Gluten Free Ratio Rally–Muffins

by Karen on April 6th, 2011

Over the past few weeks my kitchen has churned out various Ratio Rally Muffin experiments; I haven’t even bothered to put the tin away. My son is living his dream come true. He is 6’8”– still growing and always hungry –it is the perfect household for testing recipes.

Even the not so perfect baked goods are gobbled up quickly.

You can try these out as well in your kitchen and stack them for kids to satisfy their hunger pangs. Growing children are in need of snacking quite frequently, why not make it healthier and home-based for your little precious fellows.baking is not a lesson, but rather an art which gets at its best only with practice. Make it a practice and soon be a master of it.

If you like to eat baked goods it is best to use the healthier flours of sorghum, millet, buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa, ground oats, ground almonds, or teff—at least they provide some nutritional value!

The Gluten Free Ratio Rally

The Gluten Free Ratio Rally is a collaboration of food bloggers using recipes based on ingredient ratios, which is how commercial bakers operate. This month we take on the topic of muffins and show how you can take a basic recipe ratio and use it for your own creative concoctions or you can simply follow the recipes offered by the Rally group.

I started out testing a cranberry muffin recipe using frozen cranberries and aside from them being a bit tart I discovered a few things along the way about ratios, gums, using the right flour combos and whether to glaze muffins, sprinkle them with sugar or leave the tops plain.

Cranberry Muffin

The cranberry muffin called for a glaze of orange juice and sugar which I tried and I also varied it by using orange juice concentrate and sugar in an attempt to add a bit more flavor.  It looked pretty and shiny but in the end it didn’t add much more than stickiness so I gave it a thumbs down. Instead, a little sprinkling of turbinado sugar on top of each muffin prior to baking adds a sweet touch and enhances the browning of the top—a nice aesthetic, sweet addition.

I also discovered that my favorite is a cake-like muffin with some density though it doesn’t rise as high.  I generally make quick breads instead of muffins so maybe that has something to do with my preference; most quick breads are fairly dense.  For this Ratio Rally I only made muffins.

Favorite Gluten Free Flour Combination for Muffins

My favorite flour combination for muffins is 50% Multi Blend GF flour mix and 50% pure buckwheat flour from The Birkett Mills . The buckwheat flour from Bob’s Red Mill is not GF and it is a darker color (Bob’s is an excellent source for other GF flours).  The Birkett Mills Pocono brand buckwheat flour is lighter so your baked goods don’t look purple and it is GF. If you want additional complexity and interest use 30% Multi Blend, 30% pure buckwheat (or sorghum), 15% finely ground oats, and 15% finely ground almonds or dry milk powder.  Or play around with your flour combination to suit your preferences.

The cranberry muffins improved as they sat on the counter throughout the day but I decided to switch over to blueberries. I began with wild blueberries which are quite a bit smaller and then settled on regular blueberries because they have a better burst of fruit flavor.

Blueberry Muffins, the one on the right has a little turbinado sugar sprinkled on top

Measuring

When developing this recipe I measured the ingredients using cups and spoons according to the recipe and weighed each measurement on a scale to convert it to grams so that more people across the planet could use the recipe.  This is not rocket science but the issue of measuring is filled with questions. Here is how I do it and it always works well:   pour flour into the measuring cup until it looks about right– don’t level it off with a knife and don’t pack it into the cup. The flour is resting lightly in the cup and added to the bowl. If using a scale there is no harm to the recipe to be off by a few grams or even 10 grams (that’s about two teaspoons).  The Multi Blend mix contains a variety of flours with various densities so it is a good replacement for wheat flour cup for cup. It provides consistent successful results with a smooth texture and a very wheat-like taste.

Moisture in gluten free baking

Muffins are fairly forgiving with regards to the amount of liquid used—less liquid gives you a muffin with density while increasing the liquid results in a higher rise, lighter texture, and crumb.  The flour you use also changes things and how you store it (whether you keep your flour open to the air while baking or keep it sealed tightly at all times).  All flour absorbs moisture from the air when it is uncovered (even though it looks quite dry if you have exposed it to the air it can be full of moisture which will affect your baked goods). Keep this in mind and hold back some of the liquid in your recipe if your flour is often uncovered.  This is one reason why commercial kitchens weigh their flours—their huge bins of flour are often left open to the air for long periods of time. They are also baking in large volume and weighing is optimum for that kind of production.  Other good information to know:  the Multi Blend mix, sorghum, and millet flours don’t absorb as much liquid as buckwheat, amaranth, ground oats, ground almonds, or teff.  If you add any of the last four flours into your recipe your muffin will be hearty and it won’t rise as high which will disappoint some people.

The ratio that Michael Ruhlman uses for muffins is a 2:2:1:1 of flour:liquid:egg:fat

My recipe is closer to a 2:1:1:1 ratio to achieve a more cake-like muffin.

I hope you enjoy it.

With all the baking going on you’d think I’d have more pictures! Blueberry Muffins…the last batch.

GLUTEN FREE BLUEBERRY MUFFINS

½ cup (78grams) Multi Blend Gluten Free Flour Mix
½ cup (58 grams) sweet sorghum flour
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons (39 grams) finely ground gluten free oats
1/8 cup dry milk powder (8 grams) or finely ground almonds (19 grams)
½ teaspoon (2 grams) guar gum or xanthan gum
2/3 cup (116 grams) sugar
2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder
¼ teaspoon (1 gram) salt
1/3 cup (85 grams) milk
¼ cup (50 grams) canola oil
1 egg (50 grams)
1 cup (114 grams) blueberries

Combine all dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Add blueberries to dry ingredients and coat each one with the flour mixture. Combine all wet ingredients, whisking the egg into the oil and milk, pour over the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Spoon into muffin tin, about 1/3 full into each compartment.  Lightly sprinkle the top of each muffin with a bit of turbinado sugar. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 20-25 minutes.  Let muffins cool in pan for 5 minutes and remove to a cooling rack.