Gluten-Free Goodness: Blueberry Muffins

So, around 2008 I had a bunch of health problems that were very mysterious and really didn’t seem to have a cause or reason. I struggled with feeling terrible all the time for a couple of years before I found a doctor who listened enough to test me for anything and everything that could be causing my symptoms (hypothyroid, anemia, diabetes, and some serious diseases) and we came up short. It was good news that nothing was horrifically wrong with me, but that still didn’t make the symptoms magically go away. She suggested that I look into something like a sleep study or getting checked for celiac disease. I looked into the details of both and became more familiar with the idea of what celiac or a gluten intolerance means. So, I decided to try eating gluten-free for a while to see if it helped. Within a few days I had more energy, I had less headaches, and I felt more like myself than I had in a long time. So, I decided to go gluten-free for good.

I was really militant about it for a while, but now I will admit to cheating a bit here and there. It was worth cheating in France, because honestly I didn’t feel bad when I ate at all. I think it is because they process their food a lot less, and we ate a lot of fresh things (even gluten-filled ones). But it’s a slippery slope and I’ve been lazy about sliding down it. I am trying to make myself stop, because while a little bit of gluten doesn’t seem to bother me, eating a lot of it or eating it consistently seems to be what really makes me feel terrible.

One thing I’ve been missing is baking. Gluten-free baking is an exercise of patience and lots of flours. I have one entire huge shelf of my pantry dedicated to my gluten-free baking supplies…flours from sorghum, tapioca, potato, teff, oat, brown rice, white rice…the list could go on. I have a  cookbook I’ve been dying to bake from (Elizabeth Barbone’s Gluten-Free Baking), but when I was feeling like baking some muffins with the big, gorgeous blueberries I got at the store, I turned to my favorite blogger and cookbook writer, Shauna Ahern.

Shauna’s latest cookbook, Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef, is both a story and a journey through some seriously amazing food. Her site is also chock full of recipes and stories from her life with her chef husband Danny and their adorable little girl Lu. I have never made a bad recipe from either the book or the site. Shauna and Danny work hard to make amazing food without a speck of gluten involved. I knew that she was likely to have a great muffin recipe on hand, and I was right.

My muffins turned out moist–usually a problem with gluten-free baked goods–with a perfect crumb and big, oozy pockets of blueberry goodness. They have a slight tartness from the lemon zest and the plain yogurt in the batter that complements the sweetness of the blueberries and the crunchy raw sugar that decorates the tops. I’ve never made muffins this good before, not even when I was baking with wheat flour. I knew Shauna wouldn’t let me down.

These? There are only six left. It’s hard to stop eating them.

Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins (copied from Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef)

10 tablespoons unsalted, soft butter
1 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 cup sweet white sorghum flour
1 cup white rice flour
1 cup tapioca flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder (or ½ teaspoon cream of tartar, ½ teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon cornstarch)
½ teaspoon baking soda (if combining above, add another ½ teaspoon to mix)
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups plain yogurt
1 cup blueberries (frozen are fine)
2 tablespoons raw sugar

Preheat the oven to 375.

Combine all the dry ingredients together. Set aside. (Jess’ note: Be sure to leave the sugar out of this! I didn’t read far enough ahead and I added the sugar to my dry ingredients. I creamed the butter alone and it was a pain until I finally added the first bit of yogurt, but thankfully my muffins still turned out great. I was worried they wouldn’t rise.)

Cream the butter and sugar together, until just creamed. If you leave the stand mixer running as they are creaming, these muffins will not rise. Simply cream them until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each egg.

Add one half of the dry ingredients, mixing well. Add one-third of the yogurt and combine until well mixed. Add one-half of the remaining dry ingredients to the mixture, and combine. Continue this, alternating the yogurt and dry ingredients, until you have mixed both of them in, completely.

Add as many blueberries as you can.

Oil a muffin tin well, then sprinkle a little cornstarch or white rice flour on the bottom of each cup. Fill each space for muffin two-thirds full. Sprinkle the raw sugar over the top and set them in the oven. (Jess’ note: I used some natural baking cups from Whole Foods and they make for much easier clean-up and serving! I like the natural ones better than the more flimsy dyed ones I get at Target or a grocery store.)

(This recipe will give you enough batter to make two tins of muffins, or close.)

Bake the muffins for about 35 minutes, or until the tops have browned and started to harden, and the entire house smells of warm blueberry muffins. If your sweetie wakes up from the smell, the muffins are done.

Makes 18 muffins.

These muffins are going to be a staple recipe of mine from now on. I can’t wait to try them with different mix-in fruits, or maybe even some mini chocolate chips. I might experiment with some spices and some grated zucchini for spice muffins. Either way, I’m destined to be happy and full when I make these muffins. That’s what really counts.