pumpkin squared

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Tis the season — pumpkin season, that is. I have two great pumpkin recipes for you today: pumpkin polenta squares and pumpkin beer bread. These have been my quick grab and go breakfast baked goods for the past several weeks and I’ve really enjoyed them. Both recipes are plant-based which means you won’t find any eggs or dairy in them, and the pumpkin purée eliminates the need for any oil. Also, they both use maple syrup as the sweetener — you could replace this with your favorite sweetener of choice. You’ll have to experiment with the amounts until you find what you like.

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You can make your own pumpkin purée if you like, or buy canned pumpkin. Make sure you don’t buy pumpkin pie filling by mistake. At this time of year, I think canned pumpkin is actually harder to find in the store, or at least they keep it well hidden behind the pie filling!

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pumpkin polenta squares

ingredients

  • 2 cups polenta or cornmeal
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon*
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves*
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice*
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg*
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger (optional)
  • 2 cups pumpkin purée
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 1 cup almond milk (or milk of choice)
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup

directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease an 8×8 glass baking dish.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the cornmeal, baking soda, salt, and spices.
  3. Stir in all other ingredients and mix to combine.
  4. Pour mixture into baking dish and bake for 50-55 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven when it is golden brown and firm to the touch. Place on a cooling rack for at least 10 minutes before serving.

*note: you can substitute 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice for the cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice.

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pumpkin beer bread

adapted from Gimme Some Oven

ingredients

  • 3 cups spelt flour (0r flour of choice)
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1 12-ounce bottle of beer (I used hard cider instead of beer)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (optional)

directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9×5-inch bread pan with cooking spray, or line with parchment paper.
  2. Stir flour, baking powder, salt, spices, maple syrup and pumpkin purée together in a large mixing bowl until combined. Slowly add in the beer, and stir until combined and smooth. Stir in cranberries and walnuts, if desired.
  3. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the bread comes out clean. Let bread rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing.

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orange, date, and walnut polenta muffins

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I’m really enjoying these weekend baking sprees I’ve embarked on recently. I finished my last scone for breakfast this morning so I knew this afternoon I’d need to work on something else to get me through my breakfasts next week. I was planning on making those amazing avocado, blueberry, orange muffins again, or modifying my orange, cranberry, ginger, avocado scones, but my avocados weren’t ripe enough yet so I had to scratch that idea. I saw some recipes a while back for polenta cake that I filed away in my head for later use, which got me onto my polenta dinner kick recently. I decided to check google to see if there was such a thing as polenta muffins, and eventually settled on orange polenta muffins.

At this point, I’m not sure it’s possible to go wrong when you bake with oranges — with the scent of the batter while you’re mixing it and the aroma that wafts from the oven while they’re baking, how could they possibly taste anything but amazing? I was a little concerned when I removed them from the oven because they looked like they might be very dry, but they were anything but! They’re slightly sweet, tangy, with a hint of savory from the different spices. Very satisfying and definitely a great breakfast option!

You could easily adapt this to your taste by substituting the spices, fruits, and nuts for almost anything you want (although I think I hit the jackpot with my choice of spices)! I think it could be really good with peaches or blueberries–I’m not sure I’d want to sub out the orange. That’s the major key to the success of this recipe. I may try it using avocado instead of the oil next time, if I have a ripe one on hand. All in all, a successful rainy day baking adventure!

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orange, date, and walnut polenta muffins

adapted from Orange Polenta Muffins

ingredients

  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cups almond milk
  • 2 oranges, finely diced (including peel)
  • 1 cup dates, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1 cup quick cooking polenta
  • 1 cup spelt flour
  • 1 cup wholewheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

directions

  1. Preheat oven to 395˚F. Line 18 muffin cups with paper or silicone liners.
  2. Mix the brown sugar, coconut oil and almond milk together in a large bowl and let sit while you prepare the other ingredients.
  3. Sift all the dry ingredients into another bowl.
  4. Add the oranges, dates, and walnuts to the wet mixture, then add this to the dry ingredients. Fold together gently until mixed.
  5. Divide between the 18 muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Leave in the muffin tray for 5 minutes before placing on a wire rack to cool.

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baking with avocados

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I’ve come to the realization that in order for me to cook regularly, it needs to become a puzzle for me that I have to solve. In the case of vegan cooking and baking, it’s figuring out how to substitute for dairy, eggs, and other animal products in a way that is close enough to the original recipe, or turning it into something completely different and wonderful. Even though I’ve always loved to cook, I never really did so regularly for myself. My two main reasons are because it’s really not a whole lot of fun to cook for yourself, and when you’re done cooking, you’re the only person there to clean up after yourself, and I definitely don’t enjoy cleaning! But when it comes to vegan cooking, since I know I can’t run across the street to McDonald’s or Wendy’s from school for breakfast or lunch, I have to prepare food for myself in advance at home. This has forced me to spend a lot more time in my kitchen than I normally do, and I’m really enjoying being creative in trying and adapting new recipes. I still don’t enjoy cleaning up after myself, but if I’m going to keep cooking, I eventually have to wash the dirty dishes and clear off the counters!

