muffin of the month, february 2016: vegan ginger muffins

previous monthly muffins:

11/15, pumpkin streusel | | 12/15, gluten-free sweet potato | | 1/16, muffin history

gingermuffins_vegan-2

 

It’s the month of loooooove, and I am in looooooooooooove with ginger. Last year I made a ginger sugar cookie, a ginger-flavored and turmeric-colored cookie completely different from the typical molasses cookie. While working on the first few monthly muffins last season, I tested out molasses as a vegan sweetener, and ended up with molasses muffins. They weren’t what I was aiming for, so I put the idea of a molasses muffin on the shelf for another cold season.

These are not the molasses muffins you are probably not looking for anyway.

Because of health reasons, I decided in November to do more vegan pastries, in addition to savory cooking, and the first and most important thing on my Xmas wishlist was a vegan baking book. I got exactly what I wanted: The Joy of Vegan Bakingby Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. I didn’t recognize the book when I opened it (though I was plenty appreciative as it’s supposedly the number one vegan pastry book), and a few days later I discovered it hidden in the bowels of my Amazon wishlist. This is what happens when you add 100 books a day to your Amazon wishlist and then never look at it again.

gingermuffins_vegan-3

My new year’s resolution a few years ago was to reduce the number of processed foods I buy at the grocery store. I even started a list of foods I would allow (breads and some Morningstar products), and foods I would stop buying (shredded cheese with preservatives, dyed cheddar cheese, etc.) Back then, EarthBalance wasn’t on my list of banned foods, but now for the sake of simplicity and budget, it is.

Before baking anything from the book, I went through and examined every single recipe to see what fats and liquids are used. I marked all the recipes that use non-dairy milk (cheap and whole, totally acceptable), and vegetable oil, rather than margarine or vegan butters and vegan cheeses. Eventually, I’ll go back to the recipes that call for the processed ingredients and work on making my own substitutions, but for now I’m focusing on the ones with simpler ingredients, like these muffins.

Ginger_Muffins-1

Fortunately, muffins are easy and forgiving. It doesn’t matter what fats or oils you use, as long as they’re in liquid form when you use them, and you leaven with baking soda/baking powder. That’s why we have the Monthly Muffin and not the Monthly Montblanc.

These muffins are similar to the ginger cookies from last spring, but without the turmeric…and also, they’re not cookies. I hope that’s obvious. The ginger flavor is light and sweet, but noticeable, like in ginger ale, rather than ginger bread.

gingermuffins_vegan-5     gingermuffins_vegan-6

The apple sauce helps create volume and makes the batter thicker, while the canola oil makes them rich and flavorful. I tried a version with mostly apple sauce, and then one with none, and I preferred the latter. The mostly apple sauce batch was a little dry and not very flavorful, but I ended up using a combination of the two ingredients, so I could get volume, great texture, and plenty of flavor. Over the past few months of trying vegan and gluten-free things, I’ve learned that a combination of canola oil and apple sauce is one of the best ways to replace eggs and butter*.

I used coconut milk because it has the best texture for baking and cooking, and in many recipes, you won’t even taste the coconut.

These muffins are best topped with toasted almonds, or for those of you who can’t have nuts, a vanilla glaze made from coconut milk and powdered sugar.

And finally, as much as I try to get by without it, I always find myself adding some amount of whole wheat flour to my muffins. For the first few muffins at the end of last year, using mostly whole wheat was the way to go, but for something that’s meant to be a whiter muffin (meaning all all-purpose flour), if you substitute about 1/3 of the all-purpose flour for the same amount of whole wheat, I think it makes the muffin that much better.

*There are a few recommended ways to replace eggs and butter in vegan baking, and I tried most of them in this recipe. Beware of using too much baking powder or soda (in fact, avoid the baking soda altogether), or else the muffins will taste like blood…I mean…something metallic…maybe.

Ginger_Muffins-3

Ginger_Muffins-2

 

 

vegan ginger muffins (glaze recipe included)

adapted from The Joy of Vegan Baking, makes 12 muffins

 

200 g all-purpose flour

40 g whole wheat flour

4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground ginger

a dash of salt

30 g fresh ginger, peeled and grated

180 g granulated sugar

40 g unsweetened apple sauce

80 g vegetable oil (or nut or coconut)

240 g non-dairy milk (coconut is my preference)

~6 g lemon zest or a splash of lemon extract

 

for topping: toasted sliced almonds, lemon glaze, vanilla glaze (recipe below), crystallized ginger (recipe here)

 

Preheat the oven to 375 F/190 C, and line a muffin pan with paper liners.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flours, ground ginger, baking powder, and salt.

In a separate larger bowl, grate the peeled ginger using a microplane grater/zester. Add the sugar and whisk until all the sugar is soaked into the ginger.

Whisk in the apple sauce, oil, milk, and zest/extract until smooth and consistent.

Whisk or fold the dry ingredients into the wet just until combined, then divide evenly among the cups in the muffin pan.

If topping with almonds, you can either toast them a little bit before you make the batter, or sprinkle them onto the unbaked muffins without toasting (they’ll toast a little in the oven.) Otherwise, skip this part.

Bake the muffins for 20 – 25 minutes until golden brown and springy to the touch.

Remove and cool in the pan for a few minutes, then take the muffins out and cool on a wire rack. If glazing, let them cool completely before glazing.

 

vegan muffin glaze, makes ~1/2 c, enough for 1 dozen muffins

20 g coconut milk

100 g powdered sugar, sifted

lemon zest, vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

 

Whisk ingredients together, alternating between the milk and sugar, until it’s your desired consistency. It should be thick but runny, like syrup.

Drizzle on top of the muffins while they’re on the wire rack. Let it solidify, then enjoy!

 

Salut, mes amis!

Nick P.

Categories: alternative diet, Breads, muffins, Vegan