Category Archives: BreadPosted on July 25th, 2014 by Dan
Friend: What do you know about making croissants?
Me: Hm, I don’t know. Not much. They’re hard.
This conversation between a friend and myself took place a few months ago. I knew croissants were layers of fat and dough and I had added them to my vegan bucket list after seeing VeganDad play around with puff pastry. But, at the time, I didn’t even know they were a yeasted dough, and certainly didn’t think I was ready for it.
Well, I’m here to tell you, croissants aren’t that difficult to make. Yes, even vegan ones. Like most breads (and food), they take patience and dedication to detail. If you try to rush croissants, you’ll end up with a flat, oily mess.
I don’t feel a need to post step-by-step instructions, because the methods for making vegan croissants aren’t any different than non-vegan ones. I will share some tips that helped me and the recipes I used.
I learned more from baking several batches of croissants than I did from research or reading recipes. For starters, there seems to be two types of croissants: 1) sweet, buttery, chewy/gooey desserts or 2) fluffy, bready, robust, roll-like croissants. The former makes sense to serve with chocolate and fruit while the latter can hold it’s own being cut open and stuffed for sandwiches. I made batches of each.
For the dessert croissants, I relied on VeganBaking.net. I adapted the recipe (based on my research) and came up with a nice result, which I think would have been improved by a longer proofing after shaping. This recipe uses sugar, milk (non-dairy) and fat in the dough so it’s more enriched (softer) and sweeter.
For the bready croissants, I used the recipe from Tartine Bread. I love this recipe because it utilizes overnight rests, uses a poolish and a sourdough leaven, has less sugar and no fat in the dough. I gave these plenty of time to proof before baking and so they were oversized and lovely.
In both recipes I employed some chocolate layering in half. Though I haven’t looked into it, I have a hunch that the chocolate should be added during the folds of laminating the dough. However, due to lack of foresight, I simply slathered some melted chocolate onto the croissant before I rolled it up.
Adapted from VeganBaking.net for a half batch. For the dessert croissants:
- 1/2 Tbl active dry yeast
- 5 oz warm soy milk
- 4oz (approx 3/4 cup) bread flour
- 2.8 oz (approx 1/2 cup) all purpose flour
- 1 oz (approx 1/8 cup) white sugar
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 14 grams butter
I made the dough and butter block (5in square block) in the afternoon, did two turns in the evening and then refrigerated overnight. The next morning, I rolled out the dough and did two more turns then refrigerated for 5 hours. I then rolled it out again, cut and shaped them, let them rose for an hour and then baked for 15 mins at 375ºF.
I used the recipe for the dough laid out in Tartine Bread, only substituting soy milk for the milk and again made a half batch.
As for the butter block, I had perfect success with using 100% Earth Balance Buttery Sticks, though I dabbled with various ratios of coconut oil and shortening and they worked equally well. For the egg wash, I had best success with using orange marmalade mixed with a little soy milk to thin it out.Posted on November 13th, 2013 by Dan
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.
I have probably tried about half of the recipes from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice since I received it in the winter. I figured I would only post them if I was proud of the bread, in both visual appeal as well as taste and texture. Not to say they have been bad (pretty tastey in fact), but I’m looking for perfect. I did some sourdough experimenting, then got frustrated and put it in the refrigerator for long-term storage. This let me not worry about feeding and strengthening my starter every week, so I could focus on some of the other non-sourdough recipes.
I’ve been wanting to make bagels for a while. My co-worker once suggested sourdough blueberry bagels, so I will have to pull out the starter again soon, but in the meantime, these ‘water’ bagels do just fine. They’re thick and chewy. Susanna’s sister (who had some experience in a Jewish bagel shop) suggested that they everything bagels needed more salt and a tougher shell (more steam, a trademark of commercial bakery ovens, which I may not be able to reproduce at home), but otherwise they were ‘almost there’.
I have made this recipe twice now, both times making half the batch into sesame and half in ‘everything’ bagels. My everything bagel blend is a mix of sesame seeds, poppy seeds, salt, garlic powder, black pepper, dried minced onions and fennel seeds.Posted on January 27th, 2013 by Dan
After long wait and much anticipation, I am now the proud owner of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread. by Peter Reinhart. I’ve now read through the introduction sections and have gotten to the formula (recipe) sections. Since he begins with the pre-ferments, I’ll skip ahead to bread number one as I begin my quest to bake all the breads in this book. I’ve already learned so much from the introductory chapters on shaping and calculating ingredient weights for recipes, not to mention the all the science behind creating and baking ‘world class bread’.
