I am not a fan of muffins that have a cake-type texture. I like the muffins, whether wheat-based or gluten-free, to be deli-or café-style, hearty, and generously sized. That’s exactly how I have created these tasty Gluten-free Blueberry Zucchini Muffins to be! Continue reading Gluten-free Blueberry Zucchini Muffins
Blueberry muffins are a favorite and, while I have a “go-to” recipe for blueberry muffins that calls for regular gluten flour, I did not have one that was gluten-free. So, I set about developing one of my own and this is the result. My aim was to create a bistro, or deli-style, muffin and I am pleased with the end result.
I have discovered several things about gluten-free muffin making. First, some gluten-free flours have a “grainy”, or an almost “gritty”, texture to them and this will come through in the baked item. Some flours can result in, what I would describe as, gummy texture products. Hence, not all gluten-free flours yield good textured muffins. And, in my view, some gluten-free flours just don’t have a pleasing taste. Second, I find gluten-free flours seem to react differently than gluten flours to leavening. And, third, it often takes more ingredients and flavor boosters to end up with a tasty muffin that, as closely as possible, replicates a regular muffin. The remedies? It often takes a combination of more than one gluten-free flour to arrive at a satisfactory result. I add more leavening to my gluten-free muffins than I would usually add to gluten muffins to get that lovely gentle dome shape on the top that is so desired in muffin making. I bump up the spices and other flavorings (e.g., orange juice, maple syrup, orange rind, and applesauce) to get deep appetizing flavor.
My favorite gluten-free flours to use in muffins are a combination of coconut flour, almond flour, and gluten-free oat flour. I use these in combination with gluten-free all-purpose flour. I find that, if I use just the gluten-free all-purpose flour for the recipe’s entire flour content, the muffins often lack sufficient structure, flavor, and I sometimes detect a grainy/gritty texture. Adding a combination of other flours with different textures tends to solve this problem for me. The coconut and almond flours add beautiful flavor to baked foods. The addition of some potato starch and xanthan gum also helps with structure and crumb texture. With the availability of bulk food stores, it is easy and convenient to purchase just the amounts of specialty flours and starches called for in recipes rather than having to buy large, expensive bags of them. It’s also a better way to ensure fresher product.
My gluten-free blueberry muffin recipe calls for either eggnog, almond milk, or whole milk. I have tested this recipe with all three products and had equally good results but must say that the eggnog makes the richest muffins with the most pleasing and complex flavor. However, to make the muffins dairy-free, by all means, use almond milk – it works very well. The recipe calls for maple syrup and plain works fine. I had some lavender and chai infused maple syrup on hand and, since the lavender plays well with blueberries, it added a layer of pleasing flavor complexity. Some recipes just do require a layering of flavors and, sometimes, one might think that such a small amount of an ingredient called for could be left out of the recipe with no notice; however, I believe all called-for ingredients in a recipe contribute to the end result, even if they are just playing small supporting roles and are not the main star of the recipe.
This recipe for blueberry muffins makes one dozen muffins and the muffin cup size should be one-half cup capacity. I like to use my square muffin tins for many muffin recipes. Apart from simply liking the shape, the square muffins are easy to wrap, store, and freeze. Several times a year, I go on a muffin-making frolic, making different kinds of muffins for the freezer. I will bag up different varieties and freeze them so they are quick and easy to pull out for weekday coffeebreaks at work. If a muffin does not freeze well, it will not get added to my repertoire of batch-making muffins. These blueberry muffins freeze very well.
To get the desired dome-shaped muffin, the muffins need to start out in a relatively high oven temperature – i.e., 450F. Using the high temperature to begin the baking process allows the outside of the muffin to quickly set while still allowing the inside to continue to rise. This also gives that nice soft muffin top. As soon as I place the muffins in the oven, I drop the temperature back to 400F.
The texture of a good muffin should have a loose, coarse interior crumb, like those shown in the photograph above. Do not overmix muffin batter as this will cause the muffins to be tough, rubbery, and somewhat heavy. Stir only until the dry ingredients are just barely incorporated. In fact, in muffins in which I am adding fruit (which gets added last, using the “folding” technique), I don’t completely incorporate all the dry ingredients to the wet because, when the fruit is folded in, the dry ingredients will get further incorporated then. The batter should be lumpy, not smooth.
