abracapocus

i have a serious brain disease. please bring me a cat.

Tag: baking (page 2 of 3)

Cupcake Testing

Posting is going to be a bit slim as we prepare for the Boston Vegetarian Food Festival. For now I’ll leave you with the scientific method as applied to cupcakes.

Hey, they kind of look like little Pacmans (Pacmen?)

My first bagels

Half of a plain bagel with cream cheese, half eaten

Half of a plain bagel with cream cheese, half eaten

Not the first bagels I’ve eaten, but the first ones I’ve ever made. Like most bread, there is a series of timed steps that each contribute to the yumminess. For this batch, I used Rose Levy Beranbaum’s recipe in The Bread Bible. I have some steps for you here in pictures. I skipped pics of the sponge and bulk rise parts though. Too bad, you could’ve seen the dough almost bust out of it’s container.

Shaping bagels is pretty easy. After you’ve separated the dough into pieces, you poke a finger in the center, pick it up, stretch until you can get both fingers in the hole (yeah, it’s pretty naughty) and either pull and rotate around until you’ve got a 2 1/2″ hole (it’ll snap back) or wind it around with your fingers as kind of spokes like Kevin did and it’ll go really fast. That last bit is hard to describe. Oh well, you’ll figure it out.

Bagels taking a boiling bath

Bagels taking a boiling bath

You boil them up for about 2 minutes per side. Then let rest for a minute on a clean towel to drain before transferring to a baking sheet.

Boiled bagels ready for baking

Boiled bagels ready for baking

Bagels baking in my crappy oven

Bagels baking in my crappy oven

Bagels just out of the oven

Bagels just out of the oven

These are spongy and chewy crusted like bagels should be. We also made a few onion bagels. They were even more amazing. I was concerned because it looked like the onions were burninating while they were baking, but it all turned out fine.

Onion bagel

Onion bagel

In addition to this being a VeganMofo post, I’m submitting it to Wild Yeast Blog’s weekly Yeastspotting feature. Every week Susan rounds up yummy baking posts from around the ‘net. Check it out.

Pumpkin Bundt with Maple Glaze

A couple of weeks ago we had a big ‘ol vegan Thanksgiving to send off a friend to Ghana since she was going to miss it. We had all the appropriate goodies like Tofurky, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, etc. It was a huge carbfest! The best part is that we get to do it all again when real Thanksgiving rolls around. Woo hoo! I brought an apple pie and this Pumpkin Bundt with Maple Glaze.

It’s a veganized version of this recipe. I used flax seeds for a couple of the eggs and vegan sour cream for another couple. Then I just added a bit more soy milk to make up for the 1 less egg’s worth of eggy sort of stuff. And subbed maple syrup for the honey in the glaze.

So I’m going to try and participate in VeganMofo this year. That’s a post about vegan food every weekday for the entire month of October. Oy. We’ll see how that goes.

A long weekend of baking

Okay, I haven’t been baking non-stop all weekend, but I did get a few things done. I couldn’t let the extra time go to waste. My choice of what to make often revolves around what is convenient ingredient and time wise. Apparently I’m all about jeffrey Hamelman’s Bread lately. So why fight it?

First thing I did was feed all my cultures. And I saved some cast-off to make sourdough waffles. 

 

sourdough waffles

sourdough waffles

First bread up is the Golden Raisin Bread. This one calls for a culture plus a little bit of commercial yeast. I still have two cultures I haven’t used yet, so this made use of one, the Alaska. With a good % of whole wheat flour and some rolled oats thrown in for good measure, this turned out to be a pretty hearty and healthy bread. My slashing is definitely a problem. Nothing I’ve tried is sharp or thin enough to do the job properly. I have some proper lames on the way though.

