Tuesday, October 21, 2014


If you are familiar at all with these traditional Czech sweet buns you will note right off the bat that mine do not have any kind of filling. But, since "buchty" translates as "buns" I think the name is still appropriate.  I simply find it too finicky to try to seal jam or poppyseed filing inside the dough. I also think you get a better rise, bake, and crumb without a filling.  So do what you want with this recipe. I like to cut the buns in half, toast them, and slather them with strawberry jam for breakfast.

- 17 oz white bread flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3.5 oz vegan butter, divided (or vegetable shortening)
- 8 oz lukewarm non-dairy milk
- 4 oz mashed potatoes (i.e. boiled whole in skins, skinned, then mashed)
- 1 tbsp instant yeast

1. Whisk together 10 oz of the flour, salt, and sugar in a mixing bowl.
2. Add the melted butter to the warm milk.  Add the mashed potatoes and blend until smooth (I use an immersion blender in a large 4 cup measuring cup).  The mixture will be thick.  Whisk in yeast and let sit for 5 mins.
3. Add milk mixture to the flour and beat until smooth (batter attachment on a stand mixer works well).
4. Cover and let sit for an hour in a warm place.
5. Add the remaining 7 oz of flour and work into a soft, smooth dough.  It should be tacky, but not sticky.  Add more flour or milk as needed.  Shape into a ball and place in an oiled bowl, turning to coat. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled.
6. Line the bottom of a 10x10 baking pan with parchment paper.
7. Melt the remaining 1.5 oz of vegan butter
8. Divide the dough into 16 equal pieces and shape into balls. Roll each ball in the butter to coat and place in the pan in four rows of four.
9. Cover and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
10. Bake for 22-25 mins, until a dark golden brown.
11. Remove from the pan to a cooling rack.  Dust with icing sugar before serving if desired.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

In Memory

 Last week my grandmother passed away after 94 years on this earth. Born in Pennsylvania to Slovak immigrant parents who worked in the steel mills and rail yards around Pittsburgh, she did not have an easy life. My grandfather passed away almost 30 years ago and yet my grandma carried on, making ends meet from his meagre pension and the little that Social Security provided. And yet, her generosity knew no bounds. We were always welcomed into her home with food, and lots of it. She taught me about hospitality and I have tried in this blog and at my own home to keep that alive. Food politics so often divides us that we forget how a meal can bring us together. I am so grateful that I got to know my grandmother for almost forty years and that all my children were able to hear her laugh and listen to her stories. So tonight I am making a big batch of pierogies in her honour and thinking about how my grandma's hospitality and love touched so many.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Raspberry Flakie

 Oh, how I coveted other kids' Flakies when I was a kid. My mom would never buy such swill, of course, which only increased the allure of pre-packaged pastries.  There may or may not be beef tallow in Flakies, so if you are craving a treat from your Canadian childhood this recipe is for you.  The tang of the raspberry gets mellowed by the creamy filling, both of which are complemented by layers of buttery pastry.  I made my own butter this time--I use just a pinch of salt and it is absolutely  perfect for baking.  

- 1 recipe easy puff pastry
- 1 recipe Twinkie filling
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 1/4 cups fresh or frozen raspberries 
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp water

- soy milk for brushing
- sugar for sprinkling

1. Make the puff pastry and chill.  Make the Twinkie filling and chill in a pastry bag fitted with the tip of your choice.  
2. Make the raspberry filling.  Whisk together sugar and cornstarch in a small saucepan.  Add fruit, lemon juice, and water.  Mix well and bring to bubbling over medium-high heat.  Set aside to cool to room temperature.
3. Roll out puff pastry into a 8x16 rectangle. Cut pastry into 8 4x4 squares.  If you want thicker pastries, roll into a 6x12 rectangle and cut into 8 3x3 squares (see bottom pic). Place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. 
4. Chill squares while you heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Brush tops with soy milk and dust with sugar.  Bake for 20 mins, then reduce heat to 350 and bake for another 15 mins, or until pastry is golden.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.  
5. When pastries are cool, cut in half with a serrated knife.  Cover bottom piece with raspberry filling, then pipe Twinkie filling on top.  Place top back on and serve.  

Monday, August 25, 2014

Vegan Twinkies

 Finally the final post in my vanilla cake series!  Every time we have a family weekend at the cottage, my sister in law sends me recipe ideas that the whole family can enjoy (vegan and non).  I was never that in to Twinkies, but it is a rather fun way to eat cake and frosting.  She send me this recipe which looked good, but I wanted to make the traditional filling so it could be stable at room temperature.  

There is a little bit of wiggle room with this recipe.  The problem I had was getting the bleedin' cakes out of the pan.  No amount of greasing, flouring, etc. made it any easier, so I had to go with a more durable cake so it could get it out of the pan in one piece.  If you are better at getting cakes out of a pan than I am, you can add up to 2 tbsp more milk and up to 2 tbsp more sugar (see pic below).

Makes 8
- 100g cake or pastry flour
- 50g all purpose flour
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup soy milk
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp orange juice
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup oil
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp lemon extract
- 1/4 tsp almond extract

- 2 tbsp all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup soy milk
- 3/4 cup icing sugar
- 1/4 cup cold margarine
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, room temp
- 1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1. Sift together dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together soy milk, orange juice, and lemon juice.  Whisk in sugar, oil, and extracts until smooth and consistent.
3. Add wet ingredients to dry and gently whisk until smooth.  Divide batter evenly in the separate sections in the pan (60g per section).
4. Bake for 16-20 mins, or until golden and baked through.
5. Allow cakes to fully cool before removing from pan.

1. While cakes are baking and cooling, make your filling.  Whisk flour into the soy milk in a small saucepan.  Place over medium heat and whisk until thick and cooked through.  Set aside to fully cool.
2. When flour mixture is cool, use a hand mixer to beat in the icing sugar, the margarine, coconut oil, and salt.  When fluffy, beat in extract.  Place in fridge to cool down for a least 30 mins.
3. Put filling into a piping bag fitted with a #5 tip (or similar).  Poke the tip into the underside of the Twinkies in three or four spots along its length and gently squeeze in filling.  You will feel the Twinkies swell.  Don't over fill.
These cakes have the additional soy milk and sugar.  You can see that they are more tender (and are overfilled) but that has resulted in some breakage getting them out of the pan, and some splitting when they were filled.  They tasted amazing, though.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Happy 11th Birthday, Vegan Son #2

When I asked Son #2 what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday, he did not hesitate in requesting The Lord of the Rings.  We threw around a few ideas (Bilbo's hobbit hole was a contender, but I thought that would require way too much fondant), and then settled on the map of middle earth.  I will admit to pushing for the map because I thought it would be pretty easy.  Ha!  So, sorry out there to all the super fans for the inaccuracies.  Buttercream is harder than you think!  The cake is a triple recipe of my vanilla cake, baked in an 11x15x2 pan. Standard buttercream frosting, chocolate chip mountains, and diluted Wilton gel colours painted on for the coloured accents.