When my daughter started a trial gluten-free diet, she was concerned about all the favorite foods that she would miss. Several days later, she told me that she liked being gluten-free. Here’s why: I’ve returned to the kitchen. When it comes to domestic arts and sciences, I prefer working with textiles to food, but there are some foods I make simply because I want them done right without great expense: spanikopita, baba ganouj, stuffed grape leaves, avocado sushi rolls, for example. There are a lot of gluten-free foods available at my local natural foods market, but they are 2-3 times as expensive as their gluten counterparts. (Besides, those bagels are not bagels– they’re rolls with holes.)
I have a number of cookbooks, but thus far I’ve worked almost exclusively with Gluten Free On a Shoestring, by Nicole Hunn. I’ve made popovers two days in a row (once with dairy, once with almond milk), bagels, pizza, biscotti, and more. Although I’m new to gluten-free baking, I’ve begun to experiment with existing recipes. The following Sweet Potato Spice Muffin recipe is one I adapted from the banana bread recipe found on the Bob’s Red Mill package of all-purpose gluten free flour, which in turn was adapted from Special Diet Solutions by Carol Fenster, Ph.D.
For those unfamiliar to gluten free baking, xanthan gum may be a new ingredient. Xanthan gum is crucial to gluten-free baking because of its viscosity (or stickiness) that gluten molecules would normally provide. Edited to add: xanthan gum is GMO corn-based unless specifically noted on the package. Guar gum comes from guar beans, and is sometimes used in place of xanthan gum.
SWEET POTATO SPICE MUFFINS (gluten and dairy free)
1/3 cup oil (you can use vegetable oil, but I use walnut oil)
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon lemon extract (vanilla is also fine)
1 and 3/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon cardamom (cinnamon is also fine)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 and 1/2 cups cooked sweet potatoes, mashed
1 cup raisins (optional—use nuts if you prefer, or other dried fruit)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. The dough is enough for approximately 12 medium-sized muffins; either grease appropriate muffin tins or set out 12 silicone muffin cups (my personal favorite).
3. Cream together oil, sugar, eggs, and lemon extract in a large bowl with an electric mixer.
4. Add gluten-free baking flour mix, xanthan gum, baking powder, and spices to egg mixture, alternating with cooked yams. Beat until smooth.
5. Stir in raisins. Batter will be somewhat soft and sticky.
6. Transfer to muffin cups. Bake 30 minutes. Test to see if muffins are done by inserting a clean knife into the center of each muffin.
7. Let them cool at least a little bit before you eat them.
When I make sweet treats, I like to freeze most of the results so that they are available when the family wants them, and we’re not compelled to eat a whole batch of muffins in several days.