December 7, 2009

Gingerbread Flax Muffins

by IsaChandra

There’s another kind of seasonal eating that’s not so much about being environmentally friendly but about emotional connections. Eating pumpkin in August just doesn’t feel right, ditto for strawberries in December. I like how my senses are tied to the time of year; scent and taste seem to hang onto memory in a very specific way that photographs or recollection can not. Think of the way the first breath of spring air sneaks its way into the crevices of your mind, suddenly awaking all the sleepy springs of years gone by.

And so for 11 months of the year, I am basically building up a lust for gingerbread. One bite and suddenly I’m a little girl just the perfect height for ogling all the beautiful cookies in a Brooklyn bakery case. I’m a teenager cutting out of school with my friends and making snow angels in Central Park instead. I’m in my twenties baking up my first pan of gingerbread, and the kitchen smells so warm and cozy it’s as if I had a fireplace, but in reality my apartment doesn’t even have heat. Our taste buds are as close to a time machine as we’re ever going to get.

All season I sneak gingerbread into pretty much everything; lattes, waffles, cookies of course and these muffins. They are low enough in fat and sugar to be vaguely appropriate as a breakfast, but still sweet enough to feel like a special wintery treat. Note that this is a recipe for only 6 muffins, I do so much baking all month that if I’m baking for myself I do smaller batches. Feel free to double the recipe if you like! If you’re looking for a more healthy tasting muffin, do the whole wheat pastry flour. Flax not only adds a healthy touch, but it also works to bind a leaven the muffins, making them nice and fluffy. If you’re looking for something more traditional tasting, do the all purpose white flour.

Gingerbread Flax Muffins
Makes 6 muffins

1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk (or your preferred non-dairy milk)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons ground flax seed

1 1/4 whole wheat pastry flour or all purp flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup light molasses
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray.

First measure out the milk. Mix the apple cider and ground flax seed directly into the measuring cup and stir vigorously with a fork for about a minute. That helps to bring out the oils of the flax seeds while the vinegar thickens and curdles the milk. Both of those things will help the muffin to rise.

In a mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt.

Make a well in the center and add the milk mixture. Add in the oil, applesauce, molasses, sugar and vanilla. Use a wooden spoon to mix ingredients together until everything is just moistened. Don’t overmix, it’s okay if the batter is a little lumpy, muffins like that.

Fill muffin tins most of the way full. Bake for about 22 minutes, until tops are puffed up and firm and a knife or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

When cool enough to handle, transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

  • December 7, 2009 at 5:57 pm: Megan

    MMMMM yes please.

  • December 7, 2009 at 6:03 pm: The Ordinary Vegetarian

    Oh perfection.. I have all of these ingredients, it really doesn’t get any better than that! All over this, and soon.

  • December 7, 2009 at 6:30 pm: Bianca- Vegan Crunk

    Oh yum! I love gingerbread too…and haven’t made it in a couple years…sigh. This must be my re-introduction of gingerbread in my life.

  • December 7, 2009 at 7:01 pm: acr

    we are totally soulmates. i got an overwhelming craving for gingerbread last night and mixed up a gingerbread cake in my living room while watching desperate housewives. i ate a piece and thought, “this could use some whipped cream, i sure wish i had some,” and then ate another piece anyway. sadly, my gingerbread cake is not at all healthy. next time i will definitely make these instead.

  • December 7, 2009 at 7:05 pm: Meagan

    Looks lovely! I will definitely be making these for my family sometime during the holidays. All winter is perfect for gingerbread, not just December!

  • December 7, 2009 at 7:43 pm: Josiane

    Full of flavor and not too sweet – what’s not to love? I’ll be making these very soon!

  • December 7, 2009 at 7:51 pm: Tami (Vegan Appetite)

    Pretty muffin! There really is something about gingerbread.

  • December 8, 2009 at 1:15 am: Cassie

    I must make these!

  • December 8, 2009 at 6:19 am: Maria

    I saw your post when I got home last night and immediately felt the need to make them! I really enjoyed them. I followed your instructions to the letter and came up with 9 muffins though not 6! Ofcourse the more the better!!

  • December 8, 2009 at 6:56 am: molly

    oooh yum yum yum, these look so great. just in time for a holiday brunch :)

  • December 8, 2009 at 11:32 am: bugink

    these are perfect December lunchbox surprises

  • December 8, 2009 at 2:25 pm: Liz

    Ditto on gingerbread everything. I plan on making these over the weekend. I’m assuming the flour measurement is 1 1/4 *cups* – correct ?

