For the most recent round of the Adopt a Gluten Free Blogger event, hosted by Sea at Book of Yum, I decided to choose Elana Amsterdam, who writes the blog Elana's Pantry. Elana is someone who's blog I have followed for a long while now, and I was anxious to try one of her recipes.
What makes Elana unique is that her recipes almost exclusively use almond flour as a base. Why almond flour? According to Elana's Almond Flour page, she gets asked that question constantly. Here is her response:
Almond flour is highly nutritious, easy to use and readily available. For those of us watching our glycemic index, almond flour is high in protein, low in carbohydrates and low in sugars.
Unlike other alternatives to wheat flour, almond flour is moist and delicious. After having tested just about every gluten free flour out there, I can save you a lot of time and hassle when I say that almond flour is far superior to other flours in terms of taste, nutrition and ease-of-use.
- Elana Amsterdam
Many of Elana's recipe also eschew sugar in favor of agave nectar. Agave is a succulent found mainly in Mexico and in some parts of the Southwest US. Perhaps you have tried it in its fermented form - tequila. But unfermented, the sap from the plant makes an excellent sweetener as a substitute for sugar.
Elana's popular food blog led to the publication of her first cookbook, The Gluten Free Almond Flour Cookbook, in 2009. The cookbook, which has received many positive reviews, contains 99 gluten free recipes, and if the cake and quiche pictured on the cover are any indication, it's worth buying!
I chose to make Elana's cinnamon bun muffins, which, in addition to almond flour (which I had never used before) also contains agave nectar and coconut flour (also items I had never used before). The first thing I noticed is that the batter was quite runny - but now I know why. On Elana's Almond Flour page, she writes the following:
NOTE: One example of almond flour you will find in retail stores is Bob's Red Mill. This product yields poor, runny results when used in my recipes; compared to other almond flours it has a very coarse texture. I do not recommend using Bob's Red Mill almond flour in my recipes.
- Elana Amsterdam
If only I had read that before making the recipe! I, of course, used Bob's Red Mill almond flour. Elana's Almond Flour page lists a variety of almond flour brands she recommends.
The runny batter caused the cinnamon topping to pretty much sink straight down the middle to the bottom of each muffin. But, in some ways, that was a good thing, because it allowed me to actually taste the batter by itself. Simply put, the batter is fantastic. It's light with, of course, a great nutty flavor. And despite what I would think is a lot of agave nectar (1/2 cup) the muffins were not overly sweet.
I really enjoyed these muffins a lot, as did my children - well, at least the ones who like cinnamon. And I think that almond flour, as well as agave nectar, will become more widely used in our house. If you haven't before, check out Elana's web page, and give some of her recipes a try.
As always, thank you Sea for hosting this wonderful event!
NOTE: The frosting on the muffins is the standard GFCF cream cheese buttercream frosting I have been using recently.
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