Baking & Dessert

By Aine Carlin | July 11, 2011

Photo: Aine Carlin

Baking is such a soothing practice. Unlike cooking, which can be a bit slap dash and off the cuff, baking requires methodical measuring and is very much an exacting practice. There’s not a great deal of room for risk taking – e.g. if you omit the baking powder, it won’t rise – and yet within the boundaries of baking there is a world of experimentation to be had. Whilst it may be a very bad idea to mess around with quantities of this and amounts of that, you can still have an absolute field day with ingredients.

Savory baking is a recent addition to my repertoire and I’m honestly amazed it has eluded me for this long. I’m mean, seriously, where have I been? 

Photo: Aine Carlin

In my thwarted attempts to cut back on my sugar (matcha shortbread cookies coated in chocolate and rolled in ground almonds were my latest downfall!) I decided to embark on a savory venture in the hope it would quash my baking bug. Not only did I satisfy my urge to get elbow deep in flour, it also set me on a whole new path from which I fear there is no return.

Savory muffins rock and then some!

Photo: Aine Carlin

So much for vegan baking supposedly being dry and lack luster, these babies were moist and only got better the following days with all the flavors becoming extra potent over thyme. Get it? Thyme. It’s the herb I used…oh, never mind.

Photo: Aine Carlin

Anywho, I am now a self-proclaimed savory muffin nut and I have a whole host of ideas just waiting to be unleashed in my unsuspecting kitchen. Poor little kitchen.

Photo: Aine Carlin

Why gnarly? Well, two reasons really. They look a bit gnarled – granted, these are not the prettiest muffins in the world – and yet taste totally awesome. Dude? Yowzas, I need to quit spending so much time on the beach. Ironically, I packed a couple of these bad boys for us to eat after our latest surf session and they went down in an absolute storm. You could say they were epic!

Makes 12 muffins

Photo: Aine Carlin

  • 1 cup flour, your choice
  • 1/2 cup polenta (corn meal)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp vegan vegetable bouillion powder
  • 1 tsp pink Himalayan or rock salt
  • Several sprigs of thyme
  • 1 sweet red pepper
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil plus a tbsp for frying
  • 3/4 cup oat milk or any plant milk
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar
  • Sea salt, for cooking the vegetables


1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius/350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Heat the tablespoon of oil in a pan/skillet. Finely chop the red onion and add to pan. Season and sweat for several minutes. Roughly chop the red pepper into smallish pieces and add to pan. Sweat until sufficiently softened before adding the crushed garlic. Season again and let the garlic infuse for several minutes before taking off the heat and setting aside.

3. Sift the flour, polenta, baking powder, baking soda and pink Himalayan salt into a large bowl. Gently mix with a spatula to ensure everything is thoroughly combined.

4. Pull the leaves off the thyme sprigs and finely chop. Add to dry ingredients and gently mix.

5. Combine the oil, milk and vinegar in a separate cup and set aside for a few minutes.

6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and fold gently until it almost combined before adding the red pepper mix. When the pepper mix has been evenly distributed throughout the muffin batter divide into 12 cases - I used half paper and half silicon - and bake for 20 minutes.

7. Insert a toothpick into the center and when it comes out clean they are ready. Good eaten hot or cold. They keep well stored in an airtight container for several days.

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