Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins [Adventures in Xanthan Gum]

Fall is upon us, which means it’s time for boots, new leather jackets, and being able to turn on the oven again without turning your apartment into a kiln.
You'd never, ever know these blueberry muffins are gluten free!I normally dive into baking season with enthusiasm, but I’ve been nervous this time around, since gluten-free baking is a new adventure for me. I did a lot of reading about it, and much of what I read kind of terrified me–lots of people warning off of baking with cups instead of weight (math?!), making your own flour blends (how big are your kitchens?!), and the perils of xanthan gum, the binder used in place of gluten. Baking and its ratios really are chemistry, but messing up xanthan gum ratios is not the same as using a little too much vanilla, and I couldn’t find a definitive agreement on how much to use. I also didn’t really love the ingredients lists in many of the recipes I found; some called for very specific flours, others required more eggs than I had on hand. To further complicate matters, many of the recipes I found were also dairy-free and other-stuff-free, and all I wanted to eliminate was gluten.
Gluten free blueberry muffin recipe – tastes just like the real thing!Naturally, I solved the problem by winging it and adapting an existing favorite (gluten) muffin recipe, because I have some sort of terrible compulsion to almost never follow recipe directions exactly, even when attempting something new. I ended up basing my xanthan gum usage off the package’s recommendation, but using a bit less than they suggested; I’d rather have my muffins be too crumbly than too tough. To my supreme surprise, these muffins actually came out as close to real muffins as they possibly could. The gluten-eaters in my life all loved them too, so these would be great to serve a crowd (but also great if you want to eat a dozen muffins by yourself–no judgments here).

Gluten-free Blueberry Muffins [adapted from The Modern Baker]
Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour blend (I used King Arthur)
1/2 cup almond flour (not almond meal, which is coarser. I used Bob’s Red Mill, which my friend Lauren so kindly sent me)
2 tsp baking powder
1 slightly overfull tsp xanthan gum (mine is also Bob’s Red Mill)
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, plus a little extra to sprinkle on top
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 tbsp vanilla bean paste (vanilla extract will also work, but make sure it’s the real thing)
1/2 cup milk (I used 1 percent)
8 ounces fresh blueberries, picked over for stems and mushy ones
a bit of cinnamon for sprinkling

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F and line a 12-cup muffin tin with liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk (or stir with a fork) together the all-purpose flour, almond flour, baking powder, xanthan gum, nutmeg, and salt until well combined. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugars until lightened and getting fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add in eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat in vanilla and scrape down the sides again. Add in half of flour mixture and mix on low speed until well mixed. Stop mixer and pour in the milk, then mix on low speed again until combined (you may want to start with your mixer on “stir” to avoid getting your counter covered in milk splashes). Add remaining flour mixture and mix again until combined. Add in blueberries and mix on stir until berries are just distributed.

Divide batter between the liners (they will be quite full) and sprinkle a bit of brown sugar and cinnamon on top of each. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and tops are golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Let muffins cool in pan for 5 to 10 minutes (basically until you can touch them without burning your fingers off), then move to wire rack to cool completely. If you’re making them later in the day, eat one for dessert (as my friend Sally says, muffins are just cake).

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