Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Warning: this recipe is not as accessible as some of my other baking recipes and will require a bit of experience and time to pull off. The recipe is similar to the brioche recipe I posted last week in that it uses mashed potatoes in lieu of eggs, and in that you need to work a fair amount of fat into the dough. A stand mixer is key to getting this done efficiently. The other key ingredient is sourdough starter/barm which will give your final loaves a spectacular taste and texture. I like to make a firmer barm because it holds up in the fridge for longer--my barm is 12 oz of flour, 5-6 oz water, 4 oz old barm. If your barm is wetter you might have to add more flour to the final dough. I like to make two smaller loaves because they are easier to bake consistently. The recipe is veganized from Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice.

Makes 2 loaves
- 7 oz barm
- 8 oz lukewarm soy milk
- 4.5 oz all purpose flour

Fruit Mix
- 6 oz golden raisins
- 3 oz currants
- 3 oz dried cranberries
- 4 oz alcohol (rum, brandy, whiskey)
- 1 tbsp lemon extract
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract

Method, Day One:
1. Cut up the barm and place in the warm soy milk for 5 mins to soften. Add the flour and mix well with a wooden spoon until smooth.
2. Cover the bowl and let rise until bubbly--about 4 hours. Refrigerate overnight.
3. Mix together all of the fruit mix ingredients in a bowl. Cover and let sit at room temperature overnight. Stir occasionally to coat the fruit.

Final Dough
- the sponge from Day 1
- 13.5 oz all purpose flour
- 1.5 oz sugar
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp instant yeast
- 2 oz mashed potato (i.e. potato that has been boiled in its skin, cooled, skinned, and mashed)
- 1 oz water
- 2 oz soy milk
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 4 oz vegan butter, at room temperature
- 5 oz sliced almonds
- soy milk for brushing

Method, Day Two:
1. Remove sponge from the fridge and let warm up for an hour.
2. Whisk together flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer.
3. Blend together potato, water, soy milk, and turmeric with an immersion mixer (I do it in a glass 4 cup measuring cup). Heat to room temperature in the microwave.
4. Add sponge and potato mixture to the flour. Use the dough hook to bring everything together into a dough. Let rest for 5 mins.
5. With the dough hook on med-lo speed, add in the vegan butter 1/4 at a time making sure the previous addition is incorporated before adding them next. This will take around 10 mins. The dough should be very soft and shiny.
6. With the speed still on med-lo, add the fruit mixture with any remaining liquid, and the almonds. Knead until well incorporated. The final dough will be very soft.
7. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Using floured hands, Stretch and fold the dough about six times. If the dough is too wet to work with, gently knead in flour before stretching and folding again. Resist adding too much flour--the dough will be very tacky but not sticky. It will firm up as it rises.
8. Shape into a ball and place in a large well-oiled bowl. Cover and let rise for 2 hours.
9. Prepare two 8 inch round pans. Cut a piece of parchment to fit in the bottom. Cut a 3" strip of parchment to make a collar on the inside of the pan. Hold it in place with a a piece of tape on the outside or a staple (like you see in this picture, but not so high).
10. Divide the dough into two, and shape into balls. Gently press into the prepared pans. The dough does not need to touch the sides but it should mostly fill the pan.
11. Brush the loaves with soy milk, then mist with oil. Cover the pans and let rise in a warm place for about 2 hours. The trick here is to make sure you wait for a good rise or the loaves will split in the over from rising too quickly. The dough should have just about doubled.
12. Preheat the oven to 325 with the rack in the bottom third of the oven.
13. Bake for about 1 hour, or until the loaves reach 185 in the middle.
14. Remove the bread from the paper and pans and let fully cool before serving.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


As you may have noticed, I have been turning to mashed potatoes in more and more in my baking. In this recipe, they stand in for 5 eggs and give the final product a soft texture but also a durable structure that holds plenty of air pockets. The other thing that makes this recipe perfect is homemade vegan butter (you can use Earth Balance, of course, but I find it leaves an aftertaste (and you need to reduce the salt in the recipe by at least half)). I make it by the triple batch (blending it in a juice pitcher with my immersion blender) which fits perfectly into this pan. This recipe is a veganized version of Peter Reinhart's "Middle-Class Brioche," which you can reference in The Bread Baker's Apprentice if you want more direction. It is easiest to do this with a stand mixer, but a spoon and some elbow grease will also do the trick.

