Archive for the 'Breads' Category

20
Mar
11

Bruschetta

Bruschetta is a great way to start a meal that’s sure to please vegans and non-vegans alike. If you’re having guests over, you can make the topping a day ahead of time and keep it in the fridge. In fact, I find that the flavors of this dish mellow after a day or two and it tastes even better, so you will still be able to enjoy it the day after the party– if there’s any left.

Serves 6-8.

Ingredients:

1 pint grape tomotoes

1 tbs minced shallot

1 clove mashed garlic

1 tbs fresh minced parsley

2 tbs fresh minced basil

1/2 tbs balsamic vinegar

1 tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 French baguette, sliced

Directions:

Slice the tomatoes in half and scoop out the juicy, seedy inside with a grapefruit spoon.

You don’t have to worry about getting every last seed, but you want to get rid of most of the juice so that your bruschetta won’t be too soggy.

When your tomatoes are mostly juice-free, chop them smaller.

Combine the chopped tomatoes with the rest of the ingredients in a bowl.

Mix gently to combine.

Serve atop sliced baguette and garnish with fresh basil leaves, if desired.

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06
Mar
11

Chocolate Hazelnut Rolls

Notella” idea #2: Rolls with a Twist

For a new take on the classic cinnamon roll, consider using your chocolate hazelnut spread as a filling. I wasn’t sure how this would turn out, but it was just what I hoped for. Neither the dough nor the filling is too sweet; the sugary frosting has that area covered. The hazelnuts play an important role as well, contributing both flavor and crunch.

This recipe takes a while to make, but it’s not especially work intensive. Most of the time is spent waiting for the dough to rise. You can do most of the work the day before you plan to bake them, if you like.

Finally, if you’ve already used up your notella on…I don’t know…banana surprise muffins, perhaps, or if you’re just looking for a regular old cinnamon roll recipe, I’ve provided instructions for that as well.

This recipe makes seven rolls.

(An odd number, I know, but it fits nicely in an 8 inch square or round baking dish.)

Ingredients:

For the dough:

1/2 cup warm water (110-115 degrees)

1 packet active dry yeast

1 tsp + 1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup canola oil, plus extra for the bowl

1/2 cup non-dairy milk (I used almond milk)

2 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for kneading

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

For the chocolate hazelnut filling:

about 1/3 cup homemade chocolate hazelnut spread

1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts, optional

For a traditional cinnamon bun filling:

1/4 cup melted Earth Balance

1/2 cup sugar

2-3 tbs ground cinnamon

For the frosting:

1/4 cup Earth Balance

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 heaping tbs cocoa powder

1 tbs non-dairy milk

Directions:

In a small bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, and 1 tsp sugar. Mix with a fork until yeast is dissolved, then set aside to proof for 5-10 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the non-dairy milk, oil, and 1/4 cup sugar.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients.

When the yeast looks foamy, add it to the wet ingredients and stir to combine.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet, approximately one cup at a time, and fold it in with a spatula.

On a clean, floured work space, knead the dough until it forms a smooth ball, about 3-5 minutes.

Coat a clean mixing bowl with oil and place the dough ball in it to rise. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and place in a warm location. It should rise until it has approximately doubled in volume, about an hour or an hour and a half. When it’s ready, it should not spring back up if you press the top with your finger.

When the dough has finished rising, place it on a lightly floured work surface. Punch it down and knead once or twice. Then, roll it into an 8×12 inch rectangle.

If your chocolate hazelnut spread has been in the refrigerator, microwave it for a few seconds until it is an easily spreadable consistency. Then spread it on the dough. Leave about a 1/2 inch border. If you like, you can spread some of the chopped hazelnuts on top of the notella.

(Note: If you prefer the traditional cinnamon filling, just brush the melted Earth Balance on the dough and sprinkle an even layer of sugar and cinnamon over top. Still, leave a 1/2 inch border.)

Beginning at one of the short ends, roll the dough tightly to form a log.

Cut the log into seven rolls. I like to use thread to cut through the dough, but a sharp knife should do the trick as well. If the ends of the log are messy, cut them off and discard them.

Place the rolls in a greased 8×8 square or 8 inch round pan and top with the chopped hazelnuts (optional).

If you plan to bake these as soon as possible, set the pan aside so that the dough can rise for a second time. Pick a warm place again, and leave the dough for 45 minutes – 1 hour. It should expand to fill the pan.

If you plan to bake these within 24 hours, cover the pan and put it in the refrigerator until ready to bake.

Bake for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees, until the tops turn golden brown.

To prepare the frosting, just beat all of the ingredients together with an electric mixer.

I waited a few minutes for the rolls to cool, then I applied the frosting in a zig zag pattern. I used a plastic bag with a small hole cut in the bottom as a makeshift pastry bag.

Serve warm.

01
Mar
11

Banana Surprise Muffins

Last week, I posted a recipe for “notella,” a chocolate hazelnut spread. Though it’s good simply as a topping for baguettes or fruit, I keep thinking of more new ways to use it. Maybe I’m obsessed; I can’t help it. For the next several posts, this blog will be all notella, all the time.

Notella Idea #1: Muffin Stuffin’

When baking, it’s usually best to have a plan. I do my best to avoid surprises because I find that baking surprises are almost never good. Sure, there’s the rare occasion when a minor ingredient substitution leads to a recipe revelation, but surprises in my kitchen are usually more like “What’s that burning smell?” or “Did I forget to put sugar in this?”  These little muffins, on the other hand, prove that there is such a thing as a pleasant baking-related surprise. It might even be the happiest surprise of all: “How’d that chocolate get in there?” (Just don’t give them to anyone with a nut allergy, or the surprise won’t be nearly as pleasant.)