 

golden raisin bread

golden raisin bread

golden raisin bread crumb

golden raisin bread crumb

Those went off without any problems. But I do dumb stuff from time to time. Like, I’ve had a dough rising in then oven, forgot and turned on the oven to preheat. Der. This weekend my dumb thing was to have the olive levain dough on top of my stove while the oven was preheating for the raisin bread. Oh yeah, on the burner above the oven vent. So I ended up cutting a chunk of that dough off. See, here is the olive dough cooking away on the burner with the raisin dough next to it and my waffle batter.

 

doughs

doughs

So, I kind of thought I might have killed the olive levain, but I continued as planned anyway. After a couple of folds, I shaped it and put it in the fridge to retard for what ended up being about 24 hours. It came out of the fridge a little sloppy and flat, so I kind of pulled it back into an oblong loaf shape, slashed it, spritzed it with water and threw it in the oven to bake, a couple of ice cubes chucked in the bottom for steam. Sure enough, it started rising. I hadn’t killed all the yeast! Sure, I lost some oven spring, but it still turned out wonderful. It has received nothing but compliments so far. I can only imagine how good it’ll be if I don’t try to ruin it!

 

olive levain

olive levain

 

olive levain up close

olive levain up close

Adventures in laminated dough

Okay, I’m a little behind here. A while back, I made a big ol’ chunk of laminated dough. Because really, it’s a pain in the ass, so you might as well make a lot and then bake it off in batches as you feel like it. The big takeaway here is that when you’re dealing with Earth Balance, it’s not going to firm up after a couple of hours in the fridge. You probably want to give it at least overnight. Otherwise, this will happen:

 

failed croissants

failed croissants

 See all that goo on the pan? That’s most of the Earth Balance. The resulting croissants were tough, not at all flakey, deep fried in Earth Balance on the bottom, and just wrong.

I thought the dough itself was a complete failure. But I still had 2/3 of it left, so rather than throwing it away, I continued with my experiments. It got to rest in the fridge for a day or two and then I made cherry cheese danishes. Yes, vegan cherry cheese danishes. I posted a tease pic from my iPhone a while back, but here they are in all their glory.

 

cherry cheese croissants cooling

cherry cheese danish cooling

There’s still a little bit of leakage. But then, it’s summer in Georgia and I don’t keep my thermostat below 75. But starting with a well-chilled dough seems to have made a huge difference.

 

layers on cherry cheese danish

layers on cherry cheese danish

Seriously, look at those layers! And here it is all pretty on a plate moments before I shoved it in my face.

 

cherry cheese danish

cherry cheese danish

But I’m not done yet. There’s still a third of the dough left plus some more cream cheese mixture. Time to try another shape and another fruit! How about an apple cheese danish?

 

apple cheese danish cooling

apple cheese danish cooling

And again, about to go in my mouth.

 

apple cheese danish

apple cheese danish

Vermont Sourdough

There was much more to baking day last Saturday than the Rustic Bread. It was time to jump back into sourdough. My first attempt was using my own starter which I ignored and then finally threw out because the smell freaked me out. I probably could have just fed it a lot and kept it going, but ended up ordering some starter from Northwest Sourdough instead. Also, I didn’t take into account my crappy oven so ended up with a pale top and almost burnt bottom. Hey, that’s what practice is for, right? Oh yeah, and my 2nd attempt was rising in the oven when I forgot it was there and preheated the oven. D’oh!

So, this time, I decided to make the same recipe, the Vermont Sourdough from Jeffrey Hamelman’s Bread using two different starters, Australian and Danish Rye. Just to see the difference and as an excuse to make even more bread. I mean, if you’re gonna heat up the oven for 4 loaves, might as well make it 6!

