Gluten-Free Wheat-Free Apple Cake Muffins

Gluten-Free Apple Cake Muffins - light and sweet
A tender and light apple cake muffin. Gluten and dairy free.

Apple Cake Inspired

Before we get to muffins, I have a game for you. Created spontaneously one night, after some dizzying Facebook scrolling (when did Facebook become one endless stream of bumper stickers?). Pardon my yawning.

I think I'll call this amusement... The Dating Game. Here's how it hatched over crudities and hummus.

"I wish I knew you in high school," I tell my husband. This is not news to him, by the way. It's a popular topic lately, now that I am in my second adolescence, eighteen years past mid-life.

I sketch for him a vivid narrative of study hall humiliations and spikes of burning shame, waving a carrot stick in his direction, just for emphasis. I search for words to depict how it feels when a snickering quarterback punches your clutch of school books with his fists, sending you to your knees in a crowded hallway to rescue the sprawl of English homework, algebra and biology books that emit the faint smell of ink and gum.

He sighs audibly. He hates to hear these stories.

"I would have played you my Tommy album," I say. "I would have cooked you brown rice and tamari. We would have talked about books. Siddhartha. On the Road. Women in Love."

He smiles and adds, "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas."

We toast Hunter Thompson with our mineral water.

"You wouldn't have liked me in high school," he says.

This isn't the first time I have heard this. It always puzzles me. Though he tells me this with less conviction now that he's been married to me for seventeen and a half years. I picture him in Levi's and an un-tucked flannel shirt. Beefy, brainy, sarcastic.

"I was angry," he mentions.

"Me too," I say, "but on the inside. A classic geek. They called me Four-Eyes."

"That's original," he says, popping an olive.

"And Sandwich," I add.

He raises an eyebrow. "Sandwich?"

"Yeah," I sigh. "Because of my hair. Straight. Thin. Parted down the middle. Like this." I place the edges of my palms on either side of my face. "Sandwich."

"Bullies," he says, and shakes his head in disgust.

Suddenly I feel inspired.

"Let's date in high school! Let's watch the movies we loved. Share music. Talk about books."

He laughs but I can tell he is visualizing it.

"For our first date," I tell him, "let's see Easy Rider. It rocked my fifteen-year-old world. Peter Fonda. Captain America. It launched me into orbit."

I sit back, sip mineral water, and glance at him sideways. I conjure my best rendition of my fifteen-year-old self.

"Hey. Wanna see Easy Rider?" I ask.

"It's rated R," he tells me. "We'll have to sneak you in. Or get you a fake ID."


Sifting powdered sugar on gluten-free apple cake muffins
Sifting powdered sugar on apple cake muffins.
Gluten-Free Apple Cake Muffins, warm from the pan
Warm from the oven sweet apple treats.
Gluten-Free Apple Cake Muffins - tender, light and sweet
Good morning! Tender apple muffin goodness awaits.

Karina's Wheat-Free Gluten-Free Apple Cake Muffins Recipe

Recipe originally posted September 2012 by Karina Allrich.

These light and tender muffins flirt with being apple cake. They don't have the dense graininess of your typical gluten-free muffin. I think the difference might be the flour mix- with potato starch. And the oil. I used organic canola oil.


1 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup millet flour, or brown rice flour*
1/2 cup potato starch (not potato flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 organic free range eggs, beaten
1/2 cup organic canola oil
1/2 cup rice milk
1 tablespoon bourbon vanilla extract
1 heaping cup diced peeled apple (we used two medium apples)


Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Line a twelve cup muffin tin.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, potato starch, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, sea salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar.

Add the eggs and oil, and beat to combine. Add the rice milk and vanilla extract, and continue beating for a minute or two until the batter is smooth and elastic.

Stir in the apple pieces by hand.

Spoon the batter evenly into the muffin cups.

Bake in the center of a preheated oven for about 22 minutes, until the muffins are domed, and firm.

Cool on a wire rack for five minutes, then turn out the muffins from the pan to keep them from getting soggy. Continue to cool on a wire rack.