Muffins will quickly dry out if they are overbaked. I have found, in my oven, that about 20 minutes bakes these muffins perfectly but, as every oven is a bit different, I suggest checking the muffins at about the 16-17 minute mark and, just as soon as they spring back to a light finger touch, insert a cake tester or toothpick into the center of a muffin – if it comes out clean, the muffins are done. Let the baked muffins rest in the baking tin for 5-7 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling.
[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]
The Bistro’s Gluten-free Blueberry Muffins
1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
1/3 cup coconut flour
1/3 cup almond flour
¼ cup gluten-free oat flour
2 tbsp potato starch
1½ tsp xanthan gum
¼ cup gluten-free large flake rolled oats
5½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp allspice
1½ tbsp ground flax seed
2/3 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tbsp finely grated orange rind
2 large eggs (room temperature), lightly beaten
2/3 cup eggnog, almond milk, or whole milk
½ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup orange juice
1½ tsp vanilla
2 tbsp maple syrup, plain or flavor-infused (e.g., lavender and chai)
1/3 cup applesauce
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Use muffin tins with cups that have ½-cup holding capacity. Prepare muffin tins by greasing or spraying each muffin cup with cooking oil, ensuring the top of the muffin tin is also well greased.
In large bowl, combine the dry ingredients and grated orange rind by whisking very well. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and set aside.
In separate bowl, or large measuring cup, whisk together the lightly beaten eggs, eggnog (or almond or whole milk), oil, orange juice, vanilla, maple syrup, and applesauce.
Pour wet ingredients into well in the dry ingredients. Combine just until dry ingredients are barely incorporated. Do not overmix. Gently fold in the blueberries.
Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins, filling almost to the muffin cup rim. Let batter sit for 5 minutes before baking.
Transfer muffins to oven and immediately reduce heat to 400°F. Bake 18-20 minutes or until muffins are just firm to the touch and a cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
Let muffins rest in muffin cups for 5-7 minutes then gently remove from pan and transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
Yield: Apx. 12 muffins
These flavor-packed deli-style gluten-free blueberry muffins are light and moist with a tender crumb.Hard to believe they are gluten free!
- 1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup coconut flour
- 1/3 cup almond flour
- ¼ cup gluten-free oat flour
- 2 tbsp potato starch
- 1½ tsp xanthan gum
- ¼ cup gluten-free large flake rolled oats
- 5½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- ¼ tsp allspice
- 1½ tbsp ground flax seed
- 2/3 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1 tbsp finely grated orange rind
- 2 large eggs (room temperature), lightly beaten
- 2/3 cup eggnog, almond milk, or whole milk
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- ¼ cup orange juice
- 1½ tsp vanilla
- 2 tbsp maple syrup, plain or flavor-infused (e.g., lavender and chai)
- 1/3 cup applesauce
- 1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
- Preheat oven to 450°F.
- Use muffin tins with cups that have ½-cup holding capacity. Prepare muffin tins by greasing or spraying each muffin cup with cooking oil, ensuring the top of the muffin tin is also well greased.
- In large bowl, combine the dry ingredients and grated orange rind by whisking very well. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and set aside.
- In separate bowl, or large measuring cup, whisk together the lightly beaten eggs, eggnog (or almond or whole milk), oil, orange juice, vanilla, maple syrup, and applesauce.
- Pour wet ingredients into well in the dry ingredients. Combine just until dry ingredients are barely incorporated. Do not overmix. Gently fold in the blueberries.
- Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins, filling almost to the muffin cup rim. Let batter sit for 5 minutes before baking.
- Transfer muffins to oven and immediately reduce heat to 400°F. Bake 18-20 minutes or until muffins are just firm to the touch and a cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
- Let muffins rest in muffin cups for 5-7 minutes then gently remove from pan and transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
Please be sure to read the entire blog posting that accompanies this recipe as it contains several tips and hints on making gluten-free muffins.
For other great gluten-free muffin recipes from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the links below:
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I am a big believer in meal planning and follow it regularly. I recommend meal planning for several reasons:
- Eliminates last minute meal planning – that’s when you leave work with no idea what’s for dinner and, suddenly, as you pass a supermarket with a deli or prepared food section or a fast food outlet and, well, you know the story – that becomes dinner.
