(vegan baking + other minor obsessions)
I am all about the simple pleasures in life, and muffins are one of my favourite things. Memories have a way of always being tied up with food, and I still remember when I was living Auckland on a tight backpacker’s budget, grabbing a coffee and a muffin on my way to work on frozen mornings – what a simple, comforting way to start the day.
But good muffins are hard to find in shops, and good vegan muffins almost impossible. Old and dry, previously frozen or overly sweet muffins (or all of the above) are all too common. The crispy perfection of a good muffin is elusive, as they are best eaten fresh out of the oven. But they are easy to bake at home and a good recipe will give you room for ample creativity and lots of variations.
These moist muffins combine the sweet and savoury tastes of butternut squash, vegan cheese, sage, coconut sugar and pumpkin seeds for a full-flavoured treat that would make a great addition to a brunch menu, or a perfect snack in its own right. Feel free to experiment with sizes – I have made large muffins here but I think these might work even better as mini-muffins. Let me know if you give them a try!
Makes: 12 large muffins
175g/6oz/1 cup + 3 tbsp fine wholemeal flour
150g/5½oz/1 cup + 3 tbsp plain flour
50g/1¾oz/⅓ cup coconut sugar
1½ tbsp cornflour
1¾ tsp baking powder
1½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
300g/10½ oz butternut squash, grated
120g/4¼ oz vegan cheese, grated, plus more for sprinkling
3½ tbsp pumpkin seeds, plus more for sprinkling
2 tsp dried sage
75ml/2½fl oz/⅓ cup olive oil
200ml/7fl oz/¾ cup + 2 tbsp soya milk
1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F (170°C/325°F if using a fan-assisted/convection oven). Line a 12-hole muffin tin with muffin cases.
2. Put the flours, coconut sugar, cornflour, baking powder, salt and pepper in a large bowl and stir with a whisk to combine. Add the butternut squash, cheese, pumpkin seeds and sage and stir until combined. In another bowl, mix together the olive oil and soya milk. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
3. Divide the muffin batter into the prepared muffin tin and sprinkle with extra pumpkin seeds and vegan cheese. Bake for 25–30 minutes until the muffins are a nice golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the centre of a muffin comes out clean. Pop the muffins out of the tin and onto a wire rack to cool.
Kitchen notes: I love love love coconut sugar, as I have mentioned before, but you can use rapadura or brown sugar in this recipe instead if you prefer.