  • December 8, 2009 at 4:46 pm: eli

    hi all — i love the muffin and cupcake recipes on this site and in isa’s cookbooks. sometimes i want to make them into regular cakes (or loaves), does anyone have a way to convert these recipes from cupcake to cake? can i just put the batter right into the right sized pan and bake? any insight would be greatly appreciated.

  • December 9, 2009 at 12:00 am: Maile

    These are amazing! Not too sweet. Crunchy on top; moist inside. My kitchen smells like a bakery. Like Christmas!

  • December 9, 2009 at 12:44 am: Nicki

    I saw this post yesterday and was excited that I had all the ingredients! I made them immediately and they are amazing! And yes, I would have had enough to make about 9 muffins, but I like my muffins kinda big, so I had 6 large ones. Amazing!

  • December 9, 2009 at 6:26 pm: Esther

    What’s light molasses? I’ve never seen that before. (I normally keep blackstrap in the house.)

  • December 9, 2009 at 11:40 pm: Sophie

    yum! sounds like a great recipe! i agree with you–summer veggies and fruits in wintertime just seem awful.

  • December 11, 2009 at 7:33 pm: Lizzy

    I made these today. They’re super good. Thanks for the recipe!

  • December 12, 2009 at 1:10 pm: Veggiesmack

    Yum! I love that they’re whole grain and don’t contain a ton of oil!

  • December 13, 2009 at 8:16 pm: Margarat

    Made these today and they turned out swell. I didn’t worry about “light” molasses (seems a little oxymoronic to me), and substituted agave for sugar (reduced the amount). Turned out fine with a few minutes extra baking.

    I’ve never made muffins with flax seed before and they worked well to give them some architecture without feeling fibery like bran often does. I’m glad I’ve set up a spare coffee grinder for herbs because it worked perfectly for the flax seed (should start adding some to my morning smoothie of soymilk, frozen banana chunks, frozen blueberries, 3 ultraheaping spoons of Rapunzel cocoa powder, & a half tsp of green superfood powder).

  • December 13, 2009 at 9:35 pm: kathryn

    These look really, *really* good. I love that you’ve used a really good whack of ginger in there, no pussy-footing around with teaspoons. I’m in Australia and we’re cranking up for hot, hot weather when the mere idea of turning the oven on makes me break out in a sweat. But I’ll be bookmarking these for our winter.

  • December 19, 2009 at 4:49 pm: Jenn

    Hubby felt I could have cut back on the ginger but I kinda liked the spice…

  • December 20, 2009 at 11:43 am: hopefully vegan

    can’t wait to try these…but really connecting with your memories of cooking. after a huge dump of snow in nyc i’m recalling some wonderful times when we used to start early in the day with big pots of soup, homemade bread and by dinner all our straggler friends bringing the wine. thank you!

  • December 20, 2009 at 4:00 pm: Tony

    Mmmm…. These look really good. I love ginger! I really appreciate that these are muffins that I can feel good about eating, not just unfrosted cupcakes. And, I totally know what you mean; I really enjoy all of the gingery treats during the colder months and I really miss them when the weather turns warm.

  • December 22, 2009 at 12:13 pm: Dawn

    I was just wondering what kind of muffins to make for a day-after-Christmas brunch. Perfect!

  • December 22, 2009 at 9:11 pm: Mo

    You and your gingerbread creations will be the death of me!

  • December 24, 2009 at 12:33 pm: BlessedMama

    Thanks for another tasty way to use flax. We’re always looking for ways to incorporate it into our food.

  • January 19, 2010 at 12:12 am: newconvert

    mmmmm I added granny smith apple pieces to these muffins as inspired by the gingerbread crust for an apple pie and it was great!!!!! Delicious light contrast to the gingerbread.

  • February 10, 2010 at 8:12 pm: kdaily

    There had to be quite a few people making these muffins today… Here in Pennsylvania we just got another foot of snow on top of the two feet we got a few days ago and it seems everyone bakes, shovels, and bakes some more. I sent the recipe to a friend who made them this morning and posted it on Facebook. I then made them and confirmed they are quite tasty. Then some people asked for the recipe so a link was posted to here for the Facebook world to discover how yummy vegan muffins can be!

  • February 11, 2010 at 11:46 am: Leigh

    These are perfect! I don’t know what “light” molasses is either, so I used regular and they are strong but perfect with a good strong cup of coffee in the morning! Super easy too. I will be making these again!!

