Thursday, September 29, 2016

Plaited Challah Bread

This bread is something that I tried when I was a teenager and have loved ever since. I have not had it for many many years, and I always thought it would be daunting to try making it. It just looked so difficult.

One of the vegan cooking groups that I belong to on Facebook (Australian Vegan Foodies) has a weekly theme. All the members get to vote on a theme and the winner theme is announced on Sunday. It is just a bit of fun but I always like to make something from the theme.

This week's theme was right up my alley, "Baked goods". I love love love looooooove baking. So I decided to finally give challah a go. I went in search of a recipe, and having just been given a bread maker by my mum (she gave me her old one), I went in search of a recipe for the breadmaker.

I found this one, and set on veganising it. I usually write down all the ingredients and then note my substitutions. I like to weigh everything if cup measurements are used, given that there is a difference between imperial and metric cup measurements.

In my excitement I dumped the flour into the bowl without taking note if I had pressed "tare" on the scales or not. There would be a 90gm difference in the recipe if I had not pressed it. I thought that it would not be a problem, so I weighed the same cup amounts of another flour. The weight was more than 90gms off, which told me, that I had not measured the ingredients correctly.

So today I went back to the drawing board, made the recipe slowly and made a few more substitutions.

The dough is kneading in the breadmaker at this very moment.

The bread maker takes 30 minutes to mix and knead the dough, and another hour to rise.
I have listed the ingredients below in metric cups and grams. The metric cup is 250mls. The tablespoon I used, is a 15ml one, if you have a 20ml tablespoon, then you can use 3 x 1 tsp for each tablespoon, as one teaspoon is 5mls. I hope that is not too confusing.
The recipe is very straight forward.

NOTE: In my previous attempt, I used vegan margarine instead of oil. I also used kala namak, to get an eggy flavour, and did not use the bread improver. The bread improver made a huge difference, and the dough rose to double the amount than it did yesterday.
Today I used the tumeric to give the bread the yellowy colour it would normally get from the egg yolks. I cannot taste it.

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UPDATE - 30/09/2016
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I just wanted to add a note about a couple of ingredients and some common questions that have come out after posting this recipe in the Vegan Meringue - Hits and Misses Facebook Group.

Bread Improver - is a mix of various acids and enzymes that serve to strengthen the gluten in the flour and feed the yeast, both of which yield a better loaf. (Source: Seasoned Advice). Here is an article on Wikipeadia that give you more information.

I just wanted to say that I have read in places where people say that bread improver is not required, and its just a gimmick. I can tell you from the experience of making two versions of this bread, only one day apart, that bread improver IS NOT A GIMMICK. It certainly makes a difference to the dough. The volume of the dough was at least double once risen, the bread once cooked was at least half as big, and the texture was so much better. Here is the link a home made improver recipe.
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UPDATE - 1/10/2016
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I have removed the links to the bread improvers online as one of the readers from the USA called the US company that sells the bread improver, and it is not vegan. Erring on the side of caution, I will just leave the link to the home made bread improver. This is a recipe online for a natural bread improver. I will give this a try next time I make this bread. Here is the link to the recipe.

Kala Namak - or bire noon literally "black salt" is a type of rock salt, a salty and pungent-smelling condiment used in South Asia. It is also known as "Himalayan black salt", Sulemani namak, bit lobon, kala noon, or pada loon. Wikipedia
Please note that this is an optional ingredient. The purpose of it is to give the dough a bit of an egg flavour given that this egg is traditionally made with eggs. A word of warning, once this salt is wet it will give an awful smell, I found it stuck to my nostrils for hours!!!
I would not recommend trying it, as when i did, the taste was in my mouth for about a day!
I have seen this type of salt added to scrambled tofu to give the egg flavour.

No Bread Maker - Many people have asked me about making the dough for this bread without a bread maker. I have not had much success in doing this, but then I am not very good a kneading at all. I have heard of people having great success in kneading bread with a stand mixer. I found this article which has some tips on converting a bread machine recipe to be done by hand or stand mixer.
Let me know if you try it and it works.

