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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Cupcake Party!


Alright, so I've said this before, but I really don't have that much of a sweet tooth! I swear.

I do like cooking things, but eating them (while delciously tasty) is another story. For a potluck, cupcakes are a fun thing to bring. They're individually wrapped, they don't take up too much room leaving the stomach open for other goodies, and they're customizable.

The customizable attribute is really the best part. Cupcakes are empty canvas' ready to be brought into the world to be quickly vanished in to the bowels of...well never mind that. It's fun and I find that no two people like their cupcakes quite the same way...though some people just like ANY kind of cupcake.

I made two dozen "rainbow" cupcakes...here's how:

Makes 2 dozen cupcakes!

  • 2 cup of soy/rice/almond milk
  • 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
  • 2/3 of a cup of canola oil
  • 2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a muffin pan with paper or silicone liners (I prefer the awesome silicon re-usable liners!)
  2. Whisk together the milk (vegan of your choice) and vinegar in a large bowl and set aside for a few minutes. It's always good to let the vinegar and milk talk a bit to each other a little bit. Add the sugar, oil, vanilla extract, and wisk until it gets foamy.
  3. In another mixing bowl, sift/whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add in the wet ingredients to dry, beat until no large lumps remain, and WHAM you're ready to go!
  4. Split your batter evenly into three bowls. Ad a few drops of different colored food coloring to each bowl and mix in well.
  5. Use a ladle to pour any color of your choosing into the bottom of each liner. You're going to make three layers of batter in each liner so leave room! Choose another color to add on top of the first and fill in the rest of the paper with the last color. You only want to fill each paper about 3/4ths of the way full.
  6. Bake these rainbow gooey babies for 15 to 20 minutes and pool them out and let them cool on a cooling rack.

It's All About the Filling...oh and Toppings

Frosting is generally considered the most important part of the cupcake. I disagree. I think the proof is in the filling. I like to inject my cupcakes with some kind of preserve filling. I take a syringe, fill it with my choice of preserve (raspberry, blackberry plum, etc) and slowly squeeze a bit into the center of each cupcake through the top side. Only then do I add a topping; a light brushing of powdered sugar, dark chocolate fudge whipped topping, soy whip cream, sprinkles, whatever!

Variations: If you want to make chocolate cupcakes add in a cup and a half of cocoa powder to the mix and skip the whole rainbow option. Not as fun, but tasty.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Chocolate-Apple-Cake-Pie!

I've always preferred pie over cake with one exception....

While I do have a bit of a sweet tooth, it does have its limits. If given the choice between eating cake and eating pie, I'll almost always choose the pie! For some people It's a hard decision. So why not have both at the same time? You saw some pictures of one version of this project and now some folks asked for step-by-step instructions. Here it is!

Enter the cake-pie! My good friend Brian (of twelve years+) is a bit of a comic book reading math geek (and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that). As a result, he comes up with some zany ideas. This particular project was originally seen at a Pi (you know 3.1459....) celebration. Having no idea on how it was accomplished, we both decided to attempt a vegan version of our own creation. The challenge was to cook an apple pie inside a chocolate cake. It's ridiculously easy and the ingredients simple.

For the cake I've chosen a delicious, yet simple, chocolate-blueberry concoction with a coconut almond frosting topped off with sprinkles. The pie inside is a macintosh apple-pie with a hint of cinnamon and agave nectar. Mmmmm, mmmm, Nom!

The pie and the cake are mixed separately and partially cooked separately before being assembled together to finishing baking. The Pie recipe I'm going to share with you by itself makes a very delicious and healthy concoction. The crust of a pie can make or break its success (both in shear functionality AND flavor).

Ideally you'll need three mixing bowls, but may easily squeek by with two. You'll also need two cake pans to make two halves of the cake that will be later assembled into one and a pie tin that fits inside your cake tins. We used two sized pans for the cakes.

I don't recall where I picked up the pie crust recipe and it's changed here and there. The cake recipe is based on a delicious black-out cake from Veganomicon without the ganche and without the raspberries and doubled.

Ingredients Needed For Entire Project

For the 2-Crust Pie (Base and lid):

2 Cups of Unbleached Flour
1 teaspoon of Salt
1/2 Cup of Olive Oil or Canola Oil if you must
3 Tablespoon of Cold Water

The Pie Filling:

As many Macantosh Apples as you'd care to slice up!
A dash of cinnamon
Agave

Making the Pie Crust:

In a Large Mixing Bowl, mix/sift the flour and salt together. To be honest, I generally just take a wisk and give everything a good mix.

Add oil and mix well.

Sprinkle a little bit (3 Tablespoons worth) of cold water over it all and mix well.

Mix the dough with your hands into a smooth ball adding more oil if it is too dry and divide the ball in half.

