Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Wagon Wheel Cake

This cake is insane. It's massive, probably too sweet, has 5 separate elements, and is totally awesome!  Of course, my health conscious mother never bought us Wagon Wheels when my brothers and I were young, and oh, how we jealously pined for them when other kids brought them to school for lunch! When Vegan Mom and I were dating (and not yet vegan) in university, we used to keep ourselves motivated to study through the positive reinforcement of Viva Puffs. This cake evokes all of those memories, and is simply a lot of fun to make and eat. 

INGREDIENTS
- about 1 1/2 cups raspberry jelly

Cake
INGREDIENTS
- 227g all purpose flour
- 65g cocoa
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/4 cup soy milk
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1 tbsp vanilla

METHOD
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1. Grease two 10 inch round cake pans.  Cut out two circles of parchment paper to fit in the bottom of the pans.  Put the parchment papers in the bottom of the pans and grease it.  Flour both pans.
2. Sift flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk chocolate soy milk and vinegar together.  Add remaining ingredients and whisk well to blend.
3. Add dry ingredients and gently whisk until blended.  Don't overdo it.
4. Divide batter evenly between the two pans.
5. Bake for 22-24 mins, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
6. Cool on wire racks for 10 mins, then flip the pans over the remove the cake.  Remove the parchment paper.  Let them fully cool.

Graham Cookie Layer
INGREDIENTS
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 2 tbsp soy milk

METHOD
1. Mix together dry ingredients. Cut in vegetable shortening with a pastry cutter to the size of small peas. 
2. Add syrup and soy milk and bring together into a ball. Add a tiny splash more soy milk if needed.
3. Divide dough into two equal pieces. Roll and trim each into a 10" circle on a piece of parchment paper, using the cake pan as a guide. Don't worry, you can trim it more after it is baked. 
4. Place each piece of parchment/dough circle on a baking sheet. Place in the fridge to cool for 30 mins.
5. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake one the middle and upper rack for 10 mins, rotating and switching the racks after 5 mins. Cookies should dry on the top and only very, very lightly brown. Do not over bake.
6. Remove from pans (parchment and all) to a cooling rack. When cooled, trim as needed with a small sharp knife using the cake pan as a guide. 

Marshmallow (from Plantified)
INGREDIENTS
- 3/4 cup salt free aquafaba
- 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 tsp agar powder
- 2 tbsp glucose syrup
- 1/3 cup water

METHOD
1. In a large bowl, whisk aquafaba and xanthan gum to stiff peaks with a hand mixer. Whisk in vanilla. Set aside.
2. Bring the sugar, agar, glucose, and water to boiling in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to 250 F, stirring regularly/constantly to keep the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Be patient. The sugar will quickly jump in temperature, plateau, then rise again. Resist cranking the heat to hurry the process along.
3. Slowly stream the hot sugar mixture into the aquafaba, constantly whipping it in with the hand mixer. When the sugar mixture is fully incorporated, keep whipping the mixture until it returns to room temperature (more or less--the bottom of the bowl should not feel warm). You can do all this with a stand mixer, but I find that the sugar mixture likes to get caught up around the top of the beater, so using a hand mixer is better). 

Ganache
INGREDIENTS
- 1/2 cup light coconut milk
- 200g bittersweet vegan chocolate chips
- 2 tbsp margarine

METHOD
1. Heat coconut milk to bubbling in a small saucepan over medium heat. 
2. Remove from heat and add chocolate chips and margarine.  Stir until everything is melted and smooth.  Set aside to cool completely. 

TO MAKE THE CAKE!
1. Bake and cool the cake. Level the top of the cake, if necessary (i.e. make sure it is flat and not domed). 
2. Bake and cool the graham cookie layer. Trim to fit on top of the cake (you can do this while the cookie is still slightly warm if you want). 
3. Place one of the cake layers on a serving platter. Spread 3/4 cup of raspberry jelly on top. Place one of the graham cookies on top of the jam. 
4. Repeat step 3 with the remaining cake, jelly, and graham cookie, and set aside.










5. Make the marshmallow. The marshmallow will set fairly quickly, so be prepared. Spread 7/8 of the marshmallow on top of the cake/jam/cookie layer in your serving platter. Put the second cake/jam/cookie layer on top of the marshmallow (making sure the cookie side is down and the cake layer on top). Gently press down and use an icing spatula to smooth the sides. Use the remaining 1/8 of the marshmallow to aid in this endeavour. 

6. Let the marshmallow fully set. I like to put the cake in a cool place for this step because it makes the ganache step easier.
7. Make the ganache and let cool to room temperature.
8. Spread a thin layer of ganache over the entire cake, like you would a crumb coat of butter cream. Set aside in a cool place (the fridge) to set.
9. Use the remaining ganache to cover the cake. Set aside in a cool place to set.

