I’ve been on a quest to make gluten-free baked goodies all taste wonderfully soft and moist inside. It’s hard to get the right balance of flour to liquid when you’re baking gluten-free, and cakes, cupcakes, muffins, biscuits, bread and all such things, and they can easily come out of the oven too dry and crumbly. Generally, I reckon you need to use more liquid than when cooking with flour that contains gluten, as gluten-free flours generally soak up liquid when they’re cooking. But the difficulty is that different flours and starches soak up different amounts of liquid…
In the past, I’ve sometimes had to test and retest until the recipe is right. (Peter and Zoë have never minded tasting up to 3 versions of a cake, so it hasn’t been a problem!) I would dream up the recipe in theory, and then work out how to make it. But recently I’ve been working much more instinctively, and finding that it’s a better method. I made these muffins on the spur of the moment – with ingredients from my storecupboard and fridge – and making it up as I went along. I mixed everything I thought should go in, tasted it and decided what else it needed. And I poured in the amount of dairy-free milk I was expecting to use and then just added more and more until it felt right. And you know what, these muffins worked perfectly. They came out of the oven with a lovely firm texture on the outside, and a gorgeously soft, moist inside. And they taste great. Yay! From now on, I’ve decided that I’m going to trust my instinct more – and wing it more – and see what happens…
* gluten-free, wheat-free, yeast-free, nut-free (unless using nut milk), seed-free, citrus-free
- 100g/3½oz/heaped ½ cup rice flour
- 50g/1¾oz/scant ½ cup gram flour
- 50g/1¾oz/⅓ cup maize flour
- 2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
- ½ tsp xanthan gum
- ½ tsp salt
- 100g/3½oz dairy-free cheese, grated
- 6 drained, bottled sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
- 75g/2½oz dairy-free margarine
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- 175ml/5½fl oz/scant ¾ cup dairy-free milk
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4 and put 6 paper muffin cases in a muffin tin.
- Sift in the flours, gluten-free baking powder, xanthan gum and salt into a mixing bowl and stir thoroughly. Add the dairy-free cheese and sun-dried tomatoes and mix in well.
- Melt the dairy-free margarine in a small saucepan over a gentle heat. Pour into another mixing bowl and whisk in the eggs, tomato purée and dairy-free milk until thoroughly mixed. stir quickly until mixed.
- Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and gently mix in with a metal spoon. Be careful not to overmix, and don’t worry if there are some lumps in the mixture. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases.
- Bake for about 20 minutes until well risen, golden brown and just firm to the touch, and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and eat the muffins warm or transfer them in their paper cases to a wire rack to cool.