The Brellis House

 

Quince Tarte Tartin

quince

We happened upon a few quinces and really weren’t sure what to do with them. For weeks they sat in our basement, until finally we braved this tarte tartin recipe. Although it may not have turned out as beautiful as hers, it was delicious! We opted for a shortcrust pastry for the crust, which turned out very good. Shortcrusts are a type of dough with a 1:2 ratio of fat to flour with enough water to hold it together. To make the shortcrust I pulsed 200 grams of flour in a food processor with 1/8 tsp of baking powder. Then I added 50 grams of vegetable shortening and 50 grams of butter (cold). After pulsing until sandy texture formed I added enough water to form a dough, wrapped it in plastic, refrigerated for 30 minutes, then rolled it out for the tartin. quince tart tartin

Quince are extremely floral in taste and smell and are one of the few fruits that must be cooked to release their peak flavor and texture. The sugar syrup that we cooked the quince in is tasty too. We ended up with about 1/2 cup and used it to sweeten a gin and soda beverage.quince tart tartin

Backyard Sugarin’

We’re backyard sugarin’! After boiling sap from craigslist last year we wanted to tap our own trees so badly. Only, we knew we didn’t have any sugar maple trees in our yard. But after going to a maple syrup festival at a local park last weekend, we learned that you can tap all sorts of maple species. We brought home 2 spiles made from a sumac stem, which is apparently how the Native Americans would tap trees. I searched around in our yard, found a Norway maple, and immediately went to google. Not many people were talking about tapping Norway maples but it sounded like it might work.
sumac spile sumac spile

We didn’t want to invest in real spiles or collecting buckets just yet, so we improvised with an old maple syrup container (1 gallon)

maple sap collector

We drilled into the tree, about 3 feet from the ground, and about 2 inches deep, with a slight upward angle to help the sap flow down.

tapping tree

Then we gently tapped the wooden spile into the tree and placed the jug in a little notch we made on the spile.

tapping maple tree

Backyard Sugarin'

We’re excited but not really sure what to expect! Hopefully we’ll get some sap!

Valentine Doughnuts & Marshmallow Cream

Doughnuts are the best baked good to celebrate holidays, birthdays or any special day really. I have the fondest memories of my grandmother whipping up batches and batches of doughnuts for Fat Tuesday before Lent. She makes enough chocolate, cinnamon, jelly-filled and cream-filled flavors for all 7 of her sons and their families. I was actually able to get her recipe, but I found it doesn’t veganize as well as my go-to doughnut dough. Never-the-less, as a result, I have a sentimental part in my stomach for deep-friend dough on Fat Tuesday. Last year we were too busy to make doughnuts on Tuesday, so we had Susanna’s niece over to help celebrate Fat Thursday with doughnuts :) (which, coincidentally  was Valentine’s Day).

We made up two varieties, a yeasted gluten-free dough from VeganDad. This is more of a cake style doughnut (pictured below). Still deep-fried, still risen with yeast.

Gluten-Free Valentine Doughnuts

The second style was with my aforementioned go-to doughnut dough. With these I was able to make filled doughnuts with a delicious marshmallow cream. Oh, it was so good. Some we added a little peanut butter into the cream too.

Vegan Doughnut Marshmallow Cream:

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup tofutti cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup ricemellow creme
  • 2 tsp smooth peanut butter (optional)

Methods

  • Mix everything together with an electric beater until fluffed and slightly runny.
  • Use a piping bag to fill the doughnuts, or poke a small hole into the doughnut and drizzle in the creme with a spoon.

DIY Wall Art: Grandfather Clock Art

I love creating our own wall art and am always looking for ideas- and when I saw this pin I immediately wanted to re-create it. I love grandfather clocks and we really don’t have room for one in our house, so this is a perfect compromise.  It was super quick and easy to make- luckily we’ve got large rolls of paper, so we cut out a piece, taped it to the wall and got to drawin’.

grandfather clock art

Finding a frame for this would be impossible so we decided to go for the canvas look. We had some strips of wood in our basement and nailed together a wooden frame. Then we wrapped the paper around it tightly and used a staple gun/hammer to attach the paper to the wood.

grandfather clock art

We were pleasantly surprised how easy it was to wrap the paper around the wood frame- we thought it would be too loose and look bad, but we’re pretty happy with how it turned out. 

 grandfather clock art

Baked Chocolate Donuts

Dan got a donut pan for Christmas- something I was pretty excited about since we can now decrease our fried food intake. I’ve had a hankering for regular old glazed chocolate donuts so we made them today. We used this recipe and just subbed the egg with a flax egg and milk with rice milk. Dan also decided to make a chocolate ganache topping. chocolate donuts chocolate donuts

They turned out pretty good but I think I’ll try a different recipe next time. They seemed a little too cakey and spongy.

