Baking

Gluten-Free Goodness: banana chocolate chip muffins

This past weekend I made a batch of gluten-free banana chocolate chip muffins. While I don’t have celiac disease or a sensitivity to gluten, I do like experimenting with different grains and flours, and I do see the benefit of including a variety of grains in my diet instead of just eating the same wheat-full ingredients all of the time.

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When I first started experimenting with gluten-free flours, I had no idea how they would react and what kind of product they would create. I took out a few books from the library and I found lots of recipes on the internet. For the most part, I found that many of the books I read had overcomplicated recipes that used ingredients that I never had on hand. At first I believed that this was just the reality of gluten-free baking. Not so! Sure, you will have to seek out some new flours, but most of the recipes that I use on a regular basis don’t call for some of the more unconventional ingredients like xanthan gum or agar agar – popular leavening and thickening agents in gluten-free recipes (and in many commercially made products that you likely already eat). That being said, there’s no need to reject a recipe if they call for these plant-based ingredients. They’re not harmful to your health and are easy to find in pretty much any city-based grocery store these days. I do have these ingredients on hand, but mostly because I don’t use them often, and a small pouch of each lasts me a long time.

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While a lot of gluten-free recipes call for white rice flour, I am not a fan of the grainy texture that it produces in baked goods. White rice flour is also not particularly nutritious, IMG_2350so I tend to look for other options. I’ve also found many recipes that call for almond flour. I do love its taste and texture, but it is quite pricey and sometimes too moist for goodies that I don’t plan on eating right away. However, if you need something to go with your afternoon or evening tea, here is a fantastic gluten-free almond flour scone recipe that works up in a snap.

Getting back to the task at hand, my go-to blend when I want to whip up a batch of muffins or cookies is a mixture of sorghum flour, oat flour and tapioca starch. Please keep in mind that all oats are not necessarily gluten-free, becoming cross-contaminated with wheat, barley and rye as they go from field to fork (or spoon, as the case may be). You’ll want to ensure that your oats are free from cross-contamination if you are feeding someone who is very sensitive to gluten, but this needn’t be a concern if you are just interested in trying out some new flours. Instead of buying oat flour, I just use my coffee grinder to grind oats into a flour. It’s pretty quick and this way I don’t have to worry about my oat flour going rancid from sitting around too long.

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Easy Peasy Go-to Gluten-free flour blend:
3/4 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup oat flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch

The recipe that I used for these particular muffins is adapted from this King Arthur Flour recipe. It’s a simple base recipe that can be easily modified for my baking whims.

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Gluten-free Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

1/3 cup sunflower oil
1/2 cup brown sugar, not packed
2 flax eggs (see recipe from previous blog post)
2 medium mashed bananas
1/2 cup almond milk
1 1/2 cups of go-to gluten-free flour blend
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup fair trade chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease 12 muffin cups or use reusable silicone muffin cups.

In a large bowl, stir together the oil and sugar.

Add the flax eggs and mix well until blended.

Add the mashed bananas, almond milk, gluten-free flour, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix until blended.

Stir in the walnuts and chocolate chips.

Spoon the batter into prepared muffin cups and let the batter rest for about 10 minutes before baking.

Bake for 18-22 minutes.

IMG_2298If you prefer, you can substitute the chocolate chips for
a berry or dried fruit of your choice. Nuts are, of course, optional and can be substituted or omitted according to your preference. I did find that this recipe makes 12 small muffins. The next time I use this recipe I may adjust it to make a little more batter. Although I wouldn’t necessarily make these for my son since they have more sugar than I like to feed him, they are definitely a nice treat for me! He didn’t miss out completely, though. He had a hand (literally) in making them.

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Shortly after writing this blog I made another trip to the library to find a gluten-free recipe book with a pizza dough recipe. I ended up finding a great book that is of the same opinion when it comes to using alternatives to xanthan gums, etc. The recipes rarely call for rice flour and are nice and simple, without too many ingredients. The book Against the Grain by Nancy Cain is available through any Greater Victoria Public Library and Russell Books!

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