June 12, 2008

A muffin is a difficult creature. The muffin top is universally lauded while the muffin bottom generally labeled innocuous if not a downright waste of time. I suggest that this unfortunate attitude towards the muffin is a result of a slew of uninventive and bland muffins saturating the market. Of course the crispy browned muffin cap will be relished and the bottom left to moulder in its wax paper if it isn't interesting enough to garner interest. The trick to muffins is to make them pleasing enough in flavor and fillings that the crisp of the top is merely an added bonus. Else the muffin experience is one that veers dangerously close to pastry regret, sparking self-flagellation and vows to never again spend money or time or both on an uncommitted baked good.

I don't often make muffins in the absence of a function since they don't lend themselves to moderate consumption. When the time comes it's the whole muffin or nothing, not so much because half a muffin will not keep as well as a slice of cake but because for the dedicated eater wrapping up half a muffin is insulting. Muffins don't inspire me in the way of cookies or cakes, and living in close proximity to each of these fine muffin purveyors typically deflates my muffin-baking sails.

However, I got to thinking about muffins while obsessively plotting my gustatory attack on San Francisco and wondering how I might weather eating a slice of pizza, a cheese roll, a vegan chocolate mint cookie, a piece of foccacia (depending on the topping of the day) AND a cornmeal blueberry muffin from the glorious Arizmendi without keeling over. I haven't come up with a solution short of "sack up and take it like a cheese detective" (post-Arizmendi note: it can be done. It's not pretty, but it was delicious) but the last item on that list of must-haves reminded me of the baked offering that, in conjunction with a provocatively spicy soy chai latte, inspires me to brave the laptop jockeys at Ritual: the dirt bomb.

Does all this gibbering have any bearing on whether you should go make dirt bombs right now? Not really. At the last minute I decided to make use of some ground flax, not yet having experimented with it as an egg substitute, and then decided to oh hell just make them vegan. I'm not crazy enough to have foregone the whole rolling in butter and cinnamon-sugar bit but if for some reason (I don't want to hear it) one wants to skip that step, rest assured that the muffins sans butter bath are very tasty on their own.

"Vegan" Dirt Bombs
The flax seed worked fabulously as an egg replacer and the blueberry gave a nice subtle dimension to the muffins. Next time I make these I'm going to stick in some fresh blueberries or blackberries.

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup agave nectar
2 tablespoons ground flax seed mixed with 6 tablespoons water
1 cup soy milk

for topping:
3/4 cup melted unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 and grease your muffin tins.

Sift dry ingredients together into a mixing bowl.

Whisk vegetable oil, agave nectar and soymilk together and add the flax/water mixture.

Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and mix until evenly integrated.

Pour equal amounts into muffin tins and bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let muffins cool before dipping them in melted butter and then rolling them rigorously in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Allow the sugar to set before digging in. Or don't.

Makes 12 dirtbombs.


Josh said...

The beautiful thing about muffins, and I assume this holds true with dirtbombs, especially of the vegan variety, is that it's cake that is socially acceptable to eat for breakfast. Not only that, but it's cake you can put butter on without getting disapproving glares.

Megancake said...

ok so after seeing these I was inspired to make some of the traditional variety, i.e. lots of butter and eggs! But of course they turned out rather bland and somewhat dry, I didn't particularly like them but a friend did, I guess that's what i get for snubbing your vegan recipe, my b.