Tag : alternative-diet
Tag : alternative-diet
I’m excited beyond words to bring you all another first, unlike any first or any recipe I’ve ever published:
My first jam recipe!! (*crowd roars and my ear drums shatter into a million pieces rendering me deaf*)
I’ve been wanting to do jam, preserves, and canning for a few years now, and I finally took the plunge last spring. I crawled to hell and back trying to find the best book for learning how to make jam, and when I stumbled upon The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook, the definitive guide to preserving seasonal fruit, I fell head over heels in love with their book.
I challenged myself to make jam 15 times last summer, but moving houses got in the way. I challenged myself to make jam another 15 times this spring and summer, and with only two months down (out of 6 because summer is half a year in North Carolina), I’m already almost halfway there (I just can’t stop…right after I took the photos of this batch, I started a batch of another recipe.)
I’ve run out of jars and am almost out of labels (mostly because I keep giving the jam to people.) My fridge is full of unlabeled tupperware containers with jam that wouldn’t fit into the jars, and the pyramids of quilted crystal canning jars on my pantry shelves are about to topple over. Unfortunately, I don’t have anything to put the jam on right now, so now I have to go and make english muffins or eat the jam straight out of the container (which I totally do anyway.)
The first rhubarb recipe in the book is for a rhubarb and cherry jam, which I attempted…and burned. It was one of two batches of jam that I’ve burned since I started last April. I still had leftover rhubarb, because I was hoarding it, so I tried a regular batch. Silly old me, though, I couldn’t just make a regular batch. I had to add in something odd. I had rosewater and fresh mint, so in they went! It was brilliant and inspired, and the result is refreshing, like a mojito.
Rose is one of those flavors, like lavender and even anise, that you either enjoy or can’t stand. For a long time, I was in the “this tastes like perfume and soap” camp, but I’ve slowly moved into the “this is almost pleasant” camp. I’m still in a transitional stage, so rose madeleines will have to wait another year or two, but somehow the flavor works perfectly in this combination. Both rosewater and mint are common ingredients in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern sweets (like baklava, faloodeh, yazdi cupcakes, and halva.) The rhubarb is tart, and without the sugar it just tastes like vegetables, but with the sugar, it’s almost citrus-y. Whether you like rose or hate it, the flavor of the rosewater marries with the rhubarb so well you’ll never want to have rhubarb without it, and the subtle, refreshing mint goes well with the citrusy-ness of the rhubarb, in the same way that it pairs with the cool sweetness of watermelon.
rhubarb, rose, and mint (“Double R M”) jam
adapted from The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook, by Rachel Saunders
makes 2 cups (16 fluid ounces)
1 lb rhubarb, fresh or frozen, chopped into 1″ pieces
10 oz granulated sugar
1 oz lemon juice, fresh or bottled
1/8 tsp rosewater**
2 whole sprigs of fresh mint
**If you’d rather make regular rhubarb jam without the rosewater and mint, then just omit them and do everything else as written.
preparing the jars*
*I do my sterilizing and sealing in the oven, but you can use any other method (pressure, steam, boiling, etc.) For this recipe, any sealing or canning method will work.
Preheat the oven to 250 F/120 C.
Wash the jars, lids, and seals (if they have seals) with soap and warm water. Rinse everything and place all the pieces on a baking sheet.
Place the baking sheet in the oven to sanitize and dry the jars and their pieces while you make the jam. They should stay in the heated oven for at least half an hour to fully sanitize before you fill and seal them. It’ll take about half an hour or longer to finish cooking the jam from when you turn on the stove, so start cooking the jam after you’ve placed the jars in the oven.
Before you start making the jam, place a small plate and 3-5 spoons in the freezer for testing.
making the jam
You can use either fresh or frozen rhubarb for this. If using frozen, let it macerate and thaw in the pot with the sugar and lemon juice before you start cooking the jam, or else the rhubarb and/or the sugar might burn.
You can also macerate the fresh rhubarb. Maceration entails combining the produce, sugar, and lemon juice and letting it sit for a while, until the sugar has dissolved, the produce is soft, and the fruit has released liquid. The liquid produced during maceration acts as a buffer between the pan and the rhubarb so the rhubarb doesn’t burn or sear. It also helps the jam cook faster by letting the water start to evaporate sooner.
If using fresh rhubarb, you can skip the maceration, if you want.
Have the rhubarb, sugar, and lemon juice in a large, wide pot or pan. You’ll need something like a saucepan or sauté pan, or a Dutch oven, with sides deep enough to contain the jam or any foam if the mixture foams up. The pan/pot should be wide to allow for faster evaporation so your jam can thicken before it burns or overcooks. This large, copper preserving pan is the ideal tool for cooking jam, but a 3- or 4-quart saucier, saucepan, or sauté pan will also work wonderfully. The width is more important than the depth, so avoid using a stockpot or pasta pot. For 16 ounces of jam, at least 3 quarts is a good capacity for the pot.
Turn the heat on high and bring the mixture to a rapid boil, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. You’ll need to boil the mixture for about 20 minutes or so, until the rhubarb breaks down, the mixture thickens, and the foam subsides. The jam will eventually turn darker and gloppy like pudding. As it cooks more, you’ll notice the bubbles become larger and scarcer, and a thick, lightly-colored foam will form in the middle of the jam. Stir the mixture occasionally but keep the heat up. If you notice the jam sticks to the bottom of your pan or if you notice any burning, turn the heat down.
After about 25 – 30 minutes total, once the mixture is thick like mud or pudding and the bubbles become larger and rarer, whisk in the rosewater and whole sprigs of mint.
Turn off the stove and let the jam rest for about 5 minutes to steep/infuse the mint. Leave the whole mint the jam while you’re testing, removing it you’re ready to fill the jars.
testing the jam
Using a large spoon or ladle, skim off any thick, pale foam from the surface and discard.
Take one of the frozen spoons out of the freezer, and using another spoon, transfer about half a spoonful of jam from the unfrozen spoon to the other. Replace the chilled spoon in the freezer and let it rest for 3-5 minutes. Your goal is to rapidly chill the jam so you can see whether it’s thick enough at room temperature (it will always be thicker when it’s cold and thinner when it’s warm/hot.) Freezing the jam brings it down to room temperature fast enough for you to test it multiple times and finish cooking the jam without having to wait too long. When you’re ready to test the jam, the underside of the spoon should be room temperature, neither warm nor cold. Rhubarb jam, unlike most fruit jams, doesn’t thicken completely, so it will run a little bit. When you tilt the spoon vertically, you may see the jam run just a little bit, like thick syrup.
If it seems too thin to you, turn the stove back on and continue cooking the jam**. Taste the jam every time you test it, to determine if you need more of the rose or mint. As soon as the mint is strong enough, you can discard the herb. If you need more rosewater, add more before filling the jars, and if you need more mint flavor, leave the herbs in until the flavor is strong enough.
