Our Panera’s Gluten Free Dream Day: Apple Crunch Muffin



The idea for Panera’s Gluten-Free Dream Day came to Marly after she was dining at Panera Bread and was quite shocked to discover that their menu did not offer a single gluten-free option. Marly thought it would be fun to get a group of bloggers together to create gluten-free recipes (and vegan if desired) that would be knock-offs of Panera’s current menu items. Hence, ‘Dream Day’ was born!

I admit, I was pretty scared at the thought of participating. I’ve never combined gluten-free and vegan baking intentionally before and I wasn’t sure I could have success.

But, there’s no fun in negative thinking, so I told myself I would rock out the best GF and vegan muffin I could! For my knock-off recipe, I selected Panera’s Apple Crunch Muffin, filled with apple chunks, cinnamon, and topped with cinnamon/sugar topping. My goal was to create a gluten-free and vegan Apple Crunch Muffin that would please just about anyone!

Come on, how difficult could it be?


Apparently, very…;)


I made the World’s Gummiest Muffin (above) in one trial using Bob’s Red Mill GF Flour and almond flour. I made three different trials using Bob’s GF flour and I never once had success with it. Now I know why many of you warned me about this flour! I’m sure it’s possible to have baking success with it, but I sure didn’t have any luck with muffins. Maybe it works better when not adding vegan into the mix!

Above right, you can see the World’s Most Crumbly muffin. I picked it up from the pan and it literally crumbled like a sand castle in my hand.



All joking aside, a vegan and gluten-free muffin was one of the most difficult baking challenges I think I’ve ever had and it left me with a huge respect for this type of baking.


With each failed trial, I grew more and more pissed hopeless PMS-y confused desperate eager and determined to create a successful muffin. I’m a Taurus and I don’t give up very easily (aka stubborn as a bull).

I read up on gluten-free baking and tried to learn the secrets of GF + vegan muffin success. Well, the secret is that there aren’t many. At least not what I came across. And I soon learned that gluten-free baking rules don’t always cross over to gluten-free and vegan baking. It was a whole other ball game and I was way out in left field.


Six trials later, I finally created a muffin that I deemed not only worthy to eat, but delicious too! It’s a good thing because I was running out of ingredients, time,…and sanity! Wait, that’s actually everyday around here…


I adapted Gluten-Free Goddess’s Blueberry Muffins (<–a great blog by the way!) and I was very happy with the outcome. [Note that subbing 1 cup of Bob’s red mill GF flour for the teff flour produces the World’s Gummiest Muffin  <—you were warned! ]


I would proudly serve these to anyone with a gluten sensitivity! They taste just like an apple muffin should and they weren’t beany tasting or gummy like some of my previous trials.

If my husband inhales half a batch in the matter of hours, I deem them a success. ;)


The density and flavour remind me a lot of a bran muffin with a cinnamon twist. Almond flour and Teff flour pair together wonderfully adding a nutty, wholesome quality. Not to mention both flours pack in a lot of protein, iron, calcium, and fibre.


Want to check out more gluten-free recipes?

Check out what the other Dream Day bloggers baked up for you! (Note that their posts will be going up throughout today and I will update the links accordingly!)


Allyson Kramer — Jalapeno Cheddar Bagel


Family Fresh Cooking — Wild Blueberry Muffins
Veggie Num Num — Pumpkin Muffin
Multiply Delicious — Chocolate Chip Muffins


Heather Strang — Orange Scones

Breakfast Sweets

Namely Marly — Caramel Pecan Rolls
Diet Dessert Dogs — Cinnamon Crumb Cake


Clean Green Simple — Spinach & Artichoke Souffle


Marly says, ‘Right now the only way to try all these gluten-free goodies is to make them yourself. But who knows, maybe someday you’ll be able to pop into a place like Panera and enjoy one right from their menu.’

I couldn’t agree more! Thanks again to Marly for this fun challenge. :)

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{ 114 comments… read them below or add one }

Carly June 30, 2011

Thanks for all the links, I have been having a heck of a time producing and gf baking that is edible. I see why buying GF things at the store is so expensive, people are willing to pay anything not to make them on their own!


Angela (Oh She Glows) June 30, 2011

haha so true!


Christina June 30, 2011

Those muffins look amazing! I never realized Panera didn’t offer GF stuff, hopefully they’ll see these and make a change. Trial and error makes the world go round, or at least really yummy muffins :)


Sonia (the Mexigarian) June 30, 2011

Lol. I have yet to venture into gluten free baking. To be honest, I am a little scared, but the recipes above look so yummy. I have to give this a try.


Ashley June 30, 2011

This is too funny!! I just tried making my little mini bundt cakes, GF + Vegan last night. I subbed in chia eggs instead of real eggs, and they ended up pretty gummy. But…in a weird way they are delicious and I can’t stop eating them. Definitely not a recipe to share yet, but still somehow doughy + good. ;) Your muffins look perfect!!


