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Cast Iron Skillet Vegan Muffin Cake

21 Jun
Vegan Applesauce Skillet Muffin-Cake

Vegan Applesauce Skillet Muffin-Cake ©2014 afroditi katsikis

Why bake muffins in a cast iron skillet?  When I get hungry for something baked, I figure out how to get around the obstacles that prevents me from baking! The obstacle: no working oven at my house and my barbecue is out of propane.

Several days ago, in my never-ending quest to not waste any food, I steamed some organic apples because they were no longer crisp and I was too lazy to make applesauce.  I also had some frozen bananas that had been ripening faster that I could eat;  I freeze them when they are full of brown spots.  I usually use them in pancakes, fruit smoothies or banana bread and needed to use them up before they became freeze-dried.

For the past several days I have been opening the fridge to see these steamed apples and wondering what was I thinking when I steamed these apples? I was craving something sweet and warm to eat – like a warm freshly baked nutritious applesauce muffin.

Just how was I going to do that on my electric stove top? I have made pan breads like pita bread, biscuits and pancakes in my fry pan. I like the idea of using less energy; cooking on top of a stove must be more efficient than using an oven.  During summer months, it’s too hot to bake inside but using a hooded propane barbecue outside will keep the added heat out of your house.

So I thought back to the early days of camping. If you’ve ever camped without a camp oven stove, then pancakes will be the closest you can get to a baked dessert. Experienced campers and hikers understand that you must make do with what you have and make what you have more than a one purpose item – who brings a muffin pan to make muffins once or twice on a camping trip? However, I can’t imagine going camping without a fry pan! So how was I going to make a coffee cake in a fry pan on top of stove? I put my campers thinking cap on!

As my craving for a muffin increased, I searched the web for and compared recipes for: cakes, biscuits, muffins, cupcakes, griddle cakes, brownies, coffee cakes, fry bread and pancake recipes. Even though some of these recipes used a fry pan, they all used an oven to bake the finished product.  I wanted a recipe that was more like a coffee cake, brownie or muffin cooked on top of the stove, not in an oven.

Naturally, I started experimenting and looked closely at the vegan pancake, muffin and biscuit recipes. I wanted a thick batter, one that would not burn on the bottom and leave the top ‘half-baked’ so I focused more on muffin recipes and decided to make big muffin in a fry pan.

Lately I’ve been lightly steaming veggies so decided I was going to turn my cast-iron fry pan into a steamer for my muffin-cake. I placed a short steamer rack that my slow cooker came with into clean cast-iron 9″ skillet.  Skillet must have a snug fitting lid and should not be flat; a flat lid will not allow the muffin cake to rise and will drip moisture on the muffin cake while it’s cooking.

Slice of Vegan Applesauce Muffin-Cake ©2014 afroditi katsikis

After assembling all the ingredients and needed utensils , the first thing to do is put the skillet on the stove with the short steamer rack in the bottom and grease the 8″ Pyrex pie dish.  It’s always best to make sure the skillet is heated before placing the Pyrex dish in the skillet. Heating the skillet is akin to pre-heating your oven. Heat about 1.5 cups of water in a sauce pan and NOT your skillet. The amount of water varies if you are using a skillet that is larger than the one I used.

While the water is heating up, mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

Dry Ingredients

2 cups flour

1/4 cup flax-seed meal

1 & 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Put the skillet on the stove and set the burner to medium. Mix all the wet ingredients into a medium-sized bowl.

Wet Ingredients

3/4 cup cooked apples or applesauce

1/2 cup thawed frozen bananas, mashed

1/4 cup olive oil (and 1/2 teaspoon olive oil to grease the pie pan)

1/2 cup coconut milk, unsweetened

1/8 cup unsulphered molasses

~ optional ingredients ~
1/2 cup: raisins, or craisins (to add to the wet mixture)
1/4 cup granola as a topping before cooking
1/4 cup sliced almonds as a topping before cooking

By now the skillet should be adequately heated; turn it down to medium low heat (the settings you use for pancakes – level 2 or 3 depending on your stove). The skillet must be hot, after all, no one puts a cake into an oven that is not pre-heated.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until the dry ingredients are fully incorporated – Do NOT use a mixer; use a wooden spoon or spatula.

Place the batter into a greased Pyrex 8″ pie dish and add your selected topping(s).  Place it on the rack in the skillet with room to pour the water.  Pour the heated water into the skillet careful not to drip onto the batter.  Make sure not to put too much water in the skillet – it should be just slightly above the rack so when the water bubbles, it won’t bubble over into the batter. A lot of steam will rise and as soon as it subsides, center the Pyrex dish in the skillet using some long handled wooden spoons and put the lid on.

