I made two muffin recipes entirely from scratch. And when I say from scratch, I really mean I started with the barest of recipe bones. I did not take an existing recipe, change only a couple of ingredients, and then call myself then next Julia Child. (Can you tell that is pet peeve of mine of food bloggers?)
On GAPS, you are only allowed to bake with nut (such as blanched almond) or coconut flour. The only approved sweeteners are honey and dried fruit. And technically, leavening is banned as well, although some people think that baking soda might be acceptable if it is used up completely in the reaction.
I tried a couple of GAPS-legal muffin recipes via some cookbooks and websites, but I found them lacking. Also, they seemed excessively egg-y (three to six eggs for 12 muffins.) It started me thinking. How did they come to their final recipe? Why did they add that extra egg (or two or four?) I have discovered that the more limited your diet, the less reliable the recipes, whether from the internet or from a cookbook. You have people who, prior to their diagnoses, were reliant on convenience foods or box mixes now generating recipes for the masses. Or perhaps they were just average cooks. But, I can assure you there is no Dorie Greenspan developing recipes for those people who are avoiding grains, sugars, and most dairy.
Baking is based on ratios. A pancake recipe almost always follows the ratio of 2 parts flour, 2 parts liquid, 1 part egg, and 1/2 part fat. Likewise, bread is 5 parts flour and 3 parts liquid. There is a theory that this works with gluten-free flours for the most part as well. The Gluten-Free Ratio Rally is a group of gluten-free bloggers who use these basic ratios to develop new gluten-free recipes and meet with great success (and yes, some failures too). So, I had this thought. Maybe I could develop a GAPS-friendly muffin recipe using this idea of ratios.
The muffin ratio is as follows:
2 parts flour
2 parts liquid
1 part egg
1 part fat
Given that a large egg is 2 ounces:
4 ounces flour
4 ounces liquid
1 large egg
2 ounces fat (i.e. a half of a stick of butter)
Then you need some sort of leavening. The general rule is 1 teaspoon baking powder for 4 ounces (scant cup) of flour. Well, I can't use baking powder. I need to use baking soda instead. I scoured the internet and found that you can use 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and 1/2 cup of acid ingredient (i.e. buttermilk, yogurt, etc.) in replacement for the baking soda. (Honey is also acidic. However it seems as though you need 3/4 cup of honey to activate a 1/4 teaspoon of soda. That was too much honey for my purposes so I need to add another acid ingredient to the recipe).
So the bare bones of my recipe looked like this:
4 ounces almond flour
4 ounces of liquid (to include honey (as a sweetener), lemon juice (acidic medium), and remaining liquid)
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick butter
1/2 teaspoon soda (I increased this because I read that you might need to increase the leavening if using almond flour)
The first recipe I made was too wet and too salty (I had used 1/2 teaspoon salt initially). I had even added more than the 4 ounces of almond flour that the ratio called for to get a decent consistency. This was in part because I forgot to include the honey initially in the liquid portion of the ratio. But, also, I think you might just need more almond flour since it doesn't quite behave like normal wheat flour. Then....I had a brainwave.....if I used just a little bit of coconut flour (which is super absorbent when it comes to liquids) in combination with the almond flour, I might just get the perfect balance.
Behold the resulting recipe. Which was delish.
Cranberry Orange Muffins
Gaps, Grain-free, Gluten-free, SCD, Paleo (have I named them all?)
Makes a half of recipe or 6 muffins
1/2 stick butter, melted
1.5 ounces honey
3.5 ounces liquid (.5 ounce lemon juice and 3 ounces full fat coconut milk)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 ounce coconut flour
3 ounces almond flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
zest of one clementine
1/2 cup chopped cranberries
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
Mix the liquid ingredients together. Whisk the dry ingredients together. Make a well in the dry ingredients, add the liquid and mix well. Bake immediately. (Baking soda starts reacting right away.)
So, I made a mistake with the liquid ingredients--added an extra ounce. However, it turned out well enough that I am leaving it as is. The recipe is obviously versatile: add a different fat in place of the butter, use a different liquid in place of the coconut milk and lemon juice as long as it is acidic.
It is rather empowering to have done this. I feel like I have been initiated into an exclusive club (The Recipe Makers)--and now have the keys to make any kind of muffin my little heart desires!