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gluten-free raspberry oat muffins: health aside, welcome to a better muffin

This morning, I bit into this warm, raspberry oat muffin slathered with butter, and tasted a nutty sweetness with tart berries. I didn't once think about the fact that it was also gluten free. That’s how eating gluten free should be in my mind. No gummy textures or odd flavors that remind you that you're eating healthy. Just good, old-fashioned deliciousness.

As more research points to gluten's inflammatory effects even on those not afflicted with celiac disease, cutting back on bready treats when possible seems like a good idea. But gluten-free baking is tricky. The lighter weight and varying texture of gluten-free flours often render muffins flat or chewy, leaving a lackluster final product.

I've experimented for months on creating a gluten-free muffin I would crave as much as my recent favorite blueberry amaranth-wheat muffin. In some batches, I used equivalent measurements to wheat muffins and got only enough batter to fill 10 muffin cups. In other batches, I used the wrong mix of flours, and the muffins crumbled apart when eating them.

Gluten-based muffins with baking powder bubble up in the baking process to produce tall, runway model muffins. Gluten-free flours, unable to capture and retain those bubbles in the same way, fail to produce a muffin worthy of a standing ovation on visual merits alone. However, with the right combo of gluten-free flours, it's possible to achieve a delicious muffin with agreeable lift and texture that won’t leave you longing. 

The trick for me was relying on a base of gluten-free oat flour, which lends a sturdy structure and earthy texture to muffins (like a bowl of oatmeal!). It also pairs nicely with my two favorites, coconut and almond flour. The cinnamon, ginger, and clove combo spices up each bite. Coconut palm sugar, which I use instead of white sugar, lends a nutty flavor and lowers the muffin's glycemic load. This is not a muffin to tolerate because it's healthy. This is a muffin I want to nibble every day with a shot of strong espresso.

Gluten-free Raspberry Oat Muffins

1/2 cup Bob's Red Mill almond flour
1/2 cup Bob's Red Mill coconut flour*
1-1/2 cup Bob's Red Mill gluten-free oat flour
3 eggs
8 ounces raspberries
1 cup milk
3/4 cup coconut palm sugar
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup walnuts (optional)
4 tsp baking powder
3 tsp ground ginger
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp vanilla
1 pinch salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a KitchenAid or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, whisk the eggs until blended evenly. Add the coconut palm sugar and the coconut oil and whisk again until blended. Add the milk and vanilla and blend until smooth. In a separate bowl, mix together the coconut, almond, and oat flours. Add the baking powder, spices, and salt to the bowl and mix well.

With the KitchenAid on low speed, gradually mix in the flour with the wet ingredients until fully blended. Remove the paddle attachment and stir in the raspberries by hand until evenly mixed.

Spray a non-stick 12-cup muffin pan with canola oil spray. Fill each cup almost to the top, ensuring an even number of raspberries in each cup. Bake for 26 minutes or until just starting to brown on top.

*Variation: For a softer muffin, substitute 1/2 of the coconut flour (1/4 cup) with amaranth flour.

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