Cook/steam for about 30 minutes, until the Muffin Cake is browned; lightly tapping the center to see if it’s firm; if not, give it another 5 minutes. An inserted wooden toothpick in the center should come out clean.


Before you start making this recipe, determine how much water to pre-heat by assembling the fry pan, steamer rack and Pyrex pie dish.  Poor some water in the fry pan until it reaches just slightly above the bottom of the Pyrex dish. Pour the water into a measuring cup – so you know how much water to add to the skillet before cooking or just pre-heat the water as noted above.

If you don’t have applesauce, add 3/4 more coconut milk.

Blueberry Skillet Muffin-Cake

If you are going to use berries, put half of the batter into the Pyrex dish and spread it evenly. Add most of the berries evenly – I usually drop them one by one and slightly press them into the batter. Add the rest of the batter using spoonfuls and spread that evenly – do not leave a dome in the middle. Now add the rest of the berries over the top before you add another topping such as granola or sliced almonds.


The first time you make this, keep watch over it while it’s cooking – your stove may be hotter than mine. If you want to make this when camping, mix up all the dry ingredients and store it in a container. Regarding the molasses, pre-measure it and bring it along in a suitable container.



©2014 afroditi katsikis

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Blueberry Muffin or Pancakes

6 Oct
Vegan Blueberry Pancake

Vegan Blueberry Pancake – what it looks like in the skillet before I put the cover on it.

This is a new ‘muffin’ recipe I created that can be also be cooked in a skillet!  Out of necessity, because my oven is broken and I wanted more than just a regular pancake for breakfast, I figured out how to use a skillet to make these muffins.  The skillet must have a tight-fitting lid to keep the heat in.

Haven’t done this yet myself but I believe you can make this recipe when camping.  The first time I made this I used blueberries and the 2nd time I used craisins.  I don’t know why you can’t use whatever berries you have on hand if you don’t have blueberries. This recipe when cooked in a skillet, is enough for one very large pancake but can easily be doubled or tripled to make muffins or more pancakes.

Making Pancakes:


Dry ingredients 

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup white whole wheat flour

1/4 uncooked oatmeal (or granola)

1 tablespoon ground flax seeds (or ground flax meal)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp allspice

Wet ingredients

1/6 cup olive oil plus 1 tablespoon for the fry pan

1 small ripe banana, mashed (about 1/2 cup, the browner the better)

1/3 cup almond milk

1/8 cup blue agave

1/2 cup fresh blueberries (or any other berry, raisins or craisins)

topping optional: a couple of tablespoons of sliced almonds or chopped walnuts


Grease the frying pan.  The heat setting should be low – if your stove top burner has ratings of 1 – 9, use #2.  All burners put out different amounts of heat, so the first time you make this, keep watch over it while it cooks.

Combine flours, sugars, salt, baking powder, baking soda and spices. Combine mashed banana, almond milk, oil, agave in a separate bowl.  Add blueberries to liquid mixture.  Pour liquid mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients and mix until incorporated.

This is not the same consistency as regular pancakes that pour easily.  Place all of the mixture in the center of the fry-pan and smooth it over to be evenly thick.

All burners put out different amounts of heat, so the first time you make this, keep watch over it while it cooks; you can test the pancake with a toothpick and if it comes out clean, it is done.  On my electric stove, in 15 minutes the pancake is done.

Since it takes a long time for this pancake to cook, you have time to wash the bowls and utensils that were used and put away your unused ingredients.

Vegan Blueberry Muffins with sliced almond topping

Vegan Blueberry Muffins with sliced almond topping


The above list of ingredients will make 5 muffins – double or triple it to make more.

Before you start mixing your ingredients, pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) and grease muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.  Fill muffin cups 3/4 full.  Bake for 20 minutes in the oven, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

If you are going camping, mix the dry ingredients at home and store it in a re-useable container; please don’t use ziplock bags unless you plan on re-using the bag.

It’s not easy to get this pancake out of the skillet in one piece and it’s not great for your skillet if you use a knife to cut the pancake in the skillet. The best thing to use is a pizza pie cutter but do not press it very hard.

The pancake recipe makes one large pancake and if you are very hungry you might eat the whole thing but it may be enough for two people to share for breakfast along with some other fruit.

Blueberry Pancake

Blueberry Pancake

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