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Posts Tagged ‘recipe’

I’m gonna go out on a limb here but maybe, just maybe, we should do the Ice Cream Cupcake Contest in like December. I get the whole “it’s summertime and it’s hot and we all want ice cream” thing but seriously, photographing these puppies in 85 degree weather is a wee bit difficult. Not to mention messy. And sticky. There’s still icing and ice cream all over my camera. I’m just saying… 🙂

As you know (or maybe you don’t) every year Cupcake Project and Scoopalicious host an ice cream cupcake competition. You make a cupcake, throw some ice cream on it and hope nobody else was as creative as you were (which, obviously, never happens because there are a lot of super creative people out there). Last year was my first year competing, and I made it to the finals with my Take 6 cupcake but a certain S’mores cupcake and ultimately a very yummy looking honey hazelnut and chocolate ganache cupcake took the cake (no pun intended). Stephanie, the maker of the S’mores cake, is judging this year so at least I don’t have to worry about her this time around. 😉

Lately I’ve been on this white chocolate kick. I made a white chocolate dobos opera fusion cake at work a week or so ago and the idea carried over into my home life. I thought about making the cupcake 7 layers (like the dobos) but my better judgement took hold and smacked some sense into me. I wasn’t sure exactly how my cupcake was going to come together but then one night around 2am I randomly woke up and thought “cheesecake cupcake.” But not in actual cheesecake form. And I wanted the cupcake to be the graham cracker crust. So without further ado, my cupcake:

There’s cupcake underneath all that frosting, you just can’t see it here. My aim with the frosting was a whip cream consistency, so I decided to once again try to whip coconut cream. People tell me this works; I think they’re all lying. Maybe I’m just expecting it to do what actual cream does, or honestly just anything at all, but the only thing I ever see is the pretty design my whisk makes as the stand mixer spins its little heart out to no avail. So I morphed it into a coconut cream buttercream. The texture is much softer than typical buttercream, so that’s good. It’s still super sweet though as I had to use lots of powdered sugar to give it some volume, but that’s ok – it is a cupcake after all and cupcakes are supposed to be sweet.

Being that the frosting is super soft, it doesn’t hold up to the heat well. Especially if you just mixed it and are impatient and your kitchen looks like a war zone and all you really want to do is take the damn photo so you can finally eat dinner. I initially just put a dollop of frosting on top of the cupcakes and added my caramel sugar garnish, but two the of three dollops slid off before I could even turn my camera on. I got some photos of one of them at least.

The caramel sugar garnish here and in the first photo are the same thing. You just put some sugar in a pan and add enough water to make it look like wet sand. Then you crank the heat up full blast and wait. Absolutely no stirring. Stirring the sugar will likely cause it to crystalize, which will make it look like rock candy. Sure it’s pretty but once I crystalized a pot of like 16 cups of sugar at work… Luckily nobody was around to yell/ laugh/ bill me for it.

At some point the sugar will start to caramelize. You can swirl the pan a bit to even out the caramelizing. Depending on what you want to do with it, you take it off the heat when it reaches the caramel color you want, briefly place the pan in an ice bath to stop the cooking. You can “pipe” it out with a paper cornet, or use a ball whisk to make a nest of strands, or use cutters to make shapes (molds), etc, etc. But a word of caution: caramel is HOT! So have some gloves on if you can, and a towel and an ice bath in case you get some on your finger as shaking it off just won’t happen.

White Chocolate Cheesecake Ice Cream (vegan)

  • 9 oz vegan white chocolate
  • 8 oz vegan cream cheese, softened
  • 6 oz extra firm silken tofu (Mori-Nu)
  • 1 can coconut milk (full fat)
  • 3/4 C organic sugar
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 t vanilla extract

A word on the vegan white chocolate, it’s weird. It tastes fine but it has a different texture than normal white chocolate. It doesn’t melt like normal chocolate either. It melts down to a batter-like consistency but it doesn’t get liquidy (so just keep that in mind).

Place the chocolate in a double boiler (or bowl on top of a pan with water) and heat it gently until it’s uniformly melted. Place the cream cheese, tofu and melted chocolate in a blender and puree until smooth. Add enough coconut milk to help it along but let it get completely smooth before adding the rest. Once smooth, add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth again.

You can let the mixture cool down in the fridge for awhile at this point. When you’re ready to freeze, depending on what kind of ice cream maker you have, you may have to freeze it in two batches. My maker is just small enough where all of this wouldn’t fit in at once. After the ice cream is spun it honestly needs about a day to setup properly, so make the ice cream well ahead of when you need it.

In my opinion, this is the best vegan ice cream I’ve ever had. I always use low fat coconut milk because I’m health conscious but I threw calories to the wind for this project. Cheesecake isn’t supposed to be healthy anyway. This ice cream is rich and creamy and full of flavor. Definitely a keeper! I think omnivores would even be impressed.

Graham “Cracker” Cupcakes (mostly vegan)

These are mostly vegan because I put honey in them. I know honey isn’t technically vegan but I don’t have a problem with using it. Bees are going to make the stuff whether we’re eating it or not so… If you don’t want to use honey feel free to sub in agave or some more sugar.

  • 3/4 C graham flour (or whole wheat if you can’t find it)
  • 3/4 C whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 t cinnamon
  • 3/4 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 C soy mik
  • 1 t apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 C non-gmo canola oil
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/4 C honey
  • 2 T blackstrap molasses
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 2 T applesauce, optional (for moisture)

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan if you wish or just spray it with PAM. I did both because I wanted to be able to see the cake and didn’t want cupcake liner indentions on it, but I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to get them out of the pan so I lined a few – they came out just fine.

