Tag Archives: baking

this one goes out to the ones I love

10 Feb

I am adrift in a sea of templates, CSS and code. Alas, I am making progress on my awesome new improvements to nom! nom! nom! and shall be debuting them soon.

In the meantime, here is a recipe from my upcoming book Have Your Cake and Vegan Too. Out of all 50 recipes, this is definitely in my personal top 5, perhaps even my top 2. It would make a fabulous cake for Valentine’s Day. Your only requirement is that you have to watch the YouTube video below, as it is classic comedy gold, plus the namesake of this mouth-watering treat. If you end up making the cake, you have an obligation to sing the song at least once.

Dad is Great Chocolate Cake

If you’re still freaking out about tofu in dessert do yourself and everyone else a favor and get over it! This loaf cake is delicious and decadent and so very simple. My insanely picky little brother (who lives off of chicken fingers and french fries, no joke) loved it and so I made sure to tease him about the fact that he ate tofu after polishing off his piece. Hehehehe… he never knew.

Cake:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup baking cocoa, sifted
1 teas. baking powder
1/2 teas. baking soda
1/4 teas salt
1 cup milk of choice
1/3 cup oil
1 1/2 teas. vanilla
1/4 teas. mild vinegar
3 tbsp. crushed chocolate cookies, crushed nuts or shaved chocolate to garnish

Chocolate Cream:
1 12 oz. aseptic container of firm silken tofu, room temperature
1 1/4 cups chocolate chips
2 tbsp. brown rice syrup or agave
1/4 teas vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease and dust (with cocoa powder) a 9×5 loaf pan.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, combine the milk, oil, vinegar and vanilla. Let sit for a minute. Add the dry to wet in batches, beating until just smooth. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes before loosening and transferring to the cooling rack.

While cake is baking, prepare the chocolate cream. In a double boiler over low heat, melt the chocolate until smooth, stirring often. If you don’t have a double boiler, put about 1-2 inches of water in a pot and place a heat-safe bowl over it, making sure the bottom of the bowl is suspended over the water. In the bowl of a food processor or blender, crumble the tofu. Blend for about 30 seconds, until fairly smooth. Add the melted chocolate, brown rice syrup and vanilla and blend until well incorporated, scraping down the bowl or canister as needed. Transfer the cream to a container and chill in fridge for at least 1 hour.

To assemble: Carefully cut the completely cooled cake into thirds using a cake leveler or knife. Spread 1/3 of the chocolate cream on top of the bottom layer and place the middle layer on top. Spread another 1/3 of the cream on that layer then place the top layer on. Spread the final 1/3 on top of the cake. Garnish with crumbled cookies or chocolate shavings.

Store cake in an sealed container in the fridge.

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simple pleasures

27 Dec

Things that make me happy:

The Pear Cinnamon Cider from Trader Joe’s is off-the-hook amazing. I’m afraid it will disappear right after the holidays, as many of the goodies they have this time of year do, so I’ve stockpiled several containers of it. SO FREAKING GOOD.

What makes it better? Drinking it with a nice lil’ Blueberry Gas Station Pie. Nom.

Blueberry Gas Station Pie

1/2 recipe Basic Pie Crust
1/4 cup organic granulated sugar
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries
2 tbsp. water
1 teas. vanilla

Prepare pie crust per directions and let chill in fridge for at least 45 minutes before using.

To prepare the blueberry filling, in a small sauce pan, combine the sugar and cornstarch. Mix until combined and no clumps exist in the cornstarch. Add the blueberries and water and cook over a medium heat, stirring often, until mixture becomes bubbly and berries begin to release their juices, about 10 minutes. Once bubbling, add the vanilla and lower heat to medium-low and continue stirring until mixture begins to thicken and can coat the back of a spoon well. Transfer blueberry mixture to a separate bowl and let cool, stirring occasionally.

Preheat oven to 350. Remove crust from fridge and divide into 6 equal portions. Roll out each portion into a round disc, approximately 5-6 inches in diameter. Evenly divide the filling between the dough discs, scooping it onto one side of the dough. Fold dough over and pinch to seal (you may need to moisten the edges of the dough slightly to ensure a good seal). Using the tip of a knife, make a small air vent on the top of each pie. Carefully transfer the pies to a baking sheet lined with parchment.

Bake pies for 18-23 minutes, or until they look lightly golden and slightly browned on the edges. Remove from oven and let cool before brushing on a light glaze, made from a mixture of powdered sugar and a splash of your milk of choice, combined to your desired thickness.

Makes: 6 pies

a holiday baking explosion

20 Dec

Happy Holidays!

I have been doing a lot of baking, which I promptly package up and send to work with Jim, lest I sit around eating it all day while hunting for a job. Seriously, dozens of cookies, muffins and bread… it could get bad. But, I love to bake, so bake I shall. How could I not, with my rusty, trusty tome?