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UPDATE - 6th of October 2016
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Bread Improver - I have made two more batches of this challah since this recipe was published. I used the home made bread improver. I did not have any lecithin granules. I read in another recipe that the baker used psyllium husk to improve the bread. I used that instead. I blend the husk in a coffee grinder so that it is like a powder. All the ingredients suggested by the recipe are sifted with the flour prior to adding them to the bread maker.

Ingredients


Ingredients Volume
(Metric Cup/ 15ml Tablespoon)
Weight
Warm Soy Milk1 Cup 250 gms
Aquafaba 6 tablespoons 95 gms
Oil 1/4 Cup 65 gms
Salt 1 teaspoon
Sugar 1/4 Cup 60 gms
Flour3 3/4 Cups 575 gms
Yeast3 teaspoons 15 gms
Bread Improver1 Tablespoon 12 gms
Tumeric (Optional)1/4 teaspoon
Kala Namak (Optional)1/4 teaspoon


Method

  1. Place the ingredients into the bread maker in the order listed above.
  2. Set your bread maker to dough setting and wait until completed.
  3. Take the dough out of your bread maker and place on a well floured surface.
  4. Divide the dough into even pieces. You can divide the dough in as many pieces as you want to braid. 3, 4 5, 6. I decided to try 8 for this one, but the process is exactly the same as if you're doing 6.
  5. Place the finished plait on your tray and put in a warm spot to rise for 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat your oven to 200 C (400 F).
  7. Make your glaze and brush your bread all over.
  8. Place in the oven and lower your oven to 190 C (374 F) and bake for 30 minutes. If you find that your bread is browning too quickly, lower your oven to 180C (350F).
  9. Remove from the oven and set aside on a cake rack to cool down.

Glaze

1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup
1 Tablespoon Rice Bran Syrup
1 Tablespoon Sunflower Oil

Mix together until combined and use to brush on the bread.


I recorded the whole braiding process on video, but because I could not see what I was doing, when I played the video, my arm is covering the whole part of the braiding, so it can't be seen.


Here is a link to another YouTube video that has some really lovely braiding techniques.

Enjoy!!! Shana Tova!!!



Friday, September 16, 2016

Royals, royals, royals

Ever since I discovered the Vegan Meringue Facebook group (and subsequently became vegan), I have been meaning to make vegan Royals.

Finally got to it today. They are easy, but time consuming. There is no particular cooking skill required to make these. And they are delicious.

I will tackle some other bickie favourites in future.

Wagon Wheels, watch out, I'm coming for you!!!

Please note that this was an experimental recipe, so the amount of marshmallow I made was far too much for the number of cookies. I got 21 cookies out of this mix, however also keep in mind I had a five year old steal a piece of dough ;)


You can choose to make the same amount of marshmallow and double the cookie recipe and the amount of chocolate you melt.  Alternatively, you can make snowballs with the remainder of the marshmallow mix.

Enjoy and let me know how you go!

NOTE: The cookie recipe is a modified version of my Pasta Frola dough. The marshmallow is the same I used for the snowballs :)

Biscuit

Ingredients


180gms white spelt flour
6 gms baking powder
65gms nuttelex
50gms caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 TBS aqua faba

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
  2. Line two cookie sheets with baking paper. Set aside.
  3. Sift flour and baking powder together. Set aside.
  4. Place Nuttelex in a bowl. 
  5. Using a hand mixer to beat it until it is creamy. 
  6. Add sugar 1/4 cup at a time, and keep beating. 
  7. Once sugar is all incorporated, add one tablespoon of aqua faba, keep beating, then add the other tablespoon of aqua faba. Add vanilla, and beat until just incorporated.
  8. Add the flour mix to the nuttelex mix and using a flat knife gently fold it in, until a dough is formed.
  9. Gently knead it for a few seconds until it all comes together. You may need a bit more flour. Do not over knead.
  10. Roll it out thinly (parchment paper helps to keep it from sticking to your bench), around 1/2 a cm, and cut out with a circle cookie cutter (I used a 4cm in diameter cutter).
  11. Place on cookie sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes, until slightly coloured.
  12. Set aside to cool.