I may not tackle each bread in the order given, but I certainly hope to try each one at least once in a vegan fashion. This has been a desire of mine for nearly a year and has only grown stronger as I continue to experiment with and refine my own bread baking techniques. Coincidentally, the timing is appropriate to dedicate this challenge to one of my favorite vegan bloggers who, as of the new year, has retired from his blog, VeganDad. His blog was one of the first to provide me with consistently reliable and delicious vegan recipes (very important for a leery vegan) and is so frequently visited on my browser that when you type the letter ‘v’, it’s the first site to appear; it will certainly be missed. So here begins, in honor of VeganDad’s Baking Through the Bread Baker’s Apprentice, Anadama Bread.
Frankly, I wasn’t thrilled to start off with a cornmeal loaf bread- give me those french baguettes! But, I decided to start off relatively easy with a simple soaker and pan loaf. The recipe makes 3 pounds, but I made two 2 pound loaves, so I could practice tinkering with the baker’s formula. I was actually really surprised with how much we liked the bread. The molasses was amazing and the crumb was soft and chewy.
- Make sure to use a 100% vegetable based shortening.
- I added an additional 114g of bread flour while kneading to make up for my particular type of molasses.
Posted on November 5th, 2012 by Dan
Susanna and I were very lucky to come out of hurricane Sandy with only 12 hours of lost internet. We’ve had good luck with bad storms so far in this house. We spent the night swing dancing and preparing for the power to go off.
On Monday I worked from my grandparent’s house (they didn’t lose internet) and my sister happened to be there in the morning for breakfast. She has a slice of cinnamon raisin bread from the store and it smelled amazing. I thought, I need to make me one of those!
So I found a nice looking recipe from the kitchn. And oh, by the way, my sourdough is back! It died, I was too lazy to grow a new one, when I tried it took 2 weeks… but now it’s alive and healthy. So I modified the recipe I found to use up some of the sourdough starter. Here it is, very tasty for breakfast.
- 5 oz starter
- 4 oz AP flour
- 4 oz warm water
- .5 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 1.5 oz milk
- 1/8 cup (1 oz) Earth Balance, melted, room temperature
- 1 teaspoons salt
- 7.5 – 8.5 oz all-purpose flour
- 0.5 cup (3 oz) raisins
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- Soak the raisins in enough boiling water to cover. Let sit for an hour or more to plump.
- Combine the starter right out of the fridge and feed it with the 4 oz of flour and water. Let it sit in a mixing bowl for an hour or over night if you have the time.
- Mix in the yeast, milk, butter, salt and 7.5 oz of flour. Stir until a rough dough forms, then turn out onto the table and knead until smooth, adding more flour to make a tacky, elastic dough. NOTE: when we add the raisins it will add more moisture, so you can make this a bit drier than usual.
- Let the dough relax on the counter, covered, for a half hour. Drain the raisins and toss with someflour to absorb excess moisture. Stretch the dough on the counter and fold the raisins in, adding more flour as necessary to take up the moisture from the raisins.
- Let rise in an oiled bowl until doubled (1.5 hours).
- Deflate and form into a loaf using the technique from the kitchn to get the cinnamon swirl effect. Preheat over to 375°F
- Rise in a loaf pan until cresting the top and then bake at 375°F for 40 minutes.
Nothing quite beats a big, chewy soft pretzel. I had a great excuse to make a dozen of these for a work cookout we had last week. After they were announced, I looked over in 2 minutes and I had to run over to grab the last one!
Pretzels are very similar to bagels in method and ingredients, and while I’ve never made bagels, I’m considering this practice.
- 12 ounces of warm water
- 1 tbl sugar
- 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
- 2 tsp salt
- 10 ounces whole wheat flour
- 10 ounces white bread flour
- 2 ounces vegan margarine, melted
- 10 cups water
- 2/3 cup baking soda
- 1 tbl vegan margarine, melted
- 1 tbl vegan creamer
- pretzel salt
- Combine water (make sure it’s not too hot!), sugar and yeast in a large mixing bowl and let sit until frothy (5 mins).
- Add in salt, both flours, and melted margarine and mix until well combined
- Turn onto counter and knead until a soft, smooth dough forms (add more bread flour as necessary).