In lieu of the holidays, rather than just making a batch of cookies, tossing them into Tupperware and calling it good, I got a little overly excited last week and sort of overdid it. Things will be quiet on these fronts through the holidays, so in the meantime, let your eyes feast upon this bit of food pr0n.

Snickerdoodles

Mocha Stripes

Snickerdoodles and Mochas were joined by Lemon Drops and Fudgie Wudgie bites

Orange Chocolate Chip Mini-Muffins (one recipe makes 3 dozen minis!)

Each department also got a small loaf of my Holiday Bread, infused with orange zest and speckled with dried cranberries- yum!

The whole lot, ready for eating

Here are the recipes for the Lemon Drop Cookies (my favorites!) and the Fudgie Wudgie Brownies. Have a happy and safe holiday, whether you celebrate or whether you eat Chinese food in your pajamas (or whether celebrating includes eating Chinese food in your pajamas)!

how do you cocoa?

2 Dec

Well, slowly but surely we’re getting settled into our new space (hence my absence from the end of MoFo. FAIL). My new kitchen is HUGE, with tons of counter space and natural light, two things I have been sorely lacking for years, so I’m very excited to start churning out holiday goodies in this lovely new space. Of course, my best kitchen helper is right by my side, per the usual.

All I can think of is holiday baking, it makes my heart swoon. What is better than the smell of fresh baked goods, wafting from a warm oven and the eager anticipation of what is to come? I say to heck with the presents and other traditions of Giftmas, gimme the cookies/brownies/pie/cake!

Which brings me to an important issue, near and dear to my heart. Cocoa.

There are two main types of cocoa powder for baking: regular and Dutch-processed. In the picture above, the lighter cocoa on top is standard baking cocoa, while the darker, redder powder on the bottom is Dutch-processed. When I mention Dutch-processed to folks, I am often met with a blank stare, so I thought a little cocoa lesson might be in order.

Dutch-processed cocoa is cocoa that has been alkalized to reduce the acidity of the cocoa. In doing this, the natural slight bitterness (apparent standard in baking cocoa) is reduced, making for a richer chocolate flavor. I personally LOVE Dutch-processed cocoa and use it almost exclusively in my baking because of that flavor. Before discovering Dutch-pressed cocoa, I always used to add melted chocolate to almost every recipe that called for solely cocoa and no other kind of chocolate, because I felt continually let down by the lack of chocolate flavor. With the Dutch-pressed cocoa, my chocolate hound taste buds are far more satisfied (although a generous sprinkle of chocolate chips never hurt anyone). There is a depth of flavor that’s priceless in the finished product.

Technically using Dutch-processed cocoa, being more acid neutral, could require more chemical leavener to compensate (another pinch of baking powder), but I haven’t really noticed any difference swapping between them and leaving the recipe as is.

Dutch-processed cocoa can be harder to find in some areas, but it’s worth looking for. Like anything, the price can fluctuate dramatically (I’ve seen packages range from $3-$20) so check around for the best deal.

*Post amended to state the obvious- please buy fair trade when you can! Yes, it costs more, but you are helping to pay living wages for people who are working for legitimate farms where they are not slaves, but actual employees. The chocolate, coffee and diamond (and tea and bananas and more!) industries are very dark and dirty businesses to be in. Vote with your dollars!

Chocolate chip pistachio cookies and pumpkin cinnamon rolls are in my near future. What holiday baking treats do you see in your baking crystal ball?

rainy day cheer

18 Nov

I am a big fan of daylight savings so when we go off of it for the winter, it’s hard not to get a little sad. Here in the PacNW, it’s literally pitch black by 5 p.m. We’re in our rainy season, which means that even when it’s not raining we are in for primarily overcast days for several months to come. This isn’t a major complaint, so much as I’m setting the scene.

My dark commute home from work yesterday was accompanied by a torrential downpour. As I barreled alongside the other commuters, whose only goal was to get home in one piece, I began to daydream of a little bite of sunshine. Something bright and cheery to offset all of the heavy, pumpkin-laden treats we’ve been enjoying as of late. When I got home, I started pulling out ingredients only to discover that I had a scant amount of flour lingering in the bottom of the canister. I was in no mood to venture back out into the madness.

Time to improvise! Light and bright and requiring little flour… My mind wandered and landed on the deliciously simple clafoutis. In 100 Best, I have a clafoutis recipe that I love to whip up on a whim, as I always have silken tofu in my fridge and cherries in my freezer. Jim normally hates custardy things, but even he enjoys a slice. I decided to go with some little, single serving clafoutis with some frozen mixed berries.

If you haven’t had clafoutis before, you’re in for a real treat. These little morsels hold up well (great for noshing with one hand and typing with the other!), but remain tender and custard-like. If you’re afraid of baking with tofu, get over it already! You’re missing out! Also, you can make this with brown rice flour instead of the all-purpose and you’ve got clafoutis, gluten-free.

