The Brellis House


Vegan Croissants: An Adventure

Posted 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.

Vegan Croissants :: The Brellis House

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 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.

Vegan Croissants :: The Brellis House

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.

Vegan Croissants :: The Brellis House

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.

Recipe Adaptations

Adapted from 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.

For the bready croissants:

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.

Baking Through the Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Bagels

Posted on March 20th, 2013 by Dan

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.

everything bagels

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.

Anna, damn ‘er: Anadama Bread

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.


  1. Make sure to use a 100% vegetable based shortening.
  2. I added an additional 114g of bread flour while kneading to make up for my particular type of molasses.


Sourdough Cinnamon Raisin Swirl

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.

cinnamon raisin swirl bread


  • 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


  1. Soak the raisins in enough boiling water to cover. Let sit for an hour or more to plump.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Let rise in an oiled bowl until doubled (1.5 hours).
  6. Deflate and form into a loaf using the technique from the kitchn to get the cinnamon swirl effect. Preheat over to 375°F
  7. Rise in a loaf pan until cresting the top and then bake at 375°F for 40 minutes.

Pizza Flat Bread – 4 Ways

Posted on October 14th, 2012 by Dan

I’m proud of myself for how much I used the grill this summer. I’ll admit, the heat and our lack of air conditioning had a lot to do with it. Additionally, we lost power for over a week from a storm, so our oven was out of commission anyway.

One of my favorite things from the grill was a pizza flat bread. I was re-inspired by an article in Bon Appetit magazine which gave tips on grilling flat bread. So I went to work and made the dough from Alton Brown, but divided it into 4 balls for even more diversity!

For each of these toppings, I followed the directions laid out by Alton Brown, rolling out the dough, spreading the top with oil, flipping it over and grilling the oiled side for 2 minutes, remove from heat, oil the non-grilled side, flip, top with ingredients and then grill for an additional 2 minutes. Depending on what you’re looking for, grill time may vary from 1-2 minutes, so check the bottom and stop before you get past the point of no return.

Topping 1 – Margarita. 1 large tomato (sliced and grilled alongside the pizza, per Mr Brown’s instructions), a handful of Diaya Cheese, and a handful of basil chiffonade.

Topping 2 – Basil Pesto. Pesto and 1 large tomato (sliced and grilled alongside the pizza, per Mr Brown’s instructions)

Topping 3 – Sun dried Tomato and Green Charmoula. Green charmoula spread and sun dried tomatoes (chopped).

Topping 4 – Sausage & Cheese. Field Roast Italian Sausage (chopped), Diaya Cheese, tomato sauce and pesto.

Use whatever sorts of proportions you’d like. I’ll share my recipe for the Green Charmoula spread below. I originally made the one from the magazine, but it taste, unsavory, so I added some extra herbage and sugar. Combined with the tomatoes, I think it turned out pretty good.

Green Charmoula


  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1/8 cup mint leaves
  • /2 tsp ginger, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
  • olive oil
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp sugar


  1. Pulse all ingredients, except oil, in a food processor, scraping down until combined and the herbs shredded.
  2. With the food processor running, slowly add olive oil until the mixture comes together into a spreadable paste.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.

Soft Pretzels, Easier Than You Think

Posted on June 9th, 2012 by Dan

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!

Soft Pretzels

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


  1. Combine water (make sure it’s not too hot!), sugar and yeast in a large mixing bowl and let sit until frothy (5 mins).
  2. Add in salt, both flours, and melted margarine and mix until well combined
  3. Turn onto counter and knead until a soft, smooth dough forms (add more bread flour as necessary).
  4. Place dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic and let sit in the refrigerator overnight.
  5. The next day, bring the dough to room temperature by removing from the refrigerator for an hour before working with it.
  6. Divide the dough into 8-12 equal pieces (I divided mine into 12 87g pieces to ultimately form ~4″ wide pretzel).
  7. 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.
  8. 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).
  9. Place onto a sheet pan, lined with parchment paper, brush with your margarine/creamer mixture and sprinkle the salt on top.
  10. Bake trays, two at a time, for 12 minutes at 450°F, rotating the pans halfway through.
  11. Cool on racks and serve along side your favorite mustard!

Sourdough Adventures II

Posted on May 11th, 2012 by Dan

I’ve made a few more batches with my sourdough starter since my first successful loaf. However, these baguette-bâtard mutants are notably blogworthy.

sourdough bread

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).


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.

Cranberry Pecan Sourdough Bread

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:

  1. I used about 3/4 of the cranberries called for.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Cranberry Pecan Sourdough Bread

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.

Sourdough Starter

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.

Sourdough Starter doubled in size

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.

Sourdough Starter Bubbles

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…

Sourdough Starter

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.


A Lovely Christmas

Posted on January 24th, 2012 by Dan

I wanted to title this post, A Loafly Christmas, but I thought it was too lame.

It’s a bit late, but I wanted to share a few presents from my lovely wife. First, one that she out a lot of effort into and handmade all by herself: a bread board.  She made it from walnut boards her dad had from a walnut tree that fell on their property years ago. It’s perfect for slicing bread and displaying breads at the table.

My latest ciabatta, thanks to another Christmas gift from Susanna, turned out light and porous. I had heard that you could use unglazed quarry tile instead of an expensive pizza stone and she set off on a wild goose chase to find me some. These are 6×6 inches and fairly inexpensive; I line the middle rack with 6 of them placing free-loaf breads and pizzas right on the super hot tiles.

And while we’re on the subject of Christmas, we made pumpkin butter from our Halloween pumpkins and preserved them for Christmas gifts for pretty much everyone. Susanna made some labels for the top and we put together a label with some suggestions for use.

It was a good Christmas.