Until this year, I wrongly assumed that plums were a winter fruit. I associated them with the Nutcracker, Christmas, visions of sugar plums, etc., and failed to realize that they’re actually a beautiful late summer and early fall fruit. Now that they’re all over farmers markets here in DC, I realize my mistake. And I’m happy to be wrong, because it means that I’ll have juicy plums to bake with for the next couple months–starting with these wonderful whole grain vegan plum muffins.
I guess it’s not surprising that, when stress comes knocking, I cook. What is genuinely surprising is that I, who never liked baking before this year (and in fact used to find it stressful) have come to find that the therapeutic powers of a pair of oven mitts and a whisk are often just as powerful as the relief that comes from cooking a great meal.
In fact, they’re sometimes more so: there’s something intensely calming about the precision of baking. It’s methodical and ceremonious. Quantities are predetermined and knowable; results, if you do what you’re supposed to do, are guaranteed. Compare that to the spontaneous art of cooking, which seems to mimic more closely the unpredictable nature of real life. I love baking for some of the same reasons I love to read metered verse: creativity is everywhere, sometimes even subverting form, but the rhythm and cadence are always there, repeating themselves regularly. And their cycles give me comfort when life seems to be at its most unknowable or uncontrollable.
Anyway, my second chem midterm is tomorrow, and I’m nervous: if our quiz today was any indication of how I’ll perform on the exam, I may be writing another black and blue post tomorrow night. As I attempted to manage the stress of a bunch of deadlines yesterday, I thought I’d pour some of my nerves into the measuring of flour and sugar.
I love these wholesome muffins, which are studded with chopped plums and seasoned with the tiniest hint of cinnamon. I like to use whole grains, or combinations of whole grains, when I bake: I love the flavor and nuttiness that spelt, whole wheat, and other wholesome flours give my baked goods. These muffins feature a combination of spelt, oat, and cornmeal, but you could definitely substitute the spelt flour for gluten-free all-purpose to make them gluten free (and if you do that, be sure to use certified GF oat flour, too).
As you can see, I top each muffin with a thin slice of plum and a bit of homemade streusel topping–nothing fancy, just flour and oats and vegan butter–but both of those flourishes are optional. Skip them if you don’t feel like the extra step, and if you do that, you can probably use one less plum.
If you’re feeling the way I feel this week–just a little rough and anxious around the edges–then the decorating process might give you a little relief. It worked for me.
What a scrumptious morning treat. And now I’ve got some in the freezer to enjoy in the coming weeks–they’ll be a perfect, portable snack.
With that, I have a chemistry textbook to attack. Wish me luck at 8 tomorrow!
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Sooooo…. I totally forgot to add the oil (dont judge I was super tired and just really wanted muffins)…. and they were STILL good!
Ha! No judgment here. So glad you enjoyed them.
Absolutely AMAZING. I used Nectarines and Blueberries. I subbed the Vegetable Oil for Coconut Oil. I also used Spelt Flour and 2 TBS Coconut Sugar plus 2 TBS Maple Syrup. So healthy tasting. Yum.
Woow, so good. Looking delicious. I will try it.
I only had small Italian plums, so I used six instead of the four called for in the recipe. I also subbed Sucanat for the brown sugar. They took about 21 minutes to cook. The end result is delicious! Moist and very flavorful 🙂
I’m so glad!
I LOVE these muffins. I used coconut oil – one thing to keep in mind is not to mix in almond milk straight from the fridge or your oil will harden! It was funny (and a quick warming fixed it).
Just a tip 🙂
What pretty muffins. 🙂 I hear you on the control involved in baking and following precise recipes. I find that cooking puts me “in charge” of food rather than the other way around, and there’s little more comforting (or exciting!) to me than spending quality time in the kitchen.
Just the name alone makes me want to get into the kitchen and start baking!
I have a wheat allergy and finding gluten free flour in Italy is tough, but I will be back in the states soon. Coming from a family of chefs, my one creative (and non competitive) outlet in the kitchen was baking. It was through baking that I learned to love the kitchen, build my kitchen confidence and spark my passion for cooking. Hope you’re staying cool in that heat 🙂
You’re so right about baking, and metered verse. 🙂
I bake for my husband every week. I love it. I’m currently working on a brownie recipe that I have yet to perfect…but they’re getting close.
I loved reading this. It’s so cool that you’re starting to love baking as well as cooking. I’ve loved baking since I was very, very young and always will!
Hello, I’ve just put a round up of plum recipes on my blog as I’m ‘suffering’ with a glut at tho mo and I’ve included your pic with a link back to you here. I hope you don’t mind, but please holler if you’d like me to change it. All the best janie x
These look awesome! You’ve found your inner baker!
Playing in the kitchen is great stress relief for me too. These muffuns look amazing, especially with cinnamon and applesauce, yum. Thanks! And good luck!
