Friday, June 5, 2009

Warm up to a veg diet through baking

My transition to a vegetarian diet occurred at the same time I was learning how to cook for myself. I had always enjoyed baking, so it was a logical starting point for my new role as chief cook. My curiosity led me to Ann Arbor's baking cooperative, Wildflour Bakery.

Wildflour had beautiful, whole grain breads which I bought unsliced so I could cut myself inch-thick slabs of it, onto which I spread freshly ground peanut butter from the People's Food Coop next door. (Peanut butter is another great food for easing into a vegetarian diet. More on that later.) The bakery also had an essene bread, the sort of which I have never seen since. It was unleavened and filled with dried fruits, nuts, and sprouted grains.

After Wildflour, I couldn't look at conventional bakeries the same way. Their hydrogenated buttercream frosting, sugary glazes, and white flour-based cookies and muffins were a lot less interesting now that I had been initiated into the world of mellower sweets made with honey, molasses, and maple syrup. And so began my cooking journey.

If you're feeling bogged down by the myriad offbeat foods and condiments on the shelves of natural foods stores, maybe what you need is a stroll down the baking aisle. Colleen Patrick Goodreau's new book, The Vegan Table, has a fabulous apricot whole wheat muffin that you'll enjoy and be proud to share with friends.

Being as I am possessed by the need to alter recipes, I made just one small change: Instead of using dried apricots, I used reconstituted sun-dried peaches from Full Belly Farm in Guinda, California. Sublime!

So, with the generous permission of Patrick-Goodreau's publisher, here are The Vegan Table's apricot whole wheat muffins. I'll be reviewing other recipes from this glorious, 304-page tome, so stay tuned.

Apricot Whole Wheat Muffins
makes 12

1 tsp. ground flaxseed plus 3 tablespoons water or egg replacer plus water equivalent to 1 egg
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar, as your sweet tooth dictates
1 1/4 cups nondairy milk (I used unsweetened soy milk)
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup chopped dried apricots (I used a generous cup of reconstituted sun-dried peaches)
1/2 cup walnuts or almonds, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly oil muffin tins.

In a food processor or blender, whip the flaxseed and water (or egg replacer and water) together, until mixture reaches a thick and creamy, almost gelatinous, consistency. Set aside.

In a large-size bowl, combine whole-wheat flour, whole-wheat pastry flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Add milk, oil, flax or egg replacement blend, apricots, and nuts and stir quickly until just combined. Be careful not to overstir.

Spoon into prepared muffin tins and bake for 20 minutes, until lightly browned.

1 comment:

  1. The muffins sound delicious. I had vegan blueberry muffins for the first time a few months ago and thought they were great. The most interesting thing I've found about eating vegan foods, is that much of what I was eating was already vegan and I didn't recognize it.