Vitality stirs within maple trees, the sap (syrup) beginning to surge, awakening the trees from their hibernations. That’s good news for the trees, as it begins a progress that takes them to this point:
(Photo taken early last summer of a maple tree, in the parents’ yard, the author started at age twelve, from seed. Bragging, certainly, but the tree is nice, don’t you think?)
It’s also good news for those of us who love maple syrup and who look forward to sampling a bit of arboreal amber. The editors of Fitness magazine are among us, as they featured a recipe for Olive Oil and Maple Quick Bread in the May 2019 issue. Not only that, it’s a completely vegan recipe, having no eggs or butter. Still, it produces a great bread, as you can see and, better yet, the batter is much easier to work with than is a standard dough: The bread is sweetly infused with maple syrup, giving it a honeyed smoothness, accented ever so slightly by orange juice’s mild tang. Enjoying it is like waking to a stack of steaming pancakes Saturday morning, except without the sticky fingers.
The only thing that could make this better is topping it with a dollop of melting butter. Here we fall off the vegan wagon, slightly, by using butter. It’s a shame, but it’s worth the deviance, as this calls for a special butter, as featured on the Barefeet in the Kitchen website. It’s a magical concoction, whipped with honey and vanilla, like you see below.
Real vanilla, the best, Tahitian vanilla, dispatched straight from the tropics. Bonus points for using the good stuff?
The butter is so soft and sweet, it’s almost transcendent. And it melts beautifully into the bread, as this week’s picture shows. Just like a stack of steaming pancakes, dripping syrup and butter. One moment, please. Lost in the reverie of a perfect late winter moment…
Vegan Olive Oil & Maple Quick Bread
- 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for the pan
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1 cup fresh orange juice
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Preheat the oven to 350°. Smear the sides of a 9″ x 5″ bread pan with a little olive oil, and line the bottom with parchment paper.
In a large bowl whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate medium bowl whisk together the olive oil, maple syrup, orange juice and vinegar.
Make a “well” in the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the well and whisk, gradually drawing in the dry ingredients. Continue whisking until smooth, then pour the batter into the bread pan you prepared. (*1)
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, then cool in the pan, on a wire rack. Serve by itself (just dandy that way) or with preserves, regular butter, or honey butter (instructions below).
1 – As mentioned, and seen, in the intro, the consistency is more like a batter than it is like a traditional bread dough. That’s fine, as it’s much easier to manipulate this way.
Of course, I wish I had read this before I started on this recipe, because I was expecting dough, not a batter. I put it in the oven anyway, hoping for the best but fearing I just had wasted all those ingredients, as well as a Saturday afternoon. Fortunately, things turned out just right. I should have more faith.
Vanilla Bean Whipped Honey Butter
- 1/2 cup (one stick) butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup honey
- scrapings from half a vanilla bean, or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whip the butter for three minutes until it is light and fluffy. (*2) Add the honey and beat for another minute, until well-combined. Finally, add the vanilla and beat just to combine. Scoop into a bowl and serve immediately, or cover bowl and refrigerate until needed, though let it rise to room temperature before serving.
2 – You can use either a power mixer, or by hand using a whisk and a bowl. The butter is quite soft, as is the honey, of course, and all that whisking is rather therapeutic. Plus, it gives you something to do while watching TV.