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
- 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.
- 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.
- Combine oil, eggs and vanilla in small bowl and whisk until well combined. Add liquids to flour mixture and stir until very well blended.
- 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