I'm still working on the Special Diets for Special Kids book by Lisa Lewis and I'm trying to make in advance a bunch of various recipes with the ingredients I have on hand. If I keep making baked goods I'm bound to run out of all my specialty flours before I planned to, which means a trip out of town or an online order is due. This morning I made Tropical Muffins. After I mixed everything it had a very thick consistency almost like drop biscuits. I ran through the ingredient list to make sure I did everything right - 3 times - and found no error or mention in the recipe that it should be so thick. I know some flours absorb differently than others but this is the Hagman GF flour mix that I've used in various other recipes. I added a little less than 1/4 cup extra water but that didn't make a difference and I didn't want to interfere too much with the liquid/dry formula until I saw how these turned out and make changes for a future batch. I've never made drop biscuits (that I can think of) but I could easily see myself dropping this onto a pan and forming into a meatloaf-like bread. I contemplated it but decided to make drop biscuits if I had any leftover dough/"batter." I filled the muffin tins about 2/3 full and then dropped the rest into a pan to see how they turned out.

I read somewhere that gluten-free baking is an unforgiving art because everything has to be so precise. Actually, baking in general is unforgiving compared to cooking because of the precise chemistry at play. However, the more I make gluten-free breads I think it IS pretty forgiving. Or maybe I'm just more forgiving as I've become accustomed to bread with different flavors, textures, even shapes than what I'm used to.

They actually were pretty tasty. Not a normal quick-bread density, much more like a bread so it was a lot to chew in a bite for what I was expecting. The orange extract is not overpowering as I expected it would however I don't really taste much of the coconut flavor I was hoping for, but the grittiness that most coconut-haters complain about was present. I wasn't sure if it was the coconut or granulated sugar. I experimented with dry fruit instead of raisins and I didn't like the chewy texture of the fruit. I will definitely try raisins or chocolate chips next time. Despite the issues I had with these muffins, they were pretty good. These muffins are hearty enough you could have them as an on-the-go breakfast with some juice or milk.

Tropical Muffins
(yield approx 12 muffins)

2 cups gluten-free flour (any flour or combination of flours - I used the Betty Hagman flour blend - see below)
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoon xanthan gum
3 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips (or chopped dried fruit. I used 3 individual serving bags of Welch's dried fruit snacks)
3 Tablespoon dry milk substitute (I used DariFree vanilla)
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs
1/2 cup coconut (unsweetened with no sulfites if available)
1 1/2 teaspoon orange extract (if using orange oil use 1-2 drops as it's more concentrated than the extract)

Directions: In a medium sized bowl mix the dry ingredients. Stir in the coconut and chips or fruit. In a smaller bowl whisk together the water, oil, egg, and orange flavor until light. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir together just until moistened and blended together. Dont' over beat - a few lumps are ok. (Mine was super thick at this point.) Grease or spray a 12 muffin tin and fill each 2/3 full with batter. Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. Remove from oven when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 5-10 minutes then remove muffins and let cool on wire rack. These can be easily frozen and take out one at a time or thawed in the refrigerator or counter overnight.

I would love to hear your experiences with this recipe. I might experiment with other flour mixes to see if another mixture works better.

*Bette Hagman GF flour blend
2 parts rice flour (I think I used brown rice flour)
2/3 parts potato starch (aka potato starch flour)
1/3 part tapioca starch (aka tapioca flour)

For ease in measuring, my "parts" were cups so this made 3 cups but I find that I use most of it whenever I bake something and have to remeasure and add to it almost every time I bake. I suggest making a larger batch of this mix or one of these other flour mixes and storing in a plastic bag or container in your refrigerator or freezer.
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