- 2.25 oz bread flour
- 2 tsp instant yeast
- 4 oz lukewarm soy milk

- 4oz mashed yellow potato (i.e. whole potato boiled in its skin, cooled, peeled, and mashed)
- 1 tbsp finely ground yellow flax
- 4 oz soy milk
- 1/4 tsp turmeric (optional, for colour)
- 13.75oz bread flour
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 1/4 tsp salt
- 8 oz vegan butter, a room temperature

- soy milk for brushing

1. Mix together sponge ingredients until four is well hydrated. Cover and let sit for 45 mins.

1. Blend together mashed potato, flax, and soy milk (and turmeric if using) with an immersion blender in a 4 cup measuring cup until smooth. Warm in the microwave to room temperature.
2. Mix together flour, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl. Add all of the sponge and the potato mixture and bring together into a dough. Let the dough sit for 5 mins.
3. Using the paddle attachment on a mixer, add in 1/4 of the butter, waiting until the previous amount has been fully incorporated before adding more. The final dough will be smooth, satiny, and soft.
4. Transfer the dough to a baking sheet lined with greased parchment paper. Lightly mist the dough with oil, then cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
5. Spray a muffin tin lightly with oil. Or brioche tins.
6. When dough is ready to be baked, divide it into 12 equal pieces. Shape per this video. Place in the prepared tin(s).
7. Cover and let rise for 1.5 to 2 hours, or until the tins are filled. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
8. About 15 mins before baking, gently brush the brioche with soy milk.
9. Bake for 15-18 mins, or until golden brown. Carefully remove from the tin(s) and let cool before eating.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Baked Lemony Potatoes and Tofu

I think a roasted potato is one of the most delicious things in the world. Add in a hearty portion of  flavourful tofu and the zing of lemons and you have yourself a wonderful winter meal. How much of each ingredient you use is really up to you and the size of your baking dish. Drizzle some gravy over it all if that is your thing, and dig out that applesauce you made in the fall.

- 2 1lb pkgs of extra firm tofu, brined, each cut into 4 pieces (or however you see fit)
- 2 tbsp margarine or oil
- fresh oregano
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- good roasting potatoes, cut into chunks
- 2 lemons
- freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup vegetable broth, plus more as needed

Preheat oven to 450 degrees
1. When the tofu is done brining, heat a frying pan over med-hi heat. Add margarine and sear the tofu pieces on all sides. Do this in two batches, with more margarine, if necessary.
2. Place the pieces of tofu in a baking dish (I use a 8.5x11 cast iron one) with space in between. Drizzle the frying margarine over top. Place springs of fresh oregano and chopped garlic in between the pieces of tofu. Add the lemon slices and enough potato chunks to fill in the spaces. Don't make things too crowded, but they can be a bit snug. Grind fresh pepper over the whole lot.
3. Add 1 cup of veggie stock to the pan and place in the oven, uncovered. After the first 20 mins, baste about every 10 mins. If the stock dries up too quickly, add more in as needed. You don't want a cup of liquid left over at the end--you want just enough to keep everything moist. If your potatoes are browning too quickly you can reduce the heat to 425. Everything should be nicely roasted after an hour.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Anatomy of a Muffin

All muffins, more or less, are made up of the basic proportion of ingredients.  This means that the kinds of muffins you can make are limited only by your imagination.  I make mini muffins every week for the kids to take on their lunches--the ones pictured here are a mix of wheat flour, quinoa flakes, and oat bran with 3/4 cup of raisins and 3/4 cup of hemp seeds for a real protein boost in the middle of the day. You can also add things such as lemon or orange zest, and a variety of spices to craft your own unique muffin creations.