Raspberry Chocolate Macarons

The Brellis House: Vegan Raspberry French Macarons with Chocolate GanacheWe had such an overwhelming reception to our updated French Macaron recipe. We were featured in 9 Vegan & Decadent French Desserts by Care2.com and had a big boost of visitors from pinterest, tumblr, and findingvegan.com. Thanks to everyone who visited the site, made the macarons, and commented on the recipe.

The Brellis House: Rows of Vegan Raspberry French Macarons with Chocolate GanacheI know, as a group of vegan bakers, we can perfect this recipe. I made this batch with my same base recipe (no lemon zest or yellow food coloring) and added a few drops of raspberry juice to the versawhip ‘egg whites’. The filling is a chocolate ganache left over from our Berger Cookies.

The Brellis House: Vegan Raspberry French Macarons with Chocolate GanacheThese turned out beautifully, the pink shells and black chocolate contrast very nicely. To get rid of my hollow centers, I let them rest on the counter for 2 hours before baking and then baked them at 250°F for 25 minutes. This resulted in shells that mostly were not hollow, but still had porous centers. I have a few ideas to fix this, which I think comes from the batter being too thick- also this should help make a flatter, less puffed shell. Next time I think I’ll keep the 25 minute baking time at the lower temperature and try less almond meal/powdered sugar.

Let me know how your macarons are turning out and thanks for all your sharing & support!

Wintery Wreath

The Brellis House: WreathMy mom has always had the ability to seemingly effortlessly whip something crafty together and it always turns out beautiful. She’s especially good at making wreaths and floral/green arrangements so I decided to give it a try myself. Dan and I wandered around a nearby park and walked around the forest edge and found lots of grape and honeysuckle vines, a few pine and holly sprigs, and also gathered some wisteria vines from the backyard. I started out with a hoop that was actually from an old lampshade I took apart a few years ago.

The Brellis House: wreath ringThis next step was a terrible idea, but I thought that if I fattened the ring up a bit with newspaper then I’d need less vines to give the wreath some thickness. What I didn’t realize was that all my vines were so thick that they wouldn’t really cover up the newspaper. By the time I realized this I was too far into it, so I just continued and hoped it would be covered enough, which ended up working.The Brellis House: newspaper wreathThe Brellis House: Wreath Making The Brellis House: Wreath Making The Brellis House: Wreath MakingOnce I used up all of the vines I had gathered, I stuck a few of the greens on one side, salvaged a ribbon and stuck it on the door. I might keep my eye out for some red berries (holly or winterberry) to pop in for some more color.The Brellis House: Christmas Wreath

Snow Day and Berger Cookies

snow fernssnow squirrel Cosmo through window.We unexpectedly got about four inches of snow today, which didn’t really change our plans for the day (crunch time with schoolwork), but made the day cozy and put us in the mood for baking. With all the recent talk of the potential shutting down of Baltimore’s Berger cookie bakery because of the ban on trans fats, we decided we’d give making them a try. We used King Authur’s recipe and veganized it with the obvious substitutions of butter, milk, cream, and egg (vegg), and we also used agave syrup in place of corn syrup. They turned out delicious and the icing is pretty close to how I remember the original Berger cookie icing, but the cookie isn’t much like the original. But at least they are trans fat free!

Other notes on the recipe in case your going to try it: we cut the recipe in half and it made 9 Berger-sized cookies, but they didn’t need 10 minutes in the oven, they started to burn a little- so keep an eye on them.

vegan berger cookies

vegan berger cookies

 

 

 

Sourdough Cranberry Pumpkin Bagels

Pumpkin pumpkin pumpkin. Yes, we know.

Summer is over and it’s time to take advantage of local pumpkins in Maryland. I’ve made a few yummy pumpkin desserts and soups and such, but haven’t added it to bread… yet. Well, now I have. But first, let me suggest to you, freezing pumpkin, in an ice cube tray. Throw two tablespoons of puree into each ice mold, freeze, then pop them into a freezer bag. The result: 12 cubes of 1 ounce pumpkin which you can use on a moments notice to add in bread, pancakes, milkshakes… the list goes on.

Pumpkin puree to freeze in ice cube trays. The Brellis House

Pumpkin is a bread bakers friend. It can be substituted cup for cup for water and can also be used to enrich dough, in lieu of egg. Ever since I made myself a sourdough starter I have wanted to make sourdough bagels. Originally, I thought my first ones would be sourdough blueberry bagels, but the extra moisture in the blueberries scared me, so those will have to wait until the spring.

Sourdough cranberry pumpkin bagel with pumpkin spice cream cheese - The Brellis House

These bagels are great. They are rich, slightly sweet from the cranberry, chewy and take really really well to pumpkin spice cream cheese. For the cream cheese, mix about 2 tsp of cinnamon and 1/4 tsp of nutmeg and allspice each into an 8 oz tube of your favorite vegan cream cheese and blend.

Sourdough cranberry pumpkin bagel - The Brellis House

I hope you make these and enjoy them. They take two days with the sourdough, but worth the time, for sure. Let me know what you think and what else you like to do with pumpkin.

Ingredients

  • 5 oz sourdough starter (100% hydration)
  • 11 oz bread flour
  • 3 oz whole wheat flour
  • 7 oz warm water
  • 8 oz pumpkin puree
  • 0.5 – 1 oz water (optional)
  • 18 oz bread flour
  • 0.5 oz barley malt syrup
  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • 0.7 oz salt
  • 4.5 oz dried cranberry

Methods

  1. The day before you plan to make the bagels, make the firm sourdough starter by mixing the 5 oz of 100% hydration sourdough with 11 oz bread flour, 3 oz whole wheat flour and 7 oz of water. Mix until it forms a ball, knead briefly, then coat the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic and let rest for 4 hours. Then lightly degas, reform into a ball. Place this ball back into an oiled bowl, cover with plastic and refrigerate over night.
  2. The next day, an hour before making the dough, remove the starter from the fridge, cut into small pieces, place on a silpat and cover with plastic to allow to warm up a bit.
  3. Mix the rest of the bread flour (18 oz) with the salt and yeast. Add the pumpkin puree and malt syrup and mix until a ball forms. Add in the cranberries and switch to hand kneading (or use the hook attachment of your stand mixer) and knead until everything is incorporated, all the flour is hydrated and it feels pliable, but not tacky. Add more water if you need to allow everything to mix together, but a firm dough will yield a chewier, more shapely bagel. It is often easier to let the dough rest a few minutes and knead again a few times to ensure everything is mixed and the gluten is developed.
  4. Immediately divide the dough into 4.5 – 5 oz balls (mine were 4.8 oz) for 12 bagels. Let these balls rest a few minutes, then shape into bagels with whichever method you prefer. For shaping, I like to take the ball of dough and force my finger through the center, stretching it out, remembering the dough with expand and shrink the hole some when it is boiled.
  5. From here, I brushed the bagels with oil, covered with plastic and let rest in a cool part of the house for 2 hours to bake that day. Alternatively, in theory, you should be able to brush with oil, cover and retard in the fridge overnight. The goal is to not allow them to rise so that they get puffy, otherwise you end up with wrinkly, malformed bagels.
  6. When ready to bake, bring a large pot of water to boil, dissolve a 1-2 tsp of baking soda and 1 tsp of sugar in the water. Have the oven at 500°F with a steam tray in place. With my 12 bagels, I decided to bake in two batches, so I boiled my first 6 (two at a time), for 2 minutes (one minute per side). Then I placed these 6 on a baking sheet lined with my silpat and placed in the oven. I immediately threw about a cup of water on the steam tray and closed the door. After 30 seconds, I spray the bagels with a spray bottle of water and closed the door, repeating this 2 more times. After the last time I set the timer for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, I rotated the baking sheet, reduced the heat to 450°F and baked for an additional 4-6 minutes, until they were golden.
  7. After the bagels were finished, I removed them to a cooling rack, brushed lightly with melted butter and repeated the process with the remaining 6.
  8. Let cool and then serve with pumpkin spice cream cheese- vegan, of course.

Cornhole #3

The Brellis House Custom Cornhole Set

We made our first cornhole set for our wedding reception. It wasn’t too difficult by following directions from Cornhole How To. It does take some time and the lumber is surprising expensive (about $50-70). Even still, for Dan’s older sister’s wedding, we decided to collaborate with his younger sister and her boyfriend to make them a cornhole set as a wedding present. Lessons learned: an outdoor duck cloth fabric is crucial for the bags! We thought we’d get fancy with a cool canvas pattern, but unfortunately, the bags ripped after a few games… (cornhole is an intense sport).

Even still, one of her bridesmaids liked the idea so much that she asked us to make a set for a party celebrating her wedding. We saw this as a perfect excuse to buy a table saw- which we found at a yard sale. The table saw made it a lot easier and we used sturdy fabric and simple color patterns. She was happy with them.

The Brellis House Custom Cornhole Set Blue