Fall Baking Guide

By: Robin Andrews

In a perfect world, I wouldn’t be anticipating “Pumpkin Season” (sometimes referred to as Fall or Autumn). I would embrace each season and secretly hope that carrot crazes would actually be the next big thing.

But alas, this isn’t a perfect world, I do share in the excitement of everything pumpkin spice, and I am perfectly content with having carrot cake as the big event once a year on my birthday.

Because coffee house boards now scream about pumpkin-spice-everything-edible and grocery stores ooze the cool-weather flavor, I’m going to take you on a kitchen adventure with the beloved gourd.

I say this is adventurous because we’re going to go vegan, and we’re going to test two of the “best” recipes out there.

Now, don’t close this browser window just because I said the v-word. With all of the trending diets like Paleo, clean eating, gluten-free, avoiding animal products all together (yes, vegan) and many other niche lifestyle choices, we’re going to do a sort of seasonal limbo and keep these recipes sublime.

But I’ll let you in on one little secret. If you leave these delicious treats in the fridge, on your counter or even stumble across them when made by someone else, you’d never know they are at all “healthy.”

Along with health and culinary conversation, let’s talk technology for a minute. The muffin recipe will take full advantage of our kitchen technology in the sense of using an oven for the final product (and you can use as many gadgets as your pumpkin-craving heart desires). But the chia pudding will be a no-bake option, making it more of a primitive recipe to modern-day innovation. (Even the early Americans had ice boxes.)

And I must add, I mixed everything with a fork and my own power.

Now, let’s commence this pumpkin pioneering.

“Pumpin’ Pumpkin Chia Pudding”

Ingredients:

1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1 cup (Libby’s) pumpkin puree

2 tablespoons chia seeds

½ teaspoon cinnamon (plus an extra sprinkle or five)

¼ teaspoon ginger

Pinch of pumpkin pie spice

1 tablespoon molasses

Process:

  1. Take a few pictures if you want to show your friends what you’re about to brave eating. (It tastes better than it looks. I promise.)
  2. Mix it all together in a bowl, vigorously because the seeds tend to clump up.
  3. Put it in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or until it’s thickened to your liking.
  4. Enjoy! (Remember this is an adventure, and add nuts, granola or raisins if you want to get a little wild.) This makes about two servings, but don’t be ashamed to eat it all before it even makes it to the fridge. I support you.

(My recipe is adapted from Oh She Glows, “Pumpkin Pie Chia Parfait:” http://ohsheglows.com/2011/10/14/pumpkin-pie-chia-pudding-parfait/#ixzz3lk9vvxfE)

Gooey Pumpkin Muffins

Ingredients:

1 ¾ cups whole-wheat flour

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon (feel free to get a little crazy with it)

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

2 tablespoons ground flax seed + 6 tablespoons warm water (mix vigorously to substitute for eggs)

2 cups pumpkin puree

1/2 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (love life and let the measuring spoon overflow into the bowl a little)

Process:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Get excited and mix it all together however you’d like (the exact consistency of the muffins may not be worth the amount of dishes required to make it just perfect when it comes to time standing between you and pumpkin desserts.)
  3. Top with oats, walnuts or brown sugar and mix in some raisins for an extra delight.
  4. Grease your loaf pan or use fall-colored cupcake liners.
  5. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.
  6. Again, I hope you enjoy!

(My recipe is adapted from Lovely Little Kitchen, “Best Ever Pumpkin Muffins:”  http://lovelylittlekitchen.com/best-ever-pumpkin-muffins/)

Wildcard ingredients:

To add a little crunch, flavor or fun surprise, you may want to add raisins (like I did), walnuts (like I did), oats (like I did) or really any piece of fun food that is about the size of your fingertip.

Tips:

Keep an open mind with the ingredients and any possible adjustments that may be needed. After all, adventure nearly contradicts, “a tried, tested and perfected first attempt.”

Beware of Carotenemia (the tendency of skin to turn orange if too much pumpkin, carrots or any other food high in carotenoids is consumed). It’s real, and I assume it’s not ideal for those cute pumpkin patch pictures you’re planning.
Enjoy these treats, and have a Happy Fall!

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