Thursday, February 18, 2010

Gluten Free Banana Ginger Muffins

Calling my name, GF Banana Ginger Muffins

There are many times in life since going gluten free that I will pass by a bakery window and gaze in upon stacks of beautiful fresh baked muffins and wish that I could have one too. As I have mentioned, I don't crave sweet that much but I do love an occasional muffin. Last year, when I was able to "take a break" from my no-gluten diet (doctor's recommendation for testing) I stumbled upon my all time favorite muffins at Macrina Bakery in Seattle. Vegan Banana Ginger Muffins. I went home after that, totally obsessed and created a version of my own and posted the recipe. But those were made with whole wheat and spelt and soon I had to reliquish their hold over my tastebuds and go gluten free again (thanks for the painful vacation doc!).

I will wait for these to cool, I will wait for these to cool.

After that, I baked muffins occasionally, picked up muffins at Flying Apron when I was in Seattle, and generally went without. And then, the other day I remembered these muffins. I think it was because I was planning a big group run around Discovery Park in Seattle for my visit home this weekend. Last year a bunch of speedsters got together and ran some loops and then went to Macrina. Oh those muffins. I instantly knew that it was up to me to create a gluten free version that would be as crave worthy as the Macrina ones.

I did it. Yes, me and my little creative brain did it.

I took my own original recipe and then worked through some possible flour combinations/ratios. With muffins, especially gluten free ones, texture is huge. And picking the right flour combination makes a huge difference. I settled on brown rice flour and garbanzo bean flour in a 2:1 ratio. Flying by the seat of my pants as it were, I also kicked up the ginger content two fold as I recalled that my previous batch a year ago was not as gingery as I liked.

I baked. I waited. I let them cool so completely that by the time I went to eat them I was bonking from lack of food. I think there was a bit of trepidation in there too. I was afraid to try them. The looked like a winner, but would the taste be triumphant? Would the texture leave me once again annoyed that gluten free will never translate the same? Would they dissolve into a wet, fallen mess overnight (like a lot of GF baked goods do)? Would they be hockey pucks?

In a word: No. I was awe struck by these muffins. Look at that texture! If I didn't tell you it was gluten free, you would not know. The taste, oh my! Smooth banana flavor with a perfect and very present ginger flavor. They played nicely together, letting each other have a share of the glory and spotlight. Neither dominated, they comingled, they made music together and my taste buds were singing! My favorite part was that the banana and ginger were present but the muffin was still predominately savory, not overly sweet- just enough. Again a very fine balance, I think.

I was so excited I couldn't wait to share them with the Baker.

He made me wait though. I fed him way too much bibimbap and homemade coconut milk ice cream for dinner. I waited patiently for my second opinion. I finally got it post early morning run with our regular crew in the Headlands. I open the container (which I left on the counter), prepared myself for some caved in or other gluten free horror to unfold but they were still perfect, together, moist.  The Baker took one out and  took a bite, I prepared myself for a polite, "they're good" and to go back to the drawing board.

"Wow" He said. "These are good. These are really really good. Where did you get the recipe?" Happy dance in my head, something along the lines of a end zone dance, complete with strutting and waving of arms!

"From my head" I answered. "Completely original recipe". I liked being able to say that. I feel it is important to my perspective to keep perspective on the whether things are "good for a gluten free item" (because we all know there are plenty of really bad options out there) or "universally good", meaning gluten free/egg free or not these are damn good. I am glad my second opinion heralded them as the second. I made my muffins in small muffin tins so we shared a second muffin, though I am sure we easily could have each had two and not be making a bad dietary choice (since in addition to all the other awesome things about this recipe, there is only 1/4 cup of butter and that is the only fat). These are not "you can eat those because you run 100 miles" muffins, these are part of a healthy and delicious lifestyle muffins. I don't think it is a bad thing when you can have your decadent cake and have it be nutritious too. It is just an added benefit to these muffins that you don't even have to think about it.

They are good. Damn good. I will be making them again and again and again. I have a feeling that down the line, someone will be looking at one of these babies through the window of my own bakery.

Gluten Free Banana Ginger Muffin

5 small very ripe bananas (if not super ripe, add 1/4 cup almond milk)
¼ cup butter , room temperature
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ cup light brown sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar
1 ⅓ cup brown rice flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)
⅔ cup garbanzo bean flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
2 ½ tsp. ginger zest, divided
4 tsp. crystallized ginger, minced, divided
1 ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
pinch fresh nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 350 and line with parchment cups/grease 2 muffin pans (12 muffins). In a food processor, mix together the bananas and butter. Mix in the two types of brown sugar and blend together. Add in vanilla, 2 tsp of minced crystallized ginger, 1 1/2 tsp fresh ginger (zest).

In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients including the remaining ginger until incorporated. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir to combine.

Scoop about 1/4 cup of muffin mix into the muffin pans, making 9-12 muffins. Sprinkle the muffins with dark brown sugar and bake until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted and the tops are golden brown, about 20-25 minutes


  1. Larissa, I would not be opposed to you stopping by this evening and picking some up :). I think I could spare 4 or 5 or 6.

  2. I don't think they would taste the same as coconut butter definitely has its own distinct taste, but it is definitely worth trying if you are anti-butter or vegan. I am with you on the love for muffins, such a delicious way to start the day!

    Thanks Nicola!

  3. Was wondering what the volume of 5 small bananas was for your recipe? Around a cup or so? Less? The muffins sound so good. I will have to buy the special flours and try them!

  4. Wow, please feel free to bring samples to the run next time for third, fourth, and fifth opinions. :)

  5. Amazing, I am stoked to try this out as I frickin' love muffins, but more so if they are home made and I know what went into them!

    Do you think they would taste the same if you substituted coconut oil for butter?

    Good job on the original recipe Colonel Sanders...I mean, Crosby-Helms!

  6. Yum. I am going to pass these muffs to my friend Dr. Bob Farese. He is just going "gluten-free" and looking for some variety. These surpass that. Truly gourmet!

  7. Wow. Awesome Devon. I'm going to make these ASAP. I'm impressed with your gluten-free baking abilities...I'm just beginning to experiment :)

  8. Thanks, I'll look for the update!

  9. Unfortunately, I remembered 10 seconds too late to measure the volume of the bananas. I am going to make another batch soon and will update with the precise volumes. More than a cup definitely.

  10. These look so yummy! I can't wait to try making them. Wonder how they would taste with apples in place of bananas...I might have to try that too!

  11. Apples would be great! I am creating a roast apple cinnamon muffin right now. Will post the recipe when I have it worked out!

  12. I just made these tonight and they are so delicious! I love the ginger in them...also giving that wonderful benefit of fighting inflammation post-workout! Thank you for posting this recipe. I also made the coconut rice last night and loved that too!

  13. Devon,
    Loved the coverage in RW. You are on the right track and I love the good for you food that is not only so natural, but great for the athlete in all of us.
    Have you ever heard of Real Salt?
    you may want to look into their product and website...something I think would be perfect for your baking and running..

    Best wishes,


  14. Thanks Mike.

    Real Salt is pretty much all I use. I can buy it in bulk at Rainbow here. Love the stuff!


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