The festive season is now in full swing, and for my final egg-free recipe, here’s something to fit the mood for those who can’t eat eggs to celebrate in style.
Cakes are one of the most difficult things to achieve without eggs because eggs perform the crucial functions of binding, raising and adding texture to the sponge mixture. If you care to look, there’s a world of advice out there, especially on the Internet, about how to replace eggs in baking. There’s everything from the Vegan Society’s recommendations of chickpea paste, blended tofu or mashed banana to the frankly perplexing suggestion of adding 7Up or Coca-Cola.
Maybe I’m ignoring a major egg-free breakthrough, perhaps fizzy drinks really are the answer, but in the end, I decided simply to leave the egg out of my standard muffin recipe and add a little extra liquid. I was expecting crumbly, sunken failures, but as you can see from the picture, they turned out rather fine, more than fine actually, well-risen, rich and with a cupcake-like decadence.
Technically, though, they are muffins. The difference between the two is in the mixing technique: When making cupcakes, the sugar and butter are creamed together before adding the eggs and flour; for muffins, the butter is melted (oil is sometimes used for a healthier muffin) and then added to other wet ingredients before being quickly mixed with the dry ingredients. Muffins also tend to use only one egg for a batch of 12, so I thought if I increased the liquid to compensate, the lack of egg might not be too noticeable.
Spread the cheer: Sinful muffins are possible even without eggs
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In fact, I doubt anyone could tell there was anything “lacking” at all in these delicious cakes, but just to ensure complete indulgence, I added a cherry filling and topped them with a rich butter icing. For a complete Diwali fire-cracking flourish, I put sinful Amarena cherries on top.
Egg-Free Chocolate and Cherry Muffins
Makes 12 large muffins
250g flour (maida)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
5 tbsp of unsweetened cocoa powder
150g caster sugar
150ml sunflower oil (or melted butter for a richer cake)
Amarena cherries for decoration
For the icing
200g soft unsalted butter
400g icing sugar
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Line a muffin tray with paper cases.
Sieve the flour, baking powder, 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda, 1/2 tsp salt and cocoa powder into a large bowl. Use a whisk to make sure the cocoa is fully mixed into the flour.
In another bowl, mix together the milk, sugar and oil and then pour into the dry ingredients. With a metal spoon, fold the wet mixture into the dry. Unlike cupcakes, it is important not to over-mix—fold only until all the flour is covered. Whereas a cupcake mix will be perfectly smooth, a muffin mix should look a little lumpy.
Put a dessert spoonful of the mixture into each paper case. On top of this, put a teaspoon of cherry jam, then fill the paper case with the muffin mixture. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the surface of the muffin springs back when pressed. Leave the muffins to cool completely while you make the icing.
Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl and add the soft butter. Mix well, adding a little milk if the icing is too dry. If you have a piping bag, spoon the icing into it and swirl over the top of the cold muffins. If you don’t have a piping bag, use a teaspoon to cover the cake.
Top with a cherry, and serve. Muffins are best eaten on the day they are made.
Pamela Timms is a Delhi-based journalist and food writer. She blogs at Eatanddust.com
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