One of my warmest memories of Thanksgiving is of my Dad yelling down the table, “Don’t eat that! It’s vegan!” as if that were tantamount to poisonous. (Which would make a hilarious name for a blogpost, come to think of it…)
Some people think veganism is a religion or a cult or something besides a a way of eating that avoids animal proteins and bi-products, and incidentally is more environmentally-friendly than driving a Prius (you can look that up). For the record, I’m not a vegan — though I wish I was — but I am incapable of digesting dairy and somewhat resistant to eggs, plus I have vegan friends. I guess I’m technically “F.O.V.” (friend of vegans) and as such, I have a vested interest in developing TRULY delicious vegan recipes.
Yes — there are vegan muffin recipes all over the Internet, but let’s be honest, most of them look disgusting. Starting a recipe with what you can’t put in it is never a happy place to begin from. My happiest place to begin? Having a surfeit of some wonderful, fresh, overly ripe fruit in season and wanting to transform it into something delicious.
Too locavore for you, Mom? Sorry! My mother has decided that “locavore” is a bad word because around here it tends to mean overpriced, pretentious, and a parking lot clogged with Priuses — all of which have the right of way, by the way, by virtue of being better than you. She loves farm-fresh produce more than anyone but she hates the smug that you sometimes have to swallow with it!
I just hate when a baked good is so wrapped up in how good it is for you that it forgets that the primary function of a baked good — and a muffin in particular — is to provide an eating experience that is both delicious and somehow comforting at the same time. Muffins are the ultimate sort-of-good-for-you-compared-to-donuts-or-sugar cereal breakfast food and they have been abused, people! They are not the cupcakes’ ugly stepsister. They are an important food in their own right and they have a right to be just as fabulous as cupcakes — if not more so.
Wow. I didn’t mean to go on a rant. I just needed an excuse to use up the rest of my leftover silken Tofu and I have a lot of overripe oranges in the fridge.
I think I’ve made my feelings about baking with Bisquick abundantly clear in earlier posts such as The Beauty of Bisquick and the Beauty of Bisquick Part 2, and even the Tao of Banana Bread and Stone Fruit Scones.
Sure, you could sift together your own dry ingredients, but now that there is trans-fat free Bisquick in the white box, why bother? I find that they have done something crafty to the mix that makes my pancakes 100% fluffier than my Mom’s Bisquick-free ones (sorry again, Mom), so I am assuming they are doing the same magic for my other baked goods. The stone fruit scones mentioned above were AMAZING — light and airy inside, crunchy on the outside, and better than any scone I have ever tasted. I had never made scones before so I’m giving props to the B’quik. (Note to self: Bisquick needs a better “street” name!)
Vegan Orange Walnut Muffins
1 1/2 cups Bisquick (I used Heart Smart in the white box)
1/2 cup almond flour (but you can make your own from any kind of nut in a food processor or blender)
2 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil, such as Canola*
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup silken Tofu — blended till smooth
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
2 teaspoons orange zest (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 375.
Blend all ingredients, being careful not to over beat (leads to toughness).
Pour into a no-stick or greased and floured muffin tin (or use those paper muffin liners, I just find them tiresome). Bake for about 20 minutes, depending on your oven, for big muffins (which I made) or 15 – 20 minutes for smaller muffins until a toothpick to the center comes out clean and they are brown on top. Makes 6 large or 12 medium/smallish muffins.
Cool in tin on a rack before decanting.
So are my muffins good, after all my declaiming? Are they crunchy and caramelized on top yet soft and yielding inside, with enough flavor variety to stand on their own, while still working harmoniously with butter (Earth Balance)? Let me put it this way, I made six and now there are only four and I haven’t even finished the blog post and I wasn’t at all hungry!
As always, if you are looking for gluten-free and vegan and organic, check out my friends Barry and Jenn’s website. They are caterers and they do cooking classes in the Bay Area — http://www.localloveservices.com/
*I know I said never to make muffins or quick breads with oil instead of creamed butter, but I am out of Earth Balance, and it’s so EASY to bake things with the oil — no mixer even required. If you are clever, they will still be moist and utterly delicious. How to be clever, you ask? Follow my recipes, of course!