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Gluten-free muffins do not contain wheat or other grains that have gluten, a type of protein, in them. While gluten is usually responsible for the chewiness and texture of baked goods, including muffins, it is possible to make gluten-free muffins using substitute flours and starches as well as stabilizers such as xanthan gum. When preparing the muffins, the baker should take steps to prevent the baked goods from drying out and from not rising.
One cup (100 grams) of wheat flour is not the same as one cup (100 grams) of gluten-free flour. Usually, a baker will need to use a combination of several different gluten-free flours, such as almond flour, chickpea flour, or rice flour, to get the right texture for the gluten-free muffins. She'll usually need to add a starch, such as tapioca starch or cornstarch, to thicken the batter. Some bakers like to use stabilizers such as xanthan gum in muffin recipes to add a chewy texture.
A gluten-free baker should choose the flours for a batch of muffins carefully. Bean flours, such as chickpea, can add a beany taste to baked goods, which may not be desirable. Some bean flours, such as soybean, blend well, though. Other flours, such as brown rice, can be rough and gritty. Combining certain flours, such as potato and almond flour, can create the taste the baker wants.
Another option for gluten-free muffins is to use a prepared gluten-free baking mix. The mixes are usually a combination of flours with the starch and any stabilizers added in. Some mixes may not be suitable if the person is allergic to dairy or nut ingredients or is vegan. It's important to always read the labels on any gluten-free mix to make sure it does contain any other problem ingredients.
Gluten-free muffins can turn out dry and crumbly, especially if the baker decides to forgo the xanthan gum. One way to ensure that the muffins will be soft and moist is to add a liquid ingredient to the batter, such as a fruit puree or applesauce. If the person can eat dairy, sour cream or yogurt will also keep the muffins from drying out too much. Vegan, gluten-free muffins can contain soy-yogurt or other non-dairy yogurt or cream.
Muffin batter made with room-temperature ingredients may rise better, letting the baker avoid flat muffins. Room temperature ingredients don't have to warm up as much in the oven and will have more spring. Letting the batter rest for about 10 minutes before baking will also create better rise.
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