Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Coffee Cake Muffins (GF) and Rosehip Tea

When I first started making gluten free baked goods I didn't see what the big deal was. I was able to create very successful treats by simply substituting the flour in recipes with one of several flour blends that I found to be very reliable. But recently I have had a taste of the frustration that can come with baking gluten free. On more than several occasions- including the coffee cake muffins I am posting about right now- the cake itself has risen much too quickly and then fallen, creating an annoying large indent smack dab in the center.

In many cases (cupcakes, cakes, etc.) it is quite simple to hide the cake crater by piling on the frosting, whipped cream, or whatever other garnish. But with muffins, there is no way to hide it. Sure, the taste is amazing. But what to do if you want it to look good as well?

Answer: adjust the leavening. Easier said than done, right? I looked through tons of muffin recipes- gluten free and not- trying to find an average ratio of baking soda to baking powder to xanthan gum. There is no average. Every recipe is so different. So I decided the only conclusion was to experiment on my own.

Finally after three tries and numerous adjustments, I made the muffins work. I would have never thought something as simple as a muffin could be so complicated. It is not that my first two attempts were awful. In fact, most of the photos in this post are of the very first ones I made with a streusel of toasted steel cut oats. I just was not completely satisfied, so I saw this little baking venture as a learning opportunity.

On another note, I have been loving discovering new things on my walks every day. I was so excited when I found a thicket of rose bushes ornamented with hundreds of colorful rose hips. I steeped the fruit in hot water to make a pleasant citrus-y tea to pair with the moist cakes topped with a crumbly and buttery almond- brown sugar strusel.

As I was picking the rose hips, cottontail rabbits were scampering into the bushes to hide from an approaching storm. The sky was dark blue and marvelous. I snapped some photos of the churro sheep who came up to the fence to greet me and some of the many apples that I have seen weighing down every other tree this year. Even the crab apples are pretty and worth stopping to admire.

And how could I not write about the beautiful harvest moon that has risen over the Sandia mountains the past few nights? The great big, brilliant circle of light shone just right on the golden aspens in the canyons between the jagged, rocky peaks. I love the moonlight glow in the autumn night.

I would love to hear about other experiences with problematic gluten free baked goods. What solutions have you discovered? I think I still have a lot to learn about high altitude adjustments, any tips? :)

Number three is the charm :)

Coffee Cake Muffins (GF)
makes about 8 or 9 muffins


1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1/2 cup almond flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces


1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons Artisan Gluten Free Flour Blend (see Raspberry Scone post)
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon zanthan gum
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg

1. Prepare streusel: In a medium bowl, stir together brown sugar, almond flour, cinnamon, and salt. With a pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles large coarse crumbs; refrigerate until ready to use.
2. Prepare muffins: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a standard muffin tin with nonstick spray. In a small bowl, whisk together flour blend, baking powder, and zanthan gum; set aside.
3. Using an electric mixer, beat together butter, sour cream, granulated sugar, and vanilla on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg until well combined. With mixer on low beat in flour mixture just until combined.
4. Divide half the batter among muffin cups; top with half the streusel. Cover with remaining batter; top with remaining streusel (the muffin cups should be about 3/4 full). Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean 20-25 minutes. Cool in pan 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Recipe adapted from John Barricelli's Coffee- cake muffins in Everyday Baking

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