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.
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)
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.
Then we gently tapped the wooden spile into the tree and placed the jug in a little notch we made on the spile.
We’re excited but not really sure what to expect! Hopefully we’ll get some sap!
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.
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:
- 1/4 cup tofutti cream cheese
- 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
- 1/2 cup ricemellow creme
- 2 tsp smooth peanut butter (optional)
- 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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
They turned out pretty good but I think I’ll try a different recipe next time. They seemed a little too cakey and spongy.
We 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.
I 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.
These 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!
My 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.
This 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. Once 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Let cool and then serve with pumpkin spice cream cheese- vegan, of course.
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.
I get most excited for the first pumpkins to mark the fall harvest. I bought two sugar pumpkins last week and used it all up in a week. Since we did such a great job canning tomatoes, I was hoping to do a lot of pumpkin preserving for the winter. However, I was disappointed in finding out that you can’t safely can pumpkin puree, though you can do pumpkin chunks, which I plan on trying.
Since I immediately pureed my pumpkin, I had to find ways to use it all up (which wasn’t so hard). I made double batches of our pumpkin granola, delicious pumpkin cake (recipe to come), pumpkin red lentil curry, and these tasty cookies.
The cookies are soft and chewy with a hint of pumpkin and spice, though they probably could have taken more of each. The brown butter idea is from some similar recipes I found that used it to add flavor. Since Earth Balance doesn’t have as much lactic sugar as dairy butter, I added some Amaretto to add some toffee notes.
Makes 24 cookies.
- 1/2 cup Earth Balance vegan buttery spread
- 1/4 tsp Amaretto (optional)
- 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp Vegg powder + 1 tbsp water
- 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/4 cups AP white flour
- 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1/2 cups chocolate chips
- Brown the butter in a small sauce pan on medium-low heat and melt, stirring in the Amaretto. Let bubble for a few minutes (no more than 5) until a slight, but noticeable color change (light brown) and a nutty odor occurs.
- Add the now browned butter to a large bowl (or one of your stand mixer) and beat with the sugars. Add the Vegg powder and water and combine. Then add in the pumpkin puree, spices, vanilla and salt and beat until combined. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Sift in the flours, cornstarch and baking soda and fold with a rubber spatula, then fold in the chocolate chips.
- Scoop tablespoon sized balls on a baking sheet (parchment or silpat) and bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges are browning (the tops will still seem soft, but they’ll firm up out of the oven).