CranAppleNut Muffins—Gluten-Free or Not

Cranapplenut Muffins (c) jfhaugenGot Cranberries?

Wahoo, here’s a great recipe for you if you remembered to freeze a bag or two of fresh cranberries last November or December. CranAppleNut Muffins are delicious. They have always been one of my favorites—even more so now that I’ve perfected a gluten-free version. After a few tries and refinements, these are beautiful, tasty and healthier treats.

CranAppleNut Muffins In a Row (c) jfhaugenNo cranberries? Try these muffins with rehydrated, dried cranberries or with fresh or frozen blueberries, blackberries or raspberries.

Why gluten-free?
I’ve been asking the same question of late, especially as I didn’t have any obvious signs of problems with wheat. Then one day I ate some way too delicious, and thus way too many, flatbread crackers—I kept closing the package and putting it away and taking it out of the cupboard and having “just two more.” Eventually I was able to stop the cycle and walk away from the remaining crackers. (Perhaps you know the scenario.)

Within a few hours I noticed some symptoms I hadn’t had in a very long time (I also hadn’t eaten as much wheat flour for some time). A few days later I enjoyed something made with whole wheat flour and had the same symptoms. So no wheat for me for awhile.

Not the wheat our grandparents ate
A friend emailed me Matt Sutherland’s article What Went Wrong with Wheat. Very informative reading as Sutherland explains how sophisticated breeding techniques since the mid-twentieth century have created “new gluten structures not previously consumed by humans.” And that “despite dramatic changes in the genetic makeup of wheat and other crops, no animal or human safety testing was conducted on the new genetic strains that were created.” The wheat we consume today is not the wheat our ancestors or even our grandparents ate.

A Few Guidelines

  • I found Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Baking Flour along with a little xanthan gum (¾ teaspoon per cup of flour) an easy replacement for unbleached white flour.
  • However, the muffins browned more quickly so I lowered the oven temperature for the second half of the baking cycle.
  • I gently melted coconut oil and substituted it for the canola oil called for in the original recipe.
  • Although the batter wasn’t very tasty, the finished muffins were just as I remembered them, excellent taste, texture and fragrance.

Cranapplenut Muffins (c) jfhaugenCranAppleNut Muffins—Gluten-Free or Not

Adapted from my recipe in Fruit-Sweet & Sugar-Free
The flavor is a wonderful balance between tart and sweet, with a delightfully light and chunky texture.

Makes 12 large muffins

Fruit and Walnuts for CranAppleNut Muffins (c) jfhaugenFruit & Nuts
Rounded ½ cup walnuts, lightly toasted, very coarsely chopped
Rounded 1 cup peeled, ¼-inch diced apple
Rounded 1½ cups fresh or *frozen cranberries, washed, sorted and coarsely chopped

Wet Ingredients
½ cup coconut oil, melted
1 cup minus 2 tablespoons mild, local honey
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

Dry Ingredients
2¾ cups minus 2 teaspoons Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten-Free Baking Flour
2 teaspoons xanthan gum (Or 2¾ cups unbleached white flour instead of both the gluten-free flour and the xanthan gum)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly spray a standard-size muffin pan with non-stick spray.

In a small bowl whisk the wet ingredients together in the order listed until well blended.

Half-mixed CranAppleNut Muffin Batter (c) jfhaugenSift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Make a well in the center and stir in the wet mixture until half mixed.
Stir in the Fruit and Nuts (c) jfhaugen

 

 

Then stir in the diced apples and coarsely chopped walnuts and cranberries.

The batter should remain lumpy (c) jfhaugen

 

 

 

 

Mix lightly just till the flour is incorporated. The batter should remain lumpy.

Use a rounded ½ cup of batter for each muffin.

Bake on the middle shelf in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Turn the heat down to 350 degrees. Open the oven and rotate the muffin pan 180 degrees (back to front). Close the oven door and continue to bake for about another 10 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out dry.

Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing them to a wire rack to cool completely.

*It is best to use frozen cranberries while they are still frozen. They are easily chopped in a food processor using the pulse button.

Note: If you use other frozen berries, also add them to the mix while they are still frozen. As most other berries are sweeter than cranberries, there is no need to chop them.