Sunday, March 28, 2010

Successful baking experiments

I've been continuing to experiment with vegan baked goods. I like not having to buy eggs, milk, and butter, and to be honest I'm happy to eat less dairy and substitute plant-based products if they'll work just as well. Milk is kind of gross, when you get down to it. At least compared with soybeans. Also, I like that whenever I make something vegan, it usually ends up being low fat and pretty healthy (as far as cookies and pastries go). There are certain things that won't work vegan (e.g., flaky pie crusts, brioche, etc... although I suppose you could use shortening). But I feel like, if it will work then why not?

Also I've been using agave nectar instead of sugar because I ran out of sugar a while ago and keep forgetting to buy more. (Not because I'm turning into a total hippie, although at this rate, who knows.) I bought the agave at Trader Joe's, and I had been using it for baking bread instead of honey. Supposedly it has a low glycemic index, which is nice, but the real reason I like it is that it's as sweet as honey but is cheaper and has a little bit of a maple syrup flavor to it. Awesome for muffins and bread.

So I made dessert last night and breakfast this morning and both things came out great! Here are the recipes:

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
(because peanut butter + chocolate = bliss)

1 banana
2 T plain soy milk
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 t vanilla extract

1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t salt
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda

1 bar of semisweet or dark chocolate, broken into squares

Preheat oven to 375 F. Lightly grease a large baking sheet.

Mash the banana in a small bowl, along with the peanut butter and soymilk. Then add the agave and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Mix the remainder of the dry ingredients (everything else except for the chocolate) and add to the banana mixture, folding in until evenly moistened.

Drop spoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet, then press a square of chocolate on top of each cookie. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown on top. Makes about 16 cookies.

Raisin Bran Muffins

1.5 cups wheat bran (about 5 crumbled Wheetabix biscuits)
1 cup plain soymilk

1 cup whole wheat flour (half pastry and half regular)
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t salt
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda

1 mashed banana
1/4 cup agave nectar
1-2 T molasses
1 T olive oil
1 t vanilla extract

1/2 cup raisins
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds (optional)
Turbinado sugar for muffin tops (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease a muffin tin (mine has six large cups).
Mash the banana in a small bowl, then add agave, molasses, olive oil, and vanilla and stir to combine.
Add soymilk to wheat bran in another bowl and mix. Add the banana mixture. Mix the remainder of the dry ingredients together in a measuring cup before adding to the wet ingredients, and mix until evenly moistened. Divide evenly into muffin tin, sprinkle with cinnamon and turbinado sugar if desired, and bake for 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

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