The difference between the two was subtle. In the end, I think the Australian wasn’t quite as sour. The rise and crumb seemed to be about the same. These are the loaves with the Rye starter, but the other looked about the same:

vermont sourdough rye starter

Here is the crumb from the Rye starter:

vermont sourdough rye starter

The crumb of the Australian starter. As you can see, I fear my oven going crazy and shooting up in temperature and burning my breads, so I have a habit of taking them out as soon as the internal temperature reaches 205-210 degrees F.

vermont sourdough australian starter

And here is a slice of each side by side. The Australian wasn’t actually flatter than the Rye, I was just further into the Rye loaf when these were cut.

vermont sourdough slices

All in all I was really happy with both. Obviously there’s lots of room for improvement, but I think I’m doing pretty well for someone that has no idea what she’s doing. :-) 

How did I use all this bread? Gave a bunch away, of course. Ate it sliced with Earth Balance. Sliced with peanut butter. Toasted with EB alongside Lentil and Pastina Soup. Made French Toast with it and had with tofu scramble and obligatory green vegetable, broccoli. And had this morning toasted with EB and pomegranate jelly and with leftover scramble.

Coming soon, experiments in laminated dough, or, OMG I’m covered in Earth Balance. Ewww!

Rustic Bread

rustic bread from hamelman's bread

Saturday I made 6 loaves of bread. No really! And I was basically at it all day and into the night. But I really wanted to make the most of the day I had free so I packed in a lot of work. This one is the Rustic Bread from Jeffrey Hamelman’s Bread. It’s mostly a white bread with a bit of whole grain thrown in as well. I used both whole wheat and rye flours.

There are a number of challenges when baking artisan bread from home. The main one for me is my oven. I have an oven thermometer in there, but even so it’s about impossible to get it to stay at the temperature you want. The temperature likes to shoot sky high and then it’s really hard to get it to come back down. I’ve even found myself with the oven door standing open. And, I don’t know if this is true of other electric ovens, but the only time the top element comes on is if I’m broiling. So instead of getting an even amount of heat from the top & bottom, it gets all the heat from the bottom. So I have to watch like a hawk and keep adjusting the temperature to try and keep the bottom from burning before the top browns. See what I’m talking about?

rustic bread bottom

A touch darker than I’d like, but the char flavor is minimal and it was worth it to get the top right. Another thing my oven doesn’t have is an automatic steamer for the first part of the baking process. The method I used last time to achieve this was to preheat a cast iron pan in the oven along with my baking stones. When I put the dough in to bake, I poured hot water into the pan and used a spray bottle to spray the sides of the oven. I repeated spraying the sides of the oven a couple of times in the first 10 minutes of baking. I didn’t get good lift on those loaves and ended up with a practically burnt bottom and pale top. So this time, I tried something else. When I put the loaves in, I misted the top of each with the spray bottle, and check 3 or 4 ice cubes into the bottom of the oven. Then that’s it. Way easier and I think it worked better.

rustic bread from hamelman's bread

I found these loaves took a lot less time to bake than the 35 or so minutes given in the recipe. Looking at the comments in The Fresh Loaf post I linked to above, maybe I didn’t leave the dough wet enough. But the loaves registered somewhere between 200 and 205 degrees, and the bottom couldn’t take any longer in there so out they came. All in all, I’m really happy with these.

rustic bread from hamelman's bread

Submitted to Wild Yeast Blog’s Yeastspotting feature.

Sourdough Cast-off Biscuits

If you have any experience at all with sourdough starter, you will know that you need to remove some starter each time you feed it, unless you have the ability to store gallons and gallons of the stuff. You can give it to a friend to develop their own starter, toss it, or make something with it. There are a few recipes floating around for pancakes, waffles, etc. But I choose this Fluffy Sourdough Biscuit recipe because it was the most versatile for me and, bonus, it was already vegan.