**Your whole sprigs of mint are still in the jam, and normally, cooking fresh herbs is taboo, but if you need more of the mint flavor, leave them in until they have infused enough for you, even through the continued cooking.
Keep in mind, though, that strong flavors will become more mild once the jam cools.
The rest of the frozen spoons are for you to continue testing.
Bring your jam back to a boil and let it cook for about five minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking and burning. If you see it starting to the stick to the bottom of the pan, reduce the heat a bit. Test the jam again after 5 – 10 minutes of cooking, following the same process. Keep testing and cooking until it’s your desired consistency.
Once the jam is as thick as you want it after the freezer test, move on to filling and sealing the jars.
sealing the jars
You only need to seal the jars if you plan on keeping the jam for a long time at room temperature. If you’re going to eat the jam within 2 weeks, or keep it in the freezer, you don’t need to go through the sealing process after you fill the jars. You can even use regular glass jars or plastic containers if you plan to freeze or refrigerate the jam.
Refrigerated jam (unsealed) lasts about 2 weeks. Frozen jam will last about 6 months, and properly-sealed jam can last up to a year at room temperature.
As with sanitizing the jars, you can follow any sealing process you want (the manufacturer will have added directions to the packages of your jars.)
Remove the baking sheet of jars and jar pieces from the oven and transfer everything to a cooling rack while you fill each jar (this is just because it’s easier to fill, seal, and transfer the jars from the cooling rack back onto the baking sheet, and so you avoid spilling jam on the hot baking sheet.)
Use a ladle or spoon (a flexible silicone ladle is the best tool for this, I’ve found) to fill each jar to within 1/4″ (~0.75 cm) of the rim and use a damp paper towel to wipe the rim of the jar clean. There shouldn’t be any jam stuck to the top or outside of the jar before you put the seal on.
Place the seal on your jar and screw the lid band on snugly (not as tightly as possible, but almost all the way.) Once all of your jars are filled, place them all back onto the baking sheet (if it’s not clean, get another one), and place the baking sheet in the oven. The filled and sealed jars need to sit in the hot oven (250 F/120 C) for at least 15 minutes to re-sanitize and create a vacuum so they seal themselves.
Any jam that you couldn’t fit into the jars can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.
After the filled and sealed jars have been in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes, take them out and transfer them all to a cooling rack. Don’t disturb the jars until they’re all fully sealed and cooled. You’ll hear popping noises (once per jar) as the lids seal themselves. They should all be sealed within about 10 minutes from taking them out of the oven. You can test the seals by pressing down in the middle with a finger: if you feel a popping, the lid isn’t sealed. If, after at least 10 minutes and once the jars are cooled, any of the seals are still open, you can put them back in the hot oven again for 15 – 20 minutes, or you can freeze or refrigerate them.
Once you release the seal from a sealed jar, store the jam in the refrigerator or freezer.
Here are some ideas for what to do with the jam:
Spread it on toast or English muffins (this goes without saying).
Use it to fill an almond-rhubarb tart (with a lattice top or frangipane crust).
Spread it between layers of sponge cake (with a whipped cream filling/topping and fresh fruit) for a spring treat.
Whisk it together with tonic water and rum to make a sweet rhubarb-mint mojito.
Serve it with some cream cheese and crackers for a nifty appetizer.
Pipe it into a donut or choux pastry for a jam-filled dessert.
Eat it straight out of the jar with a spoon (like I do).
other yeasted yummies
Someone very near and dear to my heart turned 2 years old two weeks ago:
Herbert! My sourdough starter, who’s been with me since March 13, 2016, lifting up my doughs and flavoring all of my favorite breads for the past two years.
One of my favorite breads is baguette. My parents and I used to have a bread and cheese dinner a couple times a month: we would buy a nice, long baguette, some cheeses, and some olives, and that would be our dinner. It was a lazy person’s dinner, and when one of my friends from school would come home for the holidays or summer vacation, we would do the same. We would go to the market where they sell local, organic food, buy a loaf of fancy bread each, a hunk of cheese, and some other bits and pieces, and sit out on the market’s lawn in downtown Carrboro having a bread and cheese lunch. For those meals, we normally chose something a little rounder than a baguette so that we wouldn’t need a knife to cut it up, and instead we’d rip into the bread with our hands and cut off chunks of fancy local cheese.
Now that I’m all grown up (meaning now that I’m over 21), every once in a while I like to treat myself to a little charcuterie dinner: a long, crusty baguette, a dried salami, some soft cheese, maybe a pate, and a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon.
I started trying to make my own baguette soon after I conceived Herbert. Two years later, I decided I was ready to debut my baguette recipe, and I was all set to go for March 13 of this year: I had made some baguette to take along with me for housesitting, I had the salami and prosciutto ready to go and the wine was waiting in my car…but the bread was a failure and a disaster. For the past two years, no matter how diligently I take notes on my attempts at baguette, it’s been a series of forward steps and backwards leaps: I want the end result to be airy but I need to be able to handle the dough. I don’t want my bread to be too dense, but it needs to have shape. Sometimes the dough is too wet, sometimes it’s too dry. Some batches proof too long and some don’t produce enough dough.
It finally occurred to me last week (yes, 2 years after starting this project), that there might be some kind of Golden Ratio for a recipe like baguette. Anything French probably has a revered-and-protected ratio for ingredients. I searched and searched and searched and didn’t find any specific ratio or any really credible source…but I did learn about hydration. There’s no perfect ratio of water to flour for baguette, but there is a range of hydration ratios. The range for baguette is somewhere between 60-70% hydration*. 75% or more hydration means you can’t handle the dough (great for focaccia and ciabatta), and anything under 60% is dense with small air bubbles (sandwich loaves.) I did some calculations, factored in my sourdough starter, and decided on 63% hydration: not too dry and dense, but substantial enough to handle.
*In this case, the hydration ratio is the ratio (by weight) of water to flour, not water to total weight of the dough. That is, 50% hydration would mean the water:flour ratio is 1:2 (the water is 50% of the flour.) 63% hydration means that the weight of the water is equal to 63% of the weight of the flour, not 63% of the dough.
It turned out perfectly: I was able to shape the baguettes easily, they held their shapes through proofing and baking, the holes (as you can see) are big and airy, and the crumb is fluffy with the right amount of chew. The crust is crunchy and flavorful, and shatters in the way that French pasty crusts often do, and the bread inside is yeasty and nutty and totally satisfying.
adapted from Bread Illustrated, by America’s Test Kitchen
makes 2 baguettes
In general, when using sourdough starter, you can expect the whole process of making bread to take at least 24+ hours. A good rule of thumb when using your starter in place of dry yeast is that dough made with starter takes about 4 times as long to proof the first time as dough made with dry yeast. If your recipe says to let your dough (made with yeast) rise for 2 hours the first time, allow yourself at least 8 hours of rising time when using sourdough starter. This is because the yeast in your starter works more slowly than dry yeast, but the trade-off is that it works more thoroughly, as well (in terms of digesting the carbs and making them more accessible to you.) Your bread will be healthier, so to speak. If you want your dough to proof (ferment) for a long time to get a really strong flavor, let it rise in the refrigerator: it won’t stretch as much (meaning it won’t overproof), but the flavor will develop a lot. Additionally, if you don’t want to spend a whole day watching your dough, assemble it the afternoon or evening before, let it rise in the refrigerator overnight, then move on to the shaping and second proofing the next morning or afternoon.
