Not Easy Like Sunday Morning (with Tons of Vegan Baked Goods)

13 May

As far as Sundays go, this one has been a doozy. Not a totally overwhelming doozy but the last several hours have provided me with more excitement than I can normally stand on what is known, in certain circles, as the “Lord’s Day,” or “the day of rest.”

I woke up this morning around 6AM, fully expecting that I’d be out to door at 6:45 ON my bike, half-way to Key Biscayne by 7:15AM and joining up with my crew at Alien Endurance beach by the appointed 7:30 departure time. We had a time trial test scheduled for today, as well as an additional 40 minute easy ride and I thought I’d skip the car and spend some real quality time with Titita today. I sort of got what I wanted but not what I’d expected.

At 6:30AM I went in to pump Titita’s tires and discovered that her back one was flat. Frack. I’ve never had to change a back tire before–in fact, I’ve only (knock on wood SO HARD) had to change my front tire once since buying the bike and that was during a tire-changing clinic. So OK, my back tire was flat. Learning experience if nothing else. And if I could could get in there and get the job done in less than fifteen minutes, I could still keep to the original plan.

I’m so glad it’s seven hours later and I can laugh at this now. I was not laughing at 6:45. By 6:45 I had miraculously managed to change the tire but failed to anticipate how difficult it was going to be for me to get the wheel back on. I thought I had it right then realized I had it really wrong, then realized I had no idea how to do it correctly. Thank God for You Tube. I searched “changing back bike tire” and found a couple of videos that made the process look insanely easy–likely because the stars of said videos were both bike mechanics.

This didn’t go well. It didn’t go at all for a good twenty minutes. By 7AM I was screaming and cursing and covered in grease and dirt. Oh, and blood. Did I mention that while my wheel was lying on the ground I managed to ram my right big toe into the casette? Oh yeah. And it bled. Oh how it bled. A real gusher. Which is actually a good thing because God only knows what sorts of horrifying micro organisms were attempting to enter my blood stream as all of this was happening. Yes, I cleaned and disinfected the wound a little later.

By 7:10AM, the bike was still in two pieces and I knew there was no way I could make it out to Kew Biscayne without my car by 7:30. I took a breath, channeled my inner bike mechanic and managed to get the wheel back in and the tire pumped by 7:16. I paused for a moment and took a glance around: the room looked like a freakin’ murder scene. The floor was covered in blood and bike grease; several black palm prints were decorating one of the walls.I was totally covered in filth but didn’t pause to clean up. I tossed the bike in the car, high-tailed it out to KB and was only 8 minutes late.

The rest of the group started without me but I caught up and got my TT in. Did 2.57 miles in 8:13.76 at the tippy top of Zone 4, for an average pace of 19.1mph with a pretty decent headwind going out. I am pleased with this. It is better than the last one and that’s all that matters. Took the rest of the ride easy and stayed in Zone 3, averaging just around 17mph for a little over 45 minutes. All in all, not too shabby and the ride was a perfect antidote to a stressful start of my day.

And then I came home and got to spend the remainder of the morning doing one of my absolute favorite things: baking up a storm! I’m going to a dinner party hosted by The Vegan this evening and I told her I’d bring dessert. Since I’m shoving off next week, there’s a ton of stuff in my pantry that I’m trying to use up. Plus, I found three really great looking recipes online the other day that I wanted to try/tweak/etc… So I figured the party gave me a perfect excuse to do a little sweet genius work in the kitchen.

First, I made Post Punk Kitchen’s Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles.

These things are the bomb! I tweaked the recipe just a teensy bit and used King Arthur white whole wheat flour and a full teaspoon of both the cinnamon and cayenne. I really prefer cookies like these a little on the soft side, so I under baked them by 3 minutes (7 minutes total) and then let them finish baking on the warm cookie sheet outside of the oven.

I was really surprised that these babies spread as much as they did; came out a little bigger than I’d anticipated. But they remind me of a chocolate version of my mom’s Christmas ginger cookies (can’t keep my hands off those). They are chewy and spicy and chocolatey and pretty much totally dangerous. I had one (gotta test them before I serve them to people, right?) and then immediately packed them up.

Next up, I took this recipe for whole wheat fig bars (also from Post Punk Kitchen) and gave them the multi-treatment. Figs are, unfortunately, a migraine trigger and I know they bother me because I’ve eaten them recently and they, well, bothered me. So I decided to make a dried cherry-cranberry compote and use that as the filling instead. I also used dark brown sugar instead of granulated; ground almonds instead of flax; and white whole wheat again, instead of regular whole wheat.

I think I like these even more than the chocolate cookies. I’ve never really been a big chocolate dessert fan (I’ll take the vanilla, lemon or fruit-themed dessert over the chocolate one any day) so these little berry bars do me just fine.

They almost feel more like a breakfast treat than they do like a dessert because they’re not overly sweet and they have a really lovely earthy flavor–like whole wheat blueberry muffins or pancakes–and a crumbly, crunchy texture thanks in part to the addition to ground almonds and turbinado between layers. I made enough adjustments to this recipe that I’m going to post my version in addition to a link back to the original (above). The final piece of today’s baking puzzle has just come out of the oven so I’ll save it for a separate, much shorter post. It is both vegan and gluten free.

Vegan Berry Bars

Filling:

1 lb dried cranberries and cherries, mixed
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
1 cup of water

Crust:

2 tbsp ground almond meal
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup canola oil (could substitute coconut oil)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups King Arthur white whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup finely ground almonds
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8×8″ baking pan.

To make the filling, combine berries, zest, lemon juice, sugar and water into a heavy bottomed sauce pot. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally and then reduce to a simmer. Cook until the berries have plumped up and softened. Monitor this while it cooks as it might be necessary to add a little more water to keep the mixture from burning. Remove from heat and cool. Place mixture in a food processor and pulse until you achieve the consistency of thick preserves. Set aside.

To make the crust, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine almond meal, sugar, oil, milk and vanilla. Mix until completely smooth. Add dry ingredients until the dough comes together. It will be very sticky. In a small bowl, mix the ground almonds, turbinado and cinnamon together.

Press half of the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan and smooth into an even layer. Sprinkle with a third of the almond cinnamon-sugar mixture and then evenly spread the berry preserves over the bottom layer. Sprinkle with another third of the almond cinnamon-sugar mixture and then top with remaining dough, smoothing it out with a metal spoon dipped in warm water. Sprinkle what remains of the almond cinnamon-sugar mixture and bake for 30 minutes until the dough puffs up and turns golden brown. Remove to a wire rack and cool completely in the pan before cutting. Cut into 15 bars and store in an air tight container.

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2 Responses to “Not Easy Like Sunday Morning (with Tons of Vegan Baked Goods)”

  1. Judy Freni May 13, 2012 at 10:10 pm #

    Where are the pictures of your greasy floor and bloody toe?

    • mymultipersonality May 14, 2012 at 11:39 am #

      didn’t get any pictures of that mess. was in too much of a rush to get out of the house.

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