I completely agree with you on the therapeutic properties of baking. While my husband was deployed in Afghanistan for 6 months this year, I began to get into baking. I had never even tried it before but I quickly fell in love. It was something I could lose myself in and it acted as a good catharsis for me. It doesn’t hurt to always have fresh baked vegan goodness in the house either! Good luck with your midterm.
“…there’s something intensely calming about the precision of baking. It’s methodical and ceremonious. Quantities are predetermined and knowable; results, if you do what you’re supposed to do, are guaranteed. […] I love baking for some of the same reasons I love to read metered verse: there’s always room for creative genius to creep in, but the structure and form are indelible, a brief respite from the chaos of everyday existence.”
Yes, that, EXACTLY! (And the somber addendum, too.) Good luck tomorrow at 8 — I’ll cross my fingers for you from Colorado.
Once again, you amaze me with your ability to thrive (creatively) under pressure! These muffins look simply delightful!
All the best to you on your exam this morning, Gena!!
You know, your other justification could have been that you’re clever enough to know that not all of your readers reside in the Northern Hemisphere, and therefore you were doing your bit for those of us currently in Nutcracker-appropriate weather 🙂
Good luck you clever lass you! Remember that, whatever happens, there’ll always be glorious poetry to lose yourself in afterwards – and not just the baking kind 🙂
Baking/cooking are stress-relievers for me too. Loving the muffins! They also remind me of my favorite song/dance from The Nutcracker 😀
BEST OF LUCK!!!
Good luck on the midterm!
So many people, including me, could learn from your way of dealing with stress…
Good luck Gena! Plums are definitely not my favourite fruit but these sound lovely.
Glad you found a brief respite amongst the chaos.
Blasting music and dancing around my house or getting outside always works best for me.
These sound delightful!! Haha that was seriously the word that i thought of when i read the title:)
I just bought a few plums so this sounds like a delicious way to break in my new oven:)
Looks delicious, Gena – I find baking (and cooking) so relaxing too. Good luck on your midterm!!!!
Baking is definitely something I turn to when I need to de-stress or procrastinate from school. Plus I find baking is one of the things I can create and share with others, and that they are the most open to trying. Everyone seems to love a homemade baked treat, healthy or indulgent.
Those muffins look great – I bet they would be tasty made with the apricots I currently have in my kitchen.
Good luck on your exam!
I’m wishing you luck now _and_ at 8 tomorrow!
I love that you’re getting more into baking: it’s cool to read about. Since I don’t have a regular oven (only a small toaster oven), I find it slightly more unpredictable, especially if baking gf/vegan: however, when baking for my omni family (which is 99.9% of the baking I do at this point, which may change with my new ‘pleasure challenge,’ it can be pleasingly ‘controllable.’
Good luck tomorrow, Gena!!! At least you have the reactions involved in baking down 😉
Gena they look awesome! I am so used to seeing an avo-miso-noochey dressing or an amazing raw-ish meal/salad that I LOVE when the baking bug bites you!
I actually find the GF and vegan baking process both daunting and forgiving at the same time. It’s hard to know if I am going to get it right; but if it looks wrong, there is always more oat flour to be added or agave or a smashed banana or in your case…those perfect plums…that can be added. Too wet or too dry, judge and adjust accordingly, without strict rules. But that’s how I both cook AND bake. Which is why you’ll never see me in pastry school 🙂 Doughs, yeast, bread..that stuff scares me b/c it’s so precise and unforgiving generally!
I love your muffin recipe…truly…looks.amazing.
Good luck on your test!! 🙂
When reading the title of this post on my google reader, I honestly thought you were slowly preparing for the Christmas season 🙂 It’ll be here before you know it!
Good luck on your chem final- I have no doubt you’ll do GREAT!
I haven’t eaten plums since I was a kid – and ate a whole large bucket from the neighbour’s tree… Perhaps it is time to try plums again 🙂
Happy test writing!
These sound great! I never thought to use plums when baking. I can’t wait to try this recipe.
I wish you all the best on your test tomorrow! These look amazing! You know that you will be well fueled for your test, that must bring some solace, no?
Good luck on your exam!!
Ahhhhh yum <3 brown sugar reminds me of childhood and snickerdoodles!
I’ve always been a stress baker, not really a stress cooker. I think baking appeals to my scientific mind. These look amazing, hopefully there will be plums at the market this week and I can make some! But I definitely agree with your statement on ED sufferers and baking. I’ve been down that road. Good luck with the studying, I’ll be sending good vibes in the morning!
I am the saaaame way! Such a stress baker.
I love stone fruits (and berries too) baked into muffins. Summer yields the juiciest produce. I can’t get enough of it! I’ve been loving blueberries and strawberries as of late, so it’s about time I get my hands on some plums. I might have to give this delicious sounding recipe a go, gluten-free style! I haven’t made any GF baked goods in a while. Now and then, a girl needs a freshly baked muffin! These would be great warmed, cut in half, and spread with coconut oil. Mmmm.
I find baking theraputic as well. These look fantastic. Good luck on your midterm!
These look amazing!