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!