Monday, March 26, 2012

Guest Post: S.B.D's Vegan Blueberry Muffins

One of my favorite part about food blogs are guest posts! I think it is really wonderful to share other's recipes and inspirations! I have a few guest posts lined up already, and here is the first one from a friend of mine, SBD. Enjoy!


"I went vegetarian about four months ago for ethical and health reasons. I still like to eat baked goods and junk food now and then, and one of my favorite baked foods are blueberry muffins. Few things are better than a homemade blueberry muffin, especially when it’s fresh out of the oven and still warm. While browsing, a site for people who like to cook and bake, I found this great vegan recipe for blueberry muffins. Now, I still bake with eggs and dairy, but I’ve been trying to find more recipes that don’t involve eggs and dairy because I like to experiment and try new things. These muffins are really tasty. They’re low in fat and they taste just as good as traditional muffins. This is a pretty easy recipe but pay careful attention to the directions. The first time I made these muffins I didn’t add enough baking powder. I misread the ingredients and thought it called for ½ teaspoon when it really called for a tablespoon. The result was yummy but dense purple muffins. I made the muffins again, paid close attention to the ingredients, and they came out great. 

Some people will say that vegan baking isn’t as good as traditional baking. That’s only partly true. The fact is that vegan baking, like traditional baking, only sucks if you don’t get the recipe right or don’t know what you’re doing. Anyone can bake but not everyone is perfect and you shouldn’t really try to be. It’s good to make mistakes because if you don’t, you won’t learn anything. With some patience and practice you can recreate all your favorite baking recipes but substituted with plant-based ingredients. A good book on how to do this is “The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions: Veganize It! Foolproof Methods for Transforming Any Dish into a Delicious New Vegan Favorite” by Celine Teen and Joni Marie Newman. I bought this book to learn how to substitute certain ingredients, not to go vegan although I eat vegan about 70% of the time. The book contains some information at the beginning of the chapters before they tell you how to substitute things that is a bit misleading and a little biased. So like I said, get the book to learn substitutions, unless if you’re someone that is planning on going vegan then that’s fine for you but don’t get sucked into the fundie fanaticism. No one pushed me to go vegetarian, it was my choice, so don’t let anyone push you either. Omnivore or herbivore, everyone is cool in my book as long as they have a good heart and an equally good head on their shoulders.

Now that that’s out of the way, onto the muffins but before we get started, here is something you should know: 

Sugar: sugar is vegan, although some might say it’s not. Sugar is vegan unless it is sugar that has been whitened with bone char. Bone char is a form of charcoal that is produced by heating bone in the presence of a limited amount of air, to around 400 to 500 degrees C (752 to 932 degrees F), to remove “impurities” from liquids, and also in solutions of raw sugar. This process also removes nutrients and vitamins such as Riboflavin [vitamin B2], vitamin B [Thiamine], amino acids and fiber. It’s a “Don’t” in vegan baking. In this recipe I used evaporated cane juice, or light brown sugar if evaporated cane juice is unavailable. Evaporated cane juice and sugar are both derived from sugar cane but differ in the refinement process. Because evaporated cane juice doesn’t undergo the same process as refined sugar, it’s a healthier alternative. It should, however, still be kept to a minimum. 

- ¼ cup vegan margarine [I use Earth Balance but you can use any vegan margarine, unless if you have soy allergies.] 
- ½ cup unsweetened applesauce 
- ½ teaspoon salt 
- 1 cup sugar 
- 2 cups flour [all purpose]
- 1 tablespoon baking powder 
- 1 teaspoon vanilla 
- 1 1/2 cup soy milk [preferably unsweetened. You can also use rice milk if you either have soy allergies or don't have any soy milk in your fridge.]
- 2 cups frozen blueberries 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line standard muffin tins/mold with paper cups, unless you're using a silicone mold and then liners are optional. This will make about 10 or a dozen muffins depending on how you divide your batter. 

The standard way to make these is to just toss everything in and mix it. You can use a stand mixer, hand mixer or just do it all by hand with a spoon or spatula. I did something different. 

1) Sift the first cup of flour into a mixing bowl, add the sugar and whisk the two together. If you don't have a sifter you can just pour the flour and sugar in and use a whisk to incorporate the two or a fork. 

The reason I add each cup of flour separately is because flour has a tendency to go all over the place. 

2.) Add the margarine. Give it time to soften first. You can soften it in a microwave if you don't want to wait but keep an eye on it and measure carefully. You don't want it to turn to liquid and get all over the place. Add the applesauce and cream it together with the margarine, flour and sugar. 

3.) Add the soy milk and continue mixing but don't over mix. 

4.) Sift the second cup of flour, the salt and baking powder into the mixer and mix the dry ingredients with the wet. Fold in the blueberries. 

If the blueberries are stuck together in clumps, you can thaw them in a bowl of warm water or a large measuring cup and then drain the extra water. 

5.) Divide the batter evenly into the muffin cups, fill them about 3/4 full. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, just until the tops are golden brown or a knife/toothpick/cake tester comes out clean. You might want to poke them a couple of times because the insides will be a little moist from the berries. 

Sprinkle on a little cinnamon or spread on some butter – vegan or regular – and enjoy. I like to eat one of these muffins with chopped up fruit [strawberries, pears and apples], scrambled eggs and some tea or orange juice, but they’re also great with oatmeal or cereal. These muffins are also great by themselves, as a snack, or for dessert after dinner, especially with some vanilla icing. 

You can make a simple vegan vanilla icing by combining ½ cup vegan margarine, 3 cups of powdered sugar, 1/3 cup soy milk and a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Cream the margarine and sugar together in a medium-sized mixing bowl, add the vanilla and soymilk and mix until it’s thick and of a good consistency for spreading. Smear it on with a bread knife or just drizzle it on. They taste amazing.

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