The best gluten-free vegan vegetable muffin in all the land

I spent the summer growing zucchini and developing a zucchini bread recipe that satisfied my trifecta: gluten-free, vegan, and lofty. This is the result. It’s an all-day process, but worth it as a treat a couple of times a year. The muffins are a little more forgiving of moisture variations without going soggy, but the loaves rise better if you get everything right, so it’s up to you.

First, turn your oven to its lowest setting. Ours is 170F.

Makes 1 8″ loaf or 14-16 muffins. Line loaf pans with a sling of parchment; muffin tins with paper liners.

Flour mix:

  • 1/4 c + 2T potato starch (!= potato flour; check the kosher section)
  • 1/4 c + 2T oat flour (can make at home from rolled oats + food processor if needed)
  • 1/4 c white rice flour
  • 1/4 c brown rice flour
  • 1/4 c sorghum flour
  • 1/4 c tapioca flour/starch

Unfortunately, because the liquid:grain ratio is low for this recipe, you really, honestly, truly have to sift it or risk weird gritty results. You’ll lose 1-2T of chaff and grit but that’s already factored in.

More dry ingredients:

  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 4 t baking powder (yes, four)
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 t xanthan gum
  • 1-2 t spices of choice (cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg is good)
  • 1 c granulated sugar (yes, in with the dry ingredients)
  • handful of rolled oats

Blend flour + dry ingredients together thoroughly. GF bakes suffer if undermixed.

If you keep your GF flours in the freezer like I do, you’ll want to pop the dry ingredients bowl in the warm oven to come up to temp.

Zucchini. You can twist out the juices in a tea towel if you must, but it really works better to freeze it, then thaw, drain, and squeeze:

  • 1 c packed grated zucchini, drained
  • 1/2 c zucchini juices

Set the shreds aside. Warm the juice to 105F, and sprinkle over it:

  • 1 t active dry yeast
  • 1 t sugar

Let the yeast dissolve and get foamy while you grind the following to a coarse powder or meal:

  • 1 T tukmaria (indian grocery) or chia (health co-op)
  • 3 T flax

I use a big mortar & pestle for this, so by the time I have powder, the yeast is pretty happy.

Stir the powder into the yeast juice. You don’t want to dump it in and let it sit without stirring or the chia/tukmaria will clump up irreparably. Let rise for 15 minutes: first rise.

Put:

  • 1/2 c coconut oil

in the bowl of your stand mixer. If your kitchen is cold, put the bowl into the warm oven until the oil has melted.

Once that’s done and the first-rise timer has gone off, fit your mixer with the cookie blade attachment, install the bowl, and add:

  • 2 t vanilla

Scrape in the yeast-juice-meal mixture (it should be fluffy with CO2 and mucilaginous by now) and beat on low, increasing speed until emulsified and pale, about 5-10 minutes.

Add half the warm dry ingredients and beat 5 minutes.

Add the other half and stir to combine. Depending on ambient humidity it may be crumbly or cookie dough-like; that’s okay.

Add the zucchini shreds. If your batter was stiff before, this should loosen it up substantially.

Portion into pans, filling muffin cups full.

Load pans into the oven and turn it off. Let rise 2 hours (second rise) or until visibly inflated. Re-warm the oven as needed to keep the ambient temp above 75F, otherwise the coconut oil will set up and prevent the yeast from expanding.

Remove pans from oven and preheat to 375F.

Baking procedure:

  • Don’t use the bottom rack. If you have more than one pan and a small oven, bake in series, not in parallel
  • Bake loaves 1 hour, muffins 15 minutes at 375F
  • Reduce heat to 325F
  • Check loaves every 15 minutes, muffins every 5, until internal temp reaches 210F

You really, honestly, truly have to bake these to internal temp; the clean-skewer test is an utter lie. The creases and the outer crust will both be the same shade of rich brown when they’re done.

Cool in pans 5 minutes, then remove to a rack to cool completely. GF starches do not finish gelling while still warm.

Once cooled and set, they’re lovely at room temp, and even better if you can pop them in the microwave for 10 seconds first.

Keep at room temp or frozen. If you must refrigerate them, definitely reheat before serving.

 

Variations:

  • Pumpkin spice muffins/bread: Omit zuke shreds & juice; use pumpkin puree and water or nut milk instead. Warm pumpkin and stir into yeast-meal mixture before first rise. Use maximum spices; include at least 1/2t ground ginger and 1/4t ground cloves. Pumpkin is more yeast-friendly; keep an eye on the 2nd rise and stop once visibly inflated. Over-risen pumpkin bread will collapse after baking, much like a soufflé.
  • Dried fruit: Soak 1/4c chopped dried fruit in warm water, rum, or brandy. Drain and stir fruit in just before portioning batter into pans. Sub orange liqueur for vanilla.
  • Chopped nuts: Toast 1/4-1/2 c chopped nuts. Stir in just before portioning batter into pans.
  • Chocolate chips: Sprinkle on top just before second rise.
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