Cranberry Orange Muffins for Beginners

Gluten free baking can be fraught.  You put all your energy and a lot of expensive ingredients into a baked good that can turn out like a lead brick. I just did that with a lemon pound cake.  Yeap; it was very bricklike.  So I wanted to share a new recipe that I feel is pretty fool proof.   Cranberry nut muffins….muffin mania strike again!

I won’t go far from my best recipes to make these treats. This is a riff on a 2015 blueberry muffin post which was my riff on a muffin recipe out of Annalise Roberts’ cookbook; Gluten-Free Baking Classics. Her gf quick breads are delicious and we enjoy them often. I love that they seem foolproof if you follow the basic format carefully.  I have made many variations and they all turn out great.  So I recommend them to those just learning to bake gluten free. You can do these muffins, I promise, even if you are totally new to baking gluten free.

Never been a big fan of cranberries until last winter when I decided to experiment with them and found that they work very well with a variety of fruits/nuts for muffins, tarts, pies and crisps.  The cranberries brighten the flavor and add a lovely rosy color.  Do look beyond your prejudices to their sharp flavor and give them a try.  I am so glad I did.

These muffins did not disappoint: delicate texture yet slightly crunchy outside with a great cranberry orange flavor and just enough sugar for me.  The streusel topping adds a cinnamon flavor and insures that they look straight from the bakery. I made a 3×5 mini loaf as well as muffins and it was delightful sliced thick and served with a cup of tea.  I baked it a bit longer; 35-40 minutes should do it.

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There are walnuts in there to so you get some really great nutrients from the fruit and nuts. I swap the white sugar I used to use for coconut palm sugar which is very low as far as raising blood sugar.  Not much guilt in eating one of these treats! Note: You need a little extra milk if you use the coconut palm sugar; at least two extra tbsp. maybe three.

Cranberry Nut Muffins

2 cups brown rice flour mix (see below)

2/3 cup granulated sugar or coconut palm sugar

1 tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

¾ tsp. xanthan gum

¼ tsp. salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

grated zest of one orange

1 1/3 cup fresh or frozen cranberries

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

2 large eggs

½ cup (plus 2 tbsp. milk if you use coconut palm sugar,) 1 or 2 percent

½ cup canola oil

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Topping: Mix the following in a bowl, make sure the butter is in tiny pebbles; use your fingertips to blend.

½ cup rolled oats                    1½ tbsp. butter

¼ cup brown sugar                 ¼ tsp. cinnamon

2 tbsp. almond meal

——-

Directions: Heat your oven to 375 degrees, placing the rack in middle of oven.  Spray muffin pans with cooking spray.  One batch makes 12-16 muffins.  I got 16 when I made them yesterday.

Mix all dry ingredients in bowl of stand mixer or big bowl Add fruit and walnuts; stir to coat them with dry mix.  Combine milk and oil.  Beat in eggs, add vanilla.  Add liquids to big bowl; stir just until blended.  It is a very thick batter.

Fill muffin pans 2/3 full.  I use a big serving spoon and fill it about half way to dump in each muffin space. Sprinkle the top with the topping. Press it in a bit so it won’t flake off after baking. Bake 21-23 min until golden brown. Do not over bake or they will taste dry.  Remove immediately from the pans and cool on a rack.  Keeps in fridge (well wrapped) or an airtight cookie jar for 2-3 days. It is smart to freeze any you won’t eat in two days time; a zip lock freezer bag works great.

Brown Rice Flour Mix base mix 

(This mix is the same as King Arthur’s basic gf blend)
2 c brown rice flour

2/3 c potato starch

1/3 c tapioca flour

 

 

Cranberry Crackle Tart: Light and Flavorful

I discovered this recipe on line, back before last Thanksgiving, at splendidtable.com. I loved the look and sound of it but didn’t find time to make it until last Christmas. Love at first bite. Like a fruit tart and a pavlova had a baby: this is the felicitous result. Light and delicate making it perfect after a hearty Thanksgiving feast. It is really guilt free if you eat it minus any toppings. I devoured it with vanilla ice cream on top at last year’s Christmas luncheon, nice flavor combination. I want to make one for Thanksgiving, maybe this time I will be serving it like you do a Pavlova, with lightly sweetened real whipped cream on top. Yumm!

