Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Vegan Pain au chocolate

If you're on a New Year's diet, you may want to skip this post.....  There are thousands of calories in just the pictures.....
Probably the best present I got for Christmas was a copy of the Vegan Boulangerie.  It was a gift from my wife and it would be rude to assume she bought it so I would make her loads of scrum my stuff from it.  But possibly accurate :).
It has loads of recipes for all kinds of amazing stuff.
In fact, they pretty much boil down to a few basic and not too challenging recipes for different pastures.  Then you get to use the pastry for various different items.
Take the pain au chocolate - you make a pastry called pāte levée feuillaté (possibly...I may have the accents wrong).  Anyway, roll this up into crescents and you have croissants.  Stuff some chocolate in them and roll them a different way and hey presto! pain au chocolate.
By the way, the first review of that book on Amazon seems pretty hostile.  It's true there are two alternative recipes for pain au chocolate.

  1. Open a packet of puff pastry, roll up some chocolate and slam it in the oven.
  2. Spend 3 hours making a flaky buttery heated pastry then roll up some chocolate and slam in the oven.
I can see how if you bought the book and followed option 1 you might feel a little cheated.  Anyway, I did option 2 and had a massive MASSIVE grin on my face when I bit into the first one warm from the oven with molten chocolate.
Don't be put off by the technique - it's no harder than making puff pastry.  And that's not as hard as people tell you.  Just make sure you have cold hands and slam it back in the fridge at any opportunity.
By the way, we found Cookeen in the supermarket which is a vegan hard margarine - it's just vegetable fats and no hydrogenated nasties.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Vegan Stollen

Christmas time mistletoe cardamon and marzipan bread and wine....
Truth to tell, we don't really do mistletoe here at chez D'oH Boy.  Or listen to Cliff Richard come to think of it.  But we do like a sticky yeast based vegan bread product...
I genuinely planned to make a traditional stollen with cherries and chunks of marzipan and icing sugar and everything, but while looking for a recipe, I found this thread on the Post Punk Kitchen.  There was a recipe for stollen.  But it contains the mysterious (and hard to get in the UK) vital wheat gluten.  I was going to improvise, then I looked a little lower and saw the recipe for cardamon and marzipan bread.  Sold!

There were only 2 problems:

  1. Pearl sugar.  A shout out on Twitter and I found this is known in the UK as nibbled sugar.  That didn't help a lot because the only place I could find that was on bakery bits and I didn't have time to wait for delivery.  No worries I found some large sugar crystals intended for coffee.  I figured the worst case would be they melted.  Actually they didn't and they were fine.
  2. Ground cardamon.  I'm sure I've seen this for sale....but not anywhere I looked.  No problem, I'll just buy whole cardamon, seed is and smash the seeds with the end of a rolling pin (since I don't have a pestle and mortar).  Next time I think up something like that please stop me!  Have you any idea how long that takes?  I have.  It's a l-o-n-g time....
Anyway, 2 ingredients substituted and I was away.
I have to admit I was a little nervous when I came to shaping it.  I've never done anything like this before (yes, the top picture makes that pretty clear) but it actually wasn't too bad.
I made some big cuts in the top of the wreath with scissors and slammed it into the oven.
Due to lack of space and because I wasn't sure it would all work out, I put the second half of the dough into a long loaf tin.  I also made a couple of small rolls of spare dough - so I could taste is straight away!
10 mins for the rolls and 20 or so for the larger pieces and the house was full of the smell of cardamon and marzipan.  I tasted one of the rolls (OK, 2....) and had a big smile on my face.
Fiddly.  Especially if you "grind" your own cardamon.  But WELL worth it.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Sundried tomato bread

OK so I'm getting ambitious.  I mean sticking to recipes is so....regimented, right?  And this is supposed to be fun.  So I don't let the fact that the recipe was written by a Michelin starred chef put me off.  Nor that it was created for the people who actually milled the flour.  Oh no....
I tinkered a bit.
Here's my take on Claude Bosi's malted 5 seed sun dried tomato loaf.