Option: Sift tops with powdered sugar when cooled a bit.

Wrap and bag leftover muffins, and freeze them to preserve texture. These gems make perfect grab-and-go treats.

Make one dozen muffins.

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Recipe Source:

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I'm now using less brown rice and brown rice flour, and eating fewer rice cakes, etc. Here's why- there is elevated arsenic in rice.

For an egg-free, vegan version, I don't see why egg replacer wouldn't work. I have had great luck making gluten-free vegan muffins - see my Vegan and Vegetarian Recipe Index for vegan muffin recipes and inspiration.

For more substitution help, please see my guide to baking with substitutions here.

xox Karina


Anonymous said...

Karina, love your recipes and love your blogging. In my 'newer life' eggs are now off my list with many other things. Have you ever tried these muffins with flax seeds/water as a substitution for eggs? I would like to try it, but afraid to have to throw them out.

Anonymous said...

Wow! You were a beauty in high school!!! Great picture! High school boys are so over
Laurie, Canada

Beth @ Tasty Yummies said...

Yum I bet these are so delicious! All I want right now is pumpkin and apple anything and everything. I cannot wait to go apple picking so I can get started. Thanks for such a lovely recipe.

Sarah G. said...

What an inspiration. Some day, when my little ones allow me to sleep at night and my motivation is a bit more... present, I will date my husband in high school! Love it. And what a beautiful photo. Can we see one of your husband in high school?

amy said...

Awesome, I'm making apple muffins this afternoon, too! We're re-living the college life rather than high school--hubby is going to art school. He just finished up a still life with some sliced apples, which will finish their modelling careers in muffin form. :)

Sarah said...

I love the high school story and I can't wait to try the muffins. My high school hairdo was the "Bubble". I didn't know my husband but my Mother gave him my photo, which he carries next to "Little Debbie". Lol !

Leanne @ healthful pursuit said...

haha too funny - I too wish I would have known my partner in High School. We'd both be so different from who we are today! Great recipe... again!

katrina hall said...

Fantastico! Love the recipe ( though Izzie no longer is on a g-free diet), the pictures AND your "high school story"!

Janet NZ said...

I LOVE the photo - I have one taken of me - a little older than that one of you... it was taken on a day I felt fat, ugly and miserable. I did NOT want my photo taken... and you know what? I look at that photo now, and realise - I was actually a bit pretty that day... :-)
I love the high-school date idea. I went to an all-girls high school, and would love to go back and tell my miserably unhappy self that it would all be ok one day soon. I love your posts lately XO

Sarah Hornacek said...

these looks so delightful! perfect for fall too!

Golighty said...

Karina,this struck such a chord with me... my husband always said I wouldn't have liked him when he was young!! I was bookish and big, he was sporty and fairly wild. I know at least he would not have been a bully like the quarterback.
I'm so pleased I found your blog x

Anonymous said...

Such a pretty girl!...Teen boys can be so blind and girls just as cruel...I used to tell myself that four years of high school was only a blip on my cosmic radar and those that peaked at 17 years old would be old and worn out by age 25...Look at how amazing we are now and continue to be...Creative, funny and gorgeous in our PJ's!...The recipe looks yummy and I am going to a local orchard soon to get some apples...Can't wait...Sending hugs

Lynne L. said...

I just love your narratives Karina!!!
Hubby says for a high school date we'd have to get some Baby Duck(thank goodness that "wine" isn't around any more!)...he's 3 years older than me, so he would have been able to get it lol. We would be flipping through his Beatles, Who, Doors, Procol Harum etc collections, while munching on popcorn & watching 2001 A Space Odyssey & Clockwork Orange (oh, and Easy Rider too!). And your muffins :)

Allergy Free, Mother of Three said...

Hi Katrina. This came just in time. I have to make a treat for my son's Kindergarden class for Johnny Appleseed Day. Do you think I can grate the apples instead? I'm thinking the kids might like them smaller in the muffin. Please let me know your thoughts. Thanks!

glutenfreegidget said...

