Archive for the 'Breakfast Pastry' Category



Something Fruity, Cakey, Alternatively Sweetened

Those were the only requests made by my friend Rachel for her birthday cake. Actually, she suggested a loaf-type-dessert, but I thought that since it was her birthday after all, she should have something that more closely resembled a cake! I’ve always loved this recipe, which originated from The Candle Cafe Cookbook, and is for their Lemon-Poppyseed Muffins. However, as I made it this time with my baking buddy Julie, I took out the cane sugar (substituting date sugar instead), added extra lemon zest, and doubled the whole recipe to fit into a large bundt cake pan. I’ve never baked with date sugar before, and I wasn’t sure exactly how it would react in a cake – the results were fabulous. I barely noticed a difference from how the original recipe tastes, except for a slightly “darker” flavor, a little bit like I had added a touch of molasses. It’s nice to know that you can substitute a totally natural sweetener for the highly processed white cane sugar that is in so many baked goods, making them a little more nutritious as well as ethically healthy (i.e.: animal-friendly).

Personally, I loved this cake as it was (and I love it so dearly in muffin form too!), with tons of crunchy poppy seeds in every single bite, but I was told that it would be extra delicious with a lemon glaze drizzled over. I would do this right after taking the cake out of the oven, and as the cake cools it will create a crispy crunchy sweet top. …And after writing this post and looking at my pictures again, I’m wishing I had an extra slice leftover to nosh on right now!

Lemon-Poppy Seed Muffins Ingredients:
Makes 12 muffins (double this recipe if you’d like to make a bundt cake)

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (or a combination of 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour and 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour)
1/4 cup date sugar (you can easily substitute 1/4 cup of cane sugar, if you want, and you will be back at the original recipe!)
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt (fine grained)
1/2 cup Earth Balance margarine, slightly melted
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup almond milk (or your favorite non-dairy milk)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup poppy seeds
3 tsp. grated lemon zest

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a muffin tin, line tins with cupcake papers, or grease and flour a bundt pan.

Sift the flours, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large mixing bowl and whisk to mix. In a separate bowl, whisk together the margarine, maple syrup, almond milk, and lemon juice until foamy. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and mix until the batter is smooth. Fold in the poppy seeds and lemon zest.

Pour the batter into the muffin tins or bundt pan, dividing evenly and spreading flat across the top. Bake on a center rack of the oven for 20-25 minutes for muffins, or 55 minutes for a cake – make sure to do a toothpick test by sticking a toothpick into the center, and if it comes out clean you can take the pan out of the oven. The muffins are best served while warm, but if you choose to make the cake then leave it to cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes before extracting it. Take your cake out of the pan and let cool completely before eating.

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Gingerbread Flax Muffins

I’m in New York on vacation right now, visiting friends (who are basically like family; it is amazing to be able to drop in on a whim, and be welcomed so warmly! And every time I visit, I feel like I never left…). It is cold here. Very cold. My bones were cold today…And I know, I’m from California, I might be a weather-wimp, but really, all the East Coasters were cold too! One thing that makes me warmer is cooking, and keeping the oven on. We baked apple muffins this morning, and after braving the biting wind to get into the city to the Whitney Museum and back, we came home and made a hearty “kitchen sink” vegetable soup.

You must be wondering, the title of this post has nothing to do with apples or soups, so will I get to the point yet? Truthfully, this post is about the muffins I made last week. I had a close family friend and her son over for brunch (it was actually on Christmas Eve morning, has it really been that long?), and I wanted to surprise them with a tasty treat to follow our bagels. It needed to be both adult- and kid-friendly, and have a seasonal twist so that it would feel appropriate for the holiday. I was inspired by Isa’s Gingerbread Flax Muffins on The Post Punk Kitchen Blog, and whipped them up that morning. They were easy and scrumptious. The only changes I made to Isa’s recipe were to add about a tablespoon of freshly grated ginger and a sprinkling of some diced candied ginger on top. I also put a pinch of coarse sugar on top of each muffin to give it a crunchy outside. Soft and moist in the middle, with a healthy dose of gingerbread spices, this muffin pleased everyone’s palettes and even had 3 year old Dylan coming back for seconds, thirds, and tastes of a fourth!