- Saves money and reduces food waste – have a plan in mind for using leftover meat such as ham, turkey, or roast beef. For example, use the leftover meat in sandwiches, casseroles, and/or soups. These are great ways to stretch the food dollar and eliminate food waste.
- Healthier way to eat – You will eat less pre-packaged foods that often have way too many preservatives, additives, and other unhealthy ingredients. Meal planning means you are in control, to the extent possible, of what is in your food.
- Less stress – Once you have a plan in place for meals for the week, you don’t have to stress each day over what to make for meals.
The keys to good meal planning are:
- Make meals with ingredients you know your family will like – doesn’t have to be fancy, new, or creative. Sometimes, the old faithful comfort foods are the best.
- Make the meal plan on the weekend and formulate the shopping list BEFORE you go to the supermarket and then stick to the plan, avoiding distractions of already-prepared or frozen entrées that supermarkets display to tempt shoppers.
- Make your To-Do list for the meal preparation for the week – for example, if you are making baked beans on Saturday, get those beans soaking overnight on Friday evening.
- Read each recipe carefully to ensure you will have all the ingredients and that the method is easy to understand and do-able in the time in which you have to do the food preparation.
- Watch the supermarket sales flyers. Know your favorite dishes and buy ingredients for them when they are on sale. You’ll be more likely to stick to a meal plan if you already have most or all of the ingredients for a recipe on hand.
- Plan around what’s in season. One of my favorite soups is cream of cauliflower which freezes well (provided whole milk, not fat-reduced, is used). I make several batches of this soup each fall when the locally-grown cauliflower is in season. I would not make it, however, in January with imported cauliflower that has traveled thousands of miles for days and is highly priced. Good meal planning needs to take place, on an ongoing basis, throughout the year.
Here is my suggested meal plan for the upcoming week, focusing primarily on dinners with some suggestions for a couple of lunches making the most of a boiled picnic ham. I’ve provided a list of the main ingredients that, for the most part, would probably involve a shopping trip to the supermarket for most. However, as always, read each recipe thoroughly and carefully to create your own shopping list as I have not listed what I consider to be “staple” items like milk, butter, eggs, spices, etc. Click on the green hotlinks to access the recipes.
Blueberry Muffins – These are great breakfast or coffee break muffins and they freeze very well. Nice treat to start off the week!
Shopping List: Blueberries (fresh or frozen), orange juice, orange rind
Shopping List: Ground beef, onion, prepared mustard, tomato soup, dry onion soup mix, graham wafer crumbs, fine bread crumbs, garlic powder, vegetables of choice
At least once every winter, I have to have a dose of this yummy comfort food! Drizzle with brown sugar sauce for an extra-special treat!
Shopping List: Applesauce, molasses, coffee
Homemade White Bread – This is always such a treat! This bread will be super good with the ham sandwiches this week!
Shopping List: All-purpose flour, dry yeast, milk, butter/shortening
Dinner: Old-fashioned Boiled Ham Dinner – This is truly dinner-in-a-pot and is my definition of “comfort food”! The meat and vegetables are all cooked in the same broth in the same pot. Make sure you cook enough veggies for Wednesday night as this always tastes even better the second day. Easy to heat the vegetables in the microwave and, poof, you have two nights’ meals prepared in one effort. You’ll want those mustard pickles or mustard beans with this dinner!
Shopping List: Smoked pork picnic shoulder (ham), parsnips, carrots, rutabaga (turnip), potatoes
Dessert: Blueberry Grunt
This is such an incredibly yummy dessert – serve it with your favorite vanilla ice cream!
Shopping List: Blueberries (fresh or frozen) and lemon rind, vanilla ice cream
Lunch: Ham Sandwiches made with homemade white bread! Don’t forget the mustard!
Dinner: Leftover boiled ham dinner from Tuesday.
Dessert: Cherry Wink Cookies
Shopping List: Dates, cornflake crumbs, maraschino cherries
Homemade Tea Biscuits
Shopping list: Whole milk, whipping cream, unsalted butter
Lunch: Ham Salad Sandwiches
Shopping List: Sweet pickle relish, Dijon mustard, maple syrup, celery, red pepper, mayonnaise, Havarti cheese
Dinner: Hawaiian Fiesta Casserole – this is a great way to use up left-over cooked ham and stretch its use. Serve these with those tasty biscuits and perhaps a green salad!
