Tag Archives: baking

Cookies!

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Hi. My name is Melissa and I don’t like baking.

This has been true from the time I was 8, had mixed together some cake batter, and then was too terrified to put it in the oven.

Fast forward to last month, when I heard about the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.

The GREAT FOOD BLOGGER COOKIE SWAP brings together food bloggers from around the world in celebration of all things scrumptious. The premise is this: sign up. Receive the addresses of three other food bloggers. Send each of them one dozen delicious homemade cookies. Receive three different boxes of scrumptious cookies from other bloggers. Eat them all yourself (or, you know, share. If you want. No judgement either way.) Post your cookie recipe on your blog. See everyone else’s cookie recipes. Salivate. Get lots of great ideas for next year’s cookie swap. Rinse and repeat.

I signed up for the online swap before I could talk myself out of it. Then, I panicked. Omg! The last time I baked cookies was the Snickerdoodle experiment that took place on Snowmageddon 2011. This was going to be interesting.

Since I’m a cookie baking novice, I had to find a recipe to follow. I found an awesome recipe in Bake and Destroy which is so easy and unbelievably vegan! Super huge THANK YOU to Joelen of What’s Cookin’ Chicago for giving me this book!

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Vegans! You gotta get this book and check out BakeandDestroy.com. For the cookie swap (and also for the Chicago Food Swap, which I will recap in a few days), I followed Natalie Slater’s recipe for German’s Chocolate Cookies. I made a couple tiny changes to the recipe for two reasons: 1) I wanted them to be soy-free so that my sister could try some and 2) I was missing some ingredients.

Before I get into the recipe, I need to emphasize how great this book is. The recipes are awesome and range from breakfast to casseroles to snacks to dips and sauces. GIFT IT TO YOURSELF AND YOUR FRIENDS FOR CHRISTMAS (or just because)!

Vegan German Chocolate Cookies
adapted from Bake and Destroy

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups sugar
⅔ cup vanilla almond milk or soy milk
⅔ cup canola oil
2 tablespoons ground flax meal
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ⅓ cups rolled oats
¾ cup vegan chocolate chips
½ cup shredded coconut
½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, milk, oil, flax meal, and vanilla extract. Whisk for about 2 minutes, until the mixture thickens.

4. Stir the wet ingredients into the flour mixture until just mixed.

5. Fold in the oats, chocolate chips, coconut, and walnuts.

6. Drop by tablespoons (I used a cookie dough scooper thingy) onto the prepared baking sheets and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the edges are set up.

7. Let cool on the pans for 5 minutes, then let cool completely on the wire racks.

I was so happy with how these turned out. I may have some baking skillz after all! I got some great treats in return and will be giving kudos to my fellow food blogger cookie swappers in the coming weeks. –Melissa

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No Need to Knead Gluten-free Vegan Bread

I’m going to start this post by thanking 2 bloggers who have inspired me to take a stab at vegan baking. Somer of Vedged Out and recently featured on Forks over Knives and an Unrefined Vegan who has organized Virtual Vegan Potlucks have tickled my eyes, nose, mind and mouth in the best kind of way. They are two bloggers who seem to bake effortlessly. Vegan baking is certainly a nuanced thing but if any of you are experienced with baking gluten-free know that these recipes require lots and lots of eggs. So what’s a girl to do when she wants bread without gluten or eggs?

For baking bread today I’m using ground flax seeds. Flax is full of omega fatty acids and other important nutrients but practically speaking they’re also loaded with long chain polysaccharides that make it a great binding agent. With chicken eggs, protein forms the binding agent along with lots of cholesterol and recent studies bolster the claim that eggs are worse for your body than smoking. I don’t want that in my body so flax it is! Combine your ground flax seeds with water half an hour before baking (mix well) and you’ll notice the gelatinous texture that will help hold your bread together forming in your container. To start, we assembled the following ingredients

1 3/4 cups gluten-free all purpose flour (I’m using Bob’s Red Mill)
1/8 cup oats
1/8 cup quinoa flakes
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp agar agar or suitable vegan gelling agent
1/4 cup lightly packed coconut sugar
5 tbsp flax meal in 1/2 cup of water (mix well and allow to sit for 20-30 minutes)
1/8 cup vegetable oil
1-1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons almond milk or other vegan alternative
1 tbsp active dry yeast (no need to put it in water first, seriously)

First, Brent combined all the dry ingredients in a large bowl including the yeast.
In another bowl, I combined the vegan milk, oil and flax “eggs”. It looked kind of gross.