Cornmeal Muffins

In my Kindergarten student teaching placement, we have been studying corn as a way to address the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. It is a complicated issue to talk about in a classroom, as there are clearly multiple perspectives to cover and so many politics to maneuver. The inaccurate mythology and historical omissions can be confusing and damaging to teach, especially when you get into the denser and more confrontational issues surrounding genocide and land theft. As an educator working for social justice, how do you make sure you cover the valuable positive and big ideas of gratitude, fairness, equality, resistance, and liberation without miscommunicating the true facts? I’ve always felt trapped in how I would like to cover this material – and have often found that it is much easier to just avoid talking about it altogether in the classroom. However, Kindergartners get so excited about holidays that you have to incorporate it somehow into the curriculum.

I really like the critical way my cooperating teacher thinks about these issues, and her solution this year has been to teach the students all about corn. She can teach them about the Native Americans’ history growing and eating corn in different forms, and about how the Pilgrims interacted with the Native Americans and their land when they arrived in the “new world”. We have had class discussions about how the Native Americans lived and how that contrasted with the lifestyle that the Pilgrims were used to, and how both were very different from how our students live today. We have talked about what it would feel like if someone moved into your backyard, and had the kids think about how they would react to this. We shared about the communities and customs that both groups of people had, and the reasons why the Pilgrims were leaving Europe. We framed these conversations around the kinds of foods the two groups of people were used to eating, tying in our larger theme of corn. My cooperating teacher has brought in many different examples of corn for the students to study as Scientists with huge magnifying glasses – we’ve looked at dried “Indian Corn” in beautiful shades of purple, yellow, and red; baby corns in a jar; dried corn kernels; cornmeal; canned corn; and hominy. We’ve had them taste different kinds of corn-foods, like corn chips, corn nuts, popcorn, and even candy made with corn syrup. Yesterday, I woke up obscenely early for no good reason, and decided what would make me feel better about this lack of sleep was to bake something for my class. So, out came the baking pans and on went the oven (a perfect way to warm up my chilly house!). I quickly whipped up a batch of Cornmeal Muffins that I could give the students, who would then get to taste the corn in a new way.

I brought the muffins in to the classroom, and while they were not overwhelmingly popular with the five year olds, they received good reviews from the adults who tried them before and after the sharing event. I wasn’t sure what reaction to expect from my students, since kids these days eat lots of sugar and Cornmeal Muffins aren’t particularly sweet, but I really wanted them to be able to feel the slightly crunchy texture of the cornmeal in the muffin and the softer sweeter fresh kernels of corn mixed in. In the end, some of the children devoured the muffins, some did not, and I of course felt okay about that. I think this recipe is quite delicious, but perhaps not the most kid-friendly one that I could have picked! Perhaps they would have enjoyed them more with jam spread on top, or with more sugar added to the batter. The muffins were moist and heavy, as a cornmeal muffin should be. The top was crispy and the color was a natural bright yellow from all the corn. I recommend it, even if my students did not!

Cornmeal Muffins – lightly adapted from The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

Ingredients:
1/2 cup coarse yellow cornmeal
1 tsp. salt, divided
1 cup almond milk
1 1/2 tsp. Ener-G Egg Replacer (equivalent of 1 egg – you can also use 1 Tblsp. ground flax seed)
1 Tblsp. warm water (+ 1 more Tblsp. of water if you use flax seeds…)
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar + some for sprinkling on top
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/3 cup Earth Balance or other non-dairy margarine, melted and cooled
1 cup canned whole corn kernels

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease or line your muffin tins.
Soak the cornmeal and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt in the milk for about 15 minutes, while you prepare your other ingredients.
Meanwhile, whip the egg replacer (or flax seed) with the water in the blender, until thick and creamy.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
In a small bowl, stir together the almond milk/cornmeal mixture, melted margarine, and egg replacer mixture until combined. Add to the dry ingredients, and stir just until blended. Add the corn kernels and stir to combine. Do not overmix.
Let the batter sit for 10 minutes before spooning into the prepared muffin tins, filling each cup about 3/4 full.
Sprinkle a pinch of sugar on top of each muffin (this will give it a nice crispy top, and add a little touch of sweetness).
Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then remove to cool on a wire rack.

