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Muffin Disaster - Please Help!

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Hi everyone! New girl here!

I've just begun my foray into gluten-free baking. I wanted to make muffins and was going to buy the Pamela's Pancake & Baking Mix but it was so pricey I thought I'd see if using the Trader Joe's gluten-free pancake & waffle mix would work as a flour substitute. I worked from a standard blueberry muffin recipe and when it called for flour I used the TJ's mix. Everything seemed fine, the muffins were puffing up nicely, and then I started messing things up. I added the crumb topping (br sugar, butter, "flour") midway through baking, which meant the oven door was left open for a cpl minutes while I did that. The next time I checked on the muffins they were flat with big craters in the tops from the crumb topping. I took them out of the oven when a toothpick came out clean, but after cooling they were densely gummy inside. I even put them back in the oven thinking maybe just maybe they were underbaked, but alas, they were still gummy inside.

So, my question is...what caused the gummy flatness? Was it leaving the oven open too long midway through baking? Or did the crumb topping flatten them out and squish all the ingredients down, leaving them densely gummy? Or something else entirely???

I want to make another batch, but want to figure out what went so horribly wrong so I can correct it.

Thank you so much for the help!

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It may have been the mix. Maybe others will weigh in on their experiences but I didn't like the texture of the TJ's mix at all when we used it for pancakes. I have tried the Gluten-free pantry gluten-free flour blend and also Pamela's all purpose pancake and baking mix for muffins and they worked well. For any crumb topping you should be able to put it on before baking and it should be fine-not get overbrowned.

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A pancake mix is going to already have leavening in it, so if you add yet more leavening in the muffin recipe, it's likely to become unstable and collapse (hence dense/gummy). Adding the crumb topping probably made it worse, but it probably would have had the same issue regardless.

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@tarnalberry: ahh, i wonder if that could be the problem. i looked at the mixes's ingredients & it did have baking soda but of course it didn't say how much it had in it, I thought it might be a minimal amt seeing as it's pancake/waffle mix, so i went ahead and added baking powder as called for in the muffin recipe. I will try experimenting w/the leavening amts. Thanks so much!

@missy'smom: i've used the TJ's pancake mix for making waffles and they are delicious, very light & crunchy. my non-gluten-free dad actually said they were the best waffles he'd ever had. i have not used them as pancakes tho. texture might be disguised in waffles. I wanted to try using this mix for the muffins because it's sooo much cheaper than the other brands. thanks for the tips on the other mixes! i may have to bite the bullet & get something like Pamela's that's made for muffins.

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If the mix only had baking soda, and not baking powder, then I doubt the leavening was too much. If you added dairy, the acidity from that would react with the soda, before you put them in the oven. So the only effect from that might have been the bubbles which remained in the dough, if any. I find little effect from this type of leavening. Furthermore, you're right about the amount of leavening being less for pancakes.

While it seems possible to me that they were still too moist to stay up when you opened the oven, there are other factors which come to mind.

Since it wasn't mentioned, what about xanthan gum or guar gum? Pancake mix will generally require less than breads or muffins, so even if the mix has it, the amount is likely less than what you'd need for the muffins.

Also, in my experience, following a wheat-based recipe doesn't work with just the flour substituted. I get much better results by reducing the fat content to a relatively small amount. In fact, I just baked a cake today, and I didn't add any fat, dairy, or even eggs. Every time I've added fat, that's when it tends to get dense and gummy. But I suppose one might be able to compensate with enough eggs or something. I don't use sugar either, so that might have some bearing on it too.

Another thing is the liquid amount, which I find also needs to be reduced for a gluten-free cake/muffin type recipe. Too much, and you guessed it - dense and gummy. There's often a big air pocket just under the top surface too, which I think is a sign that all the bubbles from the leavening escaped the batter, and collected under the crust which had already developed. This doesn't happen to my baking when there isn't excess moisture.

I think it's important to keep in mind, that wheat-based cakes and muffins, etc typically require fat to defeat the gluten to some extent, to give a relatively light texture. Otherwise you'd get bread. Since gluten-free flours don't hold together much on their own, the texture is by default going to be loose and crumbly. So you're probably better off formulating the recipe so that they hold together better than they do on their own, rather than less.

I suppose this is one reason why gluten-free baking has people confused at first. The recipes/techniques are sorta upside down, in a way.

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Thanks RiceGuy! That was some very helpful info. I decided it's probably better to go ahead and buy a gluten-free mix that's MADE for muffins. Baking is tricky and gluten free baking is REALLY tricky!! Yesterday I bought some Pamela's Pancake & Baking Mix which is supposed to be the one to use for muffins and the like, and seems to be the most highly recommended. And I got a 24 oz bag for $5.99 at Whole Foods - what a deal! I feel much more confident about trying again, now that I have a real mix.

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Hi everyone! New girl here!

I've just begun my foray into gluten-free baking. I wanted to make muffins and was going to buy the Pamela's Pancake & Baking Mix but it was so pricey I thought I'd see if using the Trader Joe's gluten-free pancake & waffle mix would work as a flour substitute. I worked from a standard blueberry muffin recipe and when it called for flour I used the TJ's mix. Everything seemed fine, the muffins were puffing up nicely, and then I started messing things up. I added the crumb topping (br sugar, butter, "flour") midway through baking, which meant the oven door was left open for a cpl minutes while I did that. The next time I checked on the muffins they were flat with big craters in the tops from the crumb topping. I took them out of the oven when a toothpick came out clean, but after cooling they were densely gummy inside. I even put them back in the oven thinking maybe just maybe they were underbaked, but alas, they were still gummy inside.