Ever since I stumbled across the vegan muffin recipes in Forks Over Knives – The Cookbook, I’ve been obsessed with vegan baking. I’ve baked vegan ginger peach muffins and banana bread several times in the weeks since school’s started. They are both simple, tasty, and filling items for me to grab for a quick breakfast when I’m running out the door to work. (And are much better than the egg mcmuffin or sausage burrito I’d get from the drive-thru more mornings than I care to admit!) Several days ago, one of the blogs I follow posted a recipe for avocado, blueberry, and orange muffins. I’ll let you head over to Poppy’s Patisserie for the recipe. They were amazing. I had no idea that this funky looking green batter would turn into such delicious, orange-scented muffins. I’ve never cooked with avocado before. Sure, I’ve put it in a million salads and made guacamole hundreds of times, but I had no idea that it was such a versatile ingredient. This got me hooked — if it tasted this good in these muffins (and there was absolutely no hint of avocado flavor at all in there), what else could I bake with it? So the search began…

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I turned to my trusty recipe file (i.e. google) and began searching for baking recipes that used avocado. I eventually settled on making scones. I had trouble finding exactly the recipe I was looking for since most either used ingredients I didn’t have on hand, weren’t vegan, or were gluten-free. I’m not ready to dive head first into gluten-free baking yet — those require a little more science and accuracy than I care for at this point. Plus, I don’t have an issue with gluten, so whenever I make gluten-free stuff, it’s more a matter of wanting to experiment with alternative grains.

Anyway, I finally decided I wanted to make orange, cranberry, and ginger scones and would attempt to create my own recipe, adapting what seemed to be fairly standard ingredients and proportions in the scone recipes I found. The only thing I was really unsure of was how much butter or oil one avocado would replace. I couldn’t find anything specific online, but I decided to go for it anyway. The end result turned out pretty well. They looked amazing and the texture was definitely scone-like. The recipes I compared varied from 2 tablespoons to over a cup of sugar so I erred on the side of caution. Next time I’ll add more sugar or maple syrup or something–they just needed a little more sweetness. I also couldn’t really taste the ginger so I’ll either increase the amount of powdered ginger or add grated fresh ginger next time. I’m posting the recipe exactly as I made it, so be forewarned that it may not be sweet enough for your liking. Some recipes called for brushing the top with milk or sprinkling with sugar before baking, so those are some things I might try next time. This recipe could also be adapted to other flavors and mix-ins, so be sure to let me know if you come up with a great flavor combination!
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orange, cranberry, ginger, avocado scones

ingredients

  • 1 large, ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
  • 1 orange, juiced and zested
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seed
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup raw sugar
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup almond milk

directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400˚F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Put the diced avocado in the freezer for approximately 20 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, ginger, and flax seed.
  4. Place the frozen avocado into the flour mixture and work it in using your fingertips or a pastry cutter until the mixture is in small granules.
  5. Stir in the orange juice, zest, and cranberries.
  6. Gradually add in the almond milk until everything is moistened.
  7. Spoon the batter onto your prepared baking sheets (approx. 1/4 cup per scones). They will spread a little as they bake so leave some space in between.
  8. Bake for 10-15 minutes until scones are golden brown and firm to the touch.
  9. Leave on baking sheet for 5 minutes before placing on a cooling rack. Enjoy!

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ginger peach muffins

This is the recipe I’ve been waiting for. As soon as I read this in the Forks Over Knives – The Cookbook the other night, I was chomping at the bit to make it. The only problem was that I didn’t have my grinder yet to grind up the flax seeds to make the flax egg. I’m not comfortable enough with baking yet, let alone vegan/plant-based baking, to make a substitution on my own. So I patiently bided my time until the UPS guy delivered my grinder. Thanks to Amazon Prime, I only had to wait two days, but it was a very long two days.

These muffins are amazing. Chock full of peaches, lots of spicy ginger, warm and gooey. I made one modification to the recipe, one that I was confident would improve upon these muffins. I grated a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger and folded it in with the peaches. I think it gives it an extra kick and takes these muffins over the edge. I might even like this better than the peach and ginger pie I made a few weeks ago — it’s a close call. The ginger-peach combination is really quite a perfect match!

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ginger peach muffins

from Forks Over Knives – The Cookbook

ingredients

  • 1 cup unsweetened plant-based milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseeds
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 1/4 cups spelt flour
  • 3/4 cup dry sweetener (I used raw cane sugar)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 4 medium peaches, peeled, halved, pitted, and cut into 1/4-inch slices (about 2 cups)
  • thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, grated (optional)

 

directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with silicone liners or have ready a nonstick or silicone muffin pan. (Mine made 18 muffins, filled to the brim).

2. In a large measuring cup, use a fork to vigorously mix together the milk, flaxseed, and vinegar. Mix for about a minute, or until it appears foamy. Set aside.

3. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, dry sweetener, baking powder, salt, ginger, and cinnamon. Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the milk mixture. Add the applesauce and vanilla and stir together with the milk mixture in the well. Incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in the well just until the dry ingredients are moistened (do not overmix). Fold in the peaches (and grated ginger, optional).

4. Fill each muffin cup all the way to the top. Bake for 24 to 27 minutes, or until a knife inserted through the center comes out clean.

5. Remove the pan from the oven. Let the muffins cool completely, about 20 minutes, then carefully run a knife around the edges of each muffin to remove.

 

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