Next, roll out one ball of dough to the size of the pan you're using and place into pie pan. I prefer to cook in glass as I find it sticks less and doesn't require greasing.

Cut-Up a bunch of apples in slices and fill the pie. As a personal choice, I don't bother skinning the apples but you may wish to. Next dribble some agave over the apples and sprinkle as much cinnamon as you'd like.

Next roll out the top.

So now you have the two pieces of wax paper crisscrossed on your countertop. Now lay down a ball of pie dough and flatten it somewhat with your hands. Now take the next two pieces of wax paper and crisscross them on top of the pie dough. Now roll out the dough with your rolling pin. I find that I tend to start in the middle of the dough and roll it toward me - then I turn the dough (easily done since it is between wax paper) and roll it toward me on that side, etc. - continuing until you have rolled out the entire dough.

Now carefully peel away the top two layers - then turn the dough upside down (with remaining wax paper on top facing you) onto a clean and empty pie pan. Put your filling in and then do the same procedure to place the top crust on top of the pie. (Remember to put some water on the rim of the bottom crust before adding the top crust.)

Now you can trim the excess crust (maybe leaving 1/2” beyond the edge of the pie pan) and then fold the edges of the two crusts under and form into the edge that you mold into shape.





video

To be finished soon!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

3.14159265358979323846264338327950288



It's Pi day! Geeks all around the world celebrate Pi day enthusiastically.

If you're unfamiliar with this spiffy celebration, it's traditional to hang out at 1:59 PM and eat pie. Yes Pie. In honor of Pi day, I've decided to tackle a rather interesting conundrum.


It's a pie inside a cake.

Or is it a pie pretending to be a cake?

Either way, the pie-cake has candy that's pretending to be fruit that tops an apple pie inside a chocolate cake spelling out a confused new years message.

All around it's a very confused pie & the perfect food to bring to a pi-day vegan potluck!

So just how do you make a pie INSIDE a cake?



The secret lies in baking two halves of a basic vegan chocolate cake, taking the bottom of a pit tin and gently indenting the two halfs of the cake, carefully insert a cooked apply pie, assemble the top half of the cake onto the pie and bottom half, frost the pieces together and serve!









Happy Pi Day Everyone!


p.s. Geeks - please note the time of this post ;)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Braided Flaxseed Bread

I decided I would pop in a movie tonight and make some braided flaxseed whole wheat bread. Movie of choice: From Hell. The local rental house is going out of business and all DVD's are $4.00. It took me a while to get around to checking out the inventory so there wasn't much left. From Hell is a wicked little film staring Johnny Depp and examines a possible theory on who Jack the Ripper really was. The movie itself is based on Alan Moore's graphic novel by the same name. I couldn't think of a better way to get my hands dirty than to do it while watching a wonderful blood fest of murder and romance.


Most people might think that bread is an incredibly complicated and time consuming task. It really isn't. Most of the time it takes to make bread is waiting around while the dough rises. That's what the movie is for. There's absolutely no reason you have to stick around and wait for the dough to rise, you could step out and run some errands and come back and continue the process. It's really up to you! Control your time, don't let the bread control it on your behalf!

Any-who, this is a very healthy recipe that's easy to make and quite tasty. It's pretty basic and uses few ingredients and doesn't require any fancy kitchen gadgets. If you've never used flaxseed before, you'll either want to purchase flaxseed meal or grind down the seeds yourself using a coffee grinder/spice grinder.

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

1 3/4 cups of warm water

2 Tablespoons of sugar or maple syrup

1 tablespoon of canola oil

3/4 teaspoon of salt

1 cup flaxseed meal

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup all-purpose flour for kneading

If you've never made bread before, it's quite easy and a very satisfying experience.

1. Dissolve your yeast in the warm water until the liquid becomes frosty looking. Letting it dissolve for about five minutes will do the trick.

2. Next, it's time to feed the yeast! Add the two tablespoons of sugar, one tablespoon of oil, salt, one cup of flaxseed meal and one cup of whole wheat flour. Mix this with a spoon or fork.

3. Once things are mixed well, add another cup of whole wheat flour and mix. Then add in your one cup of all-purpose flour. Mix till it all holds together. This should only take a couple minutes. It will be a bit sticky, but once you begin to add in one cup of all purpose flour (see step 4) for kneading it will all come together.

4. Here comes the fun part. It's time to get your hands dirty and knead the dough by hand on a floured countertop for about 10 - 15 minutes. This is where that cup of flour comes into play. Sprinkle it onto the dough and knead it in with your hands. If you find that the dough is too sticky, add a bit more flour in.

5. Run a bit of oil around the mixing bowl to keep the dough from sticking and place your freshly kneaded dough inside and cover to let rise. You'll also want to add a tad bit of oil to the top of the dough.

6. Let the dough rise till it has about doubled in size. I generally let the bowl sit ontop of a warm radiator to help accelerate this process. I will take an hour or two to rise so take this time to clean up the dirty dishes, read a bit of a book, and relax a bit. Keep an eye on the dough and when it's doubled you're ready to rock!

7. Braiding the Dough is the next fun fun part of this whole charade. It's not necessary, but it gives a beautiful look to the final product.

While a three strand braid is certainly easy, a four strand braid is prettier and offers a more substantial final product!

Separate the dough into four equal balls and roll them out into long ropes. Lay these out on a lightly floured surface and smoosh one end of all four ropes together and place a weight on end to keep everything in place. Label each rope left-to-right 1-2-3-4. To braid simply cross 1 over 2 and three back over 1 and 2. Do this to the other side as well...4 over 3 then 2 over 3

and four. Each time you complete a braid, relable the end of each rope left to right 1-2-3-4 and repeat.

Once you get to the very end and there isn't anymore room to continue the braid, tuck the ends under the bread.


9. Place bread on top of a tin foil layed cookie sheet, cover and let rise until its doubled its size.


11. While waiting, preheat the oven to 350F. Once the dough has doubled, pop it in the oven and bake it for about 40 - 45 minutes. Once it's done, put it on your counter to cool for five to ten minutes.

12. Remove the bread from the cookie sheet and let cool on a cooling rack to room temperature. Letting it cool is key to getting a nice cut. If you cut it too soon it will simply flatten out.

13. Slice and OM NOM your freshly baked bread!

Vegan Cinnamon Buns! NOM!

Makes 12-16 (only 8 pictures as the other 8 were nommified straight away)





Time (Not Including Time for Dough To Rise): About an Hour
Total Time: about 2 hours.

Ingredients:

For The Rolls

2 1/2 teaspoons of active dry yeast
1/2 Cup of unbleached sugar
1 Cup of Ricemilk, warmed (This is important)
2 Tablespoons of ground flaxseeds whisked together with 6 Tablespoons of hot water
(You could use 2 'eggs' worth of egg re-placer but flaxseed is much much much better)
1/3 Cup of Vegan Earth Balance Soy-Free margarine, melted
4½ Cups of unbleached flour
1 teaspoon of salt

1 Cup of brown sugar
2 1/2 Tablespoons of ground cinnamon
1/3 Cup Vegan Earth Balance Soy-Free margarine, liquefied for brushing on dough

The Fro-Fro-Frosting


Originally this recipe called for 3oz (3/8ish of a container) of Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese but in an attempt to make this Vegan AND soy free....
At the end you'll find a soy-free substitute of a cream cheese spread.

Ingredients :

3/8ths of a cup of Soy-free Vegan Cream Cheese
1/4 Cups Earth Balance soy-free margarine, softened/liquidized
1 1/2 Cups powdered sugar


Instructions:

Mix the yeast, sugar, and milk in a mixing bowl and let stand until it get a bit bubbly.

Add flaxseed, melted margarine, flour, and salt. Mix well and knead for 5-10 minutes. The dough should be firm and smooth. Set the dough aside in a covered bowl and let rise and double in size.

After the dough has doubled, turn it out onto a floured work surface, cover, and let rest for 10 more minutes.

While waiting for the dough to double, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.

Roll the dough into a 16x21 inch rectangle.
Spread dough with margarine and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture.
Roll up dough and cut into 12-16 sections with a sharp knife.

Place rolls into a lightly greased muffin baking pan. (A cookie sheet also works fine.)
Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, for about 10-15 minutes.

While rolls are baking, beat together vegan cream cheese, margarine, powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt. Spread frosting on warm rolls before serving.

As a finishing touch, crush some almonds and sprinkle on top!

and the following recipe isn't mine nor have I tried it but it should work as a Vegan-Soy-Free Cream Cheese!

Vegan Soy-Free Cream Cheese:
Makes One Cup

1 Cup of plain rice or almond milk
1/4 Cup of raw cashew pieces
4 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tablespoon. cornstarch (or wheatstarch or 3 T. white rice flour)
2 Tablespoon. oil
1/4 tsp. salt

1 Tablespoon of Maple Syrup

Using a blender or food processor, blend the rice milk and cashews until smooth.

Add the remaining ingredients and continue to blend.

Pour blended mixture into a small saucepan and stir constantly over medium-high heat until it thickens and begins to boils. Lower the heat and cook 1 minute while constantly stirring.

Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Finally, whisk with beater until it's smooth. Cover and refrigerate. Before using, you'll want to mix it again with a whisk. If you find that it's too thick, it may be thinned with a little rice or almond milk.