Vegan Pumpkin and Poppy Seed Muffins

Okay, so I'm stir crazy about pumpkins, that much we know. I've made the puree (first batch anyway) and I'm ready for some serious pumpkin baking time. Muffins always had to be at the top of my list because, apart from my love of pumpkins, I also swoon over a muffin. They've got to be super moist mind, none of this, it could be mistaken for a cupcake business, that just won't do at all. The thing I really like about a muffin, you see, is that you can eat it anytime of the day. They're perfect breakfast fodder, a nice mid-morning or afternoon snack and even work as a dessert. However, I do think it's becoming increasingly hard to come by a good muffin (certainly in the UK) and for me this has only become harder, nigh impossible since turning Vegan. There are plenty of Vegan cupcakes on the market but nobody seems interested in offering up a selection of Vegan muffins much to my amazement and disappointment. So for now I shall have to make do with eating my own, which is no hardship as I've become quite adept at producing the little (or not so little) blighters.

The inspiration for this recipe came from none other than Isa Chandra Moskowitz, the creator of such classic Vegan cookbooks as Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World and Veganomicon (a bible to some) and the very awesome Post Punk Kitchen,  a dedicated team of people making shows about Vegan food, yay!

I have tampered with the original recipe a wee bit mainly because the amount of sugar stated scared the bejesus out of me - one and a quarter cups? Are you sure? I'm so conscious of my sugar intake these days and try to limit it as much as possible preferring to use natural sweeteners where I can. I'm still a bit dubious about agave nectar so I have become rather reliant on maple syrup but it's so bleedin' expensive! To my delight over the  past week I have discovered two other sweeteners that I think may have solved my problem. Date syrup is exactly what it sounds like and is way cheaper than maple syrup. It's championed by a lot of raw vegan chefs so if it's good enough for them and all that. The other one is fairly new on the market and is made from 100% fruit - I kid you not! It's called Sweet Freedom and retails for around 3 quid a bottle, which I think is pretty reasonable and let me tell you it is go-od. Having been likened to honey and dubbed the 'vegan honey' this little treat will take care of all your baking needs and then some. I'm think I'm in love:)

I hope you appreciate the slight tweaks I've made to the recipe and if you'd like to go further yourself to make them even healthier, i.e. this is what I'll be doing next time, you could use apple sauce in place of the oil (which I halved anyway), choose a gluten free flour (like brown rice flour) and include some chopped pecans and sultanas to the mix for some texture and chew respectively. Not that these muffins sucked because they were, in actual fact, outstanding, but I'm always thinking of ways to take it to the next level and I never tire of fine tuning a recipe - it's just something I've learnt to live with!

By the way, keep an eye out for some pesky Halloweeny spiders that were haunting my kitchen while I was baking!

vegan pumpkin and poppy seed muffins

1 3/4 cups white spelt flour

1/2 cup organic unrefined sugar

1 tbsp baking powder

pinch sea salt

1 tsp cinammon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp allspice

1 tbsp poppy seeds

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 tbsp soy yoghurt

1/4 cup rice milk

1/4 cup soy milk

1 tbsp cider vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup date syrup

1 tbsp blackstrap molasses

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius/400 fahrenheit.

In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients, i.e. flour, sugar, baking powder, spices and salt. Mix thoroughly.

In a small cup combine the milks and vinegar and allow to curdle.

In a smaller bowl combine the puree, date syrup, molasses, yoghurt and oil. Then pour in the milk and carefully stir until it is all combined.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry, stirring it in using a folding action. Also at this stage add the poppy seeds. Be sure not to overwork the batter or your muffins will lose their lightness.

Divide into muffin cases, about two thirds full - I used a combination of silicon and foil, as I was giving some away. If I was making them just for me and Hubbie I would use silicon to save on paper waste. In total I got six large muffins and six small.

Bake for 20-30 minutes. Every oven is different and mine were ready at 25 mins so be sure to keep an eye on them, checking at 20 mins. Insert a toothpick into the centre and if it comes out clean they are ready!

Allow to cool on a wire rack. Although nice eaten warm the flavours will intensify when cooled. Keep in a container or even loosely covered for a few days. They will not dry out I assure you. This is day three for us and they were still perfect.