300g Stoneground strong malted 5 seed flour
8 grams of sea salt (the chunky kind)
100g Sun dried tomatoes (the dehydrated kind)
7g dried yeast
150g Warm water
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp Olive oil

The flour for this is the important bit.  As you might have guessed from the original source of the recipe, you really want to use Bachledre 5 seed malted bread flour.  It has a wonderful mix of seeds and a lovely kick of fennel to make it extra tasty.  The only problem is that I live a l-o-n-g way from the mill.
No worries - Bacheldre sell on Amazon!  I placed an order via their web store and had it delivered next day.  Dead easy and even cheaper than buying it at the mill.  The only snag is you need to buy four 1.5 kilo bags at once.  But I bet you find that once you taste it, you use it up pretty quickly.
For an extra bonus discount you can "subscribe" and get sent the flour at intervals for 10% off.  You can cancel the subscription at any time.  Even right after the first delivery....

Dissolve the yeast in 50g of the warm water and the sugar and leave in a warm place.  Add the rest of the water to the flour, stir well and place in the same warm place with the yeast.  Cover the sun dried tomatoes in just boiled water.
After 20 minutes or so the yeast mixture should be good and frothy.  Add all but a pinch of the salt and stir well then add the yeast mixture and the oil.
Drain the tomatoes and add them to the flour mixture.
Knead for about 5 minutes on an oiled surface until everything is well combined and the dough feels very sticky.  If it sticks to your hands too much then don't add flour - just dip your hands in warm water and continue.
Place in a bowl, cover and leave somewhere warm for half an hour.
Knead for another 4 - 5 minutes and then place on a baking tray - I use a silicon mat to stop it sticking.  Form into a nice ball.
Leave in the warm for another half an hour or so - it should pretty much double in size.
Brush with olive oil and sprinkle the reserved salt.  Slash with the sharpest blade you have.
Heat the oven to 220 C and then place the bread in the hot oven.
After 15 mins turn down to 180 C.  Leave for a further 15 - 20 mins.
Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire cooler.
Slice thinly and eat.  Lovely with a mild creamy cheese.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Flat pack bread

Here's something I saw on a couple of other websites, all over the world artisan bread makers are overcoming their prejudices and making....bread from a kit.  I think it's basically the novelty of it.  After all, when you're looking for a wardrobe, a bed or an oddly shaped box for putting shoes in, pretty much the last thing you'd expect to see is s kit to make sour dough rye bread.
And then the thought starts to eat away at you.  It can't be any good.  Can it?  So before you know it, you're checking the price.  Hmm, £2.49 isn't a huge amount.  I could give it a go.  And before you know it, your trolley is full of loads of stuff you didn't know you needed and now you have to find some way to get it in the car.  Yes.  You've been hit by the Ikea effect.
The bread mix comes in a handy "just add water" milk carton kind of box. The instructions are  a little brief to say the least.

  1. Shake to loosen
  2. Add some water (I really can't remember how much - you just pour it into the box)
  3. Shake for 45 seconds (holding the top really tight)
  4. Put into a "small" tin and leave to rise for a bit.
  5. Bake for an hour.
So pretty much like, you know, bread.  Except for the assembling ingredients and kneading and, well, skill.
I have to say that the box itself looked rather unappetising when I opened it.
Hmm, kind of like sawdust with a few seeds in.
But I persevered - I'm used to stuff from Ikea looking a little unlikely when you get it home.
I followed the first three instructions when I noticed that I now had a kind of solid mass at the bottom and some wet sawdust looking stuff at the top.  Guess I didn't follow step 1 closely enough...
So...into a bowl and a good stir with a wooden spoon then to figure out what they meant by a "small" tin.  It seems they meant a 2 lb loaf tin.
And then it rose....and then I baked it.  And......you know what?  It's not too bad at all.
It tastes pretty much like a really fresh commercial rye loaf.  My "testing team" thought that I'd just nipped to the shops and bought one.  Which I guess is the effect you want from Ikea - any day where you end up with something that looks like the picture and no bits left on the floor is a good day.
If I was giving scores I'd give it an 9/10 for ease of making and maybe a 7/10 for taste.  Texture is nice and a few days later and there's surprisingly little left.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Vegan double chocolate muffins