Shopping List: Rice, cream of celery soup, sour cream, liquid chicken bouillon, broccoli, canned pineapple chunks, Parmesan cheese, fine bread crumbs, leftover cooked ham, and ingredients for a green salad and dressing
Dessert: Decadent Chocolate Chip Squares
Shopping List: Chocolate chips and coconut
Dinner: Mac ‘n Cheese with a green salad and homemade tea biscuits
Shopping List: Elbow macaroni, liquid chicken bouillon, cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, salad ingredients and dressing
Dessert: Cinnamon Sweet Bread
Shopping List: Staple baking ingredients
Dinner: Maple-Orange Sauced Chicken Breasts with Rice
An extra special weekend treat!
Shopping List: Boneless skinless chicken breasts, onion, fennel, orange juice, orange rind, chicken stock, maple syrup, orange marmalade, rice
Dessert: Coconut Cream Pie
One of the best pies going!
Shopping List: 9” pie shell, coconut milk, whole milk or cream, sweetened shredded coconut
Sunday Breakfast: Pancakes
Dinner: Bistro Burgers with Home Fries
Shopping List: Ground chuck, mayonnaise, maple syrup, ketchup, rhubarb relish, Dijon mustard, sour cream, onion salt, Parmesan cheese, Blueberry BBQ sauce, dry onion soup mix, bread crumbs, Cheddar cheese slices, red onion, tomato, prosciutto, fresh pineapple, bread and butter pickles, hamburger rolls, potatoes (for home fries)
Dessert: Leftover Coconut Cream Pie
Meal planning can be a challenge, especially with high food prices, ingredient availability (particularly in winter for fresh local ingredients) and, of course, for those who are busy and time-challenged. However, with having a plan in place and establishing a routine for meal preparation, it is a way to eat better, save money, reduce food waste, and eliminate the stress of last-minute meal preparation that can sometimes result in unhealthy food choices. For those with children, it’s a good way to help them make good food choices and engage them in meal preparation by assigning them tasks to help with the work of making meals.
A number of years ago, I discovered a high-bush blueberry U-pick in Tryon, PEI. The berries are so easy to pick and the bushes were just laden with these huge plump blueberries.
Grower, Jennifer Murray, says she has five varieties of these tasty blueberries growing in this field.
Unlike their tiny wild blueberry counterparts that grow low to the ground, these are easy and clean picking – no blueberry-stained fingers. I have been back to their field twice since they opened just last week.
Today, I am featuring these blueberries in muffins. I have purposely chosen a light-colored batter that is cake-like in texture so that the blueberries really show up. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
I like the flavor combination of blueberries and orange so I have added some orange juice and finely grated orange rind to the batter. I used my square muffin tins for these muffins but they would be equally as lovely (and just as tasty!) in traditional round muffin tins. I do a lot of batch-baking and freezing of muffins and sweet breads to have them ready for weekday coffeebreaks at work. I split and butter the muffins before individually wrapping and storing them in the freezer. The benefit of these square tins is that I find the muffins pack away easier than the round ones do plus they add variety and interest to appearance of the baked goods.
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
3½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp finely grated orange rind
¾ cup milk
¼ cup orange juice
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
1½ cups fresh or frozen blueberries, tossed with about 1 tbsp flour
Sift dry ingredients together into a large bowl.
Gently fold blueberries into batter.
Yield: 12 muffins
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 3½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp finely grated orange rind
- 2 eggs
- ¾ cup milk
- ¼ cup orange juice
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1½ cups fresh or frozen blueberries, tossed with about 1 tbsp flour
- Assemble ingredients.
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Sift dry ingredients together into a large bowl. Stir in the grated orange rind. Make a well in the centre of the ingredients. Set bowl aside.
- In a 2-cup measuring cup or small bowl, beat eggs lightly. Add milk, orange juice, oil, and vanilla. Stir or whisk together well. Pour into well in dry ingredients. Stir just until most of the dry ingredients are incorporated.
- Gently fold blueberries into batter. Do not overmix. This will create a tough muffin and one that has blue batter!
- Spoon mixture into greased or paper-lined muffin tins, filling each between ⅔ and ¾ full.
- Bake 16-20 minutes or until muffins spring back to a light touch and/or a cake tester inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.
Yield: 11-12 muffins, depending on size of muffin tins.
For my gluten-free Blueberry Muffin recipe, click here.
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