Tag : vegan-2
Tag : vegan-2
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!
What is more lovable than potatoes? Puppies? I think not. Fluffy kittens? Sorry, no. A French vanilla-scented candle washing away all of your soul-crushing self-doubts and broken dreams on a cozy, rainy, winter evening in a kitchen with a glass of cheap red wine and chicken roasting in the oven? Hah. Don’t make me laugh.
Being Irish, I am required by blood to love potatoes, and love them I do. Almost as much as I love cardamom.
Roasted potatoes was the first dish I learned to make…if you don’t count pasta. I mean dried, store-bought pasta that you boil in a pot for five minutes and drench in tomato sauce. I guess, then, boiled water is the first dish I learned to make, and to be honest, there was a time I couldn’t even do that right.
Once, I left the pasta boiling in the pot so long that the water evaporated and the bottom of the pot turned to charcoal. We had to throw the pot away. We have since ruined another 3+ pots (two Le Creuset stainless steel and one Calphalon hard anodized aluminum.)
Once, I tried to make gulab jamun and I put them in the water not only before it was boiling but also before I even added the sugar.
Everything, even something as simple as boiling water, needs a little practice.
After preparing pasta, roasting potatoes was the first thing I figured out how to do. Roasting potatoes is to college students with ovens what cheap drip coffee machines are to first-years living in closets. They’re simple, flavorful, hearty, and soul-soothing.
In Japan, I made oven fries on a weekly basis. For two years, I tried to get them to come out just like French fries, but alas, French fries are another adventure. Oven fries are just as delightful, though.
When I boil water, despite the old standby, I watch it like a hawk watching a soccer game until it boils. If water could blush, I’m sure it would.
When I roast potatoes, I set ’em and forget ’em. That’s the beauty of roasting (and also braising), you can dress the food, put it in the oven, and forget about it without worrying that you might carbonize the bottom of your beautiful steel roasting pan.
garlic rosemary roasted potatoes
serves 5 – 6
6 – 8 medium or large potatoes (white or Yukon gold)
extra virgin olive oil for coating
salt and pepper for seasoning
6 garlic cloves
4 – 6 sprigs of fresh rosemary (sprigs without the leaves work, as well, if you want to be resourceful.)
Preheat the oven to 450 F/ C.
Chop potatoes into just-larger-than-bite-sized pieces.
Toss the potatoes in the olive oil, salt, and pepper, and arrange them in a 9- x 13-inch roasting pan in a single layer.
Leaving the garlic skin on, smash the cloves with the flat side of a chef’s knife blade. Arrange the garlic and rosemary on top of the potatoes.
Roast the potatoes for 40 – 50 minutes until bronzed, tender, and fragrant, flipping them over once or twice throughout to prevent sticking and burning.
As they say in the homeland, “Dia Duit” (goodbye),
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,
When I moved home last summer, I decided I really wanted to start learning to cook. That is, actively learning all the techniques, collecting recipes, and becoming more acquainted with the kitchen, rather than just knowing how to use my oven.
And I really wanted to make bread.
I had actually been wanting to practice bread for years, ever since I resolved to cut back on buying or eating processed food. I love me some whole wheat sliced loaves but some day I’ll be making them with my own hands, rather than trying to guess what ingredients are on the label at the grocery store.
At first, it was all English muffins. Vegan, not vegan, whole wheat, whatever. I was going cray for English muffins. Eventually, I started playing around with focaccia, too. As long as I can remember, I’ve had a soft spot for focaccia, especially Panera panini made with the flatbread. From the moment I started baking it myself, though, I knew I would never stop. Bread is already the World’s Greatest Comfort Food (and also one of the oldest foods, as well), and focaccia, with its rosemary-olive oil crust and fluffy interior, is all the more belly-filling and heart-warming!
It’s also relatively simple to make, as far as breads go. I went through a couple different recipes, watched every YouTube video I could find, and came up with my own experiment to determine how best to make the flatbread. I tried different amounts of oil, different steps in making the dough, different amounts of flour and water, and different proofing times. Along the way, I found that the less flour you use, the better. Sometimes you can’t get away with not using flour: when you have to knead or shape the dough, for example. But in this case, using less flour than you’d expect results in a lighter and more flavorful bread. I end up making something closer to batter than dough.
The bread keeps for a few days just fine, but it’s so good you’ll have to hide the extra so you don’t eat too much in one sitting!
serves 6 – 8
100 g starter (or 7 g active dry yeast, plus an extra 50 g each of water and all-purpose flour; so 200 g water, 250 g flour)
150 g water
200 g all-purpose flour
40 g extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for seasoning
hefty pinch of salt (at least a tablespoon)
1 tsp sugar
seasonings and add-ons: coarse sea salt, fresh rosemary, garlic, olives
In the bowl of a stand mixer, or a large bowl, combine starter/yeast, water, flour, olive oil, sugar, salt, and dried rosemary. Quickly whisk until just combined, then beat with a dough hook (either on the stand mixer or using a handheld electric mixer), for 5 minutes until uniform and the dough starts to pull away a little from the sides of the bowl.
It’ll be pretty wet and batter-y at this point, but don’t worry. Everything will be okay, I promise.
Grease a medium-large bowl with extra virgin olive oil, and, using a bowl scraper or spatula, scrape the dough into the oil bowl. Either flip the dough in the bowl, or lightly drizzle with olive oil.
Cover the bowl and let the dough proof, a few hours in a warm spot or overnight in the fridge, until doubled in size.
Oil and salt a large brownie pan with extra virgin olive oil and coarse sea salt, then scrape the dough into the pan. Spread the dough out until it covers the entire pan, then let rise, covered, in a warm spot for at least an hour. Don’t let it rise too much or it’ll lose elasticity. Two hours maximum.
Preheat the oven to 400 F/200 C.
When ready to bake, stick garlic cloves and olives into the dough at random intervals, lightly drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt and fresh rosemary. Bake 20 – 30 minutes until golden brown and puffy.
Transfer the bread to a wire rack and let cool slightly before serving.
Buon appetito, i miei amici!
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,
previous monthly muffins:
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 Baking, by 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!