  • February 14, 2010 at 1:40 pm: Natacha

    Hello, I love muffins. Your recipe is great : there is no egg (i can’t eat them). I love ginger… I will try this but without wheat and milk (I use rice flour and soja milk).
    hum great with grany smith appels… Bye bye

  • February 18, 2010 at 12:45 am: Liz

    I made these tonight, and they’re spicy and delicious! Because of dietary issues, I made these modifications:

    Subbed 1/3 c. orange juice concentrate for molasses
    Subbed 4 Tb. Grade B maple syrup for white sugar

    Because I had them on hand, I also used white whole wheat flour (instead of WW pastry) and added a scant cup of frozen wild blueberries. I mixed all the wet ingredients into the milk-vinegar-flax mixture before pouring the wet into the dry ingredients, which made mixing really easy. It made 9 muffins and I froze some so I won’t eat them all!

  • March 17, 2010 at 4:46 am: sarah

    yep. these are going on my weekend must-bake list. going to try to add some dried dates for added sugary, chewy goodness. yum.

  • November 25, 2010 at 6:21 pm: Maria

    Ok, saw them, ran to the kitchen, made them, loved them. Unfortunately they’re all gone now so I will run to the kitchen again just after posting this here! That’s really a lot of ginger in there but it was fine with me – I also added a dollop of ginger jam I happened to have on hand after putting part of the batter in the tins, which made them even better (I think). I made some other tiny changes: added 1/2 tsp of cardamom, halved the sugar (due to my non-american tastebuds), upped the applesauce to 3/8 cup and lowered the oil to 1/8 cup. They were no beauties so next time I’ll just top them with some chopped candied ginger + some crushed walnuts + raw sugar.
    Anyways, thank you for being the brilliant promoter of vegan awesomeness that you are! Keep it up!

  • December 15, 2010 at 6:47 am: Esen

    These are REALLY delicious! My only suggestion would be to add chopped walnuts. Also, I used orange juice instead of the molasses (only 1 tablespoon molasses) and they are still wonderful.
    Finally, mine only needed 20 minutes fyi, so don’t overbake them!

  • December 15, 2010 at 3:04 pm: Jane

    I attempted these – tripled the batch because we like to keep muffins on hand in the freezer for lunches and snacks. My question is: Do I need to actually triple the amount of baking powder? It seems like a lot, and the last batch had a faintly metallic aftertaste.

  • December 19, 2010 at 1:55 am: Carol

    These are excellent. I love them!

  • January 10, 2011 at 6:34 pm: Sarah

    Very yummy! I made a few changes with the recipe. I changed the non-dairy milk to coconut milk (which doesn’t curdle well but it still works, I had to use a non-nut milk because the muffins were going to a nut free environment), I doubled the recipe, and I used agave instead of sugar (trying to reduce our sugar intake and wanted a less sweet muffin). I also ran out of molasses so I had to use half maple syrup and I also added some nutmeg and cardamon to the muffins. The muffins were great and my son LOVED them. When I doubled the recipe it made 12 standard muffins and 17 mini muffins. Definitely will be something I make again. Now I just have to try and not eat them all.

  • March 22, 2011 at 5:20 pm: Aimee

    I was looking for an excellent muffin recipe for when my vegan aunt comes to visit this weekend. I tried these this morning and they are incredible. The other guests who tend to look askance at all things vegan will be devouring them too! Thanks so much. I appreciated the use of flax instead of powdered egg replacer, which I saw in many other recipes, but don’t have on hand.

  • May 9, 2011 at 12:20 pm: Suzanne

    I had to substitute quite a few ingredients in order to avoid an extra shopping trip, and am absolutely loving the delicious results, though I will need to experiment a bit more with the rising agents in order to get that ‘nice and fluffy’ quality. I used:
    1/3 cup (sweetened) soy milk
    1 teaspoon lemon juice
    2 tablespoons ground flax seed
    1 1/4 c all purp flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1 tablespoon ground ginger
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/2 cup rice bran oil
    1/2 cup dark cane sugar
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    Thanks a lot for the recipe!

  • May 11, 2011 at 4:41 pm: Angela

    My boyfriend makes these for me whenever we have an argument. They are so cute and delicious that we always make up, but they’re also good incentive to pick another fight!!

  • May 22, 2011 at 6:55 am: arctic lady

    This is the best muffin i have ever had. I guess its not low fat if you eat them all yourself in 2 days. (!) Grateful it makes only 6!

