21 Aug 2014
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(Almost) Anything Goes Muffin Cake

A vegan recipe that doesn't disappoint--vegan or non-vegan, young or old!

(Almost) Anything Goes Muffin Cake (Almost) Anything Goes Muffin Cake (Almost) Anything Goes Muffin Cake

Look, let me get straight to the point. I have a husband with a voracious appetite and I’m a mom of two toddlers who are in a picky-eating phase.

Sound familiar?

I also cook all of our meals from scratch using as few processed ingredients as possible. Oh, and did I mention we’re new vegans (meaning we eat no animal products--no meat, no dairy)?

OK, perhaps you don’t relate to those last bits, but stick with me and you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

So I’ve been busy in the kitchen, adapting our old favorites to fit our vegan requirements as well as constantly trying out new vegan recipes (thanks to the library and the Internet!).

After much trial and error, I think I’ve come up with a winning recipe--at least in our household. My family gobbles this up faster than I can plate it for them.

And it’s good enough, I believe, to share it with all of you!

My problem is that every time I make this (or make anything, really), I tweak it--adding this, subtracting that, substituting for whatever ingredients I have or don’t have--and each time I think I’ve perfected it.

What I’ve come to learn is that the versatility of this recipe, combined with the common sense of any basic cook or chef, results in yummy-in-your-tummy deliciousness just about every time, no matter how you tweak it.

Below is my latest version, based on what I had in my cupboards and refrigerator this week. And honestly, this was the best-tasting version to date--that’s why I’m taking it public!

I’ll write the recipe exactly as I made it and then discuss how you can make it your own by substituting, adding, or subtracting ingredients (refer to the asterisks *). Make sure to read the recipe and substitution options all the way through before making!



Note: This recipe is adapted from allrecipes.com.


Wet Ingredients*
3 tbsp ground flaxseed + 9 tbsp water
½ cup unrefined coconut oil
1 ripe banana, smashed and whipped
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Dry Ingredients**
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose, unbleached flour
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

2 cups carrots, grated (I wash and leave skins on)
2 apples, cored and chopped into small pieces (I wash and leave skins on)
½ cup walnuts, chopped (or smashed with a rolling pin)

½ cup brown sugar
½ cup rolled oats
¼ cup coconut oil
2 tsp cinnamon


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish or 18 muffin cups (or use liners, if preferred).

[Note: I use a Misto sprayer with olive or coconut oil and prefer a 9x13 dish only because it’s easier for me to prepare and clean plus you can cut it into small or large pieces, depending on how many you’re feeding. Hence the term muffin cake!]

2. In medium bowl, whisk together wet ingredients (flaxseed, water, eggs/egg whites, butters, oils, applesauce, banana, yogurt or vanilla).

[Note: If using flaxseed, let wet ingredients sit 5-10 minutes after mixing for it to thicken up.]

3. In large bowl, stir together dry ingredients (flours, sugars, spices, baking powder, baking soda, and salt).

4. Add mix-ins to dry ingredients in large bowl (carrots, apples, raisins, walnuts, coconut, etc.) and then stir wet mixture into dry mixture just until moistened (the batter will be very thick but you don’t want to over-stir).

5. Spread the batter into the baking dish or spoon into muffin cups (about ¾ full).

6. In a small bowl (or I use one of the “dirty” mixing bowls), combine topping ingredients (walnuts/wheat germ or oats/sugar/oil) and sprinkle on top of the batter.                                                    
7. Bake at 375 for 15-25 minutes, depending on whether you are making muffins (shorter baking time) or muffin cake (longer baking time). When the top springs back when lightly pressed or an inserted fork or knife pulls out relatively clean, it’s likely done.

[Note: Baking time is a judgement call and may require trial and error as every oven is different and different mix-ins require different baking times.]

Tip: If you use a sugar/oat/oil topping, I suggest broiling on low for about 3 minutes at the very end of baking in order to slightly caramelize and brown the topping (this makes it a bit crunchy and extra special yummy!)

Let cool, cut into servings, and enjoy!

Store covered at room temperature or in refrigerator for a day or two--if it lasts that long! You can also freeze and reheat!


*For wet ingredients, you need a bit of liquid, a bit of binder, and a bit of fat. And always add a flavoring (vanilla is standard, but you can experiment with others such as almond extract).

Instead of flaxseed + water, you can substitute 1 egg + 2 egg whites.

Instead of coconut oil + banana, you can substitute ½ cup apple butter + ¼ cup oil OR 1 cup applesauce OR ¼ cup applesauce + ¼ cup oil + ½ cup yogurt OR 1 cup applesauce + ¼ cup oil OR 2 ripe bananas + ¼ cup oil.

**For dry ingredients, there are numerous flour, sugar, and spice variations.

Different grains/flours can be combined or interchanged with great results. Try oats or oat flour, whole wheat, all-purpose, or gluten-free options. You can also add more ground flaxseed.

Other sugar options include honey, sugar/sugar-free substitutes, and agave nectar. Follow package directions for substituting for sugar as it’s not always a 1:1 ratio (you’d only want to use about ½-¾  cup agave nectar, for instance). You can also experiment with decreasing overall sugar if you don’t want the results to be as sweet.

Depending on your mix-ins, you can experiment with spices. Try 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice + 1 tsp cinnamon, for example, if you add pumpkin. Or, add 2 tsp nutmeg to a banana-walnut mixture. Adding ginger to a peach batter is another yummy example. 

***Other mix-ins include 1 cup raisins, ½-1 cup unsweetened coconut, ½ cup nuts, chocolate chips, different vegetables such as zucchini or pumpkin, and different fresh or dried fruits such as berries, pineapple, or banana. You could also sneak in 1-2 cups pureed chickpeas for added protein! 

****Toppings are optional, but really add to the flavor and texture of the recipe. Another topping option is to combine 2-4 tbsp chopped nuts + 2-4 tbsp toasted wheat germ and sprinkle on top before baking.


I hope you give this recipe a try. Sometimes the best things really are worth a bit of time and effort--and this recipe is one of them! We eat this for breakfast, for lunch, or whenever we want a hearty, healthy snack! Yum!

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