What fruit cake?! Pork…in a fruit cake. Okay, people, here’s the thing. I don’t do pork. Sure, I loved a crisp slice of bacon or a juicy BBQ tenderloin back in the day but the thought of “one pound of pork” in a cake – baked slowly and then kept around for a while to make it even tastier – that’s nasty.
Christianna sure dished out a doosey for this month’s Recipe Swap. She even dug up a new (to us) vintage cookbook, the Nebraska Pioneer Cookbook. You gotta love the wood stove and the plaid table-cloth on the cover.
I have to admit, as a pioneer braving the wild Nebraskan plains, a pork fruit cake would probably be the most delicious thing I could ever dream of eating. Think of it as the wild west version of the energy bar: you’d get your protein, carbohydrates, and fat all in one stick-to-your-ribs hunk of food! Just slather on some butter and you’d be ready to ride all day!
Hand a Nebraskan cowboy a Powerbar and he’d probably spit it right back at you. Now, hand that same cowboy one of these muffins and I doubt you’d get so much as a questioning glance. Just don’t say anything about the tofu.
My thought process leading to these muffins went something like this:
Yuck! Pork Fruit Cake! -> What odd ingredient would a vegetarian put in fruit cake -> Tofu! -> I’ve got all these tomatoes and I really want to bake with them -> There’s that classic spice cake recipe with a can of tomato soup -> I’ll use tomatoes and tofu!
Slow-roasted tomatoes were the perfect sweet, smokey (dare I say meaty) addition to a block of silken tofu. Blended smooth, the tofu-tomato mixture was delicious on its own (thinned-out it would make an awesome tomato soup) and an adequately odd ingredient for muffins. Here’s where I screwed up: I decided to throw in the last tablespoon of blackstrap molasses at the bottom of the jar. Have you ever taken a recipe experiment just one ingredient too far and blacked-out other flavors in the process? Well, I lost all trace of the tomato-tofu puree when I added that little bit of molasses. I’m sure it still added moisture and protein of course but the muffins I ended up with were very good…molasses muffins! Argh!
Some day soon I’ll make these muffins again without the molasses. Until then. I’m going to enjoy my apple-studded pork-free snacks. The spices remind me that Fall is almost here and these are sweet enough to keep me away from the ice cream carton after dinner.
If you're in the mood for a traditional Mystery Cake (aka. Tomato Soup Cake) this recipe from King Arthur Flour is the one on which I based my muffins.
- 1/3 palm sugar (or whatever sweetener you like to use)
- 1 large egg, well beaten
- 12oz silken tofu (plain yogurt, sour cream, or pumpkin puree would be good too)
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup slow roasted tomatoes. I used this recipe minus the spices.
- 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses diluted with 1/4 cup warm coffee to get it out of the jar
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (or your preferred flour)
- 1/2 cup oats
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- About two cups chopped apple
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Prepare a muffin tin with some kind of liner or oil.
- In a food processor or in a large bowl, using a hand blender, thoroughly blend tofu and tomatoes. The mixture should be smooth with no lumps.
- If using a food processor, transfer the mixture to a large bowl at this point.
- Add remaining wet ingredients plus sugar to tofu, mixing completely.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.
- Stir dry ingredients into wet and fold in apples, avoiding over-stirring.
- Spoon batter into muffin cups. These don't rise excessively high so you can fill the cups to the top.
- Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.
- Cool on a wire rack and store in the fridge for longer shelf-life.
I used leftover coffee to get the last bit of molasses out of the jar on a whim. It worked great but feel free to substitute water, juice, or milk.
If you don't have roasted tomatoes leave them out. It'll work without them. You could also get crazy and add some sun dried tomatoes (packed in oil or re-hydrated).