It is really easy to throw together. If you are gluten free you can use the recipe provided below, which I adapted the splendid table recipe to make it gluten free. At holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas Wegmans often has gf redi-made crusts. So does Frey’s Better Foods in Hellertown. If you are a wheat eater use whatever cookie tart crust you like. I added the cinnamon to my crust and found it added a lot to the complexity of the flavors. The crust absolutely needs to be prebaked before you put the tart together.

I should say I seldom use fresh cranberries; I generally make a fresh relish – old family recipe – for Thanksgiving but never got it made last November. So I had the bag of cranberries in the fridge in the fruit bin. Yeah, it sat there a month: I did have to pick through it (you always should) after I rinsed them and remove and squishy ones. There are usually a few of those mixed in and they aren’t great for anyone to eat. Let the picked over berries dry. Anyway, my point is; this tart is fantastic tasting even if you aren’t a huge cranberry fan.

I used some smooth raspberry jam (what I had) but you could probably use most any jam. Just chose one full of real fruit in a flavor you like as you can definitely taste the jammy flavor mixed in with the crust and the meringue topping. I loved it with raspberry jam, a favorite flavor for me.

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Sweet Cookie crust

Place the following in a stand mixer bowl and combine

1 cup GF flour (recipe below)
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp xanthan gum
½ tsp. cinnamon
Add 5 tbsp cold butter, cut into 6-7 chunks. Mix on low until the butter is just crumbs blended in.
Add 1 tsp. vanilla extract and 1 tbsp water. Blend well.

Pour the crumbs into a ten inch tart pan that was sprayed with cooking spray. Or a glass pie pan. Spread it up the sides. Press gently in so it is a cohesive crust but do not press really hard or it will be like concrete when you finish baking it!

Bake at 350 degrees for 18 minutes. Set the crust on a rack to cool to room temperature. Do not let it get more than light brown.

Brown Rice Flour Mix (Same as King Arthur’s GF Blend)
2 c brown rice flour
2/3 c potato starch
1/3 c tapioca flour
Filling

2 tablespoons chunky cherry, raspberry or strawberry jam
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch of fine sea salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups cranberries (if they’re frozen, don’t thaw)
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Directions: When you’re ready to fill and bake the tart: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Gently spoon the jam on top of the crust and spread it evenly over the bottom, I used the back of my big spoon for this operation. In a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites with the salt at medium speed just until they are fluffy and fairly opaque. With the mixer going, add the sugar in a slow, steady stream, then keep beating on high until the whites are shiny and form definite peaks; they will look like marshmallow. This is a meringue.

Pour the cranberries into the bowl of meringue and, using a flexible spatula or spoonula fold them into the meringue. Try to distribute the fruit evenly, but don’t mix too much– you want to keep the meringue fluffy. Spoon the meringue over the jam and spread it to the edges, making it swirly if you’d like. The jam might push up around the sides of the meringue, and that’s fine. Don’t fret if it looks like not enough filling, it will puff up in the oven to fill the pie pan.

Bake the tart for 1 hour, at which point the top will be light beige and cracked here and there. (If you’d like more color, you can bake it a bit longer or even put it under the broiler.) I did not go there! Transfer the tart to a cooling rack and cool to room temperature. I did cut it while slightly warm and we all thought that was just perfection. If you’d like, and I do, dust the tart with confectioners’ sugar before serving. Whipped cream on top is also great.

Storing: The tart is best the day it’s made, although it’s still pretty nice the next day. Leave the tart at room temperature, covering only the cut part with a piece of wax paper or plastic wrap. I doubt you will have any the second day anyway. It is that tasty.

Cranberry Apple Tartlets: Company Dessert!

Truth is I never was a fan of cranberries, sure I eat cranberry relish at Thanksgiving and maybe Christmas and sometimes I drink cranberry juice but that is about all I ever thought those little red fruits were good for. In this past year I have tried them in a few desserts and they have been spectacular – great flavor and color, yes they are rather tangy but with a little sugar they are perfect.

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If you only have a few apples and some cranberries you can make a really special dessert. I used my flat bottom tartlet pans to make these elegant little tarts; each one is a separate dessert which makes for a special look. My mom gave me two tart pans a few years ago and I use them all the time; each pan makes 4 tartlets.