Mashmallow Filling

Ingredients

2/3 cup of aqua faba
1 cup of sugar
1-3 drops of pink food colouring (optional)
1/2 TBS strawberry flavouring (Queen)
3/4 tsp xanthan gum
1 pinch of cream of tartar

Method

  1. Pre heat your oven to 100C (212 F). 
  2. Place aqua faba in your stand mixer with a balloon whisk attachment. Add cream of tartar and set to whisk on high until light and fluffy. Start adding the sugar one tablespoon at a time until it is all incorporated. Keep whisking.
  3. Add flavourings, and mix well. Then add xanthan gum, and whisk for a couple of more minutes. The mixture will start to pull away from the sides. Add food coloring if using.
  4. Let it sit for about 10 minutes then, place it in a piping bag with a large piping tube. I used a Loyal round tube No. 20. I bought it from eBAY and it was perfect for this.
  5. Squeeze the bag over the cookie, pressing the tip initially into the cookie then lifting up, until you get the size you want, then twist the bag around, pulling up, until you are able to detach the tip from the marshmallow. Repeat until all the cookies are covered.
  6. Place them in the oven for 45 minutes, or until they feel dry to the touch, they should not stick to your fingers. You do not want them to be crunchy or to have any color. If they start to color then your oven is too hot. Leave the door ajar and leave them until the oven is completely cool. This is the step I didn't follow, and the marshmallow was too soft. Doing this with the snowballs, meant perfect texture snowballs.

Coating

Ingredients

400gms vegan chocolate (I used Callebaut - please note that not all Callebaut chocolate is vegan friendly)

Method

  1. Using a double boiler, melt your chocolate. They are tricky to dip, if you are an expert at dipping things in chocolate, you will have no trouble. I tried a few different methods. 
  2. Method 1 - coat the whole cookie, turning them around in the chocolate, and then trying to drip any excess. Try to over up the finger marks once you put them on the baking paper lined cookie tray. 
  3. Method 2, coat the bottom of a few cookies, then let them dry, and then do the tops. 
  4. Method 3, coat the tops, and do the bottoms after the top is dry. 
I think Methods 1 & 2 are just as successful. Not too keen on 3.

Enjoy, let me know if you have any feedback.





Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Vegan Kit Kat fingers.......

I have been intending on making Kit Kats for a long time. I bought the wafers months ago, and just never got around to doing it.

Yesterday I finally decided to do a bit of research as to what the filling in Kit Kats actually is.
Lo and behold, the filling is more Kit Kats.

Apparently Kit Kats that don't make it, as in they are not perfect, get ground up and used in the filling. So I started with the clue, that the filling has to have wafers in it.

I used these wafers (Altimate Natural Ice Cream Wafers). Please note that these are the natural and not the extra thick. The extra thick will not be as nice when you assemble the Kit Kat finger as they are too hard.
This recipe makes 8 Vegan Kit Kat fingers.

Filling Ingredients


12 wafers
50gms of icing mixture
50gms nuttelex
50gms vegan chocolate melted(I used Callebaut)

For the Assembly

16 wafers
200gms of melted callebaut chocolate

Method


  1. Place your chocolate in a double boiler to melt. Keep it melted until you're ready to dip the wafers.
  2. To make the filling, put the wafers in the bowl of a small food processor, or the processor that comes with a stick blender. Process until they turn to a powder.
  3. Add sugar, nuttelex and chocolate and process until all combined and a uniform paste is formed.
  4. Each wafer has a large pattern on one side and a small pattern on the other. Spread the filling on the large pattern. Do two at a time and then stick them together. Gently press them so that any excess filling comes out of the side. Gently scrap off the excess with a butter knife.
  5. Once the 16 wafers are done,  you will have 8 sandwiched wafers. 
  6. Spread filling on the top of 4 of the sandwiched wafers, and cover with the remaining ones. You will be left with 4 sandwiched wafers, each having 4 layers.
  7. Cut each of these in half lengthwise.
  8. Dip half the fingers in chocolate, and place on a tray to set. You can put them in the freezer to speed up the process.
  9. Once that side is set, you can grab the finger and dip the other end.
  10. Allow to set and voila, you're done