- Place dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic and let sit in the refrigerator overnight.
- The next day, bring the dough to room temperature by removing from the refrigerator for an hour before working with it.
- Divide the dough into 8-12 equal pieces (I divided mine into 12 87g pieces to ultimately form ~4″ wide pretzel).
- Roll a piece into a long strip, approximately 20″ long, careful to not twist the dough or make it uneven. Now, shape it into a pretzel form, and place on a lightly greased sheet pan and cover with a damp towl. Repeat with each piece of dough. In the meantime, put the 10 cups of water and 2/3 cup baking soda to boil in a large, wide sauce pan or pot.
- Boil the pretzels in the water, two at a time, for 30 seconds, while constantly splashing water on top of them (no time to flip, so just try to get full coverage on top with the water).
- Place onto a sheet pan, lined with parchment paper, brush with your margarine/creamer mixture and sprinkle the salt on top.
- Bake trays, two at a time, for 12 minutes at 450°F, rotating the pans halfway through.
- Cool on racks and serve along side your favorite mustard!
I’m still trying to get a feel for how to make great sourdough. I still haven’t been able to get a really sour taste, and on my last dough, the starter ‘over ripened’ and degraded the gluten, causing a dough that fell apart instead of stretched. Luckily that dough was destined for pizza and I could roll it out and salvage it. My second sourdough loaf had perfect gluten development, but again, little sour flavor (recipe link from Sourdough Adventures I).Posted on March 28th, 2012 by Dan
With my successful sourdough starter, I couldn’t wait to try it out. I decided to re-create my favorite bread flavor combination, one from a cafe where I used to work- a sourdough cranberry pecan.
The taste overall was delicious, toasted pecans and plump cranberries. The bread wasn’t very ‘sour’, but I think that’s because my starter is so new. Also, since I was in a rush, I didn’t let the bread rest the full 4 hours, so that took away from some flavor development too. I used this recipe for guidance from Allrecipes. Some suggestions:
- I used about 3/4 of the cranberries called for.
- Incorporating the dough with the starter was a big pain, I’d suggest combining the starter with the flour, water and salt at the start.
- I baked my bread in a dutch oven at 450°F for 20 minutes covered, then another 10 minutes uncovered, until the inside of the bread hit between 190-200°F.
I’m already getting ready to start baking another bread, this time with a 3 day cold ferment process, so it should be full of flavor. The recipe I’ll be trying out this weekend is from Ovenmitts blog.Posted on March 22nd, 2012 by Dan
It’s alive! I’m very excited to have successfully developed my very own sourdough starter! I haven’t baked with it yet, but it’s doubling in size every 12 hours, so it’s ready.
The first bread I want to make with it is a white cranberry pecan, reminiscent of a delicious bread from a cafe where I used to work.
This is actually the second try at a starter. The first one failed miserably when I tried it a month or so ago. Spring came quickly this year and a switch from 40° days to over 60° days made all the difference in the world for my starter. Not to mention, my first attempt was ultimately destroyed but a curious cat- Michi knocked it over and left her dough stained paw prints all over the table…
Never the less, I’m excited to begin my own sourdough adventure. I followed the steps from Pinch My Salt, if you’d too like to follow along. Also, I need to divide this every week or so, so if you’re interested in starting your own (and live nearby), I’ll give you some of mine.Posted on December 23rd, 2011 by Dan
We had a staff holiday party last week for my work. It was a time to be together, celebrate company and show everyone how delicious vegan food can be! I made three dishes, all of which were a big hit, and were the kind of foods where you don’t think whether or not its vegan.
First up was a quinoa salad was raisins and chickpeas. I adapted the recipe from Martha Stewart, using raisins instead of currants, lemon juice for the orange juice and adding about a cup of chickpeas.
Next is my new favorite ‘go-to’ appetizer: the Raw Tuscan Kale Salad from 101 Cookbooks. I am convinced that this is the best (and possibly only) way to eat kale. I love the super healthiness of this dish, and the lemon and raw garlic give it a little kick of spicy. I simply omit the cheese and bread crumbs and its perfect. Make sure you let the kale sit in the dressing for a few minutes, or overnight, to allow it to soften up.
Finalement, the Cinnamon Chocolate Babka (braided). This vegan version is from VeganDad. Flaky, almost like a chocolate croissant. The cinnamon filling added an extra kick that was delicious.
I would highly recommend using any of these recipes as simple appetizers to your next party.