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This is a simple recipe; toss the fruits with sugar and a touch of tapioca. If you don’t have tapioca use some cornstarch or rice flour mix. The individual tarts look like I bought them in a bakery. I tried them with bits of crust for a rustic topping and the crumb version which I liked a bit better in the flavor department so I went with that.

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I served them the other day and my guy pleaded for one to take home for breakfast. He does not need to eat gf but he loves a great dessert. Serve these tartlets and I promise you no one will even believe they are eating gluten free!

Angie’s Cranberry Apple Tartlets
Makes 5

Start by making some gf pie crust and the crumb topping. If you have leftover crumb topping in the fridge you are ahead of the game for making pies and tarts!

Crust:
1 c plus 2 tbsp brown rice flour mix (at bottom of recipe)
2 tbsp sweet rice flour
1 Tbps. granulated sugar
½ tsp xanthan gum
¼ tsp salt
6 Tbps. cold butter cut into 6 chunks
1 lg egg
2 tsp fresh orange or lemon juice
Mix dry ingredients in bowl of stand electric mixer. Add butter and mix until crumbly and resembling coarse meal. Add egg and juice. Mix until it comes together into big chunks. Shape into a ball with your hands. Put it on a crust sized piece of wax paper (14 x 14 inches more or less), flatten the crust ball some; put on top of it another piece of wax paper and chill it all in your fridge 15-20 minutes while you prepare the filling.
Crumb topping:Put all four ingredients in the same mixing bowl you made the bottom crust in and mix well with mixer paddle until crumbs form.

¾ c brown rice flour mix
½ c sugar
½ tsp xanthan gum
1/3 c cold butter cut into six chunks

You will use less than a cup of the crumbs. Put the rest in a tightly sealing glass container and store in the fridge for your next pie/tart. It should keep for several weeks.

Heat the oven to 375 while you make the filling.

Filling
1 baking apple
1 1/2 cup raw cranberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp. granulated tapioca
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Directions:
Peel, core, quarter and chop coarsely the cooking apple, put in a mixing bowl with the cranberries. Be sure to first wash and pick over the cranberries and remove any soft or iffy ones. Add the sugar, tapioca and cinnamon, mix with a spoon.

Roll out the crust into one big crust, lay it over the tart pans and use a knife to cut it into 4 pieces. Press, snip and fold to fit it into each of the small tart pans. Don’t make a big crust edge; not necessary, cut off excess dough. Re-roll the leftovers for a fifth tartlet.

Pour filling into the crusted tartlet pans. Sprinkle the tartlets with the crumb topping, I didn’t make a solid layer over the entire top; thicker in the middle. Place in the oven and bake 40-45 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned. Cool at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or cold. Great with vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!

Brown Rice Flour Mix (Same as King Arthur gf flour mix)
2 c brown rice flour (finely ground)
2/3 c potato starch – Not potato flour!
1/3 c tapioca flour

Cranberry Blueberry Muffin Treats

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Oh nuts, we are out of muffins….again.  That’s no good! I didn’t go far from my favorite recipes to make these, possibly my favorite muffins of all time. This is a riff on my fall of 2014 take on a muffin recipe out of Annalise Robert’s cookbook; Gluten-Free Baking Classics; her blueberry muffins but with a special topping. If you are looking for a great source recipe book this is it: her gf quick breads are particularly delicious, all my gluten loving friends and family enjoy them.  I made her brownies this past weekend; always perfection and rapidly devoured.

I have a confession to make: I have never been a big fan of cranberries.  Until this winter! I decided to experiment with them and found that they play very well with a variety of fruits for muffins, tarts, pies and crisps.  The cranberries brighten the flavor and add a lovely rosy color.  Do look beyond your prejudices to their sharp flavor and give them a second try.  I am so glad I did.

These muffins did not disappoint: delicate texture yet slightly crunchy outside with a great fruity flavor and just enough sugar for me.  To measure I poured about ½ cup of blueberries and added the rest of the measure out of the bag of cranberries. I used frozen fruit; easy to get in the winter, don’t defrost them before adding. The streusel topping insures that they look straight from a gluten free bakery.

There are walnuts in there so you get some really great nutrients from the fruit and nuts.  Not much guilt in eating one of these treats! You can swap the white sugar for coconut palm sugar which is very low as far as raising blood sugar.  I am out of it so I had to go with what was in my pantry.