2 oz sourdough starter (or, 7 g/0.25 oz dry yeast, 1 oz water, and 1 oz all-purpose flour)
8.5 oz all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
5 oz water
Useful/Important Tools: These are all optional, but if you make bread frequently, you’ll find these all to be really helpful. The only two I think are the lowest priority are the lame (you can use a regular knife), and the baguette pan (if your dough has enough structure, you don’t need it, but it does help brown the bottom of the loaves.)
a lame (n., lahm, a box cutter for slashing the dough before you bake it), or a really sharp paring or slicing knife (a slicing knife gives you a deeper cut with less effort than a paring knife)
a spray bottle filled with water
a baguette pan
a rectangular pizza stone
a large pizza peel
make the dough
In a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the starter and flour with the dough hook(s). Mix until the mixture is crumbly, then mix in the salt. If using dry yeast, combine the yeast, flour, and salt in the bowl/mixer.
While the mixer is running, pour in the water. Keep mixing for 5-10 minutes until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. It can stick to the bottom of the bowl a bit, but it should clean off the sides.
The dough may feel a little tacky/sticky to the touch, but you shouldn’t end up with too much dough coming off on your fingers when you touch it. You’ll want the dough to hold its shape when you handle it, but not to be so dense that it doesn’t rise or produce air bubbles. If you can see it pooling or sliding down off the hook, it needs more flour. If it holds its shape but feels sticky, you can either add more flour in the bowl, or leave it as is and dust it liberally with flour when you get to the shaping stage. At this stage, your dough should be able to hold its shape without feeling too sticky.
Lightly (or liberally) flour a clean work surface and dump out the dough. Without kneading it too much, shape the dough into a smooth ball. It only needs to be smooth on one side: pull and stretch the sides and corners into the middle, so that the opposite side is a smooth ball.
the first proof/rise
Place the dough, seam side down, into a large, lightly greased bowl and brush a little bit of oil onto the surface (using your hands, a paper towel, or a basting brush.) Cover the bowl in plastic wrap and let it rise for at least 8 hours (at least 2 hours if using dry yeast.) If you have time to finish the process in the same day, you can let the dough rise at room temperature. Otherwise, put it in the refrigerator.
The longer you let the dough proof/rise the first time, the more flavor it will gain from the yeast. The trade-off, though, is that dough can only stretch so much: if you let the dough rise too long, it will lose its elasticity. When you handle the dough, it’ll deflate but it won’t shrink back to its original shape: the dough will look saggy. Additionally, the wetter your dough, the more it will rise as it proofs (and consequently, the harder it will be for your dough to hold in the gas produced by the yeast.) If you see a lot of air bubbles on the top surface of the dough, it has probably risen too much.
The best way to test a dough like this is to gently press down in the center with your knuckle*: it feels puffy like foam and returns to its original shape when you remove your knuckle, then it’s good. If you leave an indentation, it still needs to rise. If it deflates, then deflate the whole batch of dough, reshape it into a ball, and let it rise again.
*Similar to how you test cakes and muffins with your finger.
At this point (once the dough has been rising for the first time), if you want more of the flavor, you can either let it rise in the refrigerator, or alternate between deflating the dough (and reshaping it) and letting it re-proof. The dough can proof and ferment for a long time but it can only gain so much volume. If you want a really developed fermented flavor (meaning a really yeasty flavor), make sure you let it rise at a lower temperature (in the refrigerator), or you deflate the dough occasionally.
shaping the dough/the 2nd proof
Once the dough has doubled in volume (the other vital indicator that it has risen and proofed enough), and passes the knuckle test, you’re ready to shape it into logs for the final/2nd proofing:
Dump the dough out onto a lightly/liberally floured, clean work surface. Divide the dough in half, setting one half aside until ready to shape.
If you’re using a couche for the second proofing, spread the couche out somewhere so you can place the loaves on it as you shape them and flour it liberally. You can also place the shaped loaves in a sheet of parchment paper, which you’ll transfer directly to the oven when ready to bake, if you’re using a pizza stone and pizza peel. If you want to go really simple and avoid the couche, the stone, and the peel, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the shaped loaves directly on the baking sheet.
To shape the loaf, gently pat out the first half of the dough into a rough rectangle. Fold the top of the rectangle over, leaving a bit of the bottom exposed, and seal the edge with your finger tips. Continue this folding and sealing process a few times (3-6 times). This folding will help create the spiral-y shape of the air bubbles in the finished bread, and it will help ensure that the width of the baguette is mostly consistent (ie., that it doesn’t look like a dumbbell.)
After you’ve folded and sealed the dough a few times, place the dough seam side down and roll it out into a log, rolling from the center outwards. The log can be as long as you want, but be sure that it isn’t longer than the pizza stone or baking sheet (or else the edges of the dough will droop over the edges of the stone/sheet.) You should be able to pick it up with a pizza peel and fit it into the baking sheet or onto your pizza stone. Around 14 inches long and a few inches wide is good.
If you want the pointed ends, pick up one end of the log (about 2-4 inches of the end), and roll it between your hands, gradually tapering to a point. Do the same with the other end. Beware that this will add length to the log, so make sure your logs aren’t too long. If you want rounded ends, skip this step.
After the loaf/log is shaped, transfer it to the parchment paper, the paper-lined baking sheet, or the liberally-floured couche to proof while you shape the other loaf/log.
Repeat each of the previous steps with the other half of the dough, leaving a few inches between each log wherever you’re proofing them. If you’re using the couche, bunch it up between the logs so it forms a little ridge or wall to keep them separate.
baking the baguettes
Preheat your oven to 400 F/200 C. If using a pizza stone, place the stone on one of the oven racks before you turn the oven on (same if you’re using a pizza steel.)
Lightly grease one side of a sheet of plastic wrap and cover the logs while they proof. By the time the oven is heated, the bread should be ready to bake. The greased plastic wrap helps prevent the surface of the dough from drying out and cracking.
The second proof should only take about 30 – 45 minutes, regardless of whether you’re using dry yeast or sourdough starter. If you let the dough rise too much the second time, it will be difficult to transfer it to the oven, because dough gets wetter as it rises (when you’re proofing it, not when you’re baking it.)
The logs won’t have doubled in size after the second proof, so use the knuckle test to see if they’re done: using a knuckle, lightly press down in the center of the log. If it springs back like foam, it’s ready. If you leave an indentation, it needs to rise longer. If it shrinks and deflates, ball up all the dough and go through the shaping steps again.
