A Love of Baking and Science

baking loveThe other day I was talking to a friend about my favorite past-time – baking. She had heard that baking was very relaxing, almost meditative. She apparently hasn’t watched me bake. I have heard that activities like kneading bread can be very zen-like, but baking vegan at high altitude is very rational and involves lots of math. My friend said she wouldn’t enjoy it, but I reassured her that I do all the hard work and all a reader has to do is follow recipes. She liked that.

This conversation reinforced why I have my blog. I am fascinated with the science of baking and, trust me, baking with multiple substitutions is scientific. But, others are not as intrigued as I am and just want to bake something that looks and tastes good. I get that, but half of the fun for me is the challenge. I. Will. Make. This. Recipe. Work.

There is also the sense of accomplishment when I peek through the oven window and see a baked creation that I fussed over come to life. Sometimes that fussing takes multiple tries, so it is even more rewarding when I finally succeed. And it’s always good to know I haven’t wasted a pile of expensive baking ingredients. (Have you seen the cost of coconut sugar?)

And then there is the look on my husband’s face when he asks for more, especially when it is a recipe that I am not sure will tantalize his taste buds. Like last week’s zucchini bread, for instance. My husband’s idea of dessert is half a tray of brownies. Zucchini bread seemed far too healthy, even though I added chocolate chips for a chocolate fix. Much to my surprise, he was disappointed when I ate the last piece and there was none left for him. So, happily, I go back into the kitchen to make more … all in the name of science and love.

Strawberry Mini Muffins of Love

strawberry mini muffinsToday is the day of love. Strawberry muffins sounded like a good recipe as they follow the love theme. But I wanted to spread lots of love so I made mini muffins. I gave them to friends and neighbors so everyone could feel good today. Bring on the love…

This recipe was pretty healthy to start, but I upped the ante by swapping some whole wheat flour for white. For high altitude I reduced baking soda and powder but added milk and flour. Then, to keep the muffins from turning pink, I strained the cut up strawberries so their juice wouldn’t color the batter (it will go into a smoothie).

Strawberry Mini Muffins of Love adapted from GoDairyFree.org
1 cup + 1 TBS all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup vegan sugar
¾ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup + 1 TBS plain dairy-free milk
⅓ cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup frozen strawberries, thawed and cut up and strained
Preheat oven to 375°F and line a mini muffin tin with paper liners. In a large bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together milk, oil, and vanilla. Gently stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients but do not over mix. A few small lumps in the batter are fine. Fold in thawed strawberries. Divide batter between prepared muffin tins, not quite filling the cups. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let the muffins sit for 10 minutes, then remove them from the tin to a cooling rack. Makes 28 mini muffins.

Until next time, happy baking!