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Gluten-Free Tuesday: Vegan Banana Bread Muffins

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.

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