Une Bouchée de Clafoutis*

1 (12.3 oz.) container of firm silken tofu
1/2 cup organic sugar
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk of choice
1 1/2 teas. baking powder
1 teas. vanilla
sprinkle salt
1 cup berries, thawed and drained
powdered sugar to dust

Preheat oven to 375. Lightly grease a 12 cup muffin tin.

In the bowl of a food processor combine the tofu and sugar and blend until mixed. Add the flour, milk, baking powder, vanilla and salt and mix until creamy and smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Fill each cup 2/3 of the way with batter. Sprinkle berries on top of each cup; do not mix.

Bake for 20 minutes, until clafoutis are puffy and lightly golden. Remove from oven and let cool completely before loosening with a butter knife and serving. Clafoutis is delicious warm, but will fall apart if you try to take them out too soon, so feel free to reheat in the microwave or toaster oven. Dust with powdered sugar before serving. Store leftovers covered, in the fridge.

Makes 12 servings.

*(Josiane, I’m relying on you to tell me if I butchered the title, I haven’t studied French in over 12 years!)

a lil’ sneakums…

17 Nov

Nothing really big to post today… just some sneak peek pictures from my cake baking exploits!

Intensely Chocolate Bundt

Pressed Plum Cake

Dad Is Great Chocolate Cake

Snickerdoodle Cake

One more, for the road.

Banana Fudge Stripe

Yum!

tips for healthy baking (that still tastes good)

10 Nov

So… I didn’t MoFo yesterday. Oops.

Today, I want to discuss baking and health. I get enormously frustrated when people say to me, “Oh, you’re a vegan baker? Your stuff must be really healthy.”

Uh, no, actually. It’s not.

And then I have to try to explain to them that while it’s not full of animal ingredients and white sugar and bleached flour, it’s still full of fat and sugar and white flour. Plenty of vegans make things super healthy but, for better or worse, I’m not one of them, at least not when it comes to my books. My objective is to make things taste as “normal” as possible. I don’t want an omni to be able to tell the difference and I don’t want a vegan or someone with food allergies to feel like they are eating anything less than.

That said, sometimes it pays to clean up your act a little bit. I tend to bake way too much quite a bit and because I don’t like not baking, I have to mix it up in order to keep us healthy. It’s no secret that the recipes in my cookbooks are sometimes foods. But because I have a particular taste pallate, I don’t want my baking to taste too healthy. Where’s the fun in that?

Here are some of my tips to help you make your baked goods healthier without sacrificing flavor.

1. If a recipe calls for sugar, use a little! Even if I’m cutting the sugar content siginifcantly or are substituting a liquid, I always add a little bit of regular sugar (I use evaporated cane juice) to a recipe. Granulated sugar breaks down differently than liquid and greatly contributes to the mouthfeel of a baked good, which is the most important consideration when healthifying any recipe. Keeping a bit of sugar in there helps retain that mouthfeel, ensuring your muffins won’t be mealy like a biscuit.

2. Always use a little bit of fat. Substitute applesauce or whatever to your heart’s content, but always use at least 1-2 tablespoons of fat. Fat-free baked goods have a rubbery texture. Fat is also important to help you feel satiated, so you don’t end up eating 3 muffins instead of just 1. Oops.

3. Blend your flours. Even when baking healthier, I always do a blend of whole wheat and white flour. This goes back to mouthfeel. Whole wheat flour is grittier and more dense. It also absorbs more liquid, so you may need to add an additional tablespoon or two of liquid when substituting flours. I usually do a mixture of white flour, whole wheat and some ground oats when I’m baking for my health. This creases the fiber and protein of the baked good without it tasting like I’m eating something that came from a 1960s co-op bakery.

3. A little sprinkle (of sugar) goes a long way. I tend to cut back significantly on the sugar content in my baked goods but often, although the texture is okay, they just don’t taste that sweet on their own. I love to add a sprinkle of coarse sugar to the top of whatever I’m baking (typically muffins or cookies). This sugar doesn’t dissolve into the baked good and is then immediately available to your tongue when eating, ensure your get that desired sweetness without ingesting a mass of sugar.

4. Mix it up. It’s amazing how far a sprinkle of chocolate chips, some berries, lemon zest or a teaspoon of ginger can take a recipe. Extracts are great, too, to help create a pronounced flavor without adding calorie-heavy ingredients.

5. Don’t forgo the topping. Find a lesser-evil if something you’re making is usually really decadent. If you feel deprived you will go to the other end of the spectrum and then binge on super unhealthy things. Trust me, I’ve been there. If a recipe calls for fatty frosting, add a light glaze. Create a fruit compote to top it off. Just because you’re making things healthier doesn’t mean you have to be without.

What things to do you do to help make a recipe healthier?