The Secret to the Best, Fluffiest Gluten-Free Muffins Is Already in Your Kitchen

updated Jun 7, 2019
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

For a long time, I thought gluten-free baking involved a whole new pantry to ensure success. So, when I set out to create the perfect gluten-free lemon poppy seed muffin for Kitchn, I made it my personal mission to avoid calling for a laundry list of ingredients. I wanted them to be as close to traditional muffins as possible, with the same tender texture and bakery-style domed tops.

I tried just about everything to make that happen, but pretty much everything failed. I experimented with all sorts of flours and various ratios of leaveners, but the muffins either sunk as they baked or tasted gummy. As I was just about ready to give up, I discovered an ingenious trick for moist, tender muffins with a lofty rise that even those who aren’t gluten-free will fall for.

Credit: Maria Midoes

Whipped Egg Whites Are the Secret to the Best Gluten-Free Muffins

The trouble with gluten-free baking is that when you cut wheat flour out of the equation, you lose the gluten structure that comes with it. Without it, baked goods not only have a tendency towards crumbling and falling apart, they lose their fluffy, cake-like texture, too. There are specially-formatted gluten-free flour blends that help counteract that, but I really wanted to use something already in my kitchen. After a lot of research and experimentation, I discovered that the secret is whipped egg whites.

I discovered the smart tip from Shauna James Ahern, the blogger behind Gluten Free Girl, who mentioned it in her own gluten-free muffin recipe. She suggests separating the egg yolks and whites that usually go into muffin batter to achieve soufflé-like lift. While she didn’t whip the whites, I opted to in order to make the muffins extra fluffy and tall. The resulting muffins are almost identical to traditional muffins — a moist, tender crumb and perfectly domed tops.

You can try this technique with any gluten-free muffins or quick bread recipe. Start by separating the eggs called for in the recipe. Then, stir the yolks into the batter as usual, but hold the whites aside and whip them in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a bowl with an electric hand mixer or sturdy whisk until stiff peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir 1/3 of the beaten egg whites into the batter with the spatula to lighten it, then gently fold in the remaining egg whites until just combined. Bake as directed and achieve lofty muffin bliss.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn