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<![CDATA[Vegan Baking Articles]]> http://www.veganbaking.net/ <![CDATA[Vegan Baking Articles]]> http://www.veganbaking.net/images/stories/logo.png http://www.veganbaking.net/ http://www.veganbaking.net/articles/guides/best-oils-for-vegan-baking <![CDATA[Best Oils for Vegan Baking - What works best and why]]> http://www.veganbaking.net/articles/guides/best-oils-for-vegan-baking Best Oils for Vegan BakingThe term vegetable oil can sometimes conjure up images of generic, flavorless, lifeless oil derived from some unknown plant product using some secret, questionable industrial method. Maybe you’ve seen it, in the baking aisle of the major supermarket contained in a thin plastic bottle sporting a drab logo that hasn’t been updated since at least the early 80s. Yuck. It just makes you want to shudder. What is that stuff? {loadposition share}Best Oils for Vegan Baking

The term vegetable oil can sometimes conjure up images of generic, flavorless, lifeless oil derived from some unknown plant product using some secret, questionable industrial method. Maybe you’ve seen it, in the baking aisle of the major supermarket contained in a thin plastic bottle sporting a drab logo that hasn’t been updated since at least the early 80s. Yuck. It just makes you want to shudder. What is that stuff?

Vegetable oil can be that, but it can also a useful, helpful definition that encompasses all oils derived from plants. This blanket term is similar to how the term beer can define everything from the stale tap water taste of Budweiser to the golden elixir of Chimay Tripel. When talking food, these sorts of blanket terms have value in terms of communicating ideas.
 
As I’ve explored my vegan baking passion, I’ve noticed that the world is full of so many other fascinating, dedicated people who are also curious about baking without animal products. These adventurous bakers are all passionate about vegan baking for similar reasons: for some it’s to maintain good health. For others, having a minimal negative impact on animals and the environment plays a role. A distinct and growing group of people turn to vegan baking due to food allergies suffered by themselves, friends or family. 
 
The common theme is that people often turn to vegan baking and vegan food in general to see how they can rid themselves of a particular food product, or group of products. Vegans can be particularly inventive when it comes to dairy-free, egg-free, nut-freesoy-free, gluten-free, grain-free and even sugar-free foods. 
 
One of the exciting things about vegan baking is that we don’t have to play by the rules. Why don’t we just rewrite them? In recipes that call for fats, we have an extremely large toolbelt of various fats to choose from. This is why we should embrace the all-encompassing term vegetable oil
 
Different vegetable oils have particular aspects that may or may not fit into your preferred dietary preference. Since we’re rewriting the rules now, I’ll provide a breakdown of each oil so you can decide which one fits in your quest for your best oil for vegan baking.
Please note that technically, oils are under the umbrella of fats. Since I’m profiling vegetable-based, liquid fats for vegan baking, I’m referring to them as oils in an effort to keep things easy to understand. If you’re interested in solid fats, check out the Fats section which includes Vegan Butters and Shortening recipes along with their methods of preparation.
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What makes an oil optimal for vegan baking?

All of the oils listed below have specifically been chosen for this list because they hold up extremely well in vegan baking and general baking applications. Oils that are good for baking have the following qualities:
  • Neutral flavor. The flavors of the baked item should be prominent and not influenced by the oil in most cases.
  • Tolerates high heat. The oil shouldn’t smoke or develop off flavors when exposed to high temperatures.
  • Healthy fat profile. The oil should ideally be high in monounsaturated fat and low in polyunsaturated fat and saturated fat (coconut oil is a possible exception). A higher than normal amount of omega 3 is a bonus but not required.
  • Accessible. Since we’re going to use this oil frequently, it shouldn’t break the bank or be extremely hard to find.
I’m featuring four vegetable oils that mostly fit this criteria. Coconut oil is high in saturated fats and can be expensive but I decided to include it in this list because it’s still very highly regarded in vegan baking circles. More on coconut oil later. 
 
Everyone seems to have an oil they’re extremely passionate about. It’s kind of like religion. Go ahead and try to talk someone out of their preferred oil and into your preferred oil and you’ll see what I mean. 
 
Canola oil fan: “your coconut oil is loaded with saturated fat and doesn't have nearly as much beneficial monounsaturated fat as my canola oil” 
Coconut oil fan: “well your canola oil is GMO and over-processed!”
 
Be careful, a riot might ensue! The goal of this guide is not to tell you which particular oil is best, it’s to shed some light on the top group of oils recommended for vegan baking so you can make the most educated decision for what works best for you.

 In recipes that call for fats, we have an extremely large toolbelt of various fats to choose from. This is why we should embrace the all-encompassing term vegetable oil.

Why do plants produce oil?

Plants produce oil to contain the watery contents of certain cells within oily membranes, which helps the plant retain water. Plants also produce oil as an important way to store energy; oil contains about twice the calories of sugar or starch for the same weight.

What’s the difference between unrefined and refined oils?

Unrefined oils

There are multiple ways to extract oil from the oily part of a plant such as a seed, fruit or husk. Unrefined oils utilize a technique called expeller pressing or cold pressing, where the oils are extracted or expelled by mechanical pressure, which break the cells apart so the oil can drain away. Even though some heat is generated by friction and pressure, the oil usually remains under about 200F (93C). Expeller pressing is able to extract about 50 to 70 percent of the oil from the plant matter.
 
