03/20/2014 03:28 EDT | Updated 05/20/2014 05:59 EDT

'The Clueless Baker' recipes: gluten-free banana muffins and no-knead bread

In "The Clueless Baker: Learning to Bake from Scratch," Evelyn Raab steers the novice baker through the pitfalls of creating sweet treats, offering easy recipes and plenty of advice.

Her husband and two sons served as enthusiastic recipe testers while she was writing the book, she says.

Here are her recipes for gluten-free banana muffins and bread that can be made in a casserole dish with no kneading necessary.

Gluten-Free Banana Muffins

These gluten-free muffins are light, fluffy and easy to make.

175 ml (3/4 cup) brown rice flour

50 ml (1/4 cup) cornstarch

10 ml (2 tsp) baking powder

1 ml (1/4 tsp) salt

3 ripe bananas, well mashed

125 ml (1/2 cup) vegetable oil

125 ml (1/2 cup) granulated sugar

2 eggs

125 ml (1/2 cup) raisins, chocolate chips, blueberries, whatever

Heat oven to 190 C (375 F). Grease a 12-cup muffin pan or line with paper liners.

In a small bowl, stir together rice flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together mashed bananas, oil, sugar and eggs with an electric mixer. Continue to beat this mixture on high speed for 2 or 3 minutes, until quite fluffy. Add flour mixture and beat just until everything is combined. Stir in raisins, chips, berries or whatever you're using. Spoon batter into prepared muffin pan, filling cups nearly to the top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until muffins are lightly browned on top and a toothpick poked into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.

Makes about 12 muffins.


No-Knead Casserole Bread

This bread requires no finicky kneading and can easily be varied to suit your taste or what you're serving with it.

"I think yeast breads tend to intimidate people and they see that they have to knead it and it takes forever and this is so simple and so easy and so good and you just mix it up and you basically let it rise," says Raab. "I think the whole process might take a couple of hours for it to finish, most of which is just sitting around waiting."

875 ml (3 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour, divided

22 ml (4 1/2 tsp) quick-rise instant yeast (2 envelopes)

45 ml (3 tbsp) granulated sugar

5 ml (1 tsp) salt

250 ml (1 cup) milk

175 ml (3/4 cup) water

50 ml (1/4 cup) butter or vegetable oil

1 egg

In a large mixing bowl, stir together 500 ml (2 cups) of the flour (this is only part of the total amount of flour), dry yeast granules, sugar and salt.

In a saucepan or in a microwave-safe bowl, combine milk, water and butter or oil. Heat on stove or in microwave until very warm to the touch — don't boil. Add warm liquid to flour mixture and beat with an electric mixer (or stir by hand with a wooden spoon) for a few minutes, until quite gooey. Add egg and remaining flour, and beat or stir until mixture is extremely sticky and has become difficult to stir. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place it in a warm spot to rise until doubled in volume, 30 to 45 minutes.

With a wooden spoon, stir down batter to deflate it. Dump into a well-greased 2-l (2-quart) souffle or casserole dish and let rise again, until not quite doubled in volume, 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oven to 180 C (350 F).

Place casserole dish in oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until bread is golden brown on top and sounds hollow when you tap the top with your finger. Let cool for a few minutes before removing from baking dish.

Makes 1 large loaf.

Casserole Bread Variations

Raisin Casserole Bread

Stir 250 ml (1 cup) raisins into batter just before first rise. Bake as for basic bread.

Cheese Casserole Bread

Reduce butter or oil to 30 ml (2 tbsp). Add 375 ml (1 1/2 cups) grated sharp cheddar cheese to batter when you beat in egg. Bake as for basic bread.

Feta and Olive Casserole Bread

Substitute olive oil for butter in basic recipe. Stir 250 ml (1 cup) pitted black olives (preferably kalamata or other brine-cured ones) into batter just before first rise. Sprinkle top of bread with 125 ml (1/2 cup) crumbled feta cheese just before second rise. Bake as for basic bread.

Rosemary Parmesan Bread

Substitute olive oil for butter in basic recipe. Add 125 ml (1/2 cup) grated Parmesan cheese and 15 ml (1 tbsp) chopped fresh rosemary to batter before first rise. Just before baking, brush top of loaf with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt and a bit more chopped rosemary. Bake as for basic bread.

Source: "The Clueless Baker: Learning to Bake from Scratch" by Evelyn Raab (Firefly, 2013).