  • May 31, 2011 at 2:20 pm: Lyn

    Isa, aside from your culinary genius, I think you are a wonderful writer. Your little introductory paragraph conveyed the message that food really is a conduit of our culture, our memories, and who we are. I couldn’t agree more! It also made me tear up a little. Just thought you should know.

    • May 31, 2011 at 3:03 pm: IsaChandra

      Thank you very much!

  • June 15, 2011 at 10:43 pm: Iza

    OMFG I ate about 4 in one day…Kinda beats the purpose of it being fat free, but considering how it tastes who gives a fuck

  • August 14, 2011 at 4:59 pm: Caiti

    Ugh, the house I am staying at doesn’t have a muffin tin.
    Do you think if I up the time and keep and eye on it I could throw the batter in a loaf pan and do it quick bread style?

    • August 15, 2011 at 1:44 am: IsaChandra

      Yeah, I think that’d be fine!

  • August 21, 2011 at 5:51 pm: chelsea

    how many calories are in these muffins?

  • November 19, 2011 at 2:41 am: Amanda

    i used chia seed instead of flax. Worked like a charm. And the tops have a bit of a crunch because of it . Mmmm the taste of perfection.

  • December 25, 2011 at 6:54 pm: Simple&Tasty

    I made these today: subbed blackstrap molasses for the light molasses so used only a tablespoon of sugar. Had no applesauce so mashed half a fresh sweet pear to make 1/4 cup. I didn’t have a six cup muffin tin, but these fit nicely into my twelve cup mini muffin tin. Thanks Isa. I love the chickpea cutlets too. I bake mine and pour a tomato-based gravy over them, kinda like salisbury steak. There is some kind of flavor exchange between the gravy and the cutlets that enhances the flavor even more. Will try them using different types of beans and peas. Oh the possibilities!

  • February 14, 2012 at 11:16 am: Hannah

    Managed to forget to add the sugar when i made these today but they still tasted great. I did use a combination of black treacle and golden syrup because i have no idea what light molasses is so maybe there’s more sugar in my mix from that. Anyway they are delish!

  • August 23, 2012 at 1:37 am: Shannon

    Absolutely DELICIOUS! I will definitely be keeping this in my recipe files–thanks, Isa!

  • September 3, 2012 at 8:08 pm: Fenice

    Just made 12 mini-muffins of these (baked for 13 min). Gorgeously spicy and evocative. These managed to quell my gingerbread longing brought on by reading 19th c. children’s books. A delicious little treat.

  • October 15, 2012 at 1:36 pm: Rebecca

    Amazing muffins, we love them! I only hard dark molasses but it still worked beautifully. We cut them in half and put some ginger spread on them, delicious! I really like the written introduction, although, living in South Florida, it never actually feels like December outside. Especially since I grew up in Canada :)

  • December 14, 2012 at 11:20 pm: Visha

    Made these today at my daughter’s pre school for snack. 36 mini muffins disappeared in less than 5 minutes, in a class of 12 three year olds!! Parents were in disbelief that they were vegan :)

  • October 2, 2013 at 3:21 pm: jqr

    These were delicious! I quadrupled the batch and made 2 dozen for a class of teenagers that meets at 6 am every morning before school. I wondered about the amounts of spices as I sifted the dry ingredients (4 tablespoons of ginger?), but I trusted Isa, and they’re perfect. I like that they taste like a breakfast muffin, not sweet like a cupcake, but still sweet enough to be gorgeous and palatable to teens.

  • November 20, 2013 at 12:37 pm: Sarah

    Loved these! And all of your recipes! Thank you. Keep doing what you so well. I just bought Isa Does It-can’t wait to dive in.

  • October 31, 2014 at 11:59 pm: Susan

    It’s a blustery day in So. Cal. & we’re expecting rain. So I made a pot of soup before we meet up with the kids & grandbabies for Halloween. Wanted something “fall”ish (?) to go with my soup. This muffin was perfect! They smell amazing while baking! Whipped them up quickly. I did bake for 2 minutes less (per a review) and they came out gorgeous! I sprinkled 1/2 teaspoon of sugar on top of each muffin before baking. Another great recipe from Isa. Thank you! I will be making these again.

  • October 6, 2015 at 8:19 pm: Alex

    I made these and scooped some of the apple topping from the Apple Pie Pancakes in the middle of each one and they were perfect! All the gingery flaxy batter felt like it was really calling out for some cooked apples. I highly recommend that variation.