Friday, December 23, 2011

It's Time to Party

You are most likely going to host a party this holiday season, or go to one.  Vegan Mom and I have hosted/helped host two parties thus far.  The first was a neighbourhood affair with about 50 people in attendance so I thought I'd share what we did to help you with your own partying over the next week or so.  Many apologies for the quality of the pictures; they were snapped rather quickly right before guests came through the door.

We tried to do a mix of savoury and sweet.  On the savoury side we had a corn and bean salsa with chips, as described here.  You can also see a fruit tray, some mixed nuts, veggies and hummus, and pretzel bites for the kiddies.  
 The biggest hit by far on the savoury side was a large crockpot of Creamy Zucchini Soup (not pictured here) with baguette slices and focaccia for dunking.

 And now the sweet: If you look at the top picture again you will see mini chocolate cupcakes with mocha frosting (all from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World).  People love those things!  Vegan Mom went to town with the cookies.  Here we see Sugar Cookies and Gingerbread Men.
 Also: lemon tarts (Isa's lemon square filling from Veganomicon) and mincemeat tarts (if you are not making your own mincemeat, make sure the stuff you buy does not have suet (i.e. beef or mutton fat) in it).
 Chai Shortbread from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.
 And, of course, stollen.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Greek Christmas Bread

Sorry for the delay (bleedin' end of term grading!) but here is the final Christmas bread for the season.  It's the same dough recipe as the previous two, but with some added spices and a different shape.

- one recipe panettone dough, but add to the flour:
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp cloves
- 1/8 tsp allspice

- 56.5 g chopped toasted walnuts
- 170 g dried cranberries
- soy milk for brushing
- simple syrup for glazing

1. Make the panettone as directed, but add the spices listed above to the flour.
2. Add the fruit and nuts listed above, instead of those listed in the panettone recipe.
3. Firm up the dough by stretching and folding it on a floured surface.  Cut off 113 g of the dough.  Divide into two equal pieces, wrap in plastic, and place in the fridge.
4. Shape the remaining dough into a boule.  Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, mist with oil, and loosely cover. Let rise for 90 mins, or until the dough has noticeably swelled.  Remove the refrigerated pieces of dough and shape into 2 eight inch ropes.  Gently lay them in a cross form across the boule.  Let rise for another 30 mins.
5. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Brush with soy milk and bake for 25 minutes, then rotate the pan and bale for another 30-35, or until the internal temperature reaches 185 F (85 C).  When the loaf comes out of the oven, brush with simple syrup (i.e. equal parts sugar and water brought to a boil).  Let fully cool before serving.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Vegan Stollen

Here is Christmas Bread number 2: stollen.  You really can't go wrong with fruit and almonds in a delicate and slightly sweetened bread.  Dusted with icing sugar, this is a true holiday treat that makes this time of year so special.  I prefer the marzipan centre to adding sliced almonds, but the choice is yours.  This bread comes together much faster than the panettone because it has no final proofing and goes straight into the oven right after you shape the loaves.

- 1 recipe panettone dough
- 2 cups dried fruit/candied peel
- 2 cups toasted sliced almonds, or 227g  marzipan
- melted margarine, for brushing
- icing sugar

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
1. Make the panettone as per this recipe but add the amount of fruit listed here.  I like equal amounts of raisins, cranberries, currants, and candied peel.
2. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and dust the dough with flour.  Divide into two equal portions and pat into a 7 x 5" rectangle.  If using the marzipan, lay a 113.5g tube of marzipan along the long end of each.  If using the almonds, sprinkle half of them over each rectangle of dough.  Roll each into a loaf and seal the edges.
3. Transfer the loaves to the prepared baking sheet and place the pan in a cold oven.  Turn the heat to 350 and bake for 25 minutes.  Rotate the pan and bake for another 25 minutes, or until golden brown and registering 185 in the centre.
4. When done, remove the stollen from the oven and brush with melted margarine.  Dust with a good coating of icing sugar, wait one minute, then liberally dust again.  Transfer to a cooling rack to fully cool before serving.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Vegan Panettone

