Friday, July 16, 2010

Udi's Bakery Gluten-Free Muffins

Udi's Bakery is a miracle worker when it comes to bread. The hands down winner of our sandwich bread tasting, they have managed to make a flavorful and even light sandwich bread. One of the few gluten-free breads that I find worth eating. They do more than bread though and recently I was given the opportunity to try two products, the Double Chocolate Muffin and the Lemon Streusel Muffin.

Now, unlike bread, muffins are not most difficult thing to make gluten free. The texture is supposed to be devoid of gluten, crumbly and moist. As a result, most gluten-free bakeries produce muffins of one sort or another. However, not all are entirely palatable. Most commonly they have a strange grainy texture that results from the fact that many gluten free flours are coarsely ground. Recently I tried a gluten-free bakery muffin that had a strange aftertaste not at all uncommon in gluten-free baked good resulting from either the processing of some refined gluten-free flours, or the heavy use of certain strong flavored flours. Finally, some are simply dense and dry - without gluten to hold up the chemical leavening or recipes that don't account for the different water affinity of gluten-free flours.

So how do the Udi's muffins fare? To find out I fed them to one Celiac adult and child, one non-Celiac adult and child - namely our family. All are pretty picky, with the exception possibly of my non-Celiac son.

Appearance and smell: Both are fine looking muffins, with somewhat skewed tops. They look small batch baked, instead of mass produced unnaturally perfectly shaped. They are big in size, nearly the size two home baked muffins. They do cut in half easily and do not have a paper liner. They look moist and appetizing. Both have strong pleasant smells consistent with the flavor.  

Taste: All of us thought the taste of the chocolate muffin was nice. It was chocolately, not just brown with a bit of bittersweet flavor like many chocolate flavored baked goods. It had just the right amount of chocolate chips nestled in the batter, although being nit-picky, they were not always well distributed. The lemon muffin was less successful, but not a flop. The lemon flavor was predominately lemon oil, like lemon extract, and was missing that tart lemon flavor. Both were devoid of off-flavors, even to my non-Celiac husband who is very quick to pick out off-flavors and textures in gluten-free goods.

Texture: The texture is chewy and pleasant, although not entirely reminiscent of a classic muffin texture. It is not crumbly, but more like a sponge cake. It obviously gets a fair amount of structure from tapioca. There are absolutely no traces of graininess or ricey texture in either. Both muffins are moist, even when eaten at room temperature. They certainly do not require warming. The lemon streusel was not substantial and didn't add much to the texture.

Nutrition: These are muffins, not health food...

Additional comments: Both muffins are dairy free, but amazingly the lack of butter doesn't affect the flavor. They do not taste overwhelmingly oily.

What's the bottom line: Thumbs up for Udi's muffins. They would make a great birthday party treat to send with kids, or other snack for on the go. Easy to transport, great at room temperature or warmed. We did miss the crumbly muffin texture, but the texture was still pleasant and most importantly moist. We especially enjoyed the chocolate, but the lemon are nice as well.

Udi's muffins are widely available in the frozen section of supermarkets carrying gluten-free products and online at Udi's Bakery.

Thank you to Udi's for providing this gluten-free treat for review. I provide honest reviews of all products, regardless of their donation status. Companies are apprised of this policy before I accept any products for review.

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