Proustian Muffins

I am on a mission to recreate my perfect muffin. We went on vacation the first part of September, part bike tour, part friend’s wedding, part family vacation. We wound our way through Minnesota and since every stop in MN means the cities we tried to go to our favorite restaurant. Tried. We got turned around and instead ended up at a Co-op. I am a sucker for grocery stores and co-ops are virtually irresistible. The way he goes to hardware stores I go to food stores. It works out both ways – he makes me things, I bake him things.

So in we went. And I loved it. I have no photo evidence so you’ll have to believe me, but it was enormous and beautiful. There was Ethiopian food in the cold case! There isn’t even an Ethiopian restaurant in the ENTIRE state of Iowa anymore. So yeah, the cold case! With a little basket of injera right next to it. Mind you we’d been camping for a week already, eating bread and instant meals so this was beautiful. And then came the bakery.

I bake. A lot. Sweet is my preferred flavor. So having been eating from regular grocery stores for a week my only sweets had been fruit and energy gels/bars. And here was a beautiful bakery full of delights. For some reason I grabbed the bran muffin. An attempt at some whole grain and fiber I guess. We bought our goodies at the co-op and needed to figure our way back to the freeway through construction. I was turned around in 5 seconds, but you know what. I didn’t care. I had just bit into that muffin and had a Proustian moment. I couldn’t shut up about it. We finally made it out of the city and I was kind of sad I hadn’t ended up driving in circles because I would have gone back and bought them out. And begged for the recipe.

I have very distinct memories of my mom making six-week bran muffins for us kids. Six-week because you made a ton of batter and kept it in the fridge and baked it off as you needed it. My brother and I would eat them warm, peeling off the muffin liner and spreading Country Crock margarine on the bottom of the muffin because it was flatter and easier to spread. When we ate them cold we’d split them in half and fill with that brown-tubbed marg and make muffin/marg sandwiches. Healthy kids, I know. But they were the only muffins my mom made from scratch and I remember so much about them. Some things are meant to stay in childhood. School pizza and doritos with ranch dressing for example. Bran muffins do not fall into that category. They will be brought into the future, veganized, and shared with the masses. But first I need to find the recipe.

I have already conducted two trials. The first was too healthy. I like healthy baked goods but this was too much whole wheat and molasses. The second batch were good, but not quite there. I have learned that wheat bran is key, as well as really curdling the soy milk to get the tang that I remember my mom’s buttermilk based muffins having. I will leave you with a photo of the second batch and the promise of a recipe before the end of the month. Because there is no giving up.

Coooooookies!

I’ve been pretty good at this whole blogging thing lately. Watch, I’ve just screwed myself over. Anyway, I’ll start with something healthy. You know it will quickly descend into sugar gluttony so how about a salad?

Red leaf lettuce, cucumber, and chopped up bits of sheese blue cheese. Not quite real blue cheese but it works in salad. I used some of my mom’s homemade French dressing which I found in the fridge. French dressing aka glorified ketchup vinaigrette. 

The scramble is probably the best I’ve ever made. Crumbled extra firm tofu, nooch, and some Fox Point seasoning – which is basically herb riddled crack. 

Now for some dessert. Spritz maybe? Yeah, I’m Norwegian, what of it. I like my spritz, my krumkake, kringla, lefse, and what have you. Even when its not Christmas.

The recipe is basically a vegan rip off of Betty Crocker (how I loved that mythical woman)

Spritz 

This is a small recipe (I only had one stick of EB) so feel free to double it.
1/2 c. EB, room temp
1/4 c. sugar 
1 c. 2 tbsp. flour 
1/8 tsp. salt 
1 tip vanilla (1/4 tsp) 

Cream EB and sugar, add vanilla. Mix in flour and salt. You might need to add a bit of soymilk.  Load into this:

And shoot (hehe) onto a very lightly greased cookie sheet. One click, pull up quickly. The sheet needs to only be lightly greased otherwise the cookies won’t stick and they will never leave their safe cylindrical home. Same thing applies to parchment – if you can get it to work on parchment by all means let me know. Bake for 5-8 minutes – until the cookies are set but not brown. Barely golden as my mom would tell me. Makes 20 cookies.

One type of cookie clearly isn’t enough. So here’s some more.

Chewy Banana Cookies

And some walnut ridges. I named them, I don’t care if I stole the recipe from VegNews. I slightly modified it (I left out the chocolate chips and used white flour instead of oat). And damnit, I want to name a cookie. Besides, they have cute little ridges from me using my fingers to smash them down. 

Maybe sometime when its not way past my bedtime I’ll post a recipe.

CAKE!

With all the cookies I bake I sometimes get a hankering for something a little different. Something that takes a bit of effort. Something that involves copious amounts of frosting. And finally something that will assure me of not forgetting my frosting skillz acquired so painstakingly in Iowa City.

Of course I could bake a cake for no reason, but where’s the fun in that. So instead I whipped up a celebratory cake for my bike-ridin’ official pancake and coffee maker, whom I happen to share a bed with. He did a 100K gravel bike race on Sunday and because he endured through such shitty weather (rain, hail, snow, cold, etc) I thought he needed a treat. Plus I’m baking the cake for my goddaughter’s fourth birthday in a few weeks so I wanted to practice.

Enter Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. This tasty little concoction is one layer of peanut butter cake, one layer of banana cake, ganache in the middle, chocolate buttercream all over, and more ganache on top. The little truffle looking things on top are in fact truffles. Cake truffles made from the first pb cake I made before I put parchment in the bottom of the pans (I flipped out a half cake instead of the whole one I wanted).

The cake truffles are actually the wheels on bike I piped on with the extra frosting. Money Shot:

We’ve now devoured about half the cake with very little help from our roommate. We are cows, happy cake eating cows. And this is why I love him so so so much.

The ganache was just 1/2 c. soy milk microwaved until boiling. Then pour in 8-10 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips and let it sit for a few minutes. All you have to do is stir it up until emulsified, let it cool, then eat with a spoon. Well or actually do something constructive with it like fill a cake or make truffles. Speaking of truffles. The cake truffles were simply half a baked peanut butter cake that was left out overnight to stale and the remaining ganache all thrown into a food processor and pulsed until it formed a ball. Chill in the freezer for a while, roll into balls, and cover in something (cocoa, walnuts, coconut, tempered chocolate, the list goes on).