Wednesday, March 20, 2024

A Very Nice Vegan Bran Muffin + other kitchen exploits

Well, good morning! It is bright and blue out my window, so I felt sort of gut-punched walking my littlest to the bus stop this morning, buffeted by an unanticipated onslaught of gusty, dusty nonsense. We're on the tail-end of a disorienting, disturbingly mild winter in Minneapolis: the driest, brownest, absolutely most boring one I've yet to experience in my score-and-some-change tenure here. I longed for snow all through December, January, and February - a little dusting to brighten up the oddly displayed dead and dormant everywhere; maybe a thicker blanket on the weekends so we could go sledding? As this point though, I'm over it and have traded in my winter-want for real spring readiness. Usually spring is sort of a hypothetical season in this part of the world but I figured after our non-winter, anything was possible. And that very well may be, but last week's upper 60s turned into to this morning's "feels like 5" and now the pros say we could get 20 inches of snow starting tomorrow night and into next week, or maybe a fraction of that in rain, or maybe nothing. And here I am, a proper Minnesotan doing what Minnesotans do best: lament the weather. (This paragraph and entire post are my writing warm-ups today. If you're interested in seeing what I've been writing and sharing elsewhere, please check out my recent ramblings on Writing It Out.)

When it's irritatingly cold out, I like to bake. Since the weather dipped last week, I've baked two batches of cookies and two kinds of muffins, and I thought I'd tell you about all four, and share the muffin recipe. 

First: Chocolate Chip Cookies. My middle child found this recipe and it's a crowd-pleasing keeper. We used a mix of milk and white chocolate chips, plus those crazy can't-stop-won't-stop seasonal salted caramel chips from Trader Joe's. Speaking of my middle child... here he is doing an impression of his mom.


It's true. I have always liked to rest my right leg on a tall counter and there is no place my hand prefers to be than holding a warm mug of coffee.

Second: cookie number two, and a mini-review of Amy Thielen's Company, a gorgeous, characteristically inviting cookbook full of decadent, homesteader-meets-James Beard recipes, most of which fall into my too-hard or too-carnivorous or too-many-ingredient buckets. I spent a couple weeks browsing my library copy, wished someone would concoct some of the too-hard treasures for me, and tried out a handful of recipes that seemed novel as well as manageable --- with mixed results. I tried a "ramen brittle" recipe that seemed so promising - a salad-crunch option that wasn't nut-based! Right out of the oven it was addictively salty-sweet delicious. But by the time it had firmed up and got tossed into salad, the clusters had gone jawbreaker on us, and while the flavor was good and interesting, it was not worth a dental emergency. Perhaps a different brand of ramen would not be so hazardous? (Insert shoulder shrug emoji.) I went on to have two successes: Apricot Snickerdoodles (a solid snickerdoodle dough recipe, but filled with a homemade jam made from dried apricots - SO, SO GOOD) and Parmesan Cream Dressing (from the "Winter Slaw" recipe), which was absolutely posh-restaurant-level exceptional and which I absolutely cannot wait to make again. 

Third: these Zucchini Muffins from Pinch of Yum. I make these often and invariably mess with the recipe and they invariably turn out great. This time, in an effort to make them lunchbox-worthy nutritious, I omitted the maple syrup, subbed yogurt for the oil, and added some protein powder. (Note: the recipe requires a VitaMix or something comparable.) 

Finally, the main course! Tim from Chicago, who spottily maintains a food blog of the same vintage as yours-truly's, recently recommended a bran muffin recipe that had been posted on yet another fine-aged blog circa 2011... I gave it a veganized go (and cut the recipe in half, because I literally don't have a bowl big enough to accommodate the full recipe's amount of batter) and am so glad I did! If you have buttermilk and eggs, go ahead and make the original recipe! But if you're interested in a vegan variation, you've come to the right place!




A couple notes:

- Batter should be prepared ahead of time, so that the bran, whole wheat flour, and oats can soak and soften. I soaked mine overnight and made six muffins this morning. 

- The batter can keep in the refrigerator for a week or more, so I plan to just make small batches of fresh-from-the-oven muffins every few days. I think the addition of fresh or frozen blueberries or dried fruit would be lovely, though I did not include those in this morning's production.

Otherwise, here you go!

Vegan Bran Muffins
Adapted from Sweet Sugar Bean
Yield: 18-24 muffins

1 cup boiling water
1 cup wheat or oat bran
2 cups soy or other milk
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or distilled vinegar
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1/3 cup ground flax seed
2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups thick or "old-fashioned" oats
sunflower seeds, poppy seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds, optional (for topping)

In a medium-sized bowl, pour the boiling water over the bran.  Let stand 10 minutes.  

In a very large bowl, whisk together soy milk and vinegar and set aside for 5 minutes or so. Add applesauce, oil, sugar, molasses, ground flax seeds, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda and whisk until thoroughly combined. Add flour and stir until just moistened, no more floury streaks. Stir in bran and oats. Cover bowl and place in refrigerator to soak for at least two hours, or overnight. 

When you're ready to make muffins, preheat oven to 350 and grease a muffin tin. Scoop the batter, until 3/4 full, sprinkle with seeds of your liking and bake for about 20-30 minutes, until the tops have risen and spring back when touched.

No comments:

Post a Comment