So, the basic ratio of dry:wet is 2:1
- 2 cups flour(s) or other dry ingredients (bran, wheat germ, quinoa flakes, etc.)
- 1 cup liquid (non-dairy milk, pureed pumpkin, orange juice, water, coffee, etc.)
I find that the muffins will hold their shape if at least one cup of the dry ingredients is wheat flour (all purpose, or whole wheat pastry).  I also find that soaking things like quinoa flakes and bran in the liquid for 5 mins or so keeps the final batter from being too wet.  If your final batter is to wet or too dry you can always add more flour or liquid as necessary.  

The other base ingredients are also easy to remember because they are also 1s and 2s:
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp spice (cinnamon, for example), optional
- 1/2 cup oil (or applesauce, mashed banana)
- 1 tsp vanilla

And then you can add:
- up to 1 1/2 cups of any combination of fruit, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, chocolate chips, etc.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a muffin tin.
1. Whisk together flour(s), baking powder, salt, and sugar (and spices, if using) in a large bowl.  Make a well in the centre and add your liquid, oil, and vanilla.  Gently mix until flour is hydrated.  Fold in fruit, nuts, or whatever your are using.
2. Divide batter evenly into the muffin tins.  Bake for 18-20 mins.
3. Let muffins cool for about 5 mins, then remove from tins to a wire rack to fully cool.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Chocolate Danish Braid

This recipe makes use of the quick laminated dough technique I use for puff pastry and croissants.  You can, of course, make a traditional danish dough if you want to (replace the cream cheese in the the recipe with mashed potatoes).  I think the results are pretty good with the quick dough, though, and spending less time laminating works for me. You can fill this with whatever you want, but the chocolate is always a crowd pleaser.  You will also have to forgive my idiosyncratic measurements in the recipe.

Quick Danish Dough
- 300 g all purpose flour
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
- 140 g cold margarine or vegan butter
- 7 oz cold plain soy milk
- 2 oz cold mashed potatoes (i.e. potatoes boiled whole, then skinned, then mashed)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla

Chocolate Filling
- 1/4 cup icing sugar
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 2 tbsp cold margarine
- 1-2 tbsp soy milk

- soy milk and maple syrup for brushing
- sliced almonds
- course sugar

To Make the Dough:
1. Whisk together flour, salt, sugar, and yeast. Cut in cold margarine like you would for a pie crust.
2. Blend mashed potatoes and vanilla into the soy milk with an immersion blender until smooth.  Add to flour/margarine mixture and gently mix with a silicon spatula until the flour is hydrated. Use the spatula to shape into a ball as best you can.
3. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the dough over night.
4. On baking day, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and fold twice as per this recipe.
5. Let the dough rest for 15 mins.
6. While dough is resting, blend together sugar and flour for the filling in a food processor. Pulse in the chocolate chips, then the margarine. Blend in enough soy milk to make a thick but spreadable paste.
7. Roll the dough into a 9x14 inch rectangle. Spread the paste down the middle third of the dough rectangle. Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut 1.25 inch diagonal strips on both sides of the filling (like this). Cut off the triangular pieces at the top and bottom to leave a flap at the top and bottom.  Fold the top flap down, then start folding alternating strips over the flap and then the filling at an angle. Fold the bottom flap up before you cover it with the remaining strips.
8. Carefully transfer to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, cover, and leave to rise until almost doubled.  Since the dough is cold this will take about 2 hours.
9. Preheat oven to 425. Mix a splash of maple syrup into about 1/4 cup of soy milk.  Gently brush the braid with the soy milk mixture.  Let sit for 5 mins, then brush again.  Sprinkle with sliced almonds and sugar.
10. Bake for 15 mins, then reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake for another 15 mins, or until a deep golden colour.  You can cover the braid with foil if it browning too quickly.
11. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.