When the logs are proofed and ready for baking, transfer them to the sheet of parchment or the parchment-lined baking sheet (if they aren’t already on a sheet of parchment paper.) Spray or brush them with water, and slash them diagonally a few times along their lengths using the lame or a sharp knife. These cuts will turn into the almond shapes in the surface of the finished.
If you’re using a pizza stone or steel, slide the pizza peel under the sheet of parchment, open the oven door, and slide the parchment and dough off onto the stone/steel. If you’re using a baking sheet, put the baking sheet with the dough in the oven.
Let the baguettes bake for at least 40 – 45 minutes, until dark brown but not charred. The pointed ends might char and burn, and the parchment paper may burn, but the bread should be the color of bronze or amber, maybe even a little bit lighter*.
When they’re done baking, you can either turn off the oven and let them cool/dry inside the oven as it cools down, or you can transfer them to a wire rack to cool. Make sure you let them cool so the bottoms are exposed, or else the bottoms will get soggy and not crispy.
*If you want a softer bread with a thinner, softer crust, rather than the really crispy, flaky crust of a baguette, lower the oven temperature to 350 F/175 C and bake until golden. Lower oven temperatures mean the insides will bake through faster than the surface can brown, so you end up with a lighter surface color, and a thinner, softer crust.
previous alternative diet muffins
10/17, vegan apple cider muffins || 11/16, vegan double chocolate muffins || 8/16, gluten-free blueberry buttermilk muffins || 2/16, vegan ginger muffins || 12/15, gluten-free sweet potato ginger muffins
Yes, I have a lot of vegan recipes. No, I am not vegan (obviously.) The gluten-free recipes are mostly because I have family members with celiac. Somewhat ironically, I don’t have many close friends (socially or geographically) who are vegan, and yet, here we are.
Actually, the main reason this recipe is vegan is because I figured it made sense: for coconut muffins, coconut oil and coconut milk, and because that’s already 2 out of 3 of the normal vegan substitutions (for butter and milk), I may as well go all the way.
Yes, I used apple sauce. No, there is no coconut in the apple sauce.
As with the maple pecan muffins from last month, I was worried about how to get as much flavor as I could into these muffins without doing anything too crazy. Admittedly, I did buy coconut extract (don’t judge me), but after I made these muffins once, I realized I didn’t need it. In fact, I haven’t even taken it out of the box (I don’t want that money to go to waste, though, so I will be using the coconut extract eventually.)
The first time I made these muffins, I used canned coconut cream. The real stuff, full fat, like what you’d use to make curry. I ended up with biscuit dough and dense, dry muffins that burned way too quickly. I substituted a thinner coconut milk, the kind that you find with almond, soy, and rice milk and pour out of a quart container with your morning cereal, and they turned out a lot better. The cream, though great for flavor, was too thick to substitute for milk.
I remember the exact moment I fell in love with coconut. I mean…I remember the moment but the details surrounding the moment are a bit hazy. I was on a trip up north with my family. I don’t remember exactly where we were…I want to say Maine? It was definitely some place with moose (mooses? meese?…meeses?) It could also have been Vermont. It doesn’t matter.
We went into the downtown area of whatever northeastern city we were visiting and found ice cream. I got coconut ice cream with a coconut sauce. I don’t remember why I particularly wanted it. I’m not sure I had ever had much coconut up until that point, but I wanted it, I got it…and I loved it. The ice cream could have been a scoop of sand for all I cared, but the sauce…the sauce is burned into my memory and onto my taste buds. A thick, sweet, coconut syrup with shredded coconut. I wanted more (but more would have made me sick.)
That coconut sauce awakened something animalistic inside of me and I’ve been addicted to coconut ever since.
So here are some conveniently-vegan coconut muffins, topped with toasted, shredded coconut.
vegan coconut muffins
based loosely on my vegan ginger muffins and blackberry almond muffins
makes 12 muffins
7 oz all-purpose flour
1.5 oz whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp (1 Tbsp) baking powder
6 oz granulated sugar
8 oz unsweetened coconut milk (you can use sweetened, but there’s really no point because you’re already adding granulated sugar)
3 oz coconut oil, melted
1.5 oz unsweetened apple sauce (as with the milk, you can use sweetened, but you’re also using sugar already)
3 oz (1 cup) shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened), divided (2 oz and 1 oz)
Preheat the oven to 350 F/175 C and line a muffin pan with paper liners.
Divide the shredded coconut, 2 to 1 (2 oz for the batter, 1 oz for the topping.)
In a small bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, and baking powder.
In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, coconut milk, coconut oil, and apple sauce. Whisk until uniform and combined.
Quickly mix the dry mixture into the wet, and add the 2 oz of shredded coconut when the batter is almost fully combined. Mix until uniform and no flour remains dry.
Scoop the batter evenly into the muffin pan, filling each cup about 2/3 of the way, and sprinkle the remaining 1 oz of shredded coconut on top.
Bake the muffins for 25 – 30 minutes, until springy to the touch (like a foam clown nose) or a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Let the muffins cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling.
How do meese say goodbye?
previous monthly muffins:
6/17, balsamic roasted strawberry muffins with balsamic glaze || 4/17, cinnamon raisin english muffins || 2/17, glazed lemon poppyseed muffins || 1/17, earl grey walnut muffins || 12/16, chocolate peppermint muffins
Two years ago, I went to a pie workshop at a bakery in my city known for pies and tarts. Of course, it being the beginning of fall, we had to make apple pie, for which the pastry chef demonstrated this super nifty tool that I went out and bought immediately: a hand-crank apple corer, peeler, and slicer. You spike the apple onto the end of a screw, position the peeling blade, and crank. The apple spins, strips, spirals, and its guts pull right out. It’s wonderful.
When I first bought it, I hated it. The one I bought didn’t seem to work as well as the machine the pastry chef showed us. The peeling blade would either not cut through the skin or it would get stuck in the apple, the core never lined up with the corer blade, and for the life of me I could not figure out how to get an asymmetrical apple to peel and core consistently.
So I put the machine away for about two years, and when I started working on this muffin recipe, I thought I would give it a second chance.
It worked like a charm. Perhaps the little hand crank doohickey grew and matured and learned to be a better version of itself…or maybe I realized it’s easier to use if you flip the apple around and peel tail-to-top instead.
Now I don’t have to spend an arm and a leg on an electric apple machine. Phew.
This recipe was inspired by a pastry we sell and sample at work during the week: apple cider donuts. The donuts are made with butter, buttermilk, and eggs (and they taste like heaven and make the whole store and street smell like apples and cinnamon), but following my obsession with consistency and matching up flavors, I wanted to go full-apple. Eggs became unsweetened apple sauce (the best vegan egg substitute I have ever used), and buttermilk became first-press apple cider. While I was already 2/3 of the way to a vegan recipe, I decided to take that last step: butter became canola oil.
Yes, butter and buttermilk are luscious and make things taste rich, but apple cider has enough acid for that back-of-the-tongue tang and there’s plenty of sweet and spice to make up for the decrease in fat.
