Thursday, 25 March 2010

Dairy-free baking: I love a challenge!

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I'm on a roll lately with the homemade recipes.  This week has been a bit of a baking ringamarole, due mostly to my classmates and my end of term baked-goods promise; one of them requested butter cookies with royal icing (not the easiest job!), and another can't have dairy so I had to throw something else in the mix.

I decided on pear muffins, since we had some overripe pears and muffins are one of those things that are easier to make sans milk products– and are just generally easy to make full stop.  I needed that, after 2 days baking and decorating cookies!  (They do look pretty cute, though, no?  Although not as adorable as the veggie ones.)  Anyway, I searched high and low for a recipe that didn't call for sour cream, or milk, or yogurt, and then I threw up my hands, grabbed my trusty veg oil, and just went at it.

It all seemed to be going ok, until I got to the part where I stirred everything together.  And it looked like dust.  Just a little unappetizing.  So I threw in a bit of water, then a little more, and stirred until it looked like batter again.  I must admit, though, when I popped those little suckers in the oven I was more than a little concerned they'd come out tasting like London tap water (yelch).  But lo and behold, they came out delicious!  Crunchy on top, moist inside, and nice and cinnamon-y.  I've decided that a hefty pinch of cinnamon is always a good thing in a baking experiment.  And most importantly, they were a huge hit in class tonight (so were the cookies, but they'd been tested already), and my dairy-free friend seemed very pleased with her substitute.

So, another experimental success!  At this rate, I'm in line for two massive screw-ups, but I'm hoping my luck will hold.  And for now, if any of you have friends who don't eat dairy, or you just feel like making some scrummy muffins and are fresh out of milk/yogurt/sour cream, give this one a whirl.  I hope you'll be as pleased as I was.

PS Sorry for the lack of piccies.  I was too busy trying to get everything baked and my actual homework done before class to take a bunch of snaps.  But if you want to see the pretty cookies in all their glory, I've set up a separate post just for you (and me)! Plus, you know, I always tweet pics as I'm baking, if you're into that sort of thing.

Dairy-free Pear and Walnut Muffins
 (Makes about 16 muffins)

Preheat oven to 350F (175C).  Line muffin tin (or invest in a silicone one because they're the bomb-diggety).

In a large bowl or electric mixer, combine:
     2 cups flour
     3/4 brown sugar, packed
     3 tsp baking powder
     2 tsp ground cinnamon
     3/4 tsp ginger
     3/4 tsp salt

     2 large pears, peeled and chopped to your preferred muffin-chunk size

Combine, then add:
     2 eggs, beaten
     3/4 cup vegetable oil
     1/2 cup water
     1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Throw in:
     1/2 cup chopped walnut pieces
Fill muffin cups 2/3 full, and bake for 20-25 minutes, until muffins are lightly browned.

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