Gluten-Free Morning Glory Muffins

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Many years ago, my friend Marilyn told me about how she loved to make Morning Glory Muffins for her family on Christmas morning. I remembered seeing recipes for them in food magazines at the time and they sounded really delicious. But in reality, whenever I considered baking up a batch, I’d end up making my less ingredient-laden carrot muffins. Recently though, Marilyn told me she needed to make this family favorite gluten-free. And you know what happened next. I put on my baker’s hat and got to work.

I started researching recipes and found they all circled back to chef Pam McKinstry of the Morning Glory Café on Nantucket Island. McKinstry created this produce-rich muffin for her customers in 1978. She laced them with fragrant cinnamon, and packed them full of apple, carrot, coconut, pecans, and raisins. When her recipe appeared in Gourmet magazine in 1981, it proved to be so popular that the magazine decided to print it again ten years later.

The rest, shall we say, is history.

Naturally, bakers on the blogosphere have had their way with McKinstry’s recipe. They changed the size of the recipe. They changed the proportions. They added new ingredients and left out others. They tried to make the muffins “healthy”. They tried to make them sugar-free. They tried to make them oil-free. They added whole wheat. They added oats. They tried to make them vegan. Then they made them paleo. They left out the vanilla. And on and on.

Back to basics!

I decided to stay with the original recipe and found it in my copy of The Gourmet Cookbook, edited by Ruth Reichl. The trouble for me was, it made “about 30 muffins”, required three muffin pans, and contained large quantities of each ingredient (4 cups of flour, 4 cups grated carrot, 2 apples, 6 eggs, etc.). But even when you cut the recipe in half, as I did here, you’ll need two muffin pans to make it. I used two 12-muffin cup pans and only greased 16 of the cups in total. I have a wide oven, so I baked the two pans together side by side with a little space in between. I also tested filling combinations of 12 and 4 muffin cups per pan, and 8 and 8 muffin cups per pan. The number of muffins cups filled with batter didn’t matter when baked in my oven. That said, depending on your oven, you may want to bake the muffins in two batches.

My converted recipe is remarkably close to the original – but cut in half. And as I typically do when I convert something to gluten-free, I increased the cinnamon and vanilla, and added a bit of baking powder and xanthan gum. I was also able to reduce the sugar a little, but not so much as to affect the moisture,

Of the many tweaks that bakers made to the original recipe, one was the addition of crushed pineapple. I actually thought it might be nice and in keeping with McKinstry’s over all theme of adding lots of produce. I tested the muffins with it and without it. In the end, there really wasn’t a huge difference, but the crushed pineapple seemed to add a little something extra that I liked. It is in the ingredient list below as “optional”.

Make these tender gluten-free Morning Glory Muffins soon. They’re perfect for summer brunches on the patio, a picnic on the beach, or even a snack after a late afternoon hike. And even though they’re incredibly hard to resist, they freeze really well if you have any left over. Even better, if you don’t get around to making them now, you can save the recipe for the winter holidays!

Note to Marilyn:
So there you have you it! A somewhat belated recipe for gluten-free Morning Glory Muffins based on the original recipe. Hope you like it as much as we did!


Morning Glory Muffins

Adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook, Houghton Mifflin, 2004

Makes 16 muffins

2 cups Brown Rice Flour Mix
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3⁄4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
2 cups peeled and coarsely grated carrots
1 medium Granny Smith Apple, peeled, cored and coarsely grated
1/ 2 cup raisins
1⁄2 cup chopped pecans
1⁄2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained (optional)
1 cup canola oil
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Position rack in center of oven. Grease 16 muffin cups with cooking spray (use two 12-muffin cup pans or one 12-muffin pan and one 6-muffin cup pan.
  2. Mix flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add carrots, apple, raisins, pecans, and coconut; stir to coat evenly. Mix in pineapple, if using.
  3. Combine oil, eggs and vanilla in small bowl and whisk until well combined. Add liquids to flour mixture and stir until very well blended.
  4. Fill 16 of the muffin cups in the muffin pans. Bake about 25 minutes until muffins are light golden brown and springy to the touch (check for doneness at 22 minutes). Cool in pan for 5 minutes. Cool another 8 to 10 minutes on a rack before serving.

Muffins can be stored in a tightly sealed plastic container in refrigerator or covered with plastic wrap and then with foil and stored in freezer for up to three weeks. Best when eaten within four days of baking. Rewarm briefly in microwave.

