Adventures in Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Baking

Even if you’re only vaguely aware of popular health trends, you may have noticed that two dietary enemies have emerged recently: gluten and sugar. A proliferation of food allergies, autoimmune disorders, diabetes and obesity has been linked to gluten, a protein found in most grains. And it’s well known that piling on the sugar piles on unnecessary calories and interferes with blood sugar levels.

As more people steer clear of gluten and sugar, the demand for alternative baked goods has increased, and expert bakers have taken notice. The recipes in the new The Joy of Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Baking were developed by three-time James Beard Award winning baker Peter Reinhart and his partner Denene Wallace, a type 2 diabetic who wasn’t satisfied with grain-free foods that tasted like cardboard. A salvation for baked goods fans with celiac disease or diabetes, the recipes are also low in carbohydrates and rich in fiber — in a word, healthy.

The book’s 80 recipes range from savory breads, pizzas and crackers to sweet treats like muffins, pancakes, cookies and pies. The straightforward, easy-to-follow recipes are made with a range of nut and seed flours and sugar-free sweeteners like stevia and Splenda. Reinhart and Wallace include information about setting up a gluten-free, sugar-free kitchen. Our friends at The Recipe Club also created this helpful Pinterest board with essential tips on stocking your pantry.

Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Blueberry-Hazelnut Muffins

Forever a fan of fresh fruit (especially in summertime!), I decided to try the Blueberry-Hazelnut Muffins. Keep in mind, I’m not much of a baker, so I was a bit skeptical about diving into a gluten-free, sugar-free baking project. But, like I said, the recipe was straightforward, so I ventured to my local health food store in search of almond flour and stevia – the only two ingredients I didn’t have in my pantry. After assembling all the ingredients, the process was just like traditional baking. The dough mixed together nicely. It felt a bit grainier than traditional muffin dough and clumped up as I filled the muffin liners. I recommend using muffin liners instead of greasing the tins so you can remove them easily. Also, don’t skimp on the blueberries — they provide a flavor boost and pair nicely with the slightly nutty dough.

I popped the tins in the oven and eagerly awaited the results. I worried the muffins might be dry and flavorless – I’d heard stories of lackluster “diet” foods from friends with food allergies – but these were just the opposite: moist with a soft texture and nutty aftertaste, and full of fresh blueberry flavor. Try the recipe below and let us know what you think!

Blueberry-Hazelnut Muffins
3/4 cup (3 oz / 85 g) hazelnut flour
3/4 cup (3 oz / 85 g) almond flour
1/2 cup Splenda or Stevia Extract in the Raw, or 1/4 cup New Roots Stevia Sugar
1/3 cup (about 1.65 oz / 47 g) almonds or hazelnuts, chopped
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs (3.5 oz / 99 g)
1/2 cup (4 oz / 113 g) unsweetened soy milk or other milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon liquid stevia
1/2 to 1 cup (2.5 to 5 oz / 71 to 142 g) fresh or frozen blueberries, depending on dietary restrictions

Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line 9 muffin cups with paper or foil liners, then lightly mist them with spray oil (or omit the liners and generously mist the muffin cups with spray oil).

In a medium bowl, combine the hazelnut flour, almond flour, Splenda, almonds, baking powder, and salt and whisk until well mixed. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, vanilla, lemon juice, and liquid stevia together until thoroughly blended. Add the flour mixture and stir with a large spoon for 1 to 2 minutes to make a smooth, sticky batter. Gently fold in the blueberries.

Spoon or scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups, dividing it evenly among them; the muffin cups should be just about full.

Bake for 20 minutes, then rotate and bake for 20 more minutes, until golden brown and firm and springy when pressed in the center.

Let the muffins cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes before turning them out onto a wire rack.

Reprinted with permission from The Joy of Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Baking by Peter Reinhart & Denene Wallace, copyright © 2012. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.

The Joy of Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Baking will be on sale August 14. For more recipes, check out the excerpt below:

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