) but here is what I've come up with for a few gluten free snackeroos for my brother and his wife to make in your own home. I took my muffin recipe I've tweaked and developed over time and altered the volumes and leavening for gluten free baking. You can make your own gluten free flour or by the premade mixes...they're a bit pricey, but usually good. My sister in law recommended Knicknicks ,so I went with them.

Gluten Free Cranberry Walnut Muffins:

1 3/4 c gluten free flour (I used gluten free Knicknicks flour mix)
1 1/2 T baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 t nutmeg

2 eggs
1/2 c melted margarine
2/3 c brown sugar
1 t vanilla
1 c milk

Mix wet together and then all the rest in together well... unlike regular muffins there is no gluten, so no worries about over mixing to get tough muffins (bonus)!
Add 1 overflowing c of cranberries (or any fruit really) and 1/3 c walnuts (or any other nut) and put into greased muffin pan with large muffin papers. Cups will be rather full...this is OK. It won't look quite like regular mix...just ignore it. It's all good.
Bake at 375° for 18-20 minutes until just done: tops will bounce back when you tap them and a toothpick will come out clean and they'll just be starting to brown on the edges. Watch them at the end so you DON'T over bake them...they get dry and crumbly if you do.
The result? Light, fluffy muffins...usually devoured before my very eyes. Gluten free baking is best eaten within 1-2 days or frozen for storage until eaten...putting it in the fridge makes it go all grainy and crumbly otherwise...and I dare ya to tell these are gluten free. They are indeed tasty-my brother can't tell the difference. Make the recipe 1T baking powder and 2 c regular flour for regular muffins...they are my universal muffin recipe. Add any fruit or nut and they are fantastic...Don't skimp on the butter if you can help it (you can add sour cream or yogurt for part of it if you must)...it really helps keep the muffins moist.

Also, thanks to the great Jennifer McGann over at Vegan Lunchbox, I found a great gluten free (sugar free) vegan cookie recipe this weekend. They are also pretty tasty - cakey and soft and very good for you:

Gluten Free Vegan Banana Oat Cookies:

2 c oat flour (gluten free oats ground to flour in a food processor or gluten free oat flour)
4 very ripe bananas, smooshed up with a hand mixer into a smooth gooeyness
1/2 c dates, chopped up fine
1/2 c sunflower seeds
1 t cinnamon
3/4 t baking soda

Mix up and drop onto a baking stone (or cookies sheet lined with pastry paper) by the tablespoonful - you get 24 cookies out of this. Bake at 350° for about 12 minutes, until they just start to brown up on the edges and spring back when you tap them. They will be soft and spongy, not hard. These cookies are yummy - not overly sweet, except for the odd bit of date sweetness. If you like your cookies sweeter, you could add chocolate chips or raisins (EVIL!) to these I'm sure...I really like them. I'm all for healthy treats.


So there you go - try out some gluten free nibbles.
If anyone out there in the interweb has any great gluten free recipes, please pass them my way. I'm interested to try them out...my sister in law will tahnk you :)

2 comments:

diddums said...

I did a search on my hard drive but there's nothing. Hopefully I'll come across something later.

Crabby McSlacker said...

Oh cool--my sister in law just found out she's got the same thing and has been struggling to find gluten free recipes and resources. Thanks!