Today, my best friend Erica and I decided to bake muffins together. This is the first time that I have baked anything in probably twenty years! I am very proud of myself for taking the risk and baking for the first time in two decades!
I have decided to cook and bake my way through Nava Altlas’s cookbook “The Vegetarian Family Cookbook” and blog about the recipes that I cook or bake. I have been inspired by movie “Julie & Julia” that I finally watched on the Women’s Network about a month ago. The movie stars Meryl Streep as the famous chef Julia Childs and Amy Adams as the recipe blogger Julie Powell. It is based on the best selling book by the same name by Julie Powell and on the book “My Life In France” by Julia Child. In real life, Julie Powell cooked every single one of Julia Child’s recipes from her famous “Mastering The Art of French Cooking.” She blogged about every recipe that she cooked. Her blog become the contents of her book, which in time become the inspiration for the movie. All cooking and baking enthusiasts should watch “Julie & Julia.” I plan on reading both “Julie & Julia” and “My Life in France” in the future.
Erica and I started our afternoon together by going grocery shopping for the ingredients for our muffins. I actually brought my cookbook along with us, which ended up being very helpful. We went to Metro, one I’ve never been before, and Erica bought us safflower oil and I bought us natural granulated sugar. I tried over a year ago to find the whole wheat pastry flour that Nava recommends, with no success. After I bought the sugar and semi-sweet chocolate chips, we went to a bulk food store called Bulk Barrel (where I had never been either). Thankfully, we found whole wheat pastry flour. The store had labelled it “whole wheat soft flour,” but an employee assured us that it was the same thing as whole wheat pastry flour. Before leaving the mall, Erica and I had to return to Metro, as I had foolishly forgotten to buy my bananas! I joked with Erica that I could bake “banana-less chocolate chip muffins.”
Once back here at my apartment, we put out all of our newly bought ingredients, plus ones Erica brought from home and ones that I had already. We decided to bake Nava’s “Basic Muffins” that she calls “Basic Muffins, Seven Ways.” I decided on baking banana chocolate chip, whereas Erica decided on baking fruit and nut. Erica just got married on October 8 (I was her maid of honour). Erica brought two new lovely aprons that she got at her family bridal shower for us to wear. Erica wore a Dutch-inspired one and I wore a striped one. The aprons put us in the proper mindset for baking!
The recipe is as follows: (from The Vegetarian Family Cookbook, pg. 288-289)
2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
2 tablespoons wheat germ or ground flaxseeds (I used my wheat germ. Erica used her flaxseeds).
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup natural granulated sugar
1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt or soy yogurt or applesauce (We used plain yogurt.)
2 tablespoons safflower oil
1/3 cup low-fat milk, rice milk or soy milk (We used my yummy Rice Dream rice milk.)
Add one medium chopped banana, and any or all of the following:
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips, 1/2 cup raisins, 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
*I used 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips.
Add 2/3 cup finely chopped mixed dried fruits, such as apricots, dried apple, dates, and papaya, and 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans.
*Erica made me laugh when she added an unmeasured amount of dried fruit (cherries and blueberries) plus walnuts plus carob chips!
*I will share Nava’s other 5 muffins versions once I bake them!
Preheat the oven to 350 degree F. Place foil liners in 12 standard-size muffin cups. (Erica remembered once we were about the leave the mall that neither one of us had muffin liners, but we were eager to start baking, so we just coated each muffin cup with safflower oil. I intend to buy pretty paper muffin liners soon).
Combine the flour, wheat germ, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar in a mixing bowl and stir together.
Make a well in the centre and pour in the yogurt, oil and enough milk to make a smooth, stiff batter. Stir together until thoroughly combined. (This proved to be good exercise!)
Stir in any additional ingredients, then divide the batter among the muffin cups.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. (We baked our muffins for 25 minutes).
I am so happy that my muffins turned out perfectly! They look scrumptious and they are delicious! Success!
I dedicate this post to my best friend Erica.