Monday, May 28, 2012

Tropical Storm Comfort Food

Last night Tropical Storm Beryl blew right through the heart of Jacksonville - the first major storm to hit JAX directly in over 100 years. If the sustained winds were just 5 miles an hour stronger (75mph), she could have been classified as a Category 1 hurricane and would have had the honor of being the first hurricane EVER to hit Jacksonville directly. As one of the many lucky ones, I awoke with power still on while the wind and rain continues. I've never done well on rainy days as some of my dear friends can attest and I woke up today with a passion for some comfort food. Not the mac and cheese kind, but the warm and cinnamon-y kind. It had to be apple-cinnamon muffins.

Of course, the first place I also run for great recipes that won't kill my lifestyle/diet is Fat Free Vegan Kitchen by Susan Voisin. I just love, love, love everything she does and I have honestly never found a bad recipe. While I couldn't find exactly the muffin I was looking for, I did find this Berries and Spice muffin recipe that sounded like it could be the base of what I craved. I adapted her recipe in a couple of ways. First, I nixed the margarine in the crumb topping. I don't even keep margarine (or butter) in the house and the only oil in my cabinets is a oil spray and some olive oil which we use sparingly in rare cases (like when DC cooks LOL!). However, I did like the idea of the topping, so instead of dropping both the oil and water as Susan suggests, I doubled the water. OK, maybe that wasn't such a great idea. I probably should have just put in the half tbsp that recipe called for, but I was able to turn it around by adding a little more flour to the mix. What I ended up with was a crumbly mixture of flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. I also nixed the nuts in this recipe as I don;t keep those around either. I subbed in the cinnamon instead since that's what I was craving.

I increased the lemon juice a bit from 2 tsp to 1 tbsp because...are you ready for this? I had half a lemon in the refrigerator and when I juiced it, I got about a tablespoon (or 3 teaspoons). What waste it, right? After all it's the acid from the lemon juice that combines with the baking powder and soda to make the bubbles that make these little guys rise up, so if 2 teaspoons is good, 1 tablespoon is better :)

Finally, instead of the berries, I added a chopped apple and some raisins. They turned out really great! The little crumbs of flour, sugar and cinnamon turned out different than if I would have used margarine with it. They weren't the soft crumbs I'm used to. They took on a crunchier texture which worked well since there were no nuts in the topping. I was really pleased with how tall they got! I guess that ectra tsp of lemon juice did make a difference!

Here's my recipe (shameless adapted from Susan's):

2 T brown sugar
2 T unbleached white flour
1 t cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon water (I used more, but start with this much and go from there)

1 1/3 c soymilk
1 T lemon juice
1 apple chopped

2 c whole wheat flour
1/3 cup sugar (I used a scant 1/3 cup, but you'll probably like more sugar than I do)
1 t baking powder
3/4 t baking soda
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t ginger
1/8 t salt

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Mix the first 3 ingredients together, then ad water a few drops at a time and stir lightly with a fork to make crumbs. Don't add too much water, just enough to get a few fine crumbs started. Set aside to use as topping.

Mix the soymilk with the lemon juice in a 2 cup measuring cup. It will curdle somewhat - that's good! Add the chopped apple to the cup and enough raisins to push the liquid to the 2 cup mark.

Mix the dry ingredients, flour through salt, together. Make a well in the middle and pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir just until moistened (overstirring will make muffins tough).

Spoon the batter into muffin cups that have been oiled or lined with silicon muffin cups. (do not use paper liners with oil-free muffins–they stick!) Top each muffin with an equal amount of the cinnamon mixture. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in pans on a rack for 5 minutes. Remove from pans and cool slightly before serving warm.

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