Gluten-Free English Muffins

We’re wrapping up gluten-free week on The Bluenose Baker with light and fluffy English Muffins. Craving something bready, toasted and slathered in your favourite spread? These are exactly what you need!

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For simple baked goods like quick breads and breakfast foods, you can get good results using a single gluten free flour – like the muffins and waffles I posted earlier in the week. Yeast breads, cakes and other more complex recipes are best prepared with a combination of multiple flours. These English Muffins are our first foray into the complex and confusing world of mixing gluten free flours.

Here’s a link to a quick primer on some commonly used gluten free flours.

A grocery store with a health food or gluten free section should stock the basic gluten free flours. Our local bulk food store carries many of them at reasonable prices- though there is a risk of cross-contamination with bulk bins and I wouldn’t go that route if you’re very sensitive.

Many gluten-free recipes also call for xanthan gum. It’s a substance that helps thicken and stabilize liquids (it’s often found in salad dressing and toothpaste.) Guar gum is sometimes used as well. Both are pretty commonly available at grocery stores nowadays. Xanthan gum can be a bit pricey but since you only use a teaspoon or two at a time, a bag will last a while. Here’s what it looks like:

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If you’ve ever searched for gluten-free recipes, you’ve probably noticed that many of them simply call for a “gluten-free flour mix.” I tend to steer clear of those recipes for a few reasons:

  • Gluten-free flours are fickle, so if my flour mix differs from the one the recipe developer used, the recipe might not turn out.
  • At my local stores, my options for buying a pre-mixed gluten free flour blend are very limited.
  • Online recipes for flour blends are often contain ingredients I don’t eat (like milk powder) or flours I don’t prefer (like white rice flour- it’s gritty and I prefer to stick to whole grain flours.)

I do plan eventually to develop a flour blend that I like and some recipes that use it, but for now I stick to recipes that call for specific flours.

Enough chatter, on to the English Muffins!

Here’s our cast of characters.

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The main flour in these English muffins is sorghum. It’s one of my favourite gluten free flours – it tastes good and isn’t too fussy to work with. Millet flour gives a bit of whole grain boost. If you can’t find it, try subbing with buckwheat or almond flour. I’m using potato starch here, but tapioca starch works well too.

You’ll also need xanthan gum, salt, water, milk (dairy, soy, rice, etc.) sugar, honey, eggs and oil. The original recipe called for light olive oil, I usually use grapeseed but canola or coconut oil would work too. I don’t recommend EVOO!

Before starting the recipe, turn the oven on to about 200° to create a warm environment for the dough to rise.

We’ll start by proofing the yeast. To create the optimal environment for it, the milk and water need to be between 105 and 115° F. You can do it by feel (hot but not too hot to wash your face in) but I usually use a thermometer to check. Hot water from the tap is usually about the right temperature, and I microwave the milk in 10-15 second increments. Be careful not to get it too hot, or you’ll be sticking it in the freezer and waiting for it to cool down again!

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Here my water’s a bit too cool and my milk’s a bit too warm but they’ll balance each other out!

Combine the milk and water in a measuring cup, then add a pinch of sugar and the yeast. Set aside for 5 – 10 minutes, until the yeast begins to bubble.

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In the meantime, whisk together the flours, xanthan gum and salt in a large bowl.

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When your yeast looks like this, add it to the flour.

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Beat the eggs in a small bowl, then add the oil and honey. Add to the yeast-flour mixture and mix until thoroughly combined.

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It’s all right if there are a few lumps. The dough won’t look like traditional bread dough, it’s more like a thick, sticky muffin batter.

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Let the dough rest for a few minutes.

Now’s the time to prep whatever you’re going to bake the muffins in. The original recipe uses English Muffin rings. If you’ve got them or can find them, go for it! I didn’t want to wait for an Amazon order to arrive, so I improvised. Here are some of the options I tried:

  • Round metal cookie cutters (3 inch and 4 inch – I think 3 ½ inch would be the perfect size if you can find it)
  • Tinfoil strips formed into rings
  • Mini round cake tins
  • Jumbo muffin tin

I decided to do a few of each to see which worked best!

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You could also use ramekins or short, wide cans (like a tuna fish can) washed well with both ends removed.

Whatever you’re using, set the molds on a baking sheet and spray with non-stick spray.

Spoon the dough into the molds, smoothing the tops with wet fingers.

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The dough will rise quite a bit, so don’t fill them to the top.

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Turn the oven off and set the muffins in the oven to rise. They’re ready to bake when doubled in size (it will take 15-30 minutes.)

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Remove the muffins from the oven when risen, and pre-heat it to 350°. Bake the muffins for 20-25 minutes, until the tops are firm and lightly golden.

Remove from molds and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Here’s a quick round up of the different molds:

Jumbo muffin tin:

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Cookie cutters:

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Mini cake tin:

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Tinfoil rings:

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My favourite? The cake tin followed by the muffin tin. The sides brown nicely and the muffins keep their shape better. The tin foil rings didn’t work well at all- the batter seeped out under the edge.

The muffins are best when toasted, so slice or split with two forks, and lightly toast.

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Watch them carefully- the cut sides won’t look very toasted, but the edges and the outsides can burn quite quickly.

Enjoy with butter/margarine, or your favourite jam or nut butter. Try a breakfast sandwich with my turkey sausage patties.

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One of my favourite indulgences is an English muffin with maple butter.

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They even make tasty English Muffin Pizzas!

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The English muffins freeze well – just wrap them in foil and pop in a ziplock bag. Make these gluten-free English muffins part of your next breakfast!

Just a note, there were some errors in the written recipe, they have since been discovered and corrected!

Gluten-Free English Muffins

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: Prep: 20 min, Rise: 30 min, Bake: 25 min
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sorghum flour
  • 1 cup potato or tapioca starch
  • ½ cup millet flour
  • 2 teaspoons xanthan gum
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup warm water (105 – 115° F)
  • ½ cup milk, warmed to 105 – 115° F (dairy or unflavoured soy, rice, almond or hemp)
  • 1 pinch coconut sugar
  • 2 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 4 tablespoons neutral tasting oil (light olive, canola, grapeseed or coconut)
  • 2 tablespoons honey or agave nectar
  • 2 large eggs (or equivalent egg replacer)

Directions:

Combine the milk and water in a measuring cup, then add a pinch of sugar and the yeast. Set aside for 5 – 10 minutes, until the yeast begins to bubble.

In the meantime, whisk together the flours, xanthan gum and salt in a large bowl. Add the yeast.

Beat the eggs in a small bowl, then add the oil and honey. Add to the yeast-flour mixture and mix until thoroughly combined. A few lumps are ok.

The dough won’t look like traditional bread dough, it’s more like a thick, sticky muffin batter.

Let the dough rest for a few minutes.

Set English muffin rings on a baking sheet and spray with non-stick spray. Alternately, you can use a jumbo muffin tin, mini cake pans, ramekins or round metal cookie cutters.

Spoon the dough into the molds, smoothing the tops with wet fingers. The dough will rise quite a bit, so don’t fill them to the top.

Turn the oven off and set the muffins in the oven to rise. They’re ready to bake when doubled in size (it will take 15-30 minutes)

Remove the muffins from the oven when risen, and pre-heat it to 350°. Bake the muffins for 20-25 minutes, until the tops are firm and lightly golden.

Remove from molds and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Split or cut muffins, toast and serve with butter or jam.

Muffins freeze well, wrapped individually in tin foil and placed in a sealed bag.

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