I added the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients. Beat the batter until smooth. This can be done with a stand or hand mixer, but I like to use my Brent for this; his muscles are amazing. The batter should be thick but not doughy.


I sprayed a non-stick pan with olive oil. Then I poured the batter into the bread pan and sprinkled the top of the batter with sunflower seeds and buckwheat groats. You can also sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds.

We set it aside to rise for about 50 minutes or until the batter was peeking above the rim of the pan.


We baked it in a 375°F pre-heated oven for 50 minutes; until a toothpick comes out clean. We let it cool for 15 minutes. Then we removed from the pan and cool thoroughly on a rack. A glass pan might be better for next time.


As a first effort to bake gluten-free and vegan in about a year and a half, I’m pleased. The texture of the bread was good, lightly crispy outside and fluffy inside. I have had problems in the past with vegan gluten-free breads being far too dense for my taste.

The taste was lightly sweet and nutty but nothing special. Next time I plan to add some nutritional yeast or carob and maca powder and Braag’s aminos to bring out more of the flavors in all those grains and seeds. Quinoa, flax, sunflower seeds, buckwheat groats, rice, sorghum, oats and almonds make for awesome bread.

This is Christie and Brent, signing off!

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The Vegan Survival Guide – Chapter 2 : Substitution

On your way to becoming a vegan master, you will undoubtedly run into several obstacles when it comes to making your favorite dishes. The good news is you don’t have to say goodbye to baking, making cream sauces, or any other edible or drinkable that requires dairy. This post will assist in your survival in your perilous vegan journey of DOOM!

… only not really. The doom part. Whatever.

Milk

Milk is easily substituted in consumption and in cooking. Our go-to is almond milk. It is mostly allergen friendly, has some protein, twice the calcium of moo milk, and tastes effing delicious. For cooking, non-sweetened plain almond milk is suggested. It won’t add any mysterious extra flavors, and can seamlessly be integrated into your dish for similar results. Other alternatives include coconut milk and soy milk. Coconut milk is distinctively thick and coconutty. I recommend it for smoothies and as a density agent for things like sauces. Soy milk comes last; it’s pretty well known and established in most stores. It has a buttload of protein (thank you, soybean), and can be a solid substitute for cooking. Speaking of soybeans, to make a cream sauce you can start with a block of silken tofu as a base. Alternately, use cashews that have been soaking overnight. Boomsaucylaucy!

PROTIP : Almond milk is portable and storable. It can be purchased in little boxes that store well in most conditions. Christie, for instance, has a box of chocolate almond milk at her work desk. She can keep it there until she needs it. No refrigeration necessary. Booya!

Eggs

Substituting eggs is a deceptively simple task. At first glace as a vegan, you’ll say ‘But Brent, you magnificent beast, there’s no substitute for the sexiness of chicken embryo!’ Nay, I say to you. Forsooth! Hark! Gadzooks! Flax seeds! No, really, that last one was what you were supposed to read. Flax seeds when ground down with your mighty fists can be a nice substitute for eggs.

How to make an egg :
1 Tablespoon Ground Flax Seeds
3 Tablespoons Water
Heat in microwave for ~20 seconds, stir. Repeat until mixture is thick, consistency agrees with you.

If making your own does not appeal to you, you can use applesauce when baking fluffy things. Note that it may affect the flavor of your creation. Finally, commercially available egg substitutes are available. EnerG makes a boxed egg substitute. But since you will have to mix it with water, you may as well just stick with the flax seeds.

When baking isn’t your game, but breakfasting is, tofu scramble is a go-to for us. It’s simple to make, and with the right texture of tofu, it will resemble eggs with virtually no magic. Virtually.