Eat Hike Sleep Repeat June 30, 2011

Thanks so much for your trial and erroring. GF baking is a challenge indeed! I have made some breads that were great when fresh out of the oven, but then promptly turned to pucks. Or, breads that were fine warm/toasted, but otherwise quite disgusting.
A great recipe you might want to try/adapt is Gena’s Ancient Grain Breakfast Bread. I skipped the xantham gum, think the bread was still amazingly moist due to the bananas and apple sauce. These two items might just be the magic keys for GF baking.


Heidi @ Food Doodles June 30, 2011

I’ve actually never been to a Panera but I think your muffins look fantastic! I’d try one of those for sure even though I eat gluten :D


Lindsay June 30, 2011

The muffins look wonderful. I was really looking forward to re-creating the recipe the first time you mentioned the challenge, but alas, it has almond flour and death by nut allergy isn’t at the top of my list. :-)

Guess my hot-pink Kitchen Aid will be getting it’s own experimental workout.


Amber K June 30, 2011

I have basically given up on gluten-free baking. Attempting to bake gluten-free W/O xanthan gum and sometimes experimenting with vegan too? Yeah, completely unsuccessful. I really miss certain things (MAN I miss my old whole wheat banana bread recipe).


Angela (Oh She Glows) June 30, 2011

I think one trial i made without x-gum was the one that totally crumbled in my hand…i couldnt believe the difference it made.


Amber K June 30, 2011

It totally does!


Tatum June 30, 2011

Thanks for ALL your wonderful recipes! I tried TWO of your bars today Me, my husband, sister and her husband are going on a road trip this weekend and I cannot wait to share them with everybody out on the road! Thanks again :]


Angela (Oh She Glows) June 30, 2011

Thank you! Have a great trip :)


Shannon June 30, 2011

I love that you’re baking GF now! I went GF at the beginning of the year due to a sensitivity, and it’s probably the hardest dietary change I’ve made yet. It does make it easier to avoid the high calorie sweets I used to indulge in, but sometimes, honestly, I just feel left out. So I’m excited to to have some more recipes to try at home now!


melissa June 30, 2011

CONGRATULATIONS!!! Definitely in order. I’ve been working on gluten free cupcakes for months…..still not satisfied with the results. I’m taking a wee break from Gluten free cupcake development right now (it’s the hardest baking challenge by far!), but I’ll get back to the drawing board soon. Can’t wait to try these!


Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin June 30, 2011

This is such a cool idea for a challenge! As someone with a nut allergy, I can totally relate to the frustration when restaurants and chains don’t offer options that cater to people with intolerances and allergies or who don’t eat animal products. I wonder if any bloggers have ever done a nut-free baking challenge…

Congrats on finally coming up with a good recipe after all that hard work. They look perfect!


Lynna @wholeytreats June 30, 2011

Aaah these look wonderful! Congrats on gluten-free vegan success!
I love experimenting in the kitchen and playing around with new ingredeints and recipes too. The only problem (other than occasional frustration) is that it can get soooo expensive!


Cat @Breakfast to Bed June 30, 2011

Wow. that’s dedication.


emily June 30, 2011

Panera in St. Louis does have gluten free options. Some friends of mine have celiac’s and we can still eat there! Hopefully it’s a new trend and will be in your area soon!


Roz June 30, 2011

Congrats on the gluten free success! Speaking of success, because of the postal strike, my latest issue of Best Health JUST arrived yesterday. Congrats on the profile in there!!!!!


Angela (Oh She Glows) June 30, 2011

Oh cool, I havent seen it yet!


birdie to be June 30, 2011

Oh my gosh… this look delicious! Great job! I will have to try out this recipe!


Emily@RunningPerspective June 30, 2011

oh my gosh all of these look so wonderful!! what a great ideaa!!!


Alta June 30, 2011

Great job! I’m proud of your persistence. Gluten free + vegan IS hard! I bake gluten-free, dairy-free, and refined sugar-free, but I don’t always do vegan, because those eggs are hard to replace when you’re already modifying so much. I keep trying though. Good call on using teff flour. It’s great at holding things together (not as much as gluten, but better than other gluten-free flours). I’ve also noticed that using things like psyllium husks and ground chia seeds (chia eggs) help in vegan GF baking too…just in case you want to venture the GF way again!


Angela (Oh She Glows) June 30, 2011

good thanks! Maybe next time I will try a chia or flax egg in there :)


Andrea @ Onion in My Hair June 30, 2011

SO impressive!

And you are right…it’s almost shocking that Panera doesn’t carry anything GF.