Gluten-Free, Refined-Sugar-Free, Vegan and Delicious Pumpkin Scones

Yes, believe what the title says. It is definitely possible to make delicious vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free desserts. I’m slowly converting everyone I know, and I hope to convert you too, at least to the idea that this is a possible baking feat. I’m so used to adapting regular recipes, and have figured out good proportions of animal-friendly (as well as gluten-free and sugar-free) ingredients to make yummy veganized versions, but this time I found a recipe online that was already perfect and fit all my dietary requirements. Plus, it was already tested and blogged about, and even photographed so I could see evidence that this recipe actually worked. You can find all of that proof, plus the recipe, right here. I followed the recipe to a T, with a tiny addition of half a cup of chopped pecans mixed into the batter and sprinkled on the top before baking. I have to admit – these scones are a little bit muffin-like in consistency (they had a fluffier and a little more cake-like texture than most scones do), but they are so delicious you won’t care at all. You’ll eat tons of them. Especially because they are pumpkin (my favorite flavor), have no gluten, no refined sugar, no dairy and no eggs. So they practically don’t exist or have calories or anything, right?

Autumn Crunch

Fall is in the air – even here, in California, we have beautiful autumn leaves drifting down from the trees and blanketing our yards. They are definitely lots of fun to jump on and scrunch beneath your feet! However, not all the aspects of Fall are that alluring. With the school-based schedule crunch of final papers and projects looming over my head, and as the shorter, colder, darker days continue, I knew I needed something to look forward to and entice me out of bed with…So, using my dried persimmons and all the sweet warm spices I could think of, I created an autumnal breakfast treat to look forward to when I wake up.

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This Persimmon Granola is perfect paired with almond milk for a yummy breakfast, but it also is tasty plain as a snack, and I’m sure it would be good with vanilla ice cream as a crunchy topping.

You can make this granola with any mix of nuts, spices, and dried fruits that you have on hand. I think the persimmons give it a wonderful Fall flavor and color, but raisins or dates would be delicious as well. You can add brown sugar, agave, or honey if you want added sweetness, but I am enjoying the subtle sweetness of the brown rice syrup on it’s own; it really makes the persimmon’s natural sweet taste stand out. And the spices of course are flexible – add whatever you like best. My house was filled with great smells after baking this!

Ingredients:

5 cups oats
2 cups raw almonds, coarsely chopped
1 cup raw walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup shredded & unsweetened dried coconut
1 Tblsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. cardamom
1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup brown rice syrup
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 Tblsp. vegetable oil

2 cups chopped dried persimmons (it is easy to cut them with scissors into bite-sized pieces).

Preheat your oven to 300F. Cover two jelly-roll pans (cookie sheets with sides) with aluminum foil (this will make clean-up easier).
In a very large bowl, mix together the oats, almonds, walnuts, coconut, spices, and salt.
In a small saucepan, heat the applesauce, brown rice syrup, and oil. Stir constantly, till they are smooth.
Mix the heated liquid mixture into the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined, then divide and spread the mixture evenly on your prepared pans.
Bake the granola for about 40 minutes, stirring every ten minutes, until the granola is a deep golden brown color.
Remove the pans from the oven, and cool completely.
Stir your chopped dried persimmons into the granola after it is cool.
Store the granola in a large, airtight container.

Zoe’s Fruit Tea Cake

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At the farmer’s market last weekend, my mom was lucky enough to be gifted with 16 nectarines, of various sizes and stages of ripeness. Some had to be eaten right away, their juicy sweetness oozing with every bite. I easily took care of that “problem”. I still had many left over, and I remembered that my friend Zoe makes the most lovely cake that she brings to nearly every brunch that she goes to. No one ever gets sick of it, and I request it even! With this abundance of nectarines, waiting to be consumed, I couldn’t resist borrowing Zoe’s recipe and making her delightful tea cake! You can make it with whatever kind of hard fruit appeals to you…I’ve had it with pears, peaches, nectarines, or plums, and it’s always delicious.

It is simple to make, using simple ingredients and a very quick recipe. I hope you enjoy it.

Ingredients:
3/4 cup sugar + a little for dusting the top of the cake
1/2 cup minus 2 Tblsp. Earth Balance margarine
1/2 cup plain unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla extract
5 Tblsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup flour
2 nectarines, sliced (or other hard fruit)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon, for dusting the top of the cake

Sift flour, baking powder, and baking soda together into a small bowl. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar, and when it is fluffy, add the applesauce, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Mix well. Add the dry ingredients and thoroughly combine. You should have a very stiff batter.
Spread batter evenly into an 8 or 9-inch springform pan, and use a rubber spatula to smooth the top.
Place slices of fruit on the top in a petal formation, skin side up, on top of the batter.
Drizzle 2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice on top, evenly. Dust heavily with cinnamon and sugar.
Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 325 and bake for another 40 minutes. Check your cake by sticking a toothpick into the center and if it comes out clean, then it’s done! You want the cake to brown, but not get too crispy.