So, my question is...what caused the gummy flatness? Was it leaving the oven open too long midway through baking? Or did the crumb topping flatten them out and squish all the ingredients down, leaving them densely gummy? Or something else entirely???

I want to make another batch, but want to figure out what went so horribly wrong so I can correct it.

Thank you so much for the help!

I have been gluten free for 15 years and have so many stories like that. There could be many reasons. Gluten free flours are so drastically different from what you are used to and I find the mixes to be expensive and not always so good. Check out my blog (link in profile). I posted a really good muffin recipe that comes from my favorite cookbook The Gluten Free Gourmet, Revised Edition, by Bette Hagman. This is a must for the newly diagnosed. It really is a good book. I put some pictures on the blog showing what each step looks like. These muffins are really versatile. You can add just about anything you like to them. My favorite is chocolate chips and walnuts. They hold up really well but don't keep long so just make 1 batch at a time. If you're like me you will eat the whole batch in a day. I know these will work for you! Please try them & good luck!

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I have been gluten free for 15 years and have so many stories like that. There could be many reasons. Gluten free flours are so drastically different from what you are used to and I find the mixes to be expensive and not always so good. Check out my blog (link in profile). I posted a really good muffin recipe that comes from my favorite cookbook The Gluten Free Gourmet, Revised Edition, by Bette Hagman. This is a must for the newly diagnosed. It really is a good book. I put some pictures on the blog showing what each step looks like. These muffins are really versatile. You can add just about anything you like to them. My favorite is chocolate chips and walnuts. They hold up really well but don't keep long so just make 1 batch at a time. If you're like me you will eat the whole batch in a day. I know these will work for you! Please try them & good luck!

Thanks for the tip! Yes, I am quickly learning that gluten-free baking is VERY different from regular baking! I'll be sure to check out your blog.

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I have been gluten free for 15 years and have so many stories like that. There could be many reasons. Gluten free flours are so drastically different from what you are used to and I find the mixes to be expensive and not always so good. Check out my blog (link in profile). I posted a really good muffin recipe that comes from my favorite cookbook The Gluten Free Gourmet, Revised Edition, by Bette Hagman. This is a must for the newly diagnosed. It really is a good book. I put some pictures on the blog showing what each step looks like. These muffins are really versatile. You can add just about anything you like to them. My favorite is chocolate chips and walnuts. They hold up really well but don't keep long so just make 1 batch at a time. If you're like me you will eat the whole batch in a day. I know these will work for you! Please try them & good luck!

I went to your website Vicki. I had a question. What kind of "Gluten free flour"? I know there are lots of different types. I used to like to bake but now some of the ingredients are so odd. My husband always made dinner rolls & pizza crust. He is psyched to make the best gluten free ones as soon as our confusion,at least partially, clears.

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I went to your website Vicki. I had a question. What kind of "Gluten free flour"? I know there are lots of different types. I used to like to bake but now some of the ingredients are so odd. My husband always made dinner rolls & pizza crust. He is psyched to make the best gluten free ones as soon as our confusion,at least partially, clears.

Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm really hoping it will help people dealing with Celiac Disease and being gluten free. The flour that I have come to prefer is Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Baking Flour, Gluten Free of course. You can buy it in several different size bags or by the case from their website. I can also find it in several larger grocery stores. There are many gluten-free flours on the market but I found this a few years ago and really like it. I use the muffin recipe (plain) I put in my blog as a substitute for dinner rolls, because they are so easy. There are several really good pizza crust recipes in Bette Hagman's cookbooks, The Gluten Free Gourmet. I've tried them all! All you need is practice, I know you'll get really good at this gluten-free thing.

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We LOVE PAMELA's baking and pancake mix. We use it in everything, especially my old recipes that call for gluten flours. We just replace it cup for cup. I know its expensive, but I buy it when it goes on sale and I only buy the 4 lb bag. Much cheaper. We love it for bannana muffins and blueberry muffins, crepes, cookies, all kinds of stuff. Give it a try. When I cook with it, I don't add additional baking soda or powder because it is in the mix already. Also I don't add additional zanthum or guar gum because it is in the mix also. Good luck. Baking gluten free is trail and error and just takes time.

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We LOVE PAMELA's baking and pancake mix. We use it in everything, especially my old recipes that call for gluten flours. We just replace it cup for cup. I know its expensive, but I buy it when it goes on sale and I only buy the 4 lb bag. Much cheaper. We love it for bannana muffins and blueberry muffins, crepes, cookies, all kinds of stuff. Give it a try. When I cook with it, I don't add additional baking soda or powder because it is in the mix already. Also I don't add additional zanthum or guar gum because it is in the mix also. Good luck. Baking gluten free is trail and error and just takes time.

I just made my very first batch of blueberry muffins using Pamela's baking mix. They turned out PERFECT!!! Wonderful texture, flavor, very moist. Looking forward to trying some banana bread next... :)

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