The muffins are spiced, filled with chunks of Red Delicious apples, and then rolled in a cinnamon-sugar topping.
vegan apple cider muffins with cinnamon sugar
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
makes 1 dozen
5 oz (140 g) all-purpose flour
5 oz (140 g) whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
3 oz (85 g) canola oil
3 oz (85 g) unsweetened apple sauce
7 oz (200 g) apple cider
3 oz (85 g) granulated sugar
2 oz (56 g) dark brown sugar
1 large red apple, cored, peeled, and coarsely chopped (5~7 oz of apple bits)
cinnamon sugar coating
1 oz (28 g) granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp canola oil
Preheat the oven to 350 F/175 C and line a muffin pan with paper liners.
In a small bowl, whisk together flours, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together apple sauce, canola oil, apple cider, and sugars.
Quickly mix the dry ingredients into the wet mixture and fold in the apple chunks.
Scoop the batter into the muffin cups so each cup is 2/3~3/4 of the way full.
Bake the muffins for 25 – 30 minutes, until springy to the touch. When lightly pressed down in the center with a finger, the muffins should spring back up like foam.
Remove the muffins from the oven and let them cool in the pan for a few minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to continue cooling before coating.
In a shallow bowl or plate, whisk together sugar and cinnamon for coating the muffins.
Brush each muffin with canola oil and roll the top of the muffin around in the sugar mixture to coat.
Muffins will keep up to 48 hours wrapped in plastic at room temperature. Don’t refrigerate the muffins, or else the coating will melt/dissolve. If they firm up, you can soften them in the microwave for 10-15 seconds.
Help, I’ve fallen in love with apples and I can’t get up!
I’m not generally a fan of chocolate cake, unless it is 1) flourless, or 2) molten. In fact, I even prefer my brownies on the less-floury side.
That being said, I’m oddly addicted to this vegan chocolate cake. For a while, I’ve been wanting to experiment with using vegan ingredients as features instead of just background ingredients. I’m in the process of working up another vegan muffin for the autumn that uses whole ingredients both for flavor and for function.
I’m also shamelessly obsessed with combining dark chocolate and fruit, namely raspberry.
There’s a dairy farm nearby that has a creamery and ice cream shop on the premises. In high school, when I was learning to drive, I would drive out to the farm for practice, and my dad and I would get milkshakes for dessert. Because of complicated, lactose-related reasons, I don’t get those milkshakes very often anymore, but they were a fond memory back then. My favorites were all the chocolate combinations: chocolate-strawberry, chocolate-orange, even the chocolate-lavender was weirdly enjoyable. It seemed like every time we went to the farm, they had tried out a new chocolate flavor combination, and I loved all of them.
I think it goes without saying that chocolate and raspberry is a classic combination…but I’ll say it anyway: chocolate and raspberry is fan-f**king-tastically classic combination.
With this inspiration, I took a vegan chocolate layer cake recipe, turned it into a single layer cake, added red wine vinegar, non-dairy dark chocolate ganache, and a raspberry-sherry compote*. Every single bit of the recipe works together in luscious harmony: the cake is light, but also dark, and slightly tangy from the vinegar, wet enough to be enjoyable, but fluffy enough that it’s not heavy; the ganache is dark and smooth, no matter what type of milk you use, and has just enough sweetness to be pleasant without detracting from the darkness; the compote is sweet and fruity, not overly acidic, and it has the mmmmmmmm of an after-dinner sherry. If all of that seems like too much mouth commitment, top the cake with some fresh raspberries for a refreshing balance to the chocolate and booze.
*You can swap out the sherry for really any kind of liquor or liqueur, or red wine. I just found that the sherry was my favorite booze to use in the compôte. Substitute your favorite Cabernet or Pinot Noir in a 1:1 ratio, for example.
decadent vegan chocolate cake with chocolate ganache and raspberry-sherry compôte
makes one 9″ (or two 6″~6.5″) cake
adapted from The Joy of Vegan Baking
Do ahead: To save some time, you can make the compôte in advance and keep refrigerated in a sealed container. Because it’s a sauce (it’s basically undercooked jam), it’ll keep for a while. Additionally, you can make the cake a day in advance, let it cool, wrap it in plastic, and store it in the refrigerator overnight. And the make things even easier: the cake can also be made in advance. You can make the cake a day or two ahead of time and keep it in the fridge wrapped in plastic, or you can make it farther in advance, wrap it, and freeze it.
Ganache note: Ganache is just a combination of solid chocolate and cream (or any type of milk, dairy or non-dairy); you can have a really thick, solid ganache by using more chocolate than cream, or a thin, syrup-y mixture by using more cream than chocolate. It’s a really simple recipe (2 ingredients), and you can fine-tune the ratio depending on what consistency you want. A 1:1 ratio, though, will be more frosting-like or thinner than what I used for the cake. For toppings on pies and cakes, I’d recommend using less cream/milk than chocolate.
1.5 c (6.4 oz) raspberries, fresh or frozen*
1/4 c (1.75 oz) granulated sugar
1 fl. oz. (1 oz) sherry
1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
*Fruit note: when you freeze fruit and then cook/bake with it, or when you buy frozen fruit and then cook/bake with it, be aware that the fruit will produce more liquid/water than when you use the fruit fresh. Also, the frozen fruit will break down more when it starts to cook. For sauces and jams, this means 1) you’ll need to cook just a bit longer to evaporate the excess liquid, and 2) you’ll have fewer large chunks of the fruit due to the fruit breaking down more.
1.5 c (6.4 oz) all-purpose flour
3/4 c (5.3 oz) granulated sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/3 c (1 oz) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
1/2 c (3 oz) vegetable/canola oil
4 tsp (0.7 oz) red wine vinegar
1 c (8 oz) non-dairy milk
Optional: 1/2 c vegan chocolate chips or bittersweet chocolate chunks, 1/2 c (~2 oz) fresh raspberries
2/3 c (4 oz) bittersweet or dark chocolate, chopped coarsely
3/8 c (3 oz) non-dairy milk or unflavored, non-dairy cream
Make the compôte
Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and place over medium-high heat.
Bring to a rolling boil and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. If the sauce boils up too high or starts sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning, reduce the heat and simmer instead.
Let the sauce thicken and reduce, remove from heat, and let cool for a few minutes. Transfer the sauce to a container with a lid and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Make the cake
Preheat the oven to 350 F/175 C. Grease cake pan(s) and line with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and cocoa powder.
In a large bowl, whisk together vanilla, oil, vinegar, and non-dairy milk until fully combined.
Add dry mixture to the wet mixture and combine. If using, fold in the chocolate chips/chunks and fresh raspberries.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan(s) and spread out evenly.
Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until the top is not shiny any longer and the cake feels springy and foamy to the touch. The cake is also done when it starts pulling away from the edges of the pan or when a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean.
Let the cake cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then remove from the pan and let finish cooling on a wire rack. When the cake has totally cooled down, start making the ganache.