PROTIP : More like ‘good for you for choosing an egg alternative’; By not consuming eggs, you are avoiding salmonella, cholesterol, and cruelty in one fell swoop. Feed your kids cookie dough batter with no consequence! Throw them at cars! Make a Rocky shake! Whatevs!

ADRIAAARRRRRRRGABLLGH!

Cheese

This one was really hard to give up when it came to going vegan. The good news is there are plenty of alternatives. Commercially available cheeses are freaking everywhere, and they are gaining strength in the market. What’s more is that they are tasty, healthier, and some even melt like moo cheese. I could wax about vegan cheese alternatives, but Christie and I already have!

PROTIP : Daiya for melty goodness. Also check out our three cheese posts to date! 1.1 2.0 3.0

Sexy Conclusion
After reading this, I’m sure you’re thinking ‘Wow, Brent, you are a smelly hairy weirdo!’ And you’d be 100% correct! But what you may not have known before this post is that substitution is integral to your success as a venturing veganator and AND it doesn’t have to be rocket science. By getting this far in the post, I can assume that you care enough to seek alternatives to your cooking needs, and that’s freaking awesome. Take the next step and try some of these alternatives out!

Peace out, my vegans.

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Hopia Experiment #1: Hope-less-ia

Hopia is a Filipino dessert that is typically made with mung bean, but is also made with ube (purple yam) or baboy (pork, which I found nasty even in my pre-vegan days). Hopia is very possibly my favorite Filipino dessert. The only thing that makes traditional hopia non-vegan is the egg wash that is brushed on the pastry before it is baked. I bought some yellow mung beans and decided to try making my own hopia. I’m very much not thrilled with how it turned out so I won’t go into specifics on ingredients, but I’m posting this because I like seeing how my cooking skills improve (or not) and want to learn from my mistakes. Someday, in the next 40 years or so, I will get over the trauma of this experience and try making it again.

First, I got my mung beans and soaked them for about 4 hours. Three hours in, I started working on my dough. I despise flour and dough and proportions and mixing.

Two doughs are required for hopia. Pictured above is Dough #1. It’s flour and oil, proportioned and mixed into loose crumbs. I honestly don’t know if this is how Dough #1 was supposed to turn out. Dough #2 was more traditional. By this time, I was so tired and annoyed (it took two tries to get both doughs right) that I didn’t bother to take photos. Basically, you’re supposed to flatten Dough #2, sprinkle it with Dough #1, and then roll it into a log. Uh, yeah. That didn’t happen. I just ended up mixing the two doughs together.

Four hours passed. I drained and rinsed the mung beans (yes, the water turns yellow).

Then, I put the mung beans in a pot, added enough water to cover it, and brought it to a boil, mixing until the beans got soft and it started to get pasty. Keep an eye on the beans!

I took the beans out, added salt, and then tried mooshing them into a paste. That did NOT work, so I put them in a food processor, which did the trick. I added the agave nectar and then microwaved the filling to dry it out. I dried it out until it was about the consistency of mashed potatoes. I thought I was a genius, but I had to keep in mind that I would still be baking this; my filling ended up being pretty dry. Note: I could have just eaten this with a spoon at this point.

I took an ice cream scooper and formed the filling into balls so that I would know how many piece to divide my dough into.

Now it was time to make the pastry. In theory, you’re supposed to flatten the dough into a very thin layer, place the filling on top, and then pick up the rest of the dough to cover it up in a ball and flatten it. I tried! They did turn out pretty, in my humble opinion. I brushed the tops of the hopia with almond milk and then put them in the oven.

Here are the finished hopia, done and baked. I added some almond slivers to a few of them, and put almond slivers on top to indicate so. The hopia were OK – the filling tasted sweet enough but could have used more agave nectar. I’m reluctant to try stevia and I even have some reservations about agave nectar, but I didn’t want to use regular sugar.

Coincidentally, my Dad showed up with real hopia, so here’s a comparison. It’s a little hard to tell, but the real hopia has a flakier pastry and yellower filling.

Anyone have any advice for my next try? I am completely baking-challenged! Thankfully, I know an awesome lady who makes wonderful hopia, so I will happily eat hers for the time being (removing the top later to avoid the egg wash).

hopia have a great day! –Melissa

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