Pour the milk and vinegar in your mixing bowl and set it aside to curdle.

In another bowl, mix together your dry ingredients.

Once your milk is curdled add the rest of the wet ingredients and whisk to combine. Fold in the dry ingredients in 3 increments, partially incorporating between additions. I did this because graham flour is high in protein and I didn’t want to risk working the gluten too much and end up with tough cupcakes.

Portion the batter into the cupcake pan. I used a 1/4 cup scoop and got 12 cupcakes out of it. Bake the cupcakes until a toothpick comes out clean, mine only took 18 minutes which is pretty quick. Let them cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

 Coconut Cream Buttercream (vegan)

  • Cream from 1 can of full fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 C vegan stick butter, softened
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • Powdered sugar

To get the coconut cream out of the can without getting all the water you have to cool the can in the fridge overnight; the cream will rise to the top as the water sinks to the bottom. Don’t shake the can before opening it. Scoop the cream off the top and stop when you hit water.

Cream the butter with the paddle attachment in your stand mixer. Once it’s super creamy (wet) add the coconut cream, vanilla extract and salt. Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time. I ended up using between 4 and 5 cups of powdered sugar. It’s fairly goopy right after you mix it but if you let it sit in the fridge for awhile it will firm up to a pipeable consistency.

Assembly

I made my ice cream a few days before I made the cupcakes (yes, my husband waited DAYS before he could have one of these cupcakes, he’s so patient). Once I spun the ice cream I lined my cupcake pan with plastic wrap and portioned out 1/4 cup scoops of ice cream into each cavity. After those were frozen solid I removed them from the pan so I could use it to make the cupcakes.

After the cupcakes were baked I sawed off the tops of them to make them flat and plopped a molded ice cream on each one. You can smooth the ice cream out with an offset spatula or your hands if you have to.

Let these setup again before frosting them. You can use an 802 or 804 tip to pipe the dots/ petals. I tried using a leaf tip but the icing is too soft to hold (it looked like a wilted flower). You can pipe the icing straight out of the fridge; it doesn’t need to be tempered like normal buttercream.

Since the ice cream is pretty much incased by the frosting you have a few minutes before any major melting will occur. But it definitely will melt, and when it does the frosting will slide off in sheets like ice slipping down the side of a glacier.

These are some yummy cupcakes though. It’s the first time I’ve had the graham cracker flavor in something other than a cracker, but it’s a nice change from the typical cupcake flavors. The cake isn’t overly sweet either, so it creates a nice balance with the decadent ice cream and sugary frosting. If I were to serve these at a party I think I’d leave them unassembled and then scoop the ice cream right before serving and do a simple piping job.

Well, keep your fingers crossed for me. There are a lot of creative entries so it’s going to be tough to judge! If you make these cupcakes let me know what you think of the graham flavor without the cracker crunch.

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I don’t usually worry too much about sending my husband to the store for me. I know some women cringe when their husbands say, “I can go to the store…,” but Gary’s pretty good about knowing what I’m referring to and not coming back with a whole bunch of unnecessary items, unless it’s a Take 5 candy bar of course. Though he did come back with a Nerf basketball hoop once…

Well last week I was going to make tzatziki sauce (I really should post that recipe sometime) but I was low on dill. I meant dry dill but I wasn’t very explicit about it. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE fresh herbs, but they’re too expensive for most occasions. So Gary, who’s getting very familiar with all my chef-like idiosyncrasies at this point, went straight for the fresh dill. Never even thought about the dried stuff. Both work just fine in a recipe of course but damn, what do I do with all this fresh dill now? I only needed like a tablespoon for my tzatziki.

And so one day we were trying to figure out what to have for dinner. We’ve been eating at home a lot these days. We eat at home at lot normally I guess, but we’ve not even been going out on weekends lately (… $$$). So we’re getting a little tired of our usual pasta-stir fry-tacos-pizza standbys. We even had paninis one night (the only thing a George Foreman grill is actually good for). Well, it was about time for pasta again in our dinner rotation and I thought the dill might make for an interesting sauce. You never know until you try right?

Well I freaking loved it!

It’s super fragrant, hot and spicy, but not in a sriracha-thai food-makes you sweat way; in a pungent-peppery-this isn’t your grandma’s pasta way. I served it with gluten-free noodles, mushrooms and broccoli. I think leeks would have been great but I didn’t have any on hand.

This would probably go well as a sauce for a main item like broiled tofu, or salmon if you swim that way. Maybe even a dip for crudités (just use less liquid). If you aren’t a big dill fan I would probably keep on walkin, but if you are a dill dabbler you should definitely give this a go. We’ll certainly be making it again, and my husband even said he’d eat it again (sometimes he likes something but only for that evening :)).

Dill Cream Sauce

  • 12 oz extra firm silken tofu (Mori-Nu)
  • ~ 10 sprigs fresh dill, more or less to preference
  • 1 cup veggie stock or bean juice
  • 1/4 cup soy milk
  • Juice from 1 lemon, or 2 if they’re dry
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1 tsp black pepper, or to taste

Pull the little dill fronds off the stems. Place the tofu, dill fronds, soy milk and garlic in a blender and puree until smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients and puree again. Take it easy on the salt and pepper and taste as you go. I like a lot of salt and pepper, but you may not have such a high tolerance for it. Pour the sauce into a small pot and gently warm it up. Pour over cooked pasta or whatever your heart desires. Enjoy!

I think that was possibly the shortest recipe I’ve ever typed out! If you want to make this but aren’t sure what goes with dill, you should check out the Flavor Bible book. I absolutely love this thing. It’s not all-inclusive of course but it’s a wonderful springboard for your imagination.

I wasn’t planning on this dish turning out so I didn’t have a photo op setup so the pictures are fairly mediocre. But you can still see the colors well. I think the light minty green hue of the cream sauce is nice. 🙂

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It’s summer time, or at least it’s close to summer time. Portland summers are usually confined to about 2.5 weeks in August so you gotta do what you can to, um, help summer along.

For me summer means flip flops, sunshine and porches, fresh fruit, moscato wine and tropical drinks. It also means birthdays as it seems most of my friends here were born during the months of summer or just on its outskirts. A few days ago was one of these said birthdays, so I took the opportunity to break out my long abandoned cupcake pan and go to work.

I’m always thinking of different ways I can throw a cupcake together. Actually I have this long, two sided, water stained list of cupcakes I’ve thought of but have yet to put into reality. One of these ideas included mangoes and lime zest and sounded like a perfect cupcake for a summer(ish) birthday.

Mango Margarita Cupcakes

  • 1 very ripe mango
  • 1/2 C soy milk
  • 1 t apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 C AP flour
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 3/4 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 C tequila
  • 2 T orange juice
  • 1/3 C canola oil
  • 3/4 C organic sugar
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1/4 t coconut extract

As usual, oven to 350, line your cupcake pan with liners.

Then prepare the mango. Peel the skin off the mango and then cut the flesh away from its large and obtuse seed. My mango was so ripe it was almost falling off the seed so I just chopped it up on a cutting board. If your mango isn’t so ripe you might have to puree it.

In your mixing bowl, stir together the soy milk and vinegar and set it aside to curdle.

While the milk is doing its thing, scale out all your dry ingredients in another small bowl.

Now add the mango, tequila, orange juice, oil, sugar, zest and extracts to the curdled milk and whisk it well. You can use the KitchenAid for this but I just did by hand. Sift in the dry ingredients in two stages so you don’t overwork the gluten; you don’t need to fully incorporate the flour before adding the second half. I folded in the flour and then used a whisk at the end to break up some of the lumps.

Scoop the batter into your prepared cupcake pan. I used a 1/4 cup scoop, which resulted in 12 normal sized cupcakes and 5 mini cupcakes. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until they’re springy and the toothpick comes out clean. Let stand for a few minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

Lime Buttercream

  • 4 oz vegan stick butter, softened (1 stick)
  • 4 oz extra firm silken tofu (Mori-Nu)
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • Zest from 2 limes
  • Small splash of vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • Powdered sugar

The main reason why I don’t experiment with cupcakes more often, aside from their caloric content, is the price of the buttercream. Vegan stick butter is almost $6 a pound. Seriously. And then to get a decent texture/ flavor you really need vegan cream cheese, which can be close to $8 a pound. Since my pockets aren’t very deep these days, I’ve been playing around with alternatives, and this tofu buttercream is definitely a keeper. It still uses the expensive butter but I ixnayed the cream cheese. And nobody will ever know you fed them straight up tofu. Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. 🙂

Since it’s tofu you can’t just throw it in the KitchenAid, you have to puree it first. So, press some of the liquid out of the tofu with a kitchen or paper towel. Then toss it in a blender with the lime juice and the butter. You can add the zest here too if you like. Blend it on a lower speed until it’s well combined and uniform. It’ll look like it’s broken (aka wet and weepy). Transfer the mixture to your KitchenAid or large mixing bowl and add the salt, vanilla and lime zest if you didn’t already. Beat in the powdered sugar until you reach a thick and fluffy consistency, I probably used around 4 cups.

Keep the buttercream well covered either with plastic wrap or in a piping bag until you’re ready to use. Unlike meringue based buttercreams, vegan buttercreams dry out super fast.

Candied Orange Peel

  • 1 large orange
  • Simple syrup
  • Organic sugar

If you have a citrus zester, use it to zest long strips of peel off the orange. If you don’t have a zester, peel the orange with a vegetable peeler (these work great) and then cut strips out of the peels with a knife. Place the zest in a small pan and cover with water. Bring it to a boil and then drain the water. Repeat this two more times and then poach the zest in some simple syrup for 5 – 10 minutes, or until it’s pleasantly chewable.

Simple syrup, in case you don’t know, is just equal parts sugar and water. Place it in a pan and heat it up until the sugar dissolves. You’re done.

After you poach the zest, drain it and then toss it with some sugar and spread it out on a plate to dry. Toss is around every few minutes to make sure it’s all drying and evenly coated in sugar.

Candied orange, or lemon, zest will keep for a very long time in an air tight container, so you could do a big batch of it and keep it on hand if you wanted. You can candy lime zest too but it looses its pretty green color and turns into something that looks like a soggy old canned green bean.

I used an 808 tip to get the big mounds of frosting. A bigger tip would have been even better but I wasn’t about to make myself have to wash another pastry bag (I use the reusable bags).

These cupcakes were delicious! You get just a hint of the tequila towards the end of your bite, and the tropical citrusy flavors are bright and refreshing. And I really like the icing. The tofu does a superb job at balancing out all that fat and sugar. These would be excellent for a margarita night!

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It’s odd sometimes, the way I associate things. Or rather when things remind me of other things that are in no way connected and for some reason the connection remains strong enough for me to remember it for an unhealthy length of time.

I’ve never been a huge fan of Christmas. And obviously since it’s June I shouldn’t be talking about Christmas anyway. But growing up we watched the movie White Christmas every single year, and it became one of my favorite movies. I still watch it, and not necessarily around or even close to December. There’s a scene in the movie where Danny Kaye is trying to “clumsily entangle” Bing Crosby with some dumb blonde dancer in their show. The idea is that if Bing gets a family then Danny will finally have some time to himself – they’ve been super busy producing their show and what not. Later that evening they go to a club to check out a sister act and Bing ends up entranced by one of the sisters, Rosemary Clooney. The girls, of course, end up in a bit if trouble and Danny insists on helping them out. When one sister asks what’s in it for them – as they are practically strangers – he says, “45 minutes, all to myself.”

The other day I was sitting on my bar stool, hunched over my kitchen sink, peeling the skins off a big basket of cooked chickpeas. I looked at the clock when I was done and the first thought I had was, “45 minutes, all to myself.” That’s how long I was sitting there shucking the skins off my chickpeas. My second thought was, “This hummus better #*%$^@*! taste good.”

Lately I’ve been on a quest to replicate the Sabra hummus. I absolutely love the stuff! It’s super smooth and creamy, yet not too airy. But there’s also this tang in it that’s not coming from the lemon juice. I couldn’t figure it out. But one day I looked at the ingredients and saw it contains citric acid, and this little lightbulb finally went off in my head. In pastry class we made these sour jelly candies and the main souring ingredient we used was citric acid. Of course! How could I be so dim?!

I made this several weeks ago using the citric acid and everyone loved it. Five of us went through a very large tub of it in just a few days. The texture wasn’t quite there yet, however, and this is where those 45 minutes come into play.

It’s been a super long time since I’ve bought canned chickpeas so I don’t rightly remember, but I’m thinking the skins have already been removed (that’s probably why they cost so much – it’s a pain in the ass). When you cook dry chickpeas you’ll notice near the end of their cooking time these clearish-white shells coming off the beans – those are the skins. Typically I just throw the whole mess into the food processor and don’t think twice about it. But my hummus is never as smooth as I want it to be. So I sacrificed my time, and my posture, and separated the beans from their shields. And I think it made a HUGE difference.

And one more thing, there isn’t any tahini in this hummus. I love tahini, I do, but I hate shelling out the money for it. It’s usually at least $7 for a jar and that’s fine if you’re going to use it all but who really makes that much hummus at home? It’s just a lot of money to spend all at once for hummus. So since tahini is only just ground up sesame seeds mixed with oil, I see no reason why I can’t do it myself. Feel free to replace the sesame seeds in this recipe with tahini if you already have it, but if you don’t, my method works just fine.

Hummus

  • 2 C dry chickpeas, cooked and shelled (or 2 cans)
  • 1/3 C sesame seeds, toasted and ground
  • 6 T olive oil
  • 4 – 6 T cooking liquid or water
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic (more if you like it garlicky)
  • 1 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 t cumin
  • 1/2 t black pepper
  • 1/2 t citric acid

So typically they say you need to soak dry beans over night before cooking them. It does help to soak them but you can cheat and skip that part if you forgot. However, chickpeas probably take the longest time of all the beans to cook, whether you soaked them or not, so don’t plan on cooking your beans off in one hour and being on your merry way. Plus with hummus, you want the beans as soft as possible – so you gotta cook the crap out of them. I put mine in a big pot, cover them with a ton of water, place it on the stove with a lid and turn the fire on med/ med-low and just walk away. It takes hours, but you aren’t involved in any of it. You can, obviously, just buy canned chickpeas… but then you miss out on the 45 minutes of shelling fun!

If you do go the DIY route, when the beans are very soft drain them, but save the liquid. When they’re cool start rubbing those skins off. It takes some time, but it definitely produces a smoother product. Put the liquid in the fridge while you’re shelling the beans.

For the sesame seeds, toss them in a small pan and turn the heat on medium. They’ll toast quickly so don’t walk away and get a manicure or anything. You need to hang around and toss them frequently. When the majority of them are toasty brown, remove it from the heat, let it cool a few minutes and then grind them up in a small coffee grinder (preferably one that you don’t use for coffee).

Once your beans are shelled and seeds are toasted, you’re ready to go! Dump the chickpeas, sesame seeds and garlic in the food processor. Add just enough liquid or olive oil to help process them but don’t pour it all in. Pulse it for 30 seconds or so until everything is getting pureed finely. Now add everything else, except the liquid, and process.

Whether you’re using the cooking liquid or just water, add it in small increments as you don’t want to end up with hummus soup. If you use the cooking liquid, the amount you’ll need will vary depending on how long your beans cooked and how much the liquid reduced. Bean juice (that’s what I call it) absorbs some of the protein from the beans (at least I assume it does) and can thicken and congeal almost like there’s gelatin in it, so you may need more or less liquid depending on how goopy the bean juice is.

When you’ve reached your desired consistency, transfer the hummus to a tub and refrigerate for awhile so the flavors can get a chance to know each other. I’m never satisfied with my hummus straight out of the processor but it always tastes way better once it’s gotten a chance to mingle. And if you want to get all fancy, make a little well in the middle of it and add some paprika and olive oil before serving it.

I know it sounds like a lot of work but it really isn’t. Once the beans are cooked it only takes about 10 – 15 minutes to throw it all together, assuming you’ve mise en placed (gotten everything you need ready).

There’s almost always a tub of hummus or pesto or some sort of dip in my house as it comes in handy. It’s good to snack on, make naan sandwiches with, thinned out for salad dressing, or tossed with pasta – endless possibilities!

Do you have a favorite hummus or hummus recipe? Please share if so!

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I am always looking for an excuse to make a cake. Always. And I can’t think of any better excuse than my husband.

Just a couple weeks ago he graduated from law school (yay!!!). For awhile I was racking my brain trying to figure out how to make his cake. He had already told me that he wanted a German chocolate cake, but it’s shape and everything else was up to me. I thought about making it look like school books, or perhaps something with a cap, tassel and one of those mallet things judges use. But since I hate using food coloring, none of these were overly appealing. And then it struck me!

For his present I got some family members together and we all chipped in to buy him a MacBook Air. He’d been talking about one for f-o-r-e-v-e-r, so I figured since he’d worked and studied his butt off for the last three years, he deserved one. And thus the shape of his cake was born.

German Chocolate Cake

  • 2 C soy milk
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/4 C organic sugar
  • 1/4 C agave
  • 1/3 C canola oil (non-gmo)
  • 1/3 C apple sauce
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 C AP flour
  • 1 C whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2/3 C cocoa powder (this stuff is awesome)
  • 1/4 C instant coffee
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat your oven to 350. Line a square 8 x 8 in cake pan with parchment in the bottom (don’t worry about the sides). You could use a round pan but I was afraid I’d lose too much mass getting it to look like an apple instead of a ball, so I went with the square.

Pour the soy milk and vinegar into your mixing bowl so it can curdle. While this is happening, sift all your dry ingredients into another bowl so they’re ready to dump right in when you want them.

Once the soy milk is curdled, add the rest of the wet ingredients (including the sugar) and whisk thoroughly. You can do this by hand or with the stand mixer of course.

Add the dry ingredients in three portions. You don’t have to fully incorporate each portion before adding the next. You’re just adding the flour a little at a time to help avoid over mixing which will toughen the cake in the end.

Pour the batter into the cake pan and smooth it out a bit if it’s all in the center. Bake until it springs back when touched and a toothpick comes out clean. Mine took around an hour. When it’s done, let it sit for about 5 – 10 minutes and then run a butter knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the sides. Now put a cooling rack on top of the pan and flip the whole thing over. You should be able to remove the pan at this point, and letting the cake cool upside down will help flatten some of that rounded top.

Be sure to make the cake well in advance as it needs plenty of time to cool before you split it in half or thirds. I actually made mine several days before hand, wrapped it in plastic wrap and stuck it in the freezer. It’ll thaw out in just a couple of hours.

Chocolate Buttercream 

So I typically do half Earth Balance stick butter and half cream cheese with my frostings. Ever since I started paying attention to the way foods feel in your mouth (thank you culinary school) I can’t stand the Spectrum shortening; it coats your mouth as that stuff is solid at room temperature and therefore doesn’t really melt when it hits your tongue. You can use all butter of course but I think the cream cheese creates a lighter texture and better flavor.

In general, you use about 4 cups of powdered sugar to every cup of fat, and then augment the consistency with extracts, soy milk, etc. If you’re making chocolate buttercream, you’re obviously going to have cocoa powder in there so you will need more liquid to offset the extra amount of dry ingredients.

The frosting I made for this cake, I didn’t really like it. The flavor was fine but it dried super freaking fast and I had issues/ got tired of working with it when I was finishing the cake, as you can see from the unclean sides in the pictures. The main culprit? I think it was the chocolate. I decided to put melted chocolate in the frosting along with the cocoa powder. I don’t think it was the best idea I’ve ever had. So if you’re making chocolate buttercream, do something like the following recipe.
  • 4 oz Earth Balance Stick butter
  • 4 oz vegan cream cheese
  • 4 C powdered sugar (sifted if lumpy)
  • 1/2 C cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Soy milk as needed

Have the butter and cream cheese at room temperature and cream them together until it starts to look wet (vegan butter doesn’t get fluffy). Add the vanilla. Add the sugar and cocoa powder in increments so it doesn’t snow in your kitchen. Add the soy milk a tablespoon at a time until you have a thick yet fluffy texture. You can make this ahead of time and just melt it a bit in the microwave and re-whip it with a spatula before using it.

Coconut Pecan Filling

I used this recipe from Mom in the City. I added an extra half cup of organic sugar though as I only had unsweetened coconut on hand and definitely was not going back to the store. Make sure you do this in advance as it needs to cool completely.

Chocolate Ganache

  • 6 oz dark chocolate (or mix of semi-sweet and dark)
  • 2 oz vegan butter (Earth Balance sticks)
  • 2 T soy milk
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Melt everything in a doubler boiler – aka metal bowl on top of pot with hot water in it – and gently whisk it together. Store it in the fridge until ready to use. When you are ready to use it, melt it down in the microwave in short bursts of time, like 10 – 20 seconds. You need it completely liquidy but it doesn’t need to be super hot. I believe I melted mine down and then let it sit at room temp for awhile. If you’re uber talented you can just pour the ganache along the edge of the cake. If you aren’t so sure, use a piping bag like I did with a small whole or tip at the end and do it the careful way

Assembly

First, you need something to put the cake on. I didn’t have a cake board that was big enough so I cut a side out of a cardboard box and covered it with foil.

Second, you need to shape the cake into the apple. Use a small serrated knife (like a steak knife) and start by rounding the corners. Next make the indentions at the top and bottom of the apple. Get it looking like an apple before taking the “bite” out of the side.

When you do take the bite out of the side, be careful as this is your stem. You can always  reshape the stem a bit but you only have so much cake.

Now split it into layers. I did three layers but two would be just fine. Take a long serrated knife (like a bread knife) and start sawing horizontally. You can score the cake all around the sides first to help ensure you’re cutting evenly. A revolving cake stand is your friend here. Place the extra layer(s) on the counter, preferably on plastic wrap or parchment so they’re easier to pick back up.

At this point you should brush away as many crumbs as you can so they don’t get in your frosting.

I also brushed my cake layers with a coconut simple syrup, which is just equal parts sugar and water heated until the sugar dissolves and then coconut extract added at the end. I did this to ensure the cake was moist. It definitely was moist but I don’t think the syrup was necessary, so it’s your call.

After you decrumb and syrup (or not), grab the coconut pecan filling and plop a big glob of it on the base layer. Use a large offset spatula to smooth it out. Mine was about 1/2 inch thick but I like a lot of filling, so less would be ok. Place the middle layer (if you have one) on the cake and do the same thing. Now place the last layer on the cake and crumb coat the entire thing with the buttercream and stick it in the fridge for a couple minutes. Crumb coating is just smearing a thin layer of frosting on the cake so that you will be less likely to have crumbs in the finished cake.

Once the crumb coat has hardened, ice the cake with more buttercream and then stick is back in the fridge. Once it’s completely set, grab your ganache and the cake and go to town. You can ganache the whole thing or just the edges or whatever you want. Then when you’re done, (can you guess) stick it back in the fridge.

What happens now is up to you. Add more coconut goo to the top. Or just add some buttercream rosettes or pipe a pretty border. Or you could just cover the whole damn thing with ganache and make it look like the actual Apple logo. Maybe white chocolate!

Regarding the stem, I filled it with coconut goo just like the cake and then frosted it with the buttercream. When that had set I poured the ganche all over it.

And here is the happy graduate with his yummy cake! 🙂

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My tummy usually starts growling around 4:15 am – should I be awake to hear it – so it isn’t often that I take the time to make breakfast pastries. But having visitors in town seems to augment my ability to go long periods of time without eating, like maybe two hours, so I decided we all needed cinnamon rolls. With cardamom in them. And a lemony cream cheese glaze on top. They were quite tasty.

I can’t take full credit for these of course. They were adapted from Novel Eats’ recipe, which was also adapted from somebody elses recipe of course. I’ve made these a few times over the last couple of years using a flaxseed egg and have gotten mixed results, so I decided to go with the Ener-G egg. I also used a different type of yeast and modified the mixing method. Maybe it all made a difference. Maybe it didn’t. But they turned out moist and fluffy and delicious so I’ll go with it.

Cardamom Cinnamon Rolls

  • 1/4 C organic sugar
  • 1/2 C soy milk
  • 1 Ener-G egg
  • 2 1/4 C AP flour
  • 1/4 oz fresh yeast (or 1/8 oz instant yeast)
  • 1/2 t salt
  • about 1/4 t Cardamom seeds, ground
  • 2 T + 2t vegan butter, melted (I suggest Earth Balance in stick form)
  • About 2 T vegan butter, softened
  • Cinnamon sugar (just sugar mixed with as much cinnamon as you like)

If you’re worried about how long the dough will take to ferment, warm up the soy milk. If you don’t care, just scale it into your mixing bowl along with the sugar and Ener-G egg. Next add the flour, yeast, salt and ground cardamom.

A note on the cardamom, you’ll get better flavor if you use a mortar and pestle to grind it up versus using a small coffee grinder. The friction from the mortar and pestle heats up the seeds which helps draw out those aromatic oils. But if you’re in a time crunch, the coffee grinder will work just fine.

Knead the dough using the hook attachment until it fully comes together. Now add the melted butter. This may seem bassackwards but fat inhibits gluten development because it coats the flour particles, making it difficult for glutens to form their network. Adding it at the end allows the gluten structure to get a head start. You might have to help it along though, or just be patient. When you add the melted butter to the bowl, the dough is going to slide all over the place. If you give it awhile it should come together. Alternatively, take it out of the bowl and knead it with your hands a bit and then put it back in the bowl. The dough is ready when the butter has been worked in and the dough is smooth, supple and just barely sticky, if at all. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it ferment until double.

Once the dough has fermented, punch it down, round it on the counter, cover with plastic wrap and let it rest. After about 10 minutes, use a rolling pin and work the dough into a large rectangle. The thinner you get the dough, the more rolls you’ll have so it’s up to you. Mine was about 1/2 inch thin. Make sure it’s longer than it is wide however or you’ll have just a couple of gigantic cinnamon rolls (which is fine if there’s only two of you I guess).

Smear the dough with the softened butter, leaving about 1 inch of space along the edge of the dough that will be on the outside once it’s rolled up. Now sprinkle tons of cinnamon sugar onto the dough. There isn’t an exact amount you should have here, just cover it well. You can add nuts or raisins or chocolate chips or whatever else you’d like to have in your rolls at this point.

Roll up the dough now, starting with the end opposite of the edge you left unbuttered. Roll it as tight as you can, nobody wants a sloppy loose cinnamon roll. 🙂 Grab the sharpest knife you have – I used a carving knife – and cut the log into equal pieces about an inch thick. I started in the middle and divided it in half, and then in half again, and then cut those quarters into thirds – so I ended up with a dozen cinnamon rolls.

So most home bakers use an 8 or 9 in baking dish for cinnamon rolls and just cram them all in there. That’s fine but you can also use a lined sheet pan. Pick up each individual cinnamon roll and tuck that unbuttered end under the roll so it’s sitting on its tail so to speak. This will help alleviate most unrolling and other deformation during the baking process.

Cover the rolls loosely with plastic wrap (or a clean trash bag) and let them proof until double. You can see the difference below between before and after proofing.

