Blue Sky Bakery Muffins a la Vegan

by convivialist

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I always love a good challenge in the kitchen. Some years ago I started trying my hand at ‘special diet’ baked goods, not because I was vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, paleo, low-carb, or anything really, but because I thought it was fun. This may also have coincided with my decision to join the local food co-op, whose alternative diet offerings were endlessly appealing. The rows of organic produce, whole grains and nuts and fresh spices inspired eating in a specific (healthy) way. But maybe I really just wanted an excuse to buy that big brown bag of teff flour or huge squeezy container of agave nectar. They just looked so exotic that they needed to take a rightful place in my kitchen cabinet.

I developed a foolproof sugar-free vegan fruit tart, made with a crispy coconut oil base, sweetened with stewed dates and lemon juice. I made a chocolate banana bread that was pretty much free of everything you could possibly be allergic or sensitive to, and, honestly it tasted good. I came to prefer the taste of vegan chocolate chip cookies, made with plant-based butter and a mix of ground flaxseed, soymilk and a touch of cardamom, in the place of eggs.

When I moved to Germany, my desire and ability to make vegan or gluten-free baked goods subsided. I suppose it had something to do with availability and expense. Basic ingredients like milk, butter, eggs and flour were of such a better quality and come at a fraction of the price here in Germany when compared to the US, that there was little incentive to spend four times as much on a gluten-free flour mix than on the wheat-based version. The powders were also tough to come by, meaning that the vegan, gluten-free recipe you found that calls for arrowroot starch may drive you to a state of near insanity, obsessively checking every small bio market and Apothek within a 6 kilometer radius.

Now, when I encounter the occasional friend or acquaintance who keeps a gluten-free or vegan diet, I feel a slight twinge of guilt. I could make you so happy, I think. And then I go along my way, cracking eggs and melting big packs of butter.

Yield: 12 large bakery-sized muffins

600 ml soy yogurt drink (or soy yogurt thinned with some soy milk)

2 egg replacement (2 tsp ground flaxseed whisked with 4 tsp soy milk)
160 ml (2/3 cup) oil (such as vegetable, safflower, sunflower or olive oil)
130 grams (approx. 2/3 cup) lightly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
180 grams (2 1/3 cups) wheat bran
250 grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons (16 grams) baking powder (preferably aluminum-free)
3 teaspoons (16 grams) baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
5 teaspoons (25 grams) granulated sugar, divided
2 – 2 ½ cups strawberries and peaches, chopped (or other mixed fruit)

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