I’ve made these twice now, both times with a rye starter. Since I mixed it with all purpose flour, the rye didn’t really come through in the biscuits. But the flavor of these things is amazing. You can see in the recipe, there isn’t much by way of flavoring except for the starter, but they taste like they’re full of butter. Also, true to sourdough form, they hung out in a bag on my counter for a few days without a hint of getting stale. They didn’t rise as much as I’d like, but they were in no way dense.

fluffy sourdough biscuits

My First Sourdough

Rather than doing what most people do when they want to try baking sourdough bread, I just jumped right in and developed my own starter. And, despite the fact that I have no idea what I’m doing, it worked! I mean, I can read a book as well as anyone else. But my practical bread building experience is almost nil. The starter took an extra day or two beyond what The Bread Baker’s Apprentice had set as the standard schedule. But then, there’s really nothing standard about developing a wild yeast starter. So I didn’t worry too much, just followed the suggestions and kept plugging away. Here are a few starter shots as I went along:

sourdough starter

sourdough starter

And here’s the barm. The white tape marks the beginning level. I’d say that’s some active yeast, eh?

sourdough barm

The finished loaves were far from perfect. The bottom is a bit too brown and the top not quite brown enough. I need a proper tool for the cuts in the top. (I used a box knife. No really.) I need to work on setting up my boule a bit better. Needs more surface tension. But after doing two I now have more of a feel for it. The taste seems just about right. Good sour taste. Probably could be a little more sour. But that will probably develop as the starter matures. I wish they had risen more. And I wish my oven wasn’t so sketchy. There’s no keeping an even temperature. At least I have an oven thermometer so I can keep adjusting, but I know it’s all over the place. Also, I think I had them too far down in the oven, but I needed to leave space at the top for the steaming water. Anyway, here’s a loaf and a slice:

sourdough loaf

sourdough slice

Seitan Sausage & Hot Dog Bun Payoff

So it seems like a month ago or something that I put out tweets that I was making seitan sausages and buns from scratch. It seems kind of weird to say “from scratch” considering that’s about how I cook everything. Anyway, I usually don’t go so far as to make my own hot dog buns. But then, here they are:

hot dog buns

I used Bryanna’s Fluffy But High Fiber Hamburger and Hotdog Bun recipe. For the first ingredient, I used EnergE Egg Replacer because I didn’t have the other things and it’s mostly potato starch anyway. Seemed to work fine. These are all full of whole grains and yet not heavy. I’m not sure I’d call them fluffy exactly, but they are really nice. One thing they don’t do is keep a little “hinge” when you slice them like store bought hotdog buns. I didn’t really think of that. In the future, I’ll experiment with shaping these so the sausage can be wrapped in bread. Even so, the sausages weren’t too messy to eat.

The sausages? Right, I made the steamed seitan sausages that every other vegan food blogger did months ago and probably already has a freezer full of them. I just used Julie Hasson’s original recipe. Next time I’d probably punch up the seasoning a little. I like a really spicy sausage. These had great flavor though. Steaming them was no problem. I just used one of those metal steamer baskets that you fit into the bottom of a pot to steam vegetables. Even though the bottom is rounded and not flat, I was able to stack all the sausages from this recipe into my pasta pot without a problem. 

Don’t be freaked out when you first unwrap these from the foil. They’re still moist on the outside but dry out pretty quickly. I’ve had them both right out of the fridge and into the George Foreman grill and frozen, defrosted partially, then into the grill. It’s crazy convenient to have these just hanging out in your freezer. Sometime soon I’ll incorporate them into some other recipe rather than simply eating on a bun.

seitan sausage cabbage kale salad

Oh, and that’s the Cabbage Kale Slaw from Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen next to it. And here’s a slaw extreme close up:

cabbage kale slaw

I had the slaw a couple of days later for lunch at work with sunflower seeds sprinkled on it. It held up just fine and possibly got a little better.

Yes, there’s more food. Asian Baked Tofu from The Candle Cafe Cookbook, Teriyaki Quinoa from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan, and some stir fried baby bok choy.

asian baked tofu teriyaki quinoa baby bok choy

Jimmy Crack Corn Crack from Alternative Vegan and Chipotle Kissed Red Bean Sweet Potato Chili from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker.

sweet potato chili

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