Wednesday, February 24, 2010
egg-free apple muffins and a love letter to my mother
Way back when, I promised you that I'd post about what I cook for and with Monkey, and I figured it was time to finally deliver just a little bit. The bonus is that these apple muffins (which are also great with pear or Asian pear) also more or less fit the seasonal produce theme.
We took a batch of these muffins to a playdate last Friday. In fact, I'd asked Monkey on Thursday night what she wanted to do on Friday and she said, "Go to T.'s house and eat muffins." Awww, so sweet, right? She really likes her friend T.!
Except that I'm pretty sure the truth is that T. is great and all but what she really likes are the muffins.
I don't know where the recipe originally came from; my mom used to make them a lot when I was a kid and they were a fixture of college care packages (and post-college care packages. Okay, my mom still sends me care packages--and that's just how I like it).
We made this batch without eggs, because Monkey has an egg allergy that was diagnosed when she was a little over a year old.
Yeah. So my best advice if you want to know how to prevent food allergies is don't rant on the Internet about how overblown they are.
Anyway, adapting baked goods to be egg-free has actually been relatively easy, thanks to this substitution trick that, again, comes from my mom. You see, my little sister was vegan for a while (then she was freegan, and now she's just a vegetarian like a normal person), and my mom wasn't going to let a little thing like veganism stand in the way of sending care packages.
The trick is this: for each egg, substitute 1 Tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 Tablespoon water. That's it.
No really, that's it. That's pretty much the only egg substitution trick I know. I mean sure, I've heard about flax and tapioca flour, but I've never tried them. Recently another mom with an egg-allergic kid asked me what I thought about that Ener-G egg replacer and I said, "Ummmmm." I live under a rock. But next time I went to the store I checked it out and was very gratified to see that the stuff is mostly cornstarch, plus a few additives, for $6 a box. I'm sticking with cornstarch from the bulk bins.
That said, I'm not going to lie to you: recipes often don't turn out exactly the same with cornstarch as they do with eggs. But this apple muffin recipe works particularly well with the cornstarch substitution, so it's become a go-to recipe for us. I mean, look at these beauties! You wouldn't guess they were egg-free, would you?
Egg-Free Apple Muffins
1 3/4 C flour
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp baking soda
4 Tbsp softened butter
1/2 C granulated sugar
1/4 C brown sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 1 Tbsp water (or, of course, 1 egg)
1 C buttermilk (I usually use milk soured with a little lemon juice and left a few minutes to thicken*)
1 large apple, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
Preheat oven to 400 F. (While the oven is preheating you can soften the butter by putting it in a large bowl and sticking it in the oven for a minute or two.) Spray muffin tin or fill cups with paper liners.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, spices, and baking soda.
In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugars. Stir in the cornstarch-water mixture. Quickly fold in the buttermilk or soured milk. Do not overmix or the batter will curdle.
Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, making sure there are no lumps, but mixing no more than necessary. Fold in the apple chunks. Divide batter into muffin tins and bake 15 minutes.
Makes 1 dozen.
*I learned just yesterday as I was writing up this post--crazy coincidence, right?--that this is called "clabbered" milk. Or more precisely, it's a quick version of clabbered milk, which traditionally is made by letting milk sour and then putting it in a warm spot to let good bacteria grow, which in turn prevents bad bacteria from growing. Hey, come to think of it, that process sounds exactly like making creme fraiche. Hmm, how did human beings come up with all this stuff? Anyway, "clabbered." Good word.