Make the ganache and assemble the cake
Using a double boiler or a heat-safe bowl and small saucepan*, melt the chocolate and non-dairy milk together.
*There are many different methods of heating and combining the ingredients. You can microwave them together in a microwave-safe bowl, then whisk. You can boil/simmer the cream and pour it over the chocolate, then whisk. You can even microwave the cream and pour it over the chocolate. I usually make a double boiler out of a saucepan and metal or glass bowl, because I can make sure I’ll get enough heat in the ingredients for the chocolate to fully melt.
Combine the solid chocolate and non-dairy milk in the heat-safe bowl or the upper part of the double boiler, and fill the saucepan or lower part of the double boiler with about an inch or a centimeter of water. Bring the water to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Place the bowl or double boiler on top so the steam heat melts the chocolate. Whisk the mixture occasionally.
When the chocolate is almost entirely melted into the milk, remove the double boiler from the heat, and whisk vigorously until the chocolate is melted and the ganache is smooth.
Pour the ganache over the cooled cake and spread out evenly so it covers the top and drips down the sides. Let the ganache cool and solidify, either on the counter or in the refrigerator (it doesn’t need to be wrapped or covered), before serving.
Serve the cake with the raspberry sauce and some more fresh berries.
The cake lasts for a few days covered in plastic and stored in the refrigerator.
previous monthly muffins
Herbert’s first birthday was already three weeks ago, but the celebration never stops with him. He’s a little party starter.
My farmor (paternal grandma) used to send us massive boxes full of english muffins, in about a dozen different flavors. There were so many of them, we have to keep the muffins in the freezer. Regardless, they never lasted long (they were damn good, and also my dad eats a lot of english muffins.)
We would have the traditional unflavored variety, whole wheat muffins, and the popular cinnamon raisin, but there were also jalapeño muffins, herb muffins, and other fruit flavors. When I started making my own english muffins a year ago, I wanted to be able to compete with the ones we used to have (I’m still lagging in second place, I think), and work through all the flavors I could remember.
To be honest, though, I can only remember four, so after I’ve mastered jalapeño english muffins, I’ll just have to start making up my own flavor combinations (anchovy asparagus muffins, perhaps?)
The recipe here is adapted from my other two recipes and it turns out best with plenty of milk and butter in the dough. More fat means a softer muffin, but like any bread, they’re still amazing without the fat and without the dairy. I always err on the side of not enough flour, because too much flour makes the muffins dense like bricks.
cinnamon raisin english muffins
adapted from my whole wheat english muffins
makes 12 medium-sized muffins
*vegan substitutions included
200 g sourdough starter**
150 g buttermilk, yogurt, or water
110 g water
90 g whole wheat flour
350 g all-purpose flour, plus extra for shaping the dough
dash of salt
40 g dark brown sugar
56 g oil or melted butter (2 oz/4 Tbsp)
2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 c raisins
vegetable oil or butter for frying
cornmeal for dusting
**If you’d rather use active baker’s yeast, then substitute 7 g of yeast, 100 g all-purpose flour, and 100 g water.
In a large bowl or stand mixer, combine starter, buttermilk, water, flours, salt, sugar, cinnamon, and oil/melted butter.
Using a dough hook, wooden spoon, or your hands, beat/knead the dough until it forms a slightly sticky, cohesive mass, about 5 minutes.
Lightly grease another large bowl, and transfer the dough, flipping it over once to oil the entire surface.
Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough proof/rise until doubled, at least 6 hours (2 if using baker’s yeast.) You can let the dough rise in a warm oven (100 F/ C), on the counter at room temperature, or in the refrigerator. If using sourdough starter, the proofing will take a lot longer than if you’re using baker’s yeast.
When in doubt, let it double. The size is really the indication that it’s ready.
When the dough is done proofing, turn it out onto a clean, lightly floured surface (the countertop, a pastry board, or a bread cloth, for example.) Divide the dough into 12 equal portions, using a scale for consistency, if desired, and roll each portion into a ball.
Dust a baking sheet liberally with cornmeal and arrange the dough on top, leaving an inch or so between each piece. Gently press down on each muffin with the palm of your hand to flatten it into a disc. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and let proof/rise another half an hour, until puffy.
While the muffins are proofing again, preheat the oven to 350 F/ C.
When the muffins are ready, heat a skillet or griddle over medium heat, and add about 1-2 Tbsp of oil/butter. Once the pan and oil are hot, sear/brown the muffins on each side, working in batches and leaving space between the muffins on the stove. Let the muffins brown for about 3 – 5 minutes on each side, and rearrange on the cookie sheet.
Dust the muffins one more time with cornmeal, and bake for 15 – 20 minutes, until puffed up and plump.
Let the muffins cool on a wire rack, then store at room temperature in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic. Muffins last about a week stored correctly.
Chop, chop, y’all!
previous cold-weather monthly muffins:
I’ve never considered myself finnicky or picky as an eater, but every once in a while I come across something I don’t particularly want to eat again. Not because it’s bad (my standards are reprehensibly low), but because I just don’t vibe with it, you know?
For example, chocolate cake. I don’t like chocolate cake. It’s just too…mouth-y. It’s a lot of dark chocolate flavor and a lot of cake-y-ness in my mouth and for some reason, it doesn’t work. Brownies, on the other hand, are my forte. Rich, chewy, fudgy, and dark. They get me.
I love chocolate ice cream, but not so much the chocolate cakes and breads. I love chocolate, but not so much the chocolate frostings. I’m all for dark chocolate, but could go the rest of my life without eating another piece of milk chocolate.
As a result, it comes as some surprise to me that something inspired me to make a chocolate muffin. My favorite local coffeeshop used to sell chocolate muffins with chocolate chips, and despite my convoluted relationship with the various forms of chocolate, I loved them. I’ve never enjoyed another chocolate quickbread anything aside from those muffins, and yet somehow, I felt inspired to make this month’s muffins purely chocolate. I guess it was an attempt to give chocolate bread another chance, to see if we could reconcile our awkwardness.
The first time I made them, I was, ironically (but also not so ironically in light of my tastes), reluctant to try them. I wanted to fill the muffins with chocolate chips but all I had were milk chocolate bits.
They were great (aside from the milk chocolate bits.) They were surprisingly good.
They’re also vegan.
By now I’ve made my fair share of vegan pastries, but I remember a time before I discovered the apple sauce + canola oil + non-dairy milk combination when I would make my vegan things with water. Pro-tip: don’t make vegan sweets with water. They will taste like water.
These muffins feel just like non-vegan muffins (we’re talking the buttermilk beauties), taste plenty chocolate-y without being too mouth-y, and are accented by little bits of rich, dark deliciousness.