With the holiday season upon us I am focusing on baking this month.  First up: panettone.  This is a rather advanced recipe that relies on a) sourdough mother starter, b) a stand mixer, c) a kitchen scale, and d) familiarity working with wet doughs.  It takes some time and skill but the end product is totally worth it.  I first made the recipe with Earth Balance, but did not like the taste it gave the bread.  I then changed to shortening and boosted the flavour with orange juice, lemon zest, and some extracts.  I much prefer this version.  The recipe is adapted and veganized from Reinhart's Artisan Breads Everyday.  If you have a copy you can follow his much more detailed instructions if you like.   If you don't have your own mother starter, you can follow the instructions here.  This panettone will be the basis for the other breads I will post: stollen and Greek Christmas Bread.

Makes 10 small panettone
Sourdough Starter
- 42.5g mother starter
- 170g bread flour
- 85g water

- 1 tbsp agave
- 56.5g lukewarm water
- 1 tsp instant yeast
- sourdough starter from above
- 70g orange juice, warm
- 1 tbsp ground flax seed
- 65g soy yogurt or sour cream (or blended silken tofu), at room temp
- 1 tsp each lemon, orange, vanilla extract
-  zest of one lemon
- 213g bread flour
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 170g vegetable shortening, or Earth Balance margarine, at room temp
- 227g dried fruit (I used equal amounts of currants, golden raisins, cranberries)

Day One: Make the Sourdough Starter
1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and work into a dough.  Knead on a lightly floured surface for 30 seconds, or until all ingredients are mixed together.   Place in a lightly oiled bowl and let rise at room temperature for 6-8 hours.  If you do not want to use the starter right away, stick it in the fridge after it has risen for up to four days.

Day Two: Make the Dough
1. Whisk together water and agave in your mixer's bowl, then sprinkle yeast over top and whisk until dissolved.  Let sit for a minute, then cut sourdough starter into 10-12 pieces and place in the water/yeast mixture.  Stir to soften the starter a bit.
2.  In a separate bowl, whisk flax into the orange juice until thick and goopy.  Then whisk in yogurt and extracts until well combined.  Add to starter mixture.
3. Add zest, flour, and salt, then mix with the paddle attachment for 2 mins, until a soft and sticky dough is formed (it should still hold together).
4. Switch to the dough hook and add the sugar 1/2 tbsp at a time, mixing well after each addition.  After all sugar is added, increase the speed and mix for 5 mins.  Scrape down the bowl when necessary.
5. Add the shortening/margarine about 1 tbsp at a time, mixing well after addition.  Scrape down the bowl when necessary. When all the fat is added the dough should be smooth and shiny but too sticky too handle with your bare hands.  Scrape down the bowl if needed, then knead for an additional 5 mins to fully develop the gluten.
6. Add the dried fruit and mix in on the lowest speed for 2 mins.
7. Transfer to dough to a floured surface using a wet spatula to get it out of the bowl.  Sprinkle flour over the top, then stretch and fold the dough.  Rotate the dough 90 degrees and stretch and fold again.  Form the dough into a boule.
8. Divide the dough into 10 equal pieces, or whatever amount will fill your molds 1/3 of the way full.
9. Let rise at room temp for 12 hours.
10. Preheat oven to 350 and bake for about 25-30 mins, or until loaves are golden.  Internal temperature should be 185 F/85 C.  Let cool in the pan for 5 mins, then thoroughly cool on a wire rack before eating.

A note on panettone molds.  I made my own by cutting out parchment paper to fit a large muffin tin  like you see here.  Just make sure that your bottom piece is attached to the side piece--otherwise the dough can  rise into the cracks and push the sides up and out, instead of the dough rising within the side pieces.  I stapled everything together because it's hard to tape parchment paper.