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Power Pancakes

I went with 8 fabulous women friends of mine on an adventure in Big Basin Park on Sunday. Some of us were staying over, camping there for the night, while the rest of us were heading home in the evening to be back for work Monday morning. We were planning to leave early in the morning, packing our gear into the cars and turning up the music to get us pumped up for the drive down. We started the morning with a sandwich bar, where we could each make our own customized sandwich filled with lots of veggies, hummus, tofu, and cheese (for some). There was even a triple-decker sandwich created! If that won’t get you through an 11-mile hike, I don’t know what will! Except, of course, what I whipped up for breakfast to power us through this long day…

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I woke up earlier than planned and thought to myself that I just had the loveliest of friends, and I was so happy to be adventuring with them, and that we should have something to start our active day with style; something that will keep our bodies and minds happy for the rest of the day. Oatmeal would work, but that’s a little boring for a Sunday. Pancakes would certainly cover the “style” and “mind” categories well, but pancakes are not typically first on the list of healthy breakfast options. So I thought I could adapt a basic pancake recipe into something a little more fun and a little more wholesome. I just threw ingredients into the mixing bowl and hoped I wasn’t adding too many mix-ins to make these babies palatable. After heating up our skillets and pouring the first dollops of batter onto the sizzling pans, the cinnamony smells were intoxicating. They came out perfect, with a moist and fluffy interior and a crispy browned outside, and were packed with great ingredients to give us an invigorating start to our day. The dried coconut and bananas gave them a hint of tropical flavor, and the oats and pecans were a nice added texture. The whole wheat flour didn’t make the pancakes too heavy as I had worried it might, but instead just made them taste a wee bit healthy – but not too much that anyone really noticed. Because of all the sweet fruity flavors, these pancakes were delicious with raspberry preserves spread on liberally! This was definitely the winning topping, although there was maple syrup and agave present to be poured over too. And these pancakes definitely gave us a great start to our long day of hiking. We even made it to the end of a longer hike than we originally planned to take, and got to see 3 breathtaking waterfalls!

Without further ado, here is the recipe. It produces a large batch, and I got about 20 4-inch pancakes with it. You could always halve the recipe if you want less (or make a full batch and freeze your leftover pancakes – then whenever you want one, you can just pop it in the toaster oven and have a tasty snack or hearty breakfast in mere minutes!).

Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (or whole wheat pastry flour if you want a lighter pancake; I didn’t have any of this on hand at the time)
1 cup oats
1 cup unsweetened dried coconut
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 Tblsp. canola oil, plus a little oil for the pan
1 cup water
2 cups plain soy milk (or non-dairy milk of choice)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 Tblsp. maple syrup
2/3 cup chopped pecans
1 banana, sliced thinly
raspberry jam, maple syrup, or agave, for topping

Sift together the flours, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Mix in the dried coconut and oats. In a separate bowl, combine the oil, water, soy milk, vanilla, and maple syrup. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet mix in. Mix until just combined (make sure not to over-mix. Some lumps are okay!). Gently fold in your chopped pecans and banana slices. Let batter sit for a few minutes while you heat up your pan/s.
Lightly oil a large skillet and preheat over medium-high heat. You’ll know when the pan is hot enough if you flick some drops of water over the pan and they bounce off and sizzle.
Use a ladle to spoon your batter onto your pan, and make even-sized circles of batter. I typically get perfect pancakes by letting them sit on the pan longer than my patience will allow; I wait for them to start bubbling on top and have a bit of wispy steam/smoke coming out the edges from the bottom. This is when I flip them. Let the second side cook until they are browned and the whole pancake is barely firm to touch. Transfer to individual plates, or one large serving plate that you can keep warm in the oven.
Top with your favorite topping! Eat! Go for an invigorating hike or other active-day adventure!


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License. Photos, Original Recipes & Text ┬ęcookiesandcandids 2008-2010 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved. If you repost any material from this blog, please give credit by including a link back to me. Thank you!
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