The best part? You can lick the bowl (I lick all my bowls but for those of you who’d rather not eat raw eggs, this recipe is dedicated to you.)
vegan double chocolate muffins
based on my vegan ginger muffins
makes 1 dozen
240 g all-purpose flour
40 g cocoa powder
3 tsp baking powder
dash of salt
180 g granulated sugar
80 g canola oil
40 g unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
200 g unsweetened/unflavored non-dairy milk (I use coconut)
1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 375 F/190 C, and line a muffin pan with paper muffin cups.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, apple sauce, canola oil, milk, and vanilla.
Add flour mixture to the wet ingredients and quickly combine, then whisk in chocolate chips.
Using a spoon or cookie scoop, fill the muffin cups 3/4 of the way full and bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until muffins spring back when lightly pressed.
Remove muffins from the oven and let cool in the pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.
Here’s to the people who like to lick the bowl but don’t want to get sick,
previous monthly muffins:
It’s been gray the whole past week, and rainy most nights…and I’ve been loving it all so much. Over the summer, I never wanted to stay inside, or it was too muggy for me to just sit around, even with the air conditioning running full blast. Now, though, I wake up at 7:00, brew myself a gargantuan pot of coffee (yes a whole pot just for me), and lounge around enjoying the nascent coziness of early autumn. The gray mornings are best for productivity, and I tell you I need a lot that (#gradschoollyfe.)
I’m drowning in developmental psychology and immigration policy…but it’s kind of nice. I like the quiet mornings, which turn into low-key days, when I can both relax and get things done.
Plus, I’m a nerd for learning. I love it, and like high-key love it. My book case is practically falling apart because I can’t help myself with getting new books, even if I barely have time or energy to read them. My professors probably don’t expect me to read everything they assign, much less twice with highlights and margin notes, but I do. I’m already vaguely familiar with most of the concepts we’re learning, whether I realize it or not, but something about seeing it all in print is empowering.
I say this as midterm season approaches and I watch my last breath pop like a bubble in a bathtub.
With work and school, I have less time for cooking than I had expected, and slightly less time for baking (plus money. why does making food cost money.) so I try to enjoy the few moments I do get in the kitchen.
Following the success of my English muffins (my stomach gave them two Oscars, and my mouth nominated them for six Emmys. they can’t believe it. they’re so grateful), I decided to start building up a repertoire of English muffin recipes.
I started with whole wheat: gray like an early autumn morning, hearty like October produce, and flavorful in all the best ways. At first, I just made a substitution: half whole wheat flour for half all-purpose. The dough is surprisingly easy to work with. Unfortunately, I realized that not only were the muffins dense, but the dough was a little firm (easy to work with as in not sticky, but stiff as in stubborn.) Trial after trial, each involving either a different ratio of whole wheat flour to all-purpose (it’s recommended that you always cut whole wheat with refined), or a smaller amount of flour, and I finally arrived here: fluffy, some might even say “plush,” whole-wheat English muffins with nooks and crannies big enough for you to fall into. If you’re butter, that is.
Every time I think of nooks and crannies, I want to say “crooks and nannies.” Words are funny, y’all.
The dough will be just a little bit sticky, but not so much that you can’t pick it up as one mass and handle it directly with your hands. I let the dough proof in a greased bowl the first time, then transfer it to a floured pastry board, and the flour helps the individual dough rounds come together without sticking everywhere, without adding so much extra flour that they dry out. With less flour, the dough rises a lot more during proofing and baking, the holes are larger, and the flavor shines through more.
whole-wheat english muffins (with vegan options)
makes one dozen (56 g/2 oz each, unbaked)
200 g/7 oz sourdough starter
150 g/5.3 oz milk, buttermilk, or water
28 g/1 oz softened butter or oil (canola, etc.)
20 g/0.7 oz molasses or brown sugar
180 g/6.3 oz whole wheat flour
100 g/3.5 oz all-purpose flour
hefty pinch of salt
with baker’s yeast instead of starter
7 g/0.25 oz (1 packet) active dry yeast
250 g/8.8 oz milk, buttermilk, or water
28 g/1 oz softened butter or oil (canola, etc.)
20 g/0.7 oz molasses or brown sugar
180 g/6.3 oz whole wheat flour
200 g/7 oz all-purpose flour
hefty pinch of salt
for prepping, frying, and baking
vegetable oil, ~1 Tbsp
cornstarch, ~1/4 c
butter (substitute canola oil for vegan), ~1 Tbsp
make the dough
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer.
Using a spoon or rubber spatula, quickly mix together ingredients just until the dough starts to form and there isn’t a lot of loose flour or water/liquid.
Using the dough hook of an electric or stand mixer, beat the dough for ~5 minutes, until smooth, cohesive, and pulling away from the sides of the bowl. It should stick a little bit when you touch it, but not come apart too much. Add more flour if it’s too loose, wet, or sticky.
Transfer the dough to a greased bowl, turn over once, cover, and let proof at least 1 hour, or until doubled. If you want to divide the dough more precisely when shaping the muffins, put the empty, greased bowl onto a scale, zero/tare it out, and add the dough so you know exactly how much you have. I end up with ~670 g/24 oz.
Note: Sourdough starter ferments more slowly and rises less than active dry baker’s yeast (but is more beneficial and nutritious), so I make the dough a day in advance and refrigerate overnight. When making yeasted dough, proofing times vary a lot, so rely on the size of the dough to know when it’s ready. You can even use a large measuring cup, so you can see how the capacity changes as the dough rises.
shape, fry, and bake
Flour a clean surface or marble pastry board and turn proofed dough out of its container.
Divide dough into 12 equal pieces (use a scale for more accuracy: 56 g/2 oz per muffin.) You can make any number of muffins and divide the dough however you want: 6 giant muffins, 18 small muffins, 10 medium-large, etc.
Flatten each piece lightly, fold the edges and corners into the center, form a ball, and roll into a sphere.
Dust a baking sheet with cornstarch and line muffins up, leaving 3-4 inches between each. Lightly flatten again with the palm of your hand.
Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rise another 30 minutes in a warm spot.
While dough is rising again, preheat oven to 350 F/175 C.
When ready to fry and bake, heat a skillet. Butter/oil lightly once the skillet is hot, and let the butter/oil heat. You want to sear the muffins, not deep-fry (though if you want deep-fried English muffins, knock yourself out!)
In batches, fry the muffins until bronzed, 3 – 5 minutes, on each side. Once all muffins are fried, finish them in the oven for 10 – 15 minutes until puffy.
Let cool, split with a fork, toast in halves, and enjoy!
I think I’m falling in love with English muffins,
previous monthly muffins
Many people claim that North Carolina summers last until October, but the mornings and evenings are already feeling less like that place where my upper arm meets my ribcage and more like autumn. And the sun is sleeping much longer. Gone are the days of bright, sunny six o’clock in the morning, and here has come the season of seven o’clock sunsets.
Soon I’ll be able to step outside without my glasses fogging up. Huzzay.
We don’t normally think of blueberries as autumn fruits, but it is yet early autumn/late summer, and as long as the farmers are selling them, I’m sure as hell buying them. I’ve had blueberries in my freezer all season and am only just beginning to finish them up (I just really like blueberries muffins and pancakes, okay?)
