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from Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

8 slices good, dark pumpernickel bread
8 tsp nonhydrogenated margarine
1 1/2 c sauerkraut
2 dill pickles, thinly sliced
1 avocado, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into 1/4-inch slices
1 pound tempeh, cut into four equal pieces, then cut through the middle so that you have eight thin squares

For the Marinade:
1/2 c white cooking wine (I just used regular white wine- Chardonnay to be specific. Then gave the rest of the bottle to my mom because I think it’s yucky stuff by itself…)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp Bragg Liquid Aminos or tamari
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, smashed

For the Dressing:
1/3 c Vegannaise
2 tbsp ketchup
juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp minced onion
3 tsp capers
2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish (or equivalent amount chopped pickles)
pinch of cayenne

Prepare the tempeh:
Combine all the ingredients for the marinade. Add the tempeh and marinate for at least an hour, turning once.

Mix all the dressing ingredients and set aside.

When the tempeh has marinated for an hour, preheat a grill pan over high heat. Cook the slices on the grill for 4 minutes on one side, until dark grill lines have appeared, then use tongs to flip them over and cook on the other side for about 3 minutes.

Prepare the sammich:
Spread a teaspoon of margarine on each piece of bread. Heat a large skillet over moderate heat. Fry each piece of bread on the buttered side for 3 minutes, flip over and cook 1 minute more (it’s okay that the other side is dry).

Divide the sammich ingredients equally among four buttered-side-down fried bread slices. Smother in dressing, top each serving with another slice of fried bread, nonbuttered side down, cut in half, and serve. For that authentic Jewish deli look, stick a toothpick in each half. Makes 4 sammiches.

There’s a local franchise that makes a really similar sammich (isn’t it just so adorable that Isa refers to sandwiches as such, consistently? I think so too), and I saw this recipe and wondered if it would be as good. And it was! I am pretty new to pumpernickel, so that was different, but the sauce and the marinated tempeh are really close to the Cafe Yumm! version I love so much. I’m actually thinking it might be a good meal to share with my family when we go to the coast in a few weeks (vacation hurry up and get here!!!), because my dad always claims that he’s missing out when he eats vegan food. This might just cause him to quiet his sammich hole for just a minute. I’ll let you know.
I have to admit though, that I didn’t read the instructions very well for the sandwich construction. After making two sandwiches, but using all of the tempeh and dressing, I was wondering why the bread was so soggy, and why my tummy was so full so fast. OH HELLO DOUBLE STUFFED SAMMICH. So, expect your sandwich to be a bit thinner, a bit more manageable, as well as greater in quantity than TWO, if you actually follow the directions. I can assure you that it’s just as tasty either way. Promise.
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from The Vegetarian Mother’s Cookbook by Cathe Olson

1 c chopped dried apricots
1 1/2 c boiling water
1/4 c maple syrup, brown rice syrup, or agave nectar
1/4 c oil
1 c apricot soak water
1/4 c orange juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c whole wheat pastry flour
1 c whole wheat flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 c wheat germ
1 c walnuts, chopped

Place apricots in heatproof bowl. Pour boiling water over apricots and let sit about 15 minutes. Drain apricots, reserving 1 cup of the soak water.

Preheat oven to 350F. Oil a loaf pan. Beat together sweetener, oil, apricot soak water, orange juice, and vanilla. In separate bowl, sift together flours, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt. Stir in wheat germ. Stir in liquid ingredients until just mixed. Gently fold in apricots and nuts. Pour into prepared loaf pan. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, or until tester inserted in center of loaf comes out dry. Remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack. For added flavor and moistness, wrap loaf and let sit overnight. Makes 1 loaf

Here’s one for the health nut in you. The sugar addict in you might have some trouble with it though, as might the fat addict. This is a really good breakfast bread. Topped with coconut oil (a THICK layer, mind you), it’s a cozy way to get your day going, alongside a cup of coffee. I do recommend wrapping it though; it needs all the added moistness it can get. The chewiness of the apricot along with the soft crunch of the walnut is what I enjoyed most about this dense bread. The orange juice gives it a little touch of sweetness, though I’d definitely be disappointed if you served me this for dessert. Unless it had a big scoop of Coconut Bliss on top of it.