Amanda Jewell @ Science&Bananas June 30, 2011

P.S. I think I would have munched down on those gummy ones too .. hehe


Ellie@fitforthesoul June 30, 2011

Ummmm delicious muffins!! I would like to stick my hands through the screen–but that wouldn’t be a good thing :)


Rebecca @ How the Cookies Crumble June 30, 2011

Gluten free baking is full of trial and error. and lots and lots of error. I haven’t had a lot of luck with Bob’s GF flour and baking either. I found some great GF flour on clearance at my grocery store the other day and it was awesome! I went back to buy them out, but someone had beat me too it.


Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga June 30, 2011

“Come on, how difficult could it be?”–

Ahhh, you were just tempting the GF Gods with that statement, weren’t you!

Gummy, gooey, crumbly, yep.

And Bob’s. I have NEVER had success with GF flour blends. Sure, can I get something that’s edible and is “fine”. Yes. Would I ooh and ahh and make it for a special guest or even want to “dive right into it” on my own? Nah.

It’s SO HARD to get the balance right with various GF flours, gums, sodas/powders, liquids, baking time, i was nodding in agreement about the 6 batches of muffins. Better you than me :)

Seriously, amazing recipe AND photography. The melted butter shots…oh, swoon :)


Katrina June 30, 2011

This recipe sounds seriously tasty!


Arielle (Your Vegan Girlfriend) June 30, 2011

Ahh thank you so much for this wonder gluten-free recipe and the gluten-free links! It’s so hard to find vegan and gluten free yummies to make. You made my day!


Dana June 30, 2011

This made my day! :) I’m so happy teff flour worked out well for you. Looks like a very tasty muffin! P.S. Two other GF baking tips that come to mind: I often add buckwheat groats for the muffin top crunch factor, and making muffins with my juicer pulp always makes for a very moist (and usually lower-fat) muffin. Happy Canada Day!


Megan@eatmybeets June 30, 2011

That is quite astounding about their menu. Those look delicious!


kelsey June 30, 2011

These look scrumptious, and I am so excited that you are doing more gluten-free recipes! I recently had to go gluten-free, and though I love baking, I have definitely found it much more difficult to do it gluten-free (and edibly). I completely admire your determination (and as always, creativity!) in making these– I cannot wait to try them out myself!


Jennifer Baldwin June 30, 2011

These sound delish….I will definitely make these once I can track down the ingredients…never heard of teff flower or egg replacer powder…but I’m also a new “vegan wannabe!”. I think my kids will love them.
I have a vegan pumpkin muffin recipe that I will post on my website if anyone’s interested…they are so moist and delicous … my kids devour them !


Jasmine June 30, 2011

I am not in the least bit surprised that Panera won’t declare any of their menu items gluten free. The likely hood of cross contamination in this type of bakery is way too high for someone whose health depends on the lack of gluten.


Angela (Oh She Glows) June 30, 2011

Yea I was thinking that too!


Lisa (bakebikeblog) June 30, 2011

holy delicious! I admire your persistence!


Kathleen @ KatsHealthCorner June 30, 2011

Oh my gosh. This looks INCREDIBLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Amykinz (foodie4healing) June 30, 2011

Gluten-Free Baking is soooo frustrating! For now, I’ve given up, but I will probably try it again sometime.


Hannah (Balancing on Two Feet) June 30, 2011

Yes, GF and vegan baking is so hard! I’ve had way more failures with it than successes! I give so much credit to those who are able to rock it!


Trudy ~ Veggie num num June 30, 2011

mmm these look fabulous!! A great reward for all your trail and error, I gotta say I had just as much fun experimenting with the my GF vegan muffins :) Love, love, love the Streusel topping and the use of fresh apple, yum!!!


Carol, Simply...Gluten-free June 30, 2011

Yes, vegan/gluten free baking can be challanging but it looks like you did very well! I hope Panera is listening!


Denise Ashford June 30, 2011

HI – This recipe looks great… wondering, have you ever tried cooking with Coconut flour or oil. I recently tried a modified version of your brownies using the tef flour with coconut oil.. it turned out great.. Coconut flour, I am not sure about. The texture is not the same as other flours, although tasty. I have been trying to avoid gluten. its really difficult if you like baked goods!! ha ha. Let me know if you have had any luck with the coconut flour or oil.


Angela (Oh She Glows) June 30, 2011

Hey Denise,
Ive tried baking with coconut flour and I didnt have a great outcome. I find that it really dries out the baked good and it was very crumbly! I’ve heard that from others too, so I think it is more difficult to work with (at least with vegan baking).
Coconut oil…I love!


Meredith June 30, 2011

Those muffins look awesome! Gluten free baking is definitely something I’ve finally worked up the courage to try – I think these muffins will be one of my first endeavors!


Molly @ RDexposed June 30, 2011

This is just waiting for fall to roll around!


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