Blueberry muffins, with lemon zest and/or buttermilk, are a classic, but I was curious to see if I could make them gluten-free. It took a lot of flour combinations and binder substitutions (I don’t buy xanthan gum; I’ve heard some people say they don’t like it when doing gluten-free baking), but now at the end of the hot and stormy season, I have found a few combinations that work for me, and I’m hoping they’ll work for you, too.
There’s no xanthan gum or anything super crazy in these muffins (though the agar-agar batch did turn out pretty well), and the flours are pretty common: white rice is always my base for gluten-free pastries, plus brown rice, chickpea, or soy flour (choose one or any combination thereof), or if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, buckwheat, and bound together with any starch (corn, tapioca, potato), baking soda, and baking powder. The first few batches tasted metallic, and most of the middle batches were gummy or crumbly, but the last few held together like their glutinous brethren and actually tasted like they were meant to taste.
These muffins will be more tender than glutinous muffins, naturally, and they pack an intense lemon flavor. I use about 2 cups or 200 grams of blueberries for a dozen muffins, but by all means, add more.
Muffins aren’t meant to last more than a day, and certainly no more than 48 hours. If you want to keep them overnight, wait until they’ve cooled off and wrap each muffin individually in plastic wrap. They can be left out at room temperature once they’re wrapped up. I usually microwave the muffins the next day, to bring back a little vitality and make them soft again.
gluten-free blueberry buttermilk muffins
adapted from blueberry buttermilk muffins, from Mom’s Big Book of Baking
makes 1 dozen
100 g white rice flour
100 g other gluten-free flour (bean flours recommended, but you can also use brown rice or buckwheat)
100 g starch (corn, tapioca, potato, etc.)
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
dash of salt
2 large eggs (2-ounce/52-gram eggs), at room temperature
150 g granulated sugar
200 g buttermilk, at room temperature
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1/2 c unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 c fresh or frozen blueberries (~200 g)
Preheat the oven to 350 F/175 C, and line a muffin pan with paper liners.
In a small bowl, combine flours, starch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In a larger bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, buttermilk, and lemon zest. Whisk in melted and cooled butter until combined.
Fold the dry ingredients into the wet, then stir in the blueberries. It doesn’t have to be perfectly mixed, as ingredients will continue to combine when they bake, and you want to work as quickly as possible.
Divide the batter out among the muffin cups (I use a large cookie scoop), and bake for 20 – 30 minutes, until muffins are springy to the touch. If they seem to be browning quickly, turn the oven down to 325 F/160 C.
Leggo my PSL, yo,
previous monthly muffins:
Mine’s Herbert. He smells funny, but he’s so damn cute.
He’s fluffy, bubbly, and off-white. Not white…off-white. I play with him a lot, but I only have to feed him once or twice a week!
Oh, you thought I was talking about my cat. No, my cats eat ten times a day and there are three of them and none of them are off-white…not even in the slightest.
No, I was talking about my starter.
I made my first (and I hope only) sourdough starter on March 13 of this year, four months ago, and named him Herbert. I keep him in a plastic quart container in a fridge and try to feed him twice a week (but really if I only feed him once a week, it’s no big deal.)
I created my starter after watching Michael Pollan’s Netflix series, “Cooked,” based on his book, “Cooked” (I did not see that naming coming, how clever.)
Since birthing Herbert, I’ve been working on sourdough English muffins, pretzels, croissants, and even brioche. I used to be in love with active dry baker’s yeast (Red Star was the love of my life), but now I have a young child who takes up all my time, energy, and love (not really; sourdough doesn’t take any time or energy, but requires all of the love. every bit of it.)
This isn’t about the paste, though. This is about what I made with it: English muffins.
Fluffy, rich, buttery, and crusty. Not like the flat, flaccid pucks you buy at the grocery store.
The ones I make aren’t vegan, but the vegan substitutions are easy. Fortunately, most bread by default is vegan, so it’s not like trying to make vegan chocolate mousse (which only works if you have a Vitamix, by the way.) In fact, the first few times I attempted English muffins, they were vegan…until I fried them in butter like the shameless Southerner that I am.
As with most breads or doughs, you can make the dough for these muffins in advance and either freeze or refrigerate them, provided you allow them to proof at some point.
(sourdough) english muffins
makes 12 muffins
Note: if you don’t have a starter but want to make these, it’s an easy substitution. The standard amount of dry yeast is 7 grams or 1 packet, and the amount of added liquid and flour will be half of the weight of the starter. For example, for a recipe with 200 grams of starter, add an extra 100 g each of the liquid and flour. A starter is 1 part water and 1 part flour, so if you wanted to substitute in reverse (using a starter INSTEAD of dry yeast), cut out the yeast, take an equal amount away from the flour and liquid in the recipe, and add twice that amount of the starter (100 grams x 2 = 200 grams starter.)
200 g sourdough starter
350 g all-purpose flour
150 g warm milk or water
1 oz softened butter or vegetable oil
dash of salt
10 g sugar
cornmeal and butter for frying (you don’t need the butter if you’re doing vegan muffins, and if you’re using a non-stick/anodized aluminum pan, you don’t even need oil. you can also use bare cast iron, seasoned with vegan oils.)
In a large bowl using an electric mixer with the dough hook, combine the flour, milk/water, butter, salt, and sugar.
Add the starter and mix with the dough hook for ~5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and it cleans up the bowl as it moves around.
Transfer the dough to a lightly-oiled bowl, cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap, and let proof for a few hours (either at room temperature or overnight in the fridge.) You can freeze the dough at this point, as well, as long as you thaw it overnight in the fridge and let it proof at least once before moving on.
When the dough is doubled in size, turn it out onto a lightly-floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces. The best way to do this is measure the weight of the dough. I end up with approximately 775 grams, so 64 grams per piece for one dozen. You can do any size and any number you want (like ten muffins at 77.5 grams each, or twenty muffins at 40 grams each.)
Roll the dough into balls. Dust a baking sheet with cornmeal and arrange the balls on top of the cornmeal. Flatten the dough into discs with the palm of your hand, cover the pan loosely, and let proof one more time for at least half an hour at room temperature.
While the muffins are proofing, preheat the oven to 400 F/200 C.
Heat a large skillet or griddle (aluminum or cast iron are great, but any material works) on high/medium-high, and add about a tablespoon of unsalted butter. When butter is melted and hot, panfry the muffins, 3 – 4 at a time, until bronze on each side (it’ll be 2 – 5 minutes per side, depending on how hot the pan is.)
Once the muffins are browned on each side, return them to the baking sheet and continue with the rest. After all of the muffins are fried, put them in the oven for 10 – 15 minutes, until plump and firm, taking them out before they brown any more.
Let cool in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack and continue to cool. Muffins last about a week in a sealed container at room temperature, and are best eaten toasted. When splitting muffins, use a fork so you get all the nooks and crannies.
Cheerio and all that,