So, this was a collaborative project that I worked on with my mom and husband, that my grandparents started. They had this huge three ring binder full of photos and stories and ephemera collected over the years. There are all of these great stories from the lives of my grandparents- growing up on farms during the depression, experiences they had while stationed with the Air Force in various foreign countries, as well as many stories of people they met. The problem was that there was only one copy of this cumbersome treasure. My mom had the idea to have it bound, and to have a few copies made, so that each grandchild could have a copy, as well as one for my grandparents. So she sent me to ubuildabook.com to see if I was interested in helping her make it happen. And I was! Here’s the final product:

We are all so happy with the books. My grandparents especially- they were so touched and amazed that we organized their memories in such a permanent way, and made it so that they can share them with others- there is an option with ubuildabook to order more copies without an extra fee, with a few reasonable restrictions. And the turnaround time was surprisingly fast! We received the books within a week of placing the order. It was amazing!
Making the book itself was pretty easy. We decided to scan the pages as they were found in the book, instead of re-typing and editing them; I didn’t feel that it was our place, and my grandfather had spent a lot of time working on his own layout (and page numbering system!) that we felt it was charming the way it was. Basically, you download the layout software from the ubuildabook website, and start at it! My mom and husband did all of the scanning- there were about 120 pages in all. Then I uploaded each image (page) into the program, and made each double page spread using those images. Making the pages themselves was really pretty easy… perhaps more so because I was on my high school’s award-winning yearbook staff, but I think that most people could figure out what to do. If not, you can call them, and they are quite helpful (I had a question after I placed my order). There are so many options for the layout and design of your book, which I didn’t really use, other than for the cover. It makes me want to go back and design a baby book, or perhaps compile my favorite recipes! Really the options are endless.
Here are a few of my favorite pages:

Those are my Great Grandparents Mary and Pete. Included in the book is a recipe for bread that she would make often- we called it G’Mary Bread. I was pretty excited to try out the recipe, and made it within the first 24 hours of having the printed book in my hot little hands. Now, you might remember that I’m not an experienced bread baker. Let’s just say I need a few more tries. Here’s what came out of it:

G’Mary Bread

1 qt (4 c) potato water
2 tbsp shortening
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp dark molasses
1 tbsp anise seed
1 pkg granulated yeast soaked in a little water with sugar
1 c rye meal
white flour

Stir everything but the flours together, add the rye meal. Keep adding white flour to the right consistency, and until it loosens from hands.

Let it rise until it raises double in bulk.

Punch down and let rise a second time.

Make into loaves and let rise.

Bake on a hot cookie sheet for 1 hour at 375F.

Perhaps you can see where and why I ran into trouble. The recipe is just a little vague. First off, potato water?!? I boiled some potatoes to mash up for my daughter, and was pleased to not have to waste that good potato water… but I was a little uncertain when I got to the yeast-water-sugar action. I ended up putting the yeast in a little dish, adding about a 1/4 teaspoon sugar, and 2 tablespoons warm water. I stirred it let it sit for a few minutes, and it got bubbly and thick so I figured I was off to a good start. I added the rest of the ingredients up to the rye flour, and then I got a little worried. It was so watery! Shouldn’t there be more rye flour? I remember this being a very savory bread… I started adding the white flour. Things got really sticky really fast, and about 3 cups in I abandoned the wooden spoon and started kneading with my hands. By the time I got to cup 5 or 6, I lost count. The dough just wasn’t pulling away from my hands, and I had no idea what the “right consistency” looked or felt like. I think there ended up being about 8 cups of white flour total in there! The dough was DENSE. Good thing I ran out of flour. Who knows how many more cups I would have added, before deciding it was never going to pull away from my hands? I put it in a warm oven that I’d turned off, in a bowl covered with a towel.
Then I went to bed.
I got up at 4:30 the next morning and gave it a few good punches (should I only have punched it once?), and went back to bed.
Then, at 9, my daughter supervised with a critical face as I divided the dough into two huge and heavy balls to let rise once more, for about an hour. (There was no moving those loaves to the preheated cookie sheet, but I think that would’ve been too much because the loaves were a bit brown on the underside anyway.) Then we baked! The bread smelled delicious and at the end of the hour, my mouth was so ready for some fresh bread action, and I was so curious as to how I did. I sawed at one of the hot loaves- the crust was really hard- but got a nice thick (and yes, dense) slice.  Oh my. Much heavier than I remembered, but really good!
I took the uncut loaf over to my grandparents to see how it measured up to the bread in their memories, and they admitted that mine was much heavier, but that “it’s hard to get the amount of flour right,” said my grandma. Fair enough. My mom said that we’d make the next batch together when we’ve got my great aunt on the phone, who’s made it several times before. I can’t wait, because I think that it would make a really tasty grilled Daiya and Fieldroast sandwich! Here are my warm slices, covered in Earth Balance:

I discovered with the next slice that olive oil makes an even better topper! I’m really happy that we were able to give this gift to my grandparents, and that I now have this recipe to work on my bread skills with. My great grandma was a true animal lover, and I’m so happy that I was able to keep that spirit alive with some tasty vegan bread. If you try this recipe, let me know how it goes.

from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

2 large of 3 small very ripe bananas
1/4 c applesauce
1/4 c canola oil
1/2 c sugar
2 tbsp molasses
2 c all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg (or grated fresh)
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan.