Friday, February 23, 2018

English Muffins

I love English muffins but I find making them from a batter to be a real pain. It's hard to get quality muffin rings here, it's not easy to make them a consistent size, and it seems to take forever to make them. So, I reworked a Reinhart recipe by significantly upping the liquid and working the dough more like a ciabatta. The end result is a delicious muffin with some respectable air holes in the dough. Not as many as with a batter, but still pretty good. A stand mixer is essential here to get the gluten to develop properly. You also need a griddle, preferably one big enough to hold 8 muffins at a time so you can whip these off in three batches. 

INGREDIENTS (by weight, except where indicated)
Makes 24. Cut in half if needed. 
- 1 oz apple cider vinegar
- 27 fl oz soy milk at room temperature
- 1 lb 14 oz bread flour
- 22g sugar
- 16g instant yeast
- 16g salt
- 1.5 oz vegetable shortening

METHOD
1. Mix the vinegar into the soy milk, then add to the rest of the ingredients in bowl of a stand mixer.
2. Using the batter attachment, mix together until combined. Increase the speed to med-lo/med and keep mixing until the dough collects around the beater (this will take about 5-7 mins). 
3. Switch to the dough hook. Knead the dough on med-lo/med speed until it no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl (this will take a few minutes).
4. Transfer to a large, well-oiled bowl. With oiled hands, stretch and fold the dough 2-3 times. Let rest for 5 mins and stretch and fold 2-3 times again. Cover and let rise at room temperature. 
5. While dough is rising, oil enough baking sheets to hold 24 muffins.
6. When dough has doubled in size, shape into 2.5 oz balls. Use oiled hands as necessary, and try not to degas the dough. Place on the prepared sheets.
7. Cover dough with cling wrap. Place a empty cookie sheet on top of the dough. Gently press down to flatten the dough into pucks. Let the dough rise with the sheet on top. If the sheet is too heavy and seems to be flattening the dough, don't use it. Just keep pressing the dough down with your fingers throughout the rise to keep a puck shape. 
8. While dough is rising, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and get a griddle heating to around 350 degrees. 
9. Working in batches, cook the muffins on the griddle for about 4 mins per side. These get a great rise on the griddle, so use your fingertips to press and keep them into a puck shape when they first go on the griddle.
10. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 8 mins. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

TIPS:
1. Make sure to pinch the balls of dough tightly to seal the dough together. You need the good dough ball integrity (if that makes any sense) to get these to rise correctly.
2. Don't let the dough get too warm or it will get really hard to work with. Room temperature all the way.
3. Don't let the dough over-rise when shaped into balls. You want to bake these on the way up, so don't let them double.

WHAT IF I DON'T HAVE A STAND MIXER?!
Never fear! You can still make these. It's going to take some muscle but it can be done. To help you. here is a picture essay.

First, make sure to dissolve the yeast in the liquid before adding it to the flour.

Second, use a strong wooden spoon to bring the dough together. I actually prefer this spurtle because you can muscle through the dough without too much resistance. When it looks like this, let the dough rest for a few minutes. Then get back at it. The idea is to get the dough to gather around the spurtle in a ball. A vigorous circular motion will accomplish this. If you feel the gluten offering too much resistance, let the dough rest for a few minutes and then try again. It should pull away from the sides of the bowl and gather around the spurtle.
 When you have a fairly smooth dough, transfer it to to a lightly floured surface. You want enough flour to keep the dough from sticking.
 With the help of a pastry scraper, stretch and fold the dough like a letter. If you don't know what a letter is or how to fold one, ask your parents (or maybe even your grandparents).
 Rotate the dough 90 degrees and stretch and fold a second time.
Transfer the dough to a well-oiled bowl and turn to coat. With oiled hands, stretch and fold the dough  a third time. Let the dough rest for 5 mins.
What you are doing is building a gluten structure, and you should feel the dough firm up as you stretch and fold. When you can shape the dough into a ball like what you see below, your stretching and folding is done. Just keep the dough and your hands oiled, and stretch and fold until you reach perfection. Then cover and let rise.
 Good gluten structure will give you a good rise.
Now it's time to shape some balls of dough! I keep the dough on my fingertips, using my thumb to push the middle of the dough down while the fingers of my other hand bring the sides of the dough up. You should feel the bounciness of the gluten and a firm ball forms and firms up. If the dough gets too sticky, just lightly oil your hands.

The key is to seal the dough into a tight ball. This will give you a good rise.
 Let rise on a well-oiled piece of parchment per the recipe above.
 A good griddle is your friend.
 Flip and bake per the recipe above.