Gluten-free baking can be kind of disappointing when you first venture out into the gluten-free world. Some baked goods turn out too dry, taste a little off, or the dough is so sticky you get frustrated trying to get it to do anything. The gluten-free baking mixes available these days make things much easier, but you still have to read the ingredient list as many mixes contain a lot of different (and uncommon) ingredients that you may not be able to tolerate. Some of the most important things I’ve realized while baking gluten-free :
- use strong flavors (like cinnamon/nutmeg, dark chocolate, citrus, tart fruits, etc.);
- decrease the baking time (I always set my timer for less time than any recipe calls for, and check on my baked good to see if it needs a little more time. It doesn’t harm anything if it needs more cook time in the oven, but once you overbake, it’s over);
- don’t overmix your ingredients; the batter/dough will not recover.
Now, on to the gluten-free muffins I was craving the other day! The mini blueberry banana muffins I made were delicious, flavorful, and had a great texture. The key in this recipe was packing the muffins with a lot of flavors to overwhelm any potential gluten-free taste. Banana, blueberry, cinnamon, and nutmeg for the win! This recipe began with inspiration from a non-gluten-free recipe for blueberry applesauce muffins that I found on Babble, which looked pretty tasty except for containing gluten, of course. The printable recipe of my version of these muffins is at the bottom of the page.
To make these muffins gluten-free and add my own spin to things, the first step was combining all of the wet ingredients together in one bowl – an egg, vanilla extract (I never measure, it’s just so delicious), 1/4 cup of applesauce, 1/4 cup of canola oil, a few mashed bananas (1-2 depending on the size), and a 1/3 cup of milk or almond milk. I would have used unsweetened almond milk in a heartbeat, which is super low in calories, but V is allergic and I wanted her to be able to eat these muffins, so I used the 2% milk we had in the fridge. Also, instead of the applesauce you can use all canola or vegetable oil if you prefer. I used one small applesauce container and a 1/4 cup of oil. I have also been known to use squeezy applesauce if I’m out of the containers. You can substitute applesauce for oil in most baking recipes to make things healthier, but I wouldn’t suggest it for recipes containing butter.
The next step was combining all of the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. I mixed together 1 ½ cups of gluten-free flour blend, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 1/2 cup of sugar, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg and 3/4 teaspoon of salt. The gluten-free multi-purpose flour blend that I used for this recipe already contained xanthan gum (a common ingredient used to mimic the elasticity/texture of gluten). Because gluten-free flour can contain a mix of different kinds of things like potato starch, rice flour, nut flours, etc., you may have to go through a few blends to find one that you like the best, both in taste, and the ingredients (I don’t like ones that contain bean flour, for instance). Things can get a weird taste to them, get a funny texture, or simply contain something that you find you cannot tolerate. An additional challenge is if you are allergic to tree nuts. You have to be careful to buy the gluten-free flour blends that do not contain any nuts (a lot of mixes can contain almond flour). I always check ingredients to make sure everything is safe for V to eat with her nut allergy.
In a third small bowl, I placed 1 ¼ cups (or a heaping cup) of blueberries tossed with a small amount of gluten-free flour so that they don’t sink to the bottom of the muffins.
Next, I combined the wet ingredients and dry ingredients, mixing them lightly together. With gluten-free products, you REALLY don’t want to overmix because they have enough trouble with texture on their own. Last, I gently added and mixed in the blueberries.
I spooned the batter into my mini muffin pan (the kids had lined the pan with mini muffin liners ahead of time, which was a great project for them). The best part is, right before they go into the oven, you can sprinkle the muffin tops with a little sugar. The recipe doesn’t call for that much white sugar, so this addition will not make them too sweet. It will also make them nice and crunchy on top! I didn’t do it this time, and I regretted it. I missed my crunch.
My muffins needed a solid 20 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees before they were nice and golden brown. I barely let them cool before I peeled the muffin liner off of one and ate it! They were delicious – moist inside, didn’t taste gluten-free, and a lot of great banana taste. I had enough batter to fill my mini muffin pan, plus 3 additional full sized muffins.
A word of caution: These muffins tasted great the day I made them, especially warm. BUT, I had them the following day and they were starting to get a gritty, gluten-free “off” taste to them. So I would suggest eating them the day you make them, or freezing on the same day and warming them in the microwave.
Gluten-Free Mini Blueberry Banana Muffins
• 1 egg
• splash of vanilla extract
• 1/4 cup of applesauce (or you can substitute canola or vegetable oil instead)
• 1/4 cup of canola oil or vegetable oil
• 1-2 mashed up bananas. Make sure you mash it well so it isn’t too chunky when you add it to the liquids.
• 1/3 cup of milk (you can also substitute almond milk)
• 1 ½ cups of gluten-free flour blend (needs to contain xanthan gum already)
• 2 teaspoons of baking powder
• 1/2 cup of white sugar (with an additional small amount set aside for sprinkling the tops of the muffins if you want)
• 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
• A pinch of nutmeg
• 3/4 teaspoon of salt
• 1 ¼ cups (a heaping cup) of blueberries (with a small amount of GF flour tossed with them)
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine egg, vanilla extract, applesauce, oil, mashed banana, and milk in one bowl. In a second bowl, combine gluten-free flour blend, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. In a third small bowl, toss rinsed blueberries with a small amount of gluten-free flour. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined. Gently mix the blueberries into the batter. Scoop the batter into a mini muffin pan lined with mini muffin baking cups or sprayed with cooking spray. If you wish, sprinkle a little extra white sugar on top of the batter before placing into the oven. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the muffin comes out clean. Cool in pan for a few minutes; serve warm.