Makes about 4 dozen mini muffins.

Ingredients:

2 very ripe bananas

1/2 cup  vegan margarine (I use Earth Balance)

1 cup light brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

about 1/4 cup vegan chocolate hazelnut spread, refrigerated

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mash the bananas. Add the margarine (at room temperature), sugar, and vanilla. Mix with an electric mixer until smooth.

Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and fold them into the wet. Mix well.

Refrigerate batter for 20-30 minutes.

Line a mini muffin pan with cupcake papers. You could probably use a regular size cupcake pan (and bake for a few minutes extra), but I haven’t tried it.

Take batter out of the refrigerator and spoon a little into the bottom of each paper (column on the far left). Use enough batter to cover the whole bottom of the paper, but don’t fill it up more than 1/3 of the way.

Spoon little balls of the refrigerated notella into the middle of each cup (column second to the left). Each ball should be about the size of a really big pea. Or I don’t know, two peas. Just make sure there’s room around it.

Spoon more of the cake batter on top of the notella balls (column second to the right). Make sure the notella is covered on all sides.

These don’t rise very much, so don’t be afraid to fill the papers just about to the top (column on the far right).

Bake for 20-22 minutes, until the tops feel firm to the touch.

02
Feb
11

Soft Pretzels

There are few things I love more than bread, in any of its various forms. Today, it took the form of a pretzel. I made soft pretzels once before, a long time ago, using Martha Stewart’s online recipe. This time, I decided to try my own version. There wasn’t much to veganize, since pretzel dough is basically just flour, yeast, and water. Usually, soft pretzels are brushed with egg before they go in the oven, which makes them shiny. I just brushed them with melted Earth Balance when they came out of the oven. Shine accomplished.

Is the flower overkill? I'm new at this.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups warm water

1 tbs sugar

1 tbs active dry yeast

4 1/4 cups flour

1 tbs salt

canola oil (for coating the bowl)

a few cups water for boiling

2 tbs baking soda

coarse sea salt

sesame seeds and poppy seeds (optional)

3-4 tbs Earth Balance (melted)

Instructions:

1. Dissolve sugar in 1 1/2 cups warm water, add yeast, set aside until it’s foamy. When it’s ready, it should look like this:

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine 4 cups of flour and 1 tbs salt. Make a little well in the flour mixture and pour the foamy yeast mixture into it:

3. Stir with a spatula to combine the dough as best you can. When it becomes too difficult to keep stirring, it’s time to start kneading with your hands. It might look sort of scrappy…

…but don’t worry. Just turn it out on a clean, dry, and lightly floured surface and start kneading. If the dough feels sticky, add a little more flour. You shouldn’t need more than that last 1/4 cup though. After 3-4 minutes of kneading, the dough should be smooth and well combined.

4. Lightly coat the inside of a bowl with canola oil and place your dough ball inside. Then turn the dough ball upside down so that the top and bottom have a little canola oil. Cover your bowl with saran wrap and place in a warm, dark place. If you don’t have a warm, dark place, you can turn your oven on for a minute, turn it off again, and put your bowl in there. (That’s a trick that I learned from one of my favorite blogs, VeganYumYum.) Let the dough rise until it approximately doubles in size, about one hour. When it’s done rising, you should be able to press the dough ball with your finger and it will dent, not spring back up.

5. Now punch the dough down to deflate it, and knead it just two or three times. Then you’re ready to divide the dough into sections for each pretzel. I used thread to cut through the dough, and I divided it into eight smaller dough balls. Each made a pretzel that was just a little smaller than what you’d see at the mall. I made four pretzels today and I froze the other four dough balls to make later.

6. Now for the fun part! If you already know how to twist dough into pretzels, of course you should just do it and skip reading this step. But for the twist-untrained, look! I have illustrations!

Roll out each dough ball into a long rope. It should be about 2 feet long, or just a few inches less.

Cross the ends to make your rope into a loop:

Cross the ends again to add a twist:

Finally, take the top two corners of the loop and bring them down below the ends. If it helps, you could imagine a horizontal line right above the twist you created, and fold your dough in half along that line:

7. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

8. Fill a large sauce pan with water and 2 tbs baking soda, and bring it to a boil. The water doesn’t have to be very deep; the pot just has to be wide enough to fit at least one pretzel. Once the water boils, bring it down to a simmer.

9. Gently place a pretzel in the water/baking soda. Be careful not to splash hot water on yourself! After about 30 seconds, use tongs or a slotted spoon to flip the pretzel over. After another 30 seconds, take the pretzel out of the water and place it on a greased baking sheet or a silpat. Repeat this step for all the pretzels. (If your pot’s big enough, you could do more than one at a time). This step poaches the pretzel, cooking the outside a little but leaving the inside soft and doughy.

10. When all of your pretzels are poached, sprinkle them with coarse sea salt. I also dipped one in sesame seeds, and my favorite one was sprinkled with poppy seeds. I didn’t try one with cinnamon and sugar, but I bet that would be good!

11. Bake your pretzels for 10-11 minutes at 450 degrees, until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

I melted about 3 tbs Earth Balance and brushed it over the pretzels when they came out of the oven. Serve warm, with mustard, if you choose.




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