Muffins and Soups and Pie, oh My!

Grey, rainy days where you don’t have to go to work just call for hours of cooking! I had nowhere to go today, and the downpour outside discouraged me from walking to the bus to go anywhere, and I really didn’t want to work on my thesis, so I decided it would be fun to do some baking (and watchΒ House, MD, but that was more background noise. Don’t judge me). I had a large container of cherries in my fridge and a big bag of gluten-free flour, so I figured I was good to go! Epic food adventure day was ready to roll.

I love cherries. They’re pretty much my favorite fruit. The prospect of a big bowl of ripe, juicy, ruby-red cherries is one of the few things I look forward to in summer. I also love cooking with them, so when I saw this recipe for cherry vanilla muffins, it seemed like a match made in Heaven. This recipe is vegan, which is really cool, except for the fact that I had no way to get the egg replacer she uses. So I used real eggs instead. 1 egg is equal to 1 1/2 tsp of the egg replacer, so I used 2 eggs, with a little warm water added to make up for it. I also used gluten-free all purpose flour, because I’m all about cutting out that gluten πŸ™‚ Anyway, pitting the cherries took for freakin’ ever because I had to do it by hand. I may have eaten one or two while I was working, which didn’t help. Ok, there’s no “may” about it. I definitely did πŸ™‚

A bowl of beautiful deliciousness.

A bowl of beautiful deliciousness.

The batter turned out a little thicker than I would have liked, probably because of the gluten-free flour. I’m going to lighten it up a bit with some more almond milk next time, I think. But it still looked pretty and tasted nice, so I went with it.

All ready to be turned in muffins from paradise.

All ready to be turned in muffins from paradise.

The batter made about 18 muffins. Probably would have made more...but I like big muffins and I cannot lie.

The batter made about 18 muffins. Probably would have made more…but I like big muffins and I cannot lie.

During the last five minutes or so of baking time, I made the vanilla glaze. It was thinner than I would have liked, so next thing I’ll reduce the amount of almond milk. The vanilla taste can also be a little overpowering, so I might reduce that as well. Either way, it still turned out tasty, kind of like a vanilla caramel.

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The muffins themselves didn’t turn the light golden-brown we usually expect from muffins, but I’ve noticed that seems to be a trend with gluten-free flours, so I wasn’t too worried. The muffins passed the toothpick test, and they came out smelling delicious. The texture was really cool…closer to a cupcake than a muffin, which I’m fine with, because it was lighter than most muffins, particularly gluten-free ones. They also tasted amazing! The cherry and the vanilla work perfectly together; sweet, but not too much so, and firmness of the cherries counteract the fluffiness of the muffins. I am definitely adding this to my list of regular baking items!

Not the prettiest thing I've ever made, perhaps, but still delicious!

Not the prettiest thing I’ve ever made, perhaps, but still delicious!

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So the muffins were a great mid-morning snack, but I needed something more filling for dinner. On rainy days, I crave warm, comforting meals. Upon taking stock of what I had in my pantry and fridge, I decided to attempt this recipe for Carrot Apple Ginger soupΒ I found the other day. I don’t usually go for soups, but I’m game for trying almost anything, and this particular soup has several of my favorite ingredients in it: apple, ginger, and garlic. So I figured I might as well give it a shot! I added cracked black pepper into the broth mixture to spice it up a bit (ginger is spicy on its own in a soup, but the pepper adds a different layer of spiciness). I used Swanson organic vegetable broth; out of the broths I’ve tried so far, this one is my favorite because it’s not too salty or overpowering. I also used a dash of cinnamon instead of nutmeg, because I love how well ginger and cinnamon work together.

Carrots, apple, ginger, and garlic mixture.

Carrots, apple, ginger, and garlic mixture.

The reason I don’t generally go for soups much is that they tend to just have one texture. I’m a texture-eater, so I need more than one in what I eat. The amount of blending the original poster recommends gives the soup a consistency between a broth and a puree, which is too flat for me. So when I made the carrot mixture, I chopped some of the carrots slightly larger and thicker than the others. When I blended the soup, it left some very small chunks of carrot here and there, which gave me the texture I needed. I garnished it with black pepper, a dash of sea salt, and some cinnamon. The result was very spicy (just right for me!), and on the sweeter end of savory. I really enjoyed this soup! Next time, I’m going to experiment some more with different veggie and spice add-ins to see what happens πŸ™‚

I love the orange color of this soup. It's very appetizing.

I love the orange color of this soup. It’s very appetizing.

After all of that, I still had cherries left, and I wanted to do some more baking. So I thought, why not try baking a pie? I’ve never made pie crust before or anything, but since I had all afternoon. I figured it would be fun. One of the vegan pages I follow on Facebook put up this awesome recipe for a Cherry Pie, and it didn’t look too difficult. I had all of the ingredients, and so Operation: Bake a Pie was under way. I made the filling mixture first, but I only used about half the recommended amount of sugar because the fruit is sweet enough on its own πŸ™‚ I also added in some fresh blueberries, since they work really well with cherries in a pie (or anything, really!). I did use the lemon zest, because citrus zest brightens up pies like nobody’s business.

It was a really pretty filling :)

It was a really pretty filling πŸ™‚

The next task was the dough. Again, I used gluten-free flour. The recommended amount of water wasn’t enough, so I added cold almond milk as needed to get the dough to the right consistency. I made sure to freeze both sets of dough for 20 minutes before rolling it out, because gluten-free dough tends to be extremely delicate, even more so than regular pasty dough.

My first ever attempt at pastry dough.

My first ever attempt at pastry dough.

Rolling it out was a little difficult, and I think I made the crust in the pan a little too thick. But it worked, and it didn’t break, so I’m rather pleased with myself.

The lower layer of crust, all ready for baking.

The lower layer of crust, all ready for baking.

Rolling out the lattice crust. The rolling pin used to belong to my grandmother. I remember watching her use it to roll out pie crust when I was a kid.

Rolling out the lattice crust. The rolling pin used to belong to my grandmother. I remember watching her use it to roll out pie crust when I was a kid.

Making the lattice crust for the top of the pie was time-consuming and stressful, and it didn’t look as good as I wanted it to, but again, first attempt. I think it turned out well regardless.

The pie, awaiting its upper crust.

The pie, awaiting its upper crust.

Crust, pre-baking.

Crust, pre-baking.

I had to wait 55 minutes while it baked, and then another hour for it to cool. But as soon as the mandatory cooling period was up, I attacked that pie with a fork and knife. Not only did it look and smell delicious, but it tasted fantastic as well. The crust was perfect, and it tasted like a regular gluten crust you’d get on a pie from a bakery. It was crisp, buttery, and flaky. The fruit mixture was the right mixture of sweet and tart, and the lemon zest added a lovely citrusy floral note to the whole thing. Overall, I’d declare my first attempt at pie-making a rousing success. And it’s vegan, to boot! No animal substances whatsoever. That definitely makes my body happy, in addition to my taste buds πŸ™‚

Hello, gorgeous.

Hello, gorgeous.

A slice of pie paradise, with a bite or two missing ;) I love the colors on that filling.

A slice of pie paradise, with a bite or two missing πŸ˜‰ I love the colors on that filling.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a piece of pie sitting on the plate next to my table just begging for me to eat it. Happy eating, everyone.

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About Selayna

I'm an aspiring writer, as well as crazy and rather sarcastic. I'm currently teaching English at a school in Poland, so check out my travel blog for humorous (and occasionally insightful) commentary on my adventures!
This entry was posted in Breakfast, Dessert, Gluten-free, Recipes, Soup, Uncategorized, vegan and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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