Intuitively, I’ve always known that there must be a formula for determining ingredients in recipes, in particular baked goods. But I never really tried or even knew that you could crack the code. That is until a few months ago when I read a book called Ratio by Michael Ruhlman. It changed forever how I think about baking. It gave me permission to enter the playground that is gluten free baking.
And now my kitchen is constantly humming and buzzing and whirring with the sound of my stand mixer or my hand mixer or my food processor. Walk into my house almost any day and you’ll find me scribbling down notes as I create my own recipes or wearing an apron and making/baking yet something else for us to snack on and for me to blog about. Do I have a job, you ask? Yes, I have a job. My husband and I are fulltime children’s musicians. Thankfully, when we’re not recording music or touring, I’m happy to be at home playing in our kitchen.
Weight, you ask? Have I gained weight? Nope. Frankly, I can’t believe how much my weight has stabilized since I began eating an almost completely vegan diet, even with the fairly regular addition of baked goods in my diet. And that my friends, is good news for the animals, for the planet, and for my health!
So, let me share today’s creation. I woke up this morning with cranberries on my mind. And crystallized ginger. And muffins.
Before I continue, please let me share with you a most amazing discovery. Do you remember chia pets? They were all the rage, oh, maybe back in the 70’s or 80’s. Those little clay animals with ridges all over their backs – you’d spill chia seeds on them and water them and they’d sprout grass.
Well, guess what? Those chia seeds are back. But they’re not being used to water decorative pieces! They’re used in baking to replace eggs. And they are nutritional powerhouses. They’re very rich in omega-3 fatty acids, even more than flax seeds. And they are so full of antioxidants that the seeds don’t deteriorate and can be stored for a very long time without becoming rancid. Nor do they need to be ground in order to make their nutrients available to the body. In fact, I tried grinding them in a mini food processor and it didn’t really work. Oh yes, and by the way, looking to add fiber to your diet and don’t want to drink that nasty orange stuff? Chia seeds provide fiber (25 grams give you 6.9 grams of fiber) as well as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin, and zinc. Are you convinced yet??!!
So far I’ve used the chia seeds to make gluten free sandwich bread, chocolate chip cookies, and now these Cranberry Ginger Muffins. And it worked perfectly each time. I’m definitely sold.
They’re a bit hard to find, though I think you can order them online. I bought my last bag at a small, local health store and I’ve seen them at Whole Foods. They do a similar job to flaxseeds when replacing eggs, but personally, I really like the way chia seeds perform.
You might be intimidated by what appears to be a long list of flours and/or starches in my gluten free baked goods. Know this: my goal is twofold – I want to make delicious-tasting baked goods, but I don’t want to sacrifice nutrition. I was 50 years old when I was diagnosed with Celiac. I believe I had it for a VERY long time, maybe since childhood. For all those years that I was feeding myself but not absorbing nutrients, I feel that I have some making up to do. So, I try, when possible to use a blend of flours and starches, and I try to make sure that some of them are high in nutrition. I could go into a long, detailed explanation, but let it suffice to say that I aim for nutritious and delicious when I bake gluten free.
Cranberry Ginger Muffins
makes 12 muffins
1/2 cup teff flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/4 cup sweet white rice flour
1/4 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup millet flour
1/4 cup light buckwheat flour
2 tbsp tapioca starch
2 tbsp arrowroot
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp guar gum
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk (room temperature is best, I used hemp milk, but any alternative milk will do)
1/4 cup canola or grapeseed or safflower oil
1 cup fresh cranberries
2 tbsp crystallized chopped ginger
granulated sugar for sprinkling
1 tbsp chia seeds
1/4 cup boiling water
Thirty minutes before making the muffins, pour the 1/4 cup of boiling water over the chia seeds. Allow the mixture to sit and gel.
Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and blend with a whisk. Set aside.
Mix the wet ingredients in a measuring cup or a small bowl until well-combined. Add to the dry ingredients and blend. Add the chia seed mixture. Finally, add the cranberries and crystallized ginger. Blend well though be careful not to overmix the batter.
Use a spoon or a small ice cream scoop (sprayed first with vegetable spray) to pour the batter into your muffin tin. Sprinkle the top of each muffin, before baking, with a small amount of granulated sugar. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. I would recommend that you let these rest in the muffin tin for about five minutes before taking them out and letting them rest further on a cooling rack. I find that many gluten free baked goods really need some time to set up AFTER they bake.
By the way, though I haven’t tried it, I feel pretty confident that you can substitute the equivalent of two eggs using Energ-G Egg replacement and water. Check the box for instructions.
Enjoy! Hey, and if you are yearning for a particular baked good and need to find a gluten free recipe for it, let me know. I love a good challenge!