In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas really, really well. Add the sugar, applesauce, oil, and molasses, and whisk briskly to incorporate.

Sift in the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt. Use a wooden spoon to mix until the wet and dry ingredients are just combined.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes. The top should be lightly browned and a knife inserted through the center should come out clean.

Remove from the oven and invert onto a cooling rack; flip the bread right side up and let cool. Makes one loaf.

I’ve always been a big fan of banana bread, as it’s such a tasty way to clean up that pile of browning bananas before they turn into liquid on your counter top. This recipe was super easy, and not so far off from higher-fat banana bread. It simply lacks the greasy feel you sometimes get with banana bread, which I find to be quite unnecessary anyway. The authors explained that using a hand mixer to whip together your banana bread ingredients will make it gummy! Who knew? So I dug out my trusty potato masher and went to town on those bananas, then proceeded with a wooden spoon. Delightfully easy!
The molasses adds a really nice rich flavor, and paired with the nutmeg could help turn this into a holiday favorite. But it was really good when I made it a few weeks ago too (ok, so I got really behind with baby’s birthday party, 4th of July weekend, and visiting with lots of friends). It did take more than 45 minutes to bake. I wish I could tell you how long, exactly, but I had a braindead moment when I turned off the oven as I turned off the oven timer after the initial 45 minutes of baking time. So, over an hour later, my knife is still coming out with goo on it. The top was brown though! Basically I ended up with 4 good pieces of bread from the ends, and a big undone mushy spot in the middle of the loaf. Sigh. I was getting really frustrated before I realized that the oven was off… and then I got even more frustrated when I understood my error. I just need one more do over, to quote one of my favorite movies.


from Shutterbean, originally from The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method by Jim Lahey

3 c bread flour
1/2 c raisins
1 1/4 tsp table salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c walnuts
1 1/2 c water
1/2 tsp instant or active dry yeast
pinch of fresh ground pepper
wheat bran, cornmeal, or additional flour for dusting (I just used extra flour)

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, raisins, walnuts, salt, cinnamon, yeast, and pepper, mixing thoroughly. Add the water and, using a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until you have a wet, sticky dough, about 30 seconds. If it’s not really sticky to the touch, mix in another tablespoon or two of water. Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature until the surface is dotted with bubbles and the dough is more than doubled in size, 12 to 18 hours.

When the first rise is complete, generously dust a work surface with flour. Use a bowl scraper or rubber spatula to scrape the dough out of the bowl in one piece. Using lightly floured hands or a bowl scraper or spatula, lift the edges of the dough in toward the center. Nudge and tuck in the edges of the dough to make it round.

Place a tea towel on your work surface and generously dust it with wheat bran, cornmeal, or flour. Gently place the dough on the towel, seam side down. If the dough is tacky, dust the top lightly with wheat bran, cornmeal, or flour. Fold the ends of the tea towel loosely over the dough to cover it and place it in a warm, draft-free spot to rise for 1 to 2 hours. The dough is ready when it is almost doubled. If you gently poke it with your finger, it should hold the impression. If it springs back, let it rise for another 15 minutes.

Half an hour before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 475 degrees F, with a rack in the lower third, and place the covered 4 1/2 – to 5 1/2 -quart heavy pot in the center of the rack.

Using pot holders, carefully remove the preheated pot from the oven and uncover it. Unfold the tea towel and quickly but gently invert the dough into the pot, seam side up. Cover the pot and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the lid and continue baking until bread is a deep chestnut color but not burnt, 15 to 30 minutes more (It took me and Shutterbean about 15). Use a heatproof spatula or pot holders to gently lift the bread out of the pot and place it on a rack to cool thoroughly.

I love bread, and I love baking (like you couldn’t tell), but for some reason I’m really intimidated by recipes that call for yeast. What if I don’t get the water temperature right? What if it doesn’t rise? What if I hurt the bread when I’m kneading it? Well, this recipe was such a super intro to breadmaking for me, and it is SO TASTY. I would consider doubling the walnuts next time I make this (and that will be soon, you can count on it), as I’m a total nut fiend. Biting into the bread for the first time was lovely indeed, but when I came to a bite with a walnut, I finally understood the raves that Shutterbean gave it. Such a delightful chew-crunch!
I also must thank Shutterbean for her advice on rising. I was so afraid that our house wasn’t warm enough for the dough action we needed, and I was also concerned about the cats getting into it. She suggested that I heat my oven to 200 degrees F and turn it off. Once it’s cooled a bit, you can put the bowl in there to rise. Perfect! This solved both of my problems. It worked like a charm for both rises.
I started the dough at 9pm, and had the bread out of the oven by 1pm the following day… and promptly gave half of the loaf to my mother in-law, as I knew from that first bite that this bread was trouble! Note to self: do not make this bread before your husband has to work late at night. You will regret it.