That, dear readers, is a fact of life I have seen borne out time and again. Indian takeout that spent a tepid evening being warmed over Sterno? Sad-assed fruit salad left to disintegrate in its own juices? Birthday cake the texture of Styrofoam, the frosting falling off like chunks of drywall? I’ve seen the stampede occasioned by the office-wide email heralding free food. You have too.
Yet, despite the fact that my job is not the paradise I was promised all those years ago when I was struggling with long division, I do like my colleagues. And so when the sign-up sheet to bring snacks to our weekly Friday meeting came around, I picked a date and started planning. The fact that I can only rarely eat what they bring (thank you for the bunch of grapes, lady from two weeks ago!) doesn’t mean I shouldn’t knock their socks off when it’s my turn.
And so I planned. Oh, how I planned. Red can tell you how I nagged him about which recipes to pick. “Well, scones would be good, but I’ve never made scones before, and what if they don’t come out? Do I need those paper things for the muffins? If I do the blueberry coffee cake, can I have fruit in something else, or is that too much fruit? Should I make something with chocolate? What if I don’t make enough for everyone? What if they hate it?”
“They won’t hate it,” he assured me.
As you’ve probably guessed by now, they did not hate it. Angels sang, rainbows sprouted over the conference room door, and everyone got a happy sugar high first thing in the morning. Here’s how I did it:
That is Veganomicon’s Coconut-Lemon Bundt Cake. This is probably the easiest cake you will ever make, and it is certainly one of the tastiest. Slicing it was a bit of a pain, but Red saved the day with his skillful deployment of our bread knife. It’s very moist and a bit crumbly, but that’s part of the fun. I ran out of unsweetened coconut and had to make up the difference with sweetened, but we all know that feeding skeptical omnis requires extra fat and sugar. The full-fat coconut milk surely did the trick, as well. I am not ashamed to tell you that I tried to lick the inside of the empty can.
Here we have Blueberry Coffee Cake from Almost Vegan. I’ve been making this for years, and it’s always fantastic. I’ve actually begun halving the recipe, because it really does make a lot, but I put extra blueberries in. So, half the cake, all the berries! Win-win. The streusel-y topping is perfectly sweet and crunchy.
Finally, I made the Cranberry Orange Nut Muffins from Vegan Brunch. I was very nervous, because I can’t remember the last time I baked muffins and I was afraid they’d explode in the oven or something. I did have a brief “oh shit” moment when I realized that I’d used dried cranberries instead of fresh and worried that I’d ruined the muffins completely, but they were more resilient than my reading-comprehension fail. They were fabulous, and while I wish I’d gotten to nibble more than one, I’m sure I’ll make them again soon. I learned two things from baking these: 1) the batter smells exactly like amaretto and orange juice, which is one of my favorite drinks, and 2) your muffins get fluffier the longer you let the batter sit. It’s because the gluten relaxes, yo. Next time I’ll take a 15-minute break between mixing and baking, but for my first vegan muffins, I was impressed with myself.
After all that work and a few other close calls (emergency baking-powder run, scraping the bottom of the sugar jar), I was more than gratified by how much my coworkers enjoyed everything. I didn’t explicitly mention the vegan part, but the few who already knew were excited and curious, and the ones who didn’t seemed happy to be eating something other than, you know, doughnuts again. Even the guy who cracks on me about my “bird food” copped to being pleasantly surprised. Oh yes, he took seconds back to his office.
As of today, three coworkers have asked for the recipes. Vegan domination continues!