©2017 by Annalise Roberts

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20 thoughts on “Gluten-Free Morning Glory Muffins”

  1. I will be trying these! Happy to see that they’re dairy-free since my GF daughter also has issues with dairy. GF & DF recipes are hard to find.

    1. Hi Karen,
      I hope you enjoy the muffins!

      And by the way, you can easily substitute rice milk for the milk in most of my recipes, especially since I usually use skim milk – and rice milk is also thin in consistency. Why do I use typically skim (unless it’s for a custard etc.)? Because that way I can control the total fat in the recipe better.

      I also use Earth Balance in place of butter when I want to make something dairy free.

      Very best,

  2. Hi Annalise,

    I have just been diagnosed with lymphocytic colitis,which also suggest a gluten free diet. I have been struggling with flour blends and so unhappy with my baking.

    I love to bake and cook and feeling a little lost. I just bought your Authentic classic blend and I hope to make these muffins which are my favorite. I hope all goes well.

    I hate the gummy dense nature of many of the blends out there.
    I am on a very fixed budget so it’s heartbreaking to throw away
    what you just baked.

    1. Hi there!
      I’d be happy to answer any questions you have as you start baking with the Authentic Foods GF Classic Blend. I’ve been able to recreate a lot of delicious favorites with this incredible flour. I wish you much success!

      Very best,

      1. Hi Annalise,

        Thank you. I have question about xanthan gum. How much do you suggest for 1 cup of flour or 1 1/2 cups. I dislike the sticky gluey batter like in cup 4 cup. Thanks Candy

        1. Hi Candy,

          I don’t have a one rule fits all for xanthan gum (as many bakers do). I’ve found it really depends on what you’re trying to make and what other ingredients are in the recipe- and in particular, what gluten-free flours you are using. Cup4Cup might make a decent fresh pasta, but I agree, it does make many other recipes sticky-gluey-like.

          If you’re using my blend, I recommend you look at other similar recipes in my books, on my old website, or this blog, and see how much I used. Then make the adjustment in your recipe.

          And/or, perhaps I can help you with the recipe you are trying to convert?

          Very best,

          P.S. – FYI There is an entire, very detailed chapter on how to convert recipes using my flour blends, as well as others, in my newest book, The Heirloom Collection.

  3. Has anyone tried making this recipe egg free? Chia egg? Flax egg? Thanks! We have gluten, dairy and egg sensitivities.

    1. Hi Gretchen,

      I have not tried this particular recipe with egg replacers, so I can’t give you a specific recommendation. Nor did my testers try it egg-free. But when I was researching recipes, I saw some bakers attempting egg-free versions. So this suggestion: For one of the best primers on egg-free baking, I recommend Cybele Pascale. She has an excellent palette and she uses my all-purpose Brown Rice Flour Mix in her allergen-free baking book. If it were me, I’d look to see how she handles fruit-and-vegetable-laden muffins in her book and on her website (she does not bake with nuts) and appropriate her technique with my recipe. I feel compelled to warn you that there are a lot of really bad egg-free recipes out there. Cybele Pascale has good recipes- and there is a world of difference. Please let me know how you make out!

      Very best,

  4. Annalise!

    Thank you! I made these DELICIOUS morning glory muffins and couldn’t be happier. Finally gluten free delicious.

    I also made my own Birthday cake from your yellow cake recipe and was also pleased.

    I think I may get my baking confidence back with your guidance.

  5. My husband was recently found to multiple grain allergies — including wheat, corn, rice, nuts, beans, & eggs. I have tried various combinations of alternative flours/starches that so far have resulted in bombs of muffins and breads. I purchased your Gluten-free baking classics book and was encouraged to learn some baking tips and to find the bread flour combinations. However the flour mix you recommend for muffins, cookies, etc all use the brown rice flour. What would you recommend for a rice flour replacement. I was thinking a sorghum/millet combination, but am not at all sure. Any thoughts or recommendations would be appreciated.
    Thank you.

    1. Dear Dorothy,

      Well you certainly have your hands full with these challenges. But with a bit of patience and effort, you should be able to recreate some many of the favorites your husband is hungry for. The rice flour issue is a bit complicated. In truth, my recipes are finely calibrated to work with extra finely ground brown rice flour and it is a full two thirds of the flour mix, However, if you need to leave out the rice flour, the best replacement to use in my recipes is the most finely ground sorghum you can buy. Authentic Foods makes extra finely ground sorghum flour. Bob’s Red Mill sorghum has a much larger grind that is perfect for bread, but it makes a slightly grittier cupcake. The grind of King Arthur’s sorghum flour is in between these two. You will have to reduce the amount of liquid and/or fat in the recipe (or increase the flour) but there is no across-the-board reduction amount because it depends on what you are trying to make and what is in it. You may have to increase the amount of xanthan gum, just a bit, to improve the structure, but this will depend on the other ingredients in the recipe.