Today we have a guest post from Milly the Vegan.  There are 2 reasons why this is a guest post.  (1) because I didn't make these muffins and (2) because [shock!] they aren't bread.  But I let them on the site because they are both chocolatey and delicious which covers two of the major food groups.
Milly tells me that the recipe comes from the imaginatively titled "Vegan Cake Book" available from Animal Aid.  For £2.99 you get a slim volume containing just 16 recipes.  But when they all taste as good as this, you realise that's a bit of a bargain.
There's (obviously) no eggs to raise the muffins but self raising flour and baking powder combined with a ridiculous amount of chocolate guarantees that they will be light and scrummy.
"I changed the recipe just a little," says Milly, "and used orange juice as my secret weapon to replace some of the water.  This is a tip I got from Rose Elliott - the acidity in the orange juice is just enough to react with the raising agents and give  perfect rise."
I say......"Yum!".

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Fig and walnut spelt bread

Spelt bread can't be hard, right?
I mean they sell the flour in ordinary shops and Dove's farm stuff is always nice.
I'll bet it works just like normal flour.
Well, it all depends whether you read the instructions before or after starting.  I'm a bloke so I have a little difficulty reading ahead.
I got all the way down to putting the dough on to prove the first time, cutting up walnuts and dried figs and soaking them in orange juice and was just about to go and do something else when I actually read the next instruction.
Apparently spelt proves faster that wheat four.  Yeah, whatever.  Maybe I'll take a look.  Oh.  The bowl is almost full.  I guess what they mean is that spelt proves a lot faster than wheat flour....
No worries.  I just took it out of the bowl, mixed in the figs and nuts and as much of the orange juice as I possibly could and then put it in a loaf tin.  Now what was I about to do....?
No, I never learn.  If the dough proves fast the first time then there's a good chance it's going to prove quite fast the second time.  Which is how it came to overflow the tin.
Note to self: when that happens, make sure you trim the excess before baking.  Or you'll have a really hard time getting it out of the tin!
Anyway, one of the reasons I like bread is that most mistakes turn out edible and apart from a slightly rustic appearance and a disappointing crust this was really jolly nice.
I'm putting the crust down to baking it along with the brioche.  I started out with a higher temperature than it said on the packet and think I paid the price.  That's what I'll do differently next time, anyway.  That and keep an eye on it.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Vegan Brioche

Let them eat cake she said - just like Marie Antionette...
Brioche.  That wonderful French concoction of eggs, butter and milk.   All the healthy stuff.  And pretty much none of it vegan.
So I was delighted to find this recipe for veganised brioche on the wonderful  Have Cake Will Travel.
I was a little bit apprehensive about the recipe.  When I boiled up the cornflour and refrigerated it I got a kind of solid block of jelly.  I threw that in the mixer along with the weird and wonderful ingredients and it produced a really stretchy sticky dough that is really very unlike bread.  Even worse, when I left it to prove it really didn't do a lot.  It remained quite small and distinctly unrisen.
Overnight int he fridge and it had actually increased in bulk a little and I split it up for the pan.  Not having any brioche tins (something else for the equipment fetish list) I popped 6 small balls of dough into cupcake tins and made the remainder into 4 larger balls of dough which I crammed into a small loaf tin.
After 45 minutes of "dough proving" in the oven, they were ready to bake.  By this time they had risen quite a bit and I was starting to become hopeful.
20 minutes later and the house was filled with a wonderful aroma of baked brioche.
We split a couple of the rolls for breakfast along with black cherry jam.  And all of a sudden all 6 had gone....
And the results?  Well when my vegan wife first tasted them she pronounced them the finest brioche she had ever eaten.  This was only slightly undermined a few minutes later when she added "well actually it's the only brioche I've ever eaten"...