Preheat your oven to 350. When the rolls are ready sprinkle them with some additional cinnamon sugar and stick them in the oven. You can wash them with soy milk here if you like, I did not. Mine baked in just under 15 minutes. Feel free to rotate the pan half way through.

These aren’t super dark but they are done. You’ll probably get a wee bit darker results if you brush it with milk.

Lemony Cream Cheese Glaze

  • Vegan cream cheese
  • 1 lemon
  • Powdered sugar
  • Pinch of salt

So while your rolls are doing their thing in the oven, make the glaze. I’m not giving you exact amounts because, frankly, you don’t need them.

Get a small mixing bowl and plop a glob of cream cheese in it. Zest part of a lemon with a microplane into the bowl. Add a pinch of salt and some powdered sugar and mix it up with a spatula or spoon. If it’s too thin, add some more powdered sugar. If it’s too thick, squeeze some lemon juice in it. Too sweet? Add a bit more salt. Not lemony enough, grab the zester. You want it thin enough to drizzle but not so much that your cinnamon roll ends up swimming in it. And its lemoniness is completely up to you.

So there you have it. Yummy, vegan cinnamon rolls even omnivores from the South will enjoy. My pictures show the glaze drizzled on but I’m pretty sure there was some slathering going on while I was busy taking pictures.

And one final tip, you can make the dough the night before and stick it in the fridge. Just yank it out first thing in the morning and let it come to room temp before you punch it down.

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I don’t know about you but my family time growing up was typically spent on the couch, with large bowls of popcorn, watching Star Wars. All four of us sitting there – me with a pillow to hide behind when Luke fights the monster in Jabba’s palace – just munching away and not really talking or interacting with each other at all (hmm…). We, of course, didn’t have actual store-bought copies of the movies though. Instead we had some (completely legal I’m sure) taped over VHS versions, which included a never before seen moment of intergalactic fuzz part way through the first 10 minutes of Empire Strikes Back (I didn’t see the movie in its entirety until just a few years ago).

I doubt my parents were intentionally trying to make a geek out of me, but it worked. I like most things intergalactic space travel or Middle Earth oriented. I didn’t necessarily mean to make bread in honor Darth Vadar and his offspring, but marbled rye does have both a light and a dark side. And it was recently national Star Wars Day (May the 4th… may the force…) so I think it’s fitting.

In case you actually read my blog regularly, no, this is not the bread from Tartine (I still haven’t gotten around to starting that yet). But this bread does involve using a yeast starter and forces you to go through the 12 steps of bread baking.

  1. Scaling
  2. Mixing
  3. Fermentation
  4. Punching down
  5. Portioning
  6. Rounding
  7. Resting
  8. Makeup and panning
  9. Proofing
  10. Baking
  11. Cooling
  12. Storing

While this seems like a lot of work to do, it’s really not that bad. But I’ll be honest with you, this is a two day process, or at the least one very long day. You aren’t actually in the kitchen doing things for two days, it’s a waiting game. You mix something, wait. You mix something else, then wait again. You do something else, then wait yet again. Making bread isn’t complicated, it just requires you to plan. But it’s all worth it. Nothing smells better than fresh bread baking. And since everyone thinks it’s super complicated, you’ll look like a genius! 😉

Marbled Rye

Now before you do anything, make sure you have everything. It sucks to get part way through something and realize you don’t have enough flour. You also need a kitchen scale for this that has a metric function.

Rye Starter

  • 9 3/4 oz light rye flour (10 oz would be fine)
  • 6 grams fresh compressed yeast (or 3 grams instant yeast)
  • 8 oz warm water (warm to the touch is sufficient)

Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well with a spatula. You could use a stand mixer for this but it isn’t necessary. A rye starter is typically pretty stiff but I wanted a wetter dough so I upped the water quantity. Make sure there aren’t any dry or wet spots in the starter, it should be uniform.

Leave the starter in the mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for 6 – 24 hours. I let mine sit for an entire day. 6 hours is probably pushing it. 12 hours is most likely sufficient but I wasn’t about to start making bread at midnight. Different starters behave differently. Some get all airy and foamy, some don’t appear to change much at all. The rye starter will be noticeably bigger, but it won’t be all foamy and bubbly. Below you can see what it looked like when I first mixed it and then the next day.

Light Rye Dough

  • Half of the starter, about 8 1/2 oz
  • 6 1/2 oz warm water
  • 1 T pure maple syrup (or molasses)
  • 12 oz bread flour
  • 4 grams fresh compressed yeast (or 2 grams instant yeast)
  • 3/4 T salt

Dark Rye Dough

  • Half of the starter, about 8 1/2 oz
  • 7 oz warm water
  • 1 T pure maple syrup (or molasses)
  • 12 oz bread flour
  • 1 oz cocoa powder
  • 4 grams fresh compressed yeast (or 2 grams instant yeast)
  • 3/4 T salt

You have to mix the two doughs separately, but the process is the same for both. Do the light one first obviously so you don’t get brown flecks in the dough. I weighed everything directly into my mixing bowl, but feel free to scale it out separately and then add it.

Place the bowl for your stand mixer on the scale and tare it (set it back to zero). Measure in your starter and water, then add the syrup. Sift in the flour (and cocoa for dark) and then add the yeast. Using the dough hook, start mixing the bread on the lowest speed. Begin adding the salt to the dough once it starts forming around the hook, about 20 seconds or so.