      The bread flour mix recipe replacement for corn starch is very easy. What I usually recommend is that you first try Option 1 (below) in an easy recipe, like the rustic flat bread, to see if you like it. Then try option 2 to see which you like better.

      Option 1: replace 1 cup corn starch with 1/2 cup potato starch and 1/2 cup tapioca flour.

      Option 2: replace 1 cup corn starch with 1/3 potato starch and 2/3 tapioca flour

      As for the eggs, although I discuss egg replacements in my books and here on this blog, I don’t give specifics for recipes. I highly recommend that you give Cybele Pascal’s allergen baking cookbook a good look for a primer on replacing eggs across a wide range of recipes. She has an excellent palette and her book uses my all-purpose brown rice flour mix for sweet baked goods; she uses my bread flour mix without the corn starch for breads.

      I hope this gives you a good road map to get you started. Let me know if you have any other questions. And I’d love to hear back about how you make out!

      Very best,

  6. I’m wondering if I can bake this Glory Muffins recipe as a cake or poundcake, I dont have muffins mold, thank you.


    1. Dear Elsa,

      Yes, I would think that you could use the Morning Glory muffin recipe to bake a cake or poundcake. The batter makes a very moist muffin, so you will need to check to make sure your “cake” is done by using a toothpick. I can’t give you a bake time without knowing the pan size and thickness. But you could assume that you should start checking for doneness about 5 minutes before you would normally check for doneness when making a pound cake in the pan you choose to use.

      Very best,

  7. Christine Verchot

    I tried these muffins at my sister’s house (Linette Branham) and they are delicious! Decided I need to make them for myself at home. I do have a question about the flour mix. I had purchased King Arthur Measure for Measure flour mix for another GF recipe I found. Will I be able to use that in place of the Brown Rice Flour Mix and omit the xanthan gum? Just wondering if you think the substitution will work. Thanks!!

    1. Hey there!

      So good to hear from you Chris!

      However, sorry to say, the KA Measure to Measure is a flour blend that contains ingredients that were never tested in my any of my muffin recipes (like sorghum flour and cellulose), in addition the two different rice flours, starches, xanthan gum, and other stuff. Moreover, I do not know the proportions of the ingredients in order to help you compensate. My guess- it will probably give you a heavier, denser, wetter muffin than if you use the flour mix the recipe is calibrated to use (which was also field tested by my testers in their own home kitchens).

      If it were me, I’d use their flour mix with a recipe from their website, one that was calibrated to use it, in order to see how you like it.

      That said, you can use their brown rice flour in my mix. It is not exactly as fine as the Authentic Foods flour, but at least it is stabilized.

      Hope this helps (and a big hug to Linette)!

      Very best regards,

      1. Christine Verchot

        Thanks, Annalise! I’ll do as you suggested and let you know the results. Hope all is well with you!

  8. Christine Verchot

    I had these muffins at my sister’s house (Linette Branham) and they are delicious! I decided I need to make them for myself at home but have a question regarding the flour mix. I bought some King Arthur Measure to Measure Flour for another GF recipe I found and am wondering if I can use that instead of the Brown Rice Flour Mix and leave out the xanthan gum. I’m really looking forward to having these muffins! Thanks!!

  9. Hi Annalise,
    I wrote to you a short time ago with a question about the GF blueberry muffin recipe in “Gluten-Free Baking Classics”. I wondered why the recipe called for discarding one Tbsp of the milk/oil mixture before adding the eggs. You suggested that I try the recipe with all of the milk/oil. And, so, I did! And, like your test kitchens, I found the muffins were not as good as when I followed the original recipe. To think that one Tbsp of liquid could make such a difference. ? I am definitely a believer now! Think I’ll celebrate by baking a batch of those muffins right now. ?

    1. Hi there!

      It’s good to know that all my testing on that recipe is still holding up after all these many years. Thank you for getting back to me. It is blueberry season here in New Jersey and I just made that recipe this weekend- and I took that 1 tablespoon of liquid out. Gosh I love those muffins. Hope you’re enjoying the them as much as me.

      Very best to you,

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