Over the past few months, several Serious Eats readers requested gluten-free recipes that also avoid the "top eight." (The "top eight" in allergy-speak are the eight most common allergens: wheat, milk, eggs, soy, tree nuts, peanuts, fish, and shellfish.) Since multiple food allergies sometimes make breakfast tricky, I decided to make muffins.
My favorite banana bread muffins served as the recipe base. The goal? To create an allergen-safe version of the recipe that tasted just like the muffins I'm accustomed to eating—which include butter and eggs.
The recipe converted easily to allergen-free. I replaced the eggs with flax meal and the butter with soy-free shortening (coconut oil also worked). Since I was already playing with the ingredients, I made a few other changes; this time for flavor, not for allergy reasons. I swapped the white rice flour for the more flavorful brown rice flour. Combined, the brown rice flour and flax meal brought an almost graham-like flavor to the muffins that I really liked.
At this point, the muffins were good. The taste and texture mirrored my original recipe. Just for fun, I tried replacing the granulated sugar with dark brown sugar. Unlike the other changes, this one didn't work well. The recipe made with dark brown sugar produced muffins that were unappealingly moist. When I nibbled on one, the baked muffin seemed to turn to batter in my mouth. While the texture was clearly a problem, I liked the flavor brown sugar added. The next time around I reached for turbinado sugar. Success! It brought a light caramel flavor to the muffins without making them damp.
After all of this tinkering, I think I might like these muffins even better than the original.
- 1 cup turbinado sugar
- 1 1/2 cups (about thee medium bananas) mashed*, very ripe bananas
- 2 tablespoons ground flax meal
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoon hot water
- 9 ounces (1 2/3 cups) brown rice flour
- 2 ounces (1/3 cup) potato starch
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
- 1/2 cup soy-free shortening
- *To mash, place bananas in a bowl. Use a fork and mash until smooth with no large pieces of bananas remain (small pieces of bananas are fine).
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Line 14 standard muffin cups with paper liners or grease with a non-stick cooking spray. Set pans aside
In small bowl, combine mashed bananas and turbinado sugar. In another small bowl, combine flax meal and hot water. Stir to combine. Allow banana mixture and flax mixture to stand for 10 minutes.
In medium mixing bowl, whisk together brown rice flour, potato starch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and xanthan gum. Set aside.
In large mixing bowl, cream shortening until light and fluffy, about 20 seconds. Add flax meal mixture. Cream until smooth. Scrape down bottom and sides of bowl.
Add half dry ingredients. Blend until smooth. Add banana-sugar mixture. Blend until well incorporated. Add remaining dry ingredients. Blend batter until smooth, about 20 seconds. Batter will be thick.
Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake muffins until deep golden brown, about 25 minutes. Transfer muffins to wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container for up to four days or freeze up to one month.