How adorable are you two?! Sandwich is the stupidest nickname made up by a bully that I have EVER heard. For me, the football team called me FC. It took me a year to figure out what that even meant. (I have red hair. Enough said.) High school football players seen to be the source of everyones high school horrer stories!

The Wheat-Free Mom said...

Oh these look great. I think my boys will eat these up in a second. Better make a double batch!

Josie said...

What a cute story! Btw, I bought more apples to make the apple crisp (again!) from a couple posts ago, but I'll give these a whirl. They'll be perfect for my lunches next week as I am starting grad school. (Whoohoo!)Thanks for the recipe! ♥

Glenn + Corrin said...

These were tasty. Thank you. I am new to GF baking but have found some recipes turn out remarkably well: good texture, moist, tasty. My favorite of your recipes (so far) is the maple sweetened zucchini muffins. I love everything about it and have won over many converts with that recipe. Thank you! This recipe, although tasty, leaves an undesirable grittiness in your mouth, darn that brown rice flour. I so want to use it in my baking but sometimes it just doesn't work. Can you explain why? I plan on tweaking this recipe a bit because it has all the necessary components of a delicious muffin: it's tasty, light and cakey but I don't love the brown rice flour in such a delicate recipe. Any suggestions on an alternate flours? Have you tried almond or coconut? said...


Kate said...

I'm so excited to make this for my Thanksgiving dinner dessert! I was worried that I wouldn't be able to make something everyone would love after my diagnosis, but this fits the bill.

kellypea said...

Love the story, that glowing high school smile, and the muffins, of course. Love.

Lynne L. said...

I was looking around for something to make for tonight when friends come over. She is diabetic & I am GF. Of course, I ended up back with you, because I LOVE your recipes! I made this into a cake & used 1/4 cup organic brown sugar & added the rest using Stevia powder (slightly less than 3/4 cup total as Stevia is so sweet). It's in the oven as I write house smells so good! Will let you know how it tastes. p.s. going to Gluten Free Expo Toronto first!

Lynne L. said...

pps...what a lovely pic of you as a teenager! Ah, I remember those days!

Lynne L. said...

Udate: Don't make with Stevia...I've never liked the taste & still don't. It's not bad, but it's dry..should have used Xylitol & added a bit of applesauce or more rice milk. If you can...stick with Karina's's bound to be perfect as usual!!

Tiffany said...

These look delicious!!! My husband and I actually based our wedding around all things apples (apple cider, apple beer, baked apples, apple pie scented candles lol etc...)and I am constantly looking at different recipes that use apples. I can't wait to try this one!

Bob Davis said...

I see that you are not using olive oil in your recent recipes. I have heard that recently, they have said that you should not heat olive oil. Does that include baking? Does that mean we can't bake with olive oil anymore?

Karina Allrich said...

Thank you all for your fabulous comments- love the stories. xox

As for cooking/baking with oil- I am always experimenting. Organic coconut oil is rich and lovely in baking. Organic Canola oil works, too. So does light olive oil, and grape seed oil. I'd suggest organic whenever possible.



Brooke said...

I just made this recipe, but made a few alterations and they still came out great. I am on a low fat diet (gallbladder) and so I cut the oil in half and added a 1/4 apple sauce. I am sensitive to the taste of xanthan gum, so I also subbed 1/4 tsp xanthan gum and 1/4 tsp guar gum instead of the 1 tsp xanthan gum. YUM!!! Thank you for the great recipe.

MJ said...

I actually dated my husband in high school. Looking forward to trying the muffins.

Sarah Campbell said...

Will these work with cornstarch instead of potato starch? I'm brand new to the gluten-free diet and need lots of help :)

susanisima said...

Hi Karina, I was wondering if you could suggest a substitute for sorghum flour, i live in mexico city and i can't find it anywhere. Can I use amaranth flour instead? what do you think?

Thanks so much for your blog


psychochef said...

I love this post. Sweet writing.

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