I like to test eat a muffin from the batch while they are still warm out of the oven, at the moment of perfection.  This version is perhaps my favorite of every single muffin recipe I have tried.

It is smart to freeze any you won’t eat in two days time; a zip lock freezer bag works great.

Here are the pictures I took while making these muffins. From the outside they look somewhat plain so I took one shot of a cross section so you could see the baked fruit inside this yummy breakfast treat.

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Cranberry Blueberry Muffins

2 cups brown rice flour mix (see below)

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

¾ tsp. xanthan gum

¼ tsp. salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 1/3 cup fresh or frozen cranberries and blueberries

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

2 large eggs

½ cup milk, 1 or 2 percent

½ cup canola oil

Topping: Mix the following in a bowl, make sure the butter is in tiny pebbles; use your fingertips to blend.

½ cup rolled oats

¼ cup brown sugar

2 tbsp. almond meal

1½ tbsp. butter

¼ tsp. cinnamon

——-

Directions: Heat your oven to 375 degrees, placing the rack in middle of oven.  Spray muffin pans with cooking spray.  One batch makes 12-16 muffins.  I got 16 when I made them.

Mix all dry ingredients in bowl of stand mixer or big bowl Add fruits and walnuts; stir to coat them with dry mix.  Combine milk and oil.  Beat in eggs, add vanilla.  Add liquids to big bowl; stir just until blended.  It is a very thick batter.

Fill muffin pans 2/3 full.  I use a big serving spoon and fill it about half way to dump in each muffin space. Sprinkle the top with the topping. Press it in a bit so it won’t flake off after baking. Bake 21-23 min until golden brown. Do not over bake or they will taste dry.  Remove immediately from the pans and cool on a rack.  They freeze well for a few weeks, if they last that long.  Keeps in fridge (well wrapped) or an airtight cookie jar for 2-3 days.

Brown Rice Flour Mix base mix 

(This mix is the same as King Arthur’s blend)
2 c brown rice flour (must be finely ground: I spin mine a while in the blender cup by cup to improve its texture.)

2/3 c potato starch

1/3 c tapioca flour

 

Apple Cranberry Crisp is Awesome!

Apples are the heart of this recipe but the cranberries add snappy flavor to it and some great color.

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If you can, get organic as the sprays they use on growing apples are not good for you.  I made this last weekend with some golden delicious apples from a local orchard.  South of Hellertown is Bechdolt’s Orchard which grows many apple varieties.  Go there if you want the freshest tastiest apples in this geographic area.  The variety is up to you but I would not suggest red delicious as they are for eating only.

This recipe is out of Gluten-Free Baking Classics Cookbook by Annalise G. Roberts with a few additions.  Her flour mix appears to be identical to that of King Arthur Flour’s gf mix. I am betting you can use any GF flour mix in this recipe, not like a cake or other baked goods that have very specific flour requirements.

I have made this recipe several ways.  But it works best in the melted version below. I have made it egg free but it really somehow needs that egg to pull it together to mimic a wheat flour based crisp.  The oats can be left out if you don’t like them. I personally love oats in my crisp.  I don’t like it too sweet so I use the lesser amount of sugar.  This is entirely a personal choice.

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For those who love a topping and want to go low fat, this recipe is absolutely perfect with a big scoop of lowfat plain organic yogurt on it.  I love crisp warm from the oven but it also is tasty cold the next day, if you have any left over that is!

Angie’s Apple and Cranberry Crisp

3/4 cup GF flour (mix below)

½ to ¾ sugar (I used ½ a cup)

½ cup dry old fashioned oats

1 ¼ tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp xanthan gum

½ tsp. salt

1 lg egg

5 cups thinly sliced apples

1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries

1/3 cup butter, melted

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees.   Put rack in center level of oven.  Lightly butter a 9 inch square pan or spray with cooking spray.

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Combine all the dry ingredients.  Add egg and stir to mix well.   Place half the apples in the baking pan, top with cranberries and then the rest of the apples.

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Sprinkle with the dry mix and sprinkle with the melted butter.  Bake 40 minutes until bubbly and the topping is browning.

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Brown Rice Flour Mix [you can use King Arthur’s GF mix; identical to this recipe]
2 c brown rice flour (finely ground)

2/3 c potato starch – Not potato flour!

1/3 c tapioca flour