The light dough will be a tad wetter than the dark dough and will need a little help during mixing because of this. Knead the dough for a minute or so and then stop the machine and use a bowl scraper to get under the dough blob and flip it upside down. You want to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom and not getting mixed in. Knead it for a little bit longer. You’re looking for a uniform dough, not any wet or dry spots, everything appears to be thoroughly mixed and the gluten structure is coming together. A properly mixed dough should be smooth and supple. Since the light dough is a wetter dough, it won’t be so smooth and supple, but you can see what it looks like in the photos below.

Once it’s mixed, transfer it to a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it ferment until double in size, about two hours but this depends on the temperature of your ingredients and the room in which the dough is fermenting. To check to see if the dough is ready, dip a finger in some flour and then poke the dough. If the hole you made doesn’t start closing back up, it’s ready. If it does close back up, the yeast is still doing its thing in there so let it be.

Repeat this process with the dark dough.

Punching, portioning, rounding, resting, makeup and panning

After the dough is fermented it’s time to punch it down, and no this does not mean make a fist and plow into it like you just ran into Emperor Palpatine. Grab your bowl scraper and get it under one side of the dough, pull up and then fold over and down towards the center. Do this three more times, like you’re wrapping a package. This expels the gas that has been created inside the dough and equalizes the yeast.

Now dump the dough(s) out onto the counter. You’ll need some flour for the light dough but probably not any for the dark dough. Portion each dough in half, I believe mine were about 14 oz each, give or take half an oz. Grab each ball of dough and use both hands to round it into a ball. To do this, fold it into itself kind of like you did during the punching stage. Flip the side with the seems over so that it’s facing the surface. Cup your hands around the dough and move your hands in a circular motion while pressing down and around firmly. You’re looking to create a smooth surface all around the dough, except for perhaps a pucker on the bottom side.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest for about 10 minutes to allow the glutens to relax.

A side note real quick, dough dries out quickly. Always cover it whenever you aren’t working with it. Also, you’ll notice during bread baking that you go through enough plastic wrap to cover an entire space station… to avoid this I use (and reuse) a clean trash bag. Less waste and a lot less hassle.

To makeup the dough, flatten each ball into as much of a rectangle as you can get it. I used my hands but feel free to break out the rolling pin. I got each dough blob about 3/4 inch thick, but thinner would be better. Now take a dark rectangle of dough and place it on a light rectangle.

So this is where you “marble” the bread. This is also where I screwed up my first loaf. There is, obviously, more than one way to mix the light and dark doughs. On my first loaf I decided to just roll it up like a burrito. This will work, but only if your dough is wide enough to do a few rolls (hence the thinner is better from earlier). My first loaf looked like this:

The second picture shows how I pinched all my seams together, which is very important. If you don’t pinch your seams together, they are likely to split apart during baking, making things a bit ugly in the end.

On my second loaf I stacked the dough like before, but then cut it in half and placed one half on top of the other. I then did this a second time, flattened it out a bit and rolled it up again. I obviously have seams exposed on this one, but I couldn’t get around it.

Place both loaves in their pans, seam sides down, and cover with plastic wrap.

Proofing, scoring and baking

Now you have to let the bread proof until about double in size. You can do the finger poke text again here if you want. This will probably take about an hour or so. If you under proof the bread, it will tear during baking. If you over proof your bread, it will actually shrink during baking. Fun, fun.

Before the bread’s ready to go in the oven, preheat it to 425.

When it is ready, brush the tops with some soy milk and then score it with a sharp knife or a lame (pronounced like Tom). I just did five slashes across the top, but feel free to make any design you’re capable of. You can also throw some caraway seeds on top at this point. I’m not caraway’s biggest fan so I left them on the shelf.

Place both loaves in the oven and bake until golden brown and sound hollow when you tap them with your finger. Mine took about 45 minutes but every oven is different. You can even take its temperature if you’re really worried, but you’ll need a digital thermometer. Lean breads should reach an internal temp of about 205 – 210 when thoroughly baked. Transfer the loaves to a cooling rack when they’re done.

So that first loaf I did, the one that I screwed up? It didn’t “marble” at all. I knew this was going to happen before I baked it, but the doughs had already clung together and I didn’t try very hard to take them apart and re-work them. We can call this Tunneled Rye. 🙂

The second loaf turned out much better. It actually looks “marbled,” which is always a plus when you’re making marbled rye bread.

I did, however, still manage to screw this one up a little bit. Either it was under proofed just a tad, or it was because I had seams on top from mixing the two doughs together (or likely a combination of both), but it tore in the oven. It’s still sliceable and edible of course, just not as pretty as it could have been.

This bread has a moist, fairly tight crumb and an adequate crust (but isn’t overly crusty).

Because this bread is homemade, they’re isn’t much in the way of preservatives in it so you might find yourself hard pressed to eat both loaves before they stale too much. You can cut the recipe in half of course, but who wants to go through all that trouble for one loaf of bread??? The nice thing about bread is that you can freeze it. Place one loaf in a plastic bag, or wrap it well with plastic wrap, and toss it in the freezer. You can thaw it by just setting it on the counter for a few hours or tossing it in a warm oven for a bit. It’ll taste the same as it did the day you made it!

Be weary of the fridge though. While freezing temperatures stop the staling process, moderately cool ones cause breads to stale quicker. It’s best to just leave the bread on the counter, wrapped well, if you aren’t freezing it.

Well I don’t know about you but I’m exhausted. I’m not sure which took longer, making the bread or typing this post out. 🙂 But the sun is shining outside right now and I think I’m going to go take advantage of that. Definitely let me know if you make some marbled rye, and what technique(s) you use to marble it.

Have a great day, and may the force be with you (and your bread).

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