Bread Pudding

February 25, 2010

I’ve never actually had bread pudding before, so I don’t have a whole lot to compare this recipe to.  I had a very stale baguette that needed to be used up, so I thought I’d give it a try.  In the end, I thought it was good, but definitely a little strange.  The crunchy, crusty pieces of bread were great, but the soggy ones, not so much.  Nice flavor, but the soggy pieces had a weird texture.  It was an experiment.

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups bread cubes (like a baguette or any crusty bread)
  • 2 1/4 c. rice milk (or other non-dairy milk)
  • 1/3 c. brown sugar
  • 2 T. maple syrup
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1/4 c. chocolate chips
  • 1/4 c. chopped pecans
  • ground nutmeg

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the rice milk, sugar, maple syrup and vanilla.  Add the bread cubes, and let sit for about 10 mins, or until the bread is soft and has absorbed most of the milk.  Add the chocolate chips, pecans and a few sprinkles of nutmeg, and gently mix together, being careful not to over-mix. Scoop mixture into a lightly greased 8×8 pan (I had to use a pie plate).  Lightly sprinkle the top with a little more nutmeg, and some more chocolate chips if you want.

3. Bake in a preheated oven for 30 to 45 minutes, or until puffed and golden, and the milk has been absorbed.

Note: Mine took 45 minutes, and then later, I even baked it again for another 10 minutes to crisp it up after a day or too.  I’d say that with this recipe, the crispier the bread, and the more liquid that’s absorbed, the better it will be.

Whole Wheat Sugar Cookies

February 20, 2010

This recipe originally came from the 101 cookbooks blog, under the name ‘Mexican Wedding Cookies”.  They are DELICIOUS!  I was looking for a way to use up some whole wheat pastry flour, and this seemed like a good recipe to try.  They’re not too sweet, and are super light and buttery tasting.  They’re also fun to make.

Mine didn’t turn out to be the prettiest cookies in the world, but I didn’t have a lot to work with.  If I made them again I might make them thicker, and use smaller shapes.  I also had problems with the dough getting too warm because I used SmartBalance Light butter, which stays very soft even in the fridge.  Luckily, this didn’t have any negative effects on the taste though. :)

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. pecans, toasted and cooled to room temperature (I forgot to toast mine.   The cookies were still good, but you couldn’t taste the pecans that well.  Don’t forget to toast them!)
  • 1 c. vegan butter (I used 1/2 c. vegan SmartBalance Light since I ran out of normal Earthbalance)
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • a “splash” of vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 c. oat flour
  • 1/2 t. fine grain sea salt (yes, I actually did use fine grain sea salt, from my lovely sea salt grinder. :) )
  • powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Puree the toasted pecans in a food processor until they become a fine meal, but not a paste.

In a mixer (I used WAY too big of a bowl!) beat the butter until it’s creamy, add the sugar and mix until everything is creamy and lighter in color.  The vanilla goes in next, and then the nut meal.  Slowly add the flours and salt and mix until a stiff dough forms (mine was not stiff, but it was fine).  On a piece of plastic wrap (I had to use parchment paper) pat the dough into a disk, about 3/4-inch thick.  Cover with another piece of plastic wrap and chill in the freezer for 10-15 minutes.  The makes it easier to use the cookie cutters.

Use a 1-inch cookie cutter to shape the cookies and place them on a lined baking sheet.  Bake for 12 minutes or until the bottoms of the cookies begin to brown just a bit.  Dust with powdered sugar.

Makes 1 1/2 dozen small cookies.


Note: Next time, I would try adding almond extract, and I would try a variation with lemon.  The original recipe also suggests adding a splash of bourbon, but I didn’t have any (But I could buy some if I wanted because I’m 21 now!!!).  :)

Taylor’s Birthday Cake

February 18, 2010

So, this is a bit late, but I wanted to post it anyways.  For his birthday, my boyfriend requested a chocolate cake with raspberries and hazelnuts.  After throwing a few different recipes together, I came up with something pretty good.  The cake recipe originally came from the Joy of Vegan Baking book.

This was the second time I’ve used that recipe (the first time in cupcake form) and it’s been great both times.  The frosting recipe was tweaked from the Unsweetened Ghiraradelli Cocoa Container.  Anyways, the cake turned out great.  Very chocolaty, did not taste vegan, but was still light – not too heavy or dense.

The Finished Product

Chocolate Cake:

I wanted a tw0-layer cake, so I double the recipe.  I also made it low-fat. Here’s what I came up with:

Ingredients:

  • 3 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 t. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c. canola oil
  • 1/3 c. unsweetened apple sauce
  • 2 T. white distilled vinegar
  • 2 c. cold water
  • hazelnuts for decorating

Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Lightly oil 2 round 9-inch cake pans.

Combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and cocoa powder in a bowl until thoroughly combined.

A whisk helps to break up any clumps.

Create a well in the center of your dry ingredients, and add the vanilla, oil, vinegar, and water.

Mix until just combined. Pour into your prepared pan, and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack. To remove the cake from the pan, run a sharp knife around the inside of the pan to loosen the cake (mine had to cool for a few minutes before they would come out of the pan.  Turning it upside-down on the wire rack helped get the cake out too). Cool completely before frosting.

Yield: 2 9-inch cakes.

Now it’s time to make the raspberry filling!

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz. package frozen (or fresh! Even better) raspberries
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 3 tsp. cold water

The recipe said to strain the raspberries to get rid of the seeds, but I didn’t bother, and the cake was fine.

Add sugar to raspberries and heat in saucepan to almost boiling. Mix cornstarch with cold water. Add cornstarch mixture little bit at a time to raspberries, stirring constantly, until mixture starts to thicken. Cool in refrigerator until ready to use (probably the longer it can be in there, the better.  I didn’t wait very long, and mine was still too runny when I tried to put it on the cake).

When you think the cake is cool enough, and the raspberry sauce is thick enough, you can start putting the cake together.

Place one layer of the cake on your serving platter, and spread it with as much raspberry sauce as you’d like (I tried to use all of it, but like I said, I had issues with it being too runny, so this was hard to do.  Hopefully you’ll have better luck).

Here's what mine looked like before it started dripping down the sides. If only it had stayed like this!

Now you can start putting on the frosting.  :)

Here’s my frosting recipe, adapted from the ‘Ghirardelli Buttercream Frosting’ recipe on the Unsweetened Cocoa container:

Ingredients:

  • 6 T. Earthbalance vegan butter
  • 2/3 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/2 c. Unsweetened Cocoa powder
  • 1/3 c. soy milk
  • 1/2 t. vanilla extract

In a bowl, beat vegan butter until light and fluffy.  In a separate bowl, mix powdered sugar with cocoa.  Blend sugar mixture with the vegan butter alternately with the soy milk, beating well after each addition.  Beat until smooth.  Blend in vanilla, and put in the fridge to let it harden for a bit.

This will be enough frosting to frost the top and sides of the entire two-layer, 9-inch cake.

Again, mine was too runny when I tried to frost the cake.  It dripped all over the place, and was a huge mess.  Don’t let this happen to you!  I was not patient enough.  In the end though, it did work out, and it hardened up a bit once it was on the cake and stopped dripping.

Top with hazelnuts when you’re done with the frosting.

That’s it!  :)

Almond Currant Scones

February 3, 2010

I made a similar version of these about a year ago that did not turn out very good.  Recently though, I was inspired to give them another shot.  This time, they turned out great.  I think the key is in using regular, whole-wheat all-purpose flour (instead of bread flour, for example).  They scored high approval from the non-vegan boyfriend, and even earned the coveted “I would never have known these were vegan!” from friends and roommates.  I should also add that this recipe originally came from The Joy of Vegan Baking book.

Ingredients:

  • 1 flaxseed egg (2 T. ground flaxseeds + 3 T. water, whipped together)
  • 2 T. water
  • 2 1/2 c. whole-wheat all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 c. granulated sugar
  • 4 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 3/4 c. Earthbalance vegan butter
  • 1 c. currants
  • 1 c. chopped almonds
  • 1/2 t. almond extract
  • 1/2 c. nondairy milk (I used whole grain milk this time)
  • Extra milk or water as needed
  • 2 to 3 T. nondairy milk for brushing the tops
  • Cinnamon and sugar for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whip the flax seeds and water until thick and creamy, and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Add the butter to the dry ingredients and cut into small pieces with a pastry blender, until it resembles course, crumbly, bread crumbs (leaving chunks of butter results in nice flaky scones). Stir in currants and almonds.

Add the milk, almond extract, and egg replacer mixture, but keep mixing to a minimum.  Mix just until the dry ingredients are nearly moistened.

Gather the dough into a ball (add more non-dairy milk or water if needed), and place on a lightly floured surface.  Pat the dough out to a 1/2-inch-thick round, and cut into 10 pieces (mine were triangles).  Place them 1/2 inch apart on the baking sheet, brush the tops with nondairy milk, and sprinkle with come cinnamon and sugar.

Bake until the tops are golden brown, 12 to 15 mins.  Let cook on a wire rack.  These are DELICIOUS served warm from the oven.

Makes 10 good size scones.