Tuesday, October 13, 2009

VeganMoFo Day Thirteen: you got soup in my muffin! (You got muffin in my soup!)

In the following dialog, "old man" must be read in a Yiddish old man accent. "Pretentious waiter" can be read in anything pretentious - French, English, NYC Impatient - whatever floats your boat.

Old man: "Oh waiter, can you taste my soup?"

Pretentious waiter: "Is there something wrong with the soup sir?"

"Just taste the soup please."

"If there's a problem I'll be happy to-"

"Could you please just taste the soup?"

"Alright sir. Where's the spoon?"

"Ah-hah!"

Ba-dum bum.

Hee. I just felt like spicy soup muffins deserved a joke to start off with, and that's the only soup joke I know. (Know any soup jokes? If so, please share.) This is a recipe from How It All Vegan, a book that in my opinion no longer gets proper love. This is possibly because Terry and Isa came on the scene and all blew it up and everything. It's also, uh, ten years old. But it's the first cookbook I ever bought, and I think it's a damn good cookbook. My copy, for one, is very well loved. (As in, I've spilled a lot of crap on it and dog-eared way, way too many pages.)

Anyway. I woke up Sunday morning and knew that no way in hell was I settling for a bowl of cereal for breakfast. A flipped through a few of the books on my recipe shelf, but when I spotted this recipe, that I'd always meant to try but never had, it was clearly the one. It took me about an hour total, but that's largely because I'm still disorganized in getting my ingredients together and do self-defeating things like put ingredients away before I've used them. I'm wacky that way.

Ready? Here we go.

Completely contrary to my normal inclinations, I followed this recipe pretty much exactly. (To be able to read it, just click on it and it'll become much larger.) Do I say that a lot? I guess I do. But I'll say that and then follow it with a detailed description of how I changed practically everything in the original recipe. Not this time, buckos. This time, I made exactly one substitution - because who keeps rye flower sitting around? (Yeah yeah, hush up already. I don't, OK? So instead I used my signature blend of half white, half whole wheat pastry.) Other than that, I followed it to a T. Ah, and I didn't have fresh ginger, so I used powdered. But really that's it!

The way this book is written, it lets you choose your own "sweetener" and egg replacer for most recipes. Well, I use white sugar folks. Awesome vegan organic fair trade white sugar, but white sugar nonetheless. And since these are muffins I chose soy yogurt as my egg replacer - 1/2 cup to make two eggs. I think if I make these again I'll go with my instincts more and add lemon pepper, parsley, maybe oregano and/or basil, and other soup-like spices. Ooh, and finely chopped, rehydrated sundried tomatoes could be really interesting. Oh - did I mention that I left out the rasins? Because, ew. And nuts! Pine nuts or sunflower seeds could be a nice add-in here...

Now, the recipe doesn't tell you this, but because I have experience with it I'm gonna let you know. It tells you to curdle your soy milk (OK I used almond milk like I always do) with a little vinegar (fine, I used apple cider vinegar - I can't follow recipes!). Do it first. The longer it sits, the more it curdles, the better a replacement for buttermilk it will be. This recipe calls for 2/3 of a cup. So what you want to do is put in 1 tsp of vinegar and then fill the measuring cup the rest of the way with your milk. Oh, what, you don't have a 2/3 cup measure? Well I do, and it's the greatest thing in the world! I'm not huge on the fancy pants made-for-yuppies kitchen stores like Williams Sonoma. They tend to be more about show than about actually making food. But they have a few fabulous things, and one of them is All-Clad's odd-size measuring cups and spoons. Last year I got sets both for me and for Jonathan's mom. I love love love mine to death and a half like whoa, et cetera.

The recipe didn't call for sifting, so I didn't. First I whisked my flours together, and then I whisked the remainder of my dry ingredients in (as instructed, like a good little monkey - see?). As I was using a dry sweetener (sugar), I included this in with the dry whisking. (Clearly, loves, this photo is pre-whisked! I just like how it looks this way. :P)

Now, making a batter, I've found, is a distinctly different thing from making a dough. In summary, doughs (at least the non-yeasted kind, like cookie dough) are much more forgiving and laid back than batters. A dough you can screw around with, stir around for a while, take your time adding wet ingredients to. Batter? Not so. The moment liquid hits powder important chemical reactions begin to happen, and you have to move fast or things will begin to go awry. For that reason, it's best to have all of your wets laid out and ready to add before you start adding any. This is precisely why it's good to have more than one set of measuring cups in the house. Is everyone slightly obsessed with pretty measuring cups and spoons, or is that a special affliction? (Fine, fine, you know this stuff already, you're advanced and this is baby stuff. Whaevs. Move on then!)

Once your wets are in your bowl you want to "just" mix them. I found that this recipe was all mixed in about six stirs of the whisk. Seriously! I doubt I was even mixing for thirty seconds. It said to spoon the mix into a lightly oiled muffin tin and fill each about 2/3 of the way; I suppose that's what happened when I divided the batter among the six wells. We are, of course, talking about ginormous muffins - the kind where six takes up an entire baking tray. These ain't no cupcake-sized muffins people. I'm sure you could bake those with this recipe too, but it would make many more and you'd need to reduce baking time. (Thanks, Cap'n Obvious!)

The recipe said to bake at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Being a bit OCD/paranoid about ovens, of course I checked at 15 minutes. Well, I'm super glad I did the knife test rather than just yanking them out, because my knife came out looking like this. Soup muffins indeed - I don't think this is what they meant. I set the timer for another five minutes.

Lucky for me and my muffins (and my sanity, because when baking times go wrong I start to lose it - see OCD comment above) 20 minutes turned out to be exactly perfect. The knife came out clean and the muffins had gone from pasty pale to lovely golden brown. I placed them in the window to cool and mused for a moment on whether Donna Reed ever baked soup muffins, and whether I'd enjoy baking in a crinoline. (Visions of skirts set aflame by my gas oven, anyone?)

After blogging for a little while, I went to check on the cooling status and found that the muffins were just perfect. They popped out of my lightly oiled muffin pan without issue, and were a wonderful accompaniment to a mug of Earl Grey tea with almond milk and a little sugar. Man, if I got up at 4:30 in the morning, I could have breakfast like this every day! Yep, I'm totally sure that's gonna happen.

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