Since the oil is simply pressed from the plant material, a large amount of naturally occurring nutrients such as antioxidants, polyphenols, tocopherols (vitamin E) and other nutrients are released. This pressing also means a high amount of flavor compounds and specific fatty acids such as polyunsaturated fats are released into the oil.
 
Since unrefined oil has such a large concentration of unstable compounds, its advantage is also its shortfall. As these compounds oxidize, the oil becomes rancid and toxic in as little as a few months. This is why many unrefined oils such as extra virgin olive oil come packaged in dark opaque glass bottles instead of clear ones.

What’s all this fuss about oxidation?

Fat consists of carbon-hydrogen molecules bonded with electron pairs. As fat ages, oxygen slowly steals these electrons, causing the carbon-hydrogen bonds to break. The free molecules now become highly reactive against other molecules as they seek out extra electrons to replace the ones that were lost. You’d be mad too if oxygen stole your electrons! These unstable molecules are now known as free radicals and this breaking down process is known as oxidation. Heat and light accelerates this process. Some of these molecular fragments become volatile and travel into our nasal passage to be perceived as rancidity. This is why old oil doesn’t smell appetizing; you’re smelling very angry, broken oil molecules.
 
Free radicals can wreak havoc to other molecules and cells as they aggressively seek out new electrons which can lead to a domino effect of more free radical production; the fat breaks down further. The damage they inflict on their surroundings is known as oxidative stress. Many health experts believe oxidative stress to be the primary cause of aging and disease. This is why it’s strongly advised to discard oxidized oils.
 
Oil oxidation is why you can only fry with an oil up to a few times; every time the oil is heated to frying temperature, it oxidizes to a certain extent. It can never be repaired and eventually needs to be discarded.
 
Polyunsaturated fats are more prone to oxidation whereas saturated fats are less prone. High saturated fat content is why coconut oil can be stored at room temperature for years before turning noticeably rancid. Conversely, flax oil can go rancid in mere days if left unrefrigerated and is extremely sensitive to heat due to the large amounts of polyunsaturated fat it contains.
 
In baking applications, we have almost no use for unrefined oils because the heat of baking oxidises these compounds, deactivating them so they offer little benefit, if any, in nourishment or flavor. The brief blast of heat isn’t always substantial enough to bring on rancidity and actually make the oil toxic, but it does act as a quick refining process that ends up being a waste of good oil. For instance, using extra virgin olive oil in baking is usually unnecessary because the heat during baking will deactivate the flavor compounds, making the oil taste more neutral; you might as well just buy light olive oil from the outset, which is much more affordable.
 
Since unrefined oils have such a large amount of unstable compounds, they’re more commonly not as heat-stable as refined oils, which means they can smoke and generate toxic compounds at lower temperatures as their unstable compounds oxidize. The temperature at which this happens depends on the particular oil but as you can guess, this is often a major drawback of refined oils in the kitchen. 
 
What if there was a way to make oil last longer and be more flavor neutral? This is what refined oils are all about.

Refined oils

Refined oils came about due to the desire to have a more shelf-stable oil that could withstand higher temperatures. Not all oils need to go through the refining process to yield a shelf-stable, heat tolerable product. Some oils, such as coconut oil are already heat stable due to them containing a smaller amount of unstable compounds. In some cases, such as in light olive oil production, a small amount of cold pressed oil is often added back to the refined oil to provide a small amount of flavor.

Oil refining methods

Oil filtration

Filtration involves passing the oil through a filter that either absorbs or filters out unstable compounds and flavor molecules. This method is the least disruptive to the oil because it usually uses heat below 200F (93C) and doesn’t use chemicals.

Solvent extraction

With solvent extraction, also known as hexane extraction, the plant matter is broken up, heated to about 300F (149C) and washed with a petroleum-based solvent such as hexane, which allows the oil to separate out. The solvent is then removed from the oil by boiling it off. Hexane is extremely efficient, allowing up to 100% of the oil to be extracted from the plant material. However, there is concern that chemical residues can be left behind. There are also environmental issues with hexane. The US Environmental Protection Agency refers to it as a “hazardous air pollutant”. Since all of the hexane is believed to be boiled off during processing, the FDA doesn't require it to be listed as an ingredient on the label.
 
Due to the toxic issues surrounding the use of solvent extraction, I recommend using expeller pressed oils whenever possible.

What’s better, refined oils or unrefined oils?

Many people have the impression that all refined oils are unhealthy due the production methods used. If you’re using an unrefined oil at high temperatures, it’s possible that the toxins that are generated during heat exposure make it significantly less healthy than using a refined oil. 
 
To decide whether a refined or unrefined oil works best for you, it’s important to look at two things:

At what temperature am I preparing the food?
  • If you’re preparing foods with little or no heat, you should consider using an unrefined oil. 
  • If you’re preparing food at high temperatures such as deep frying, you should consider a refined oil.
Would natural oil flavors benefit or take away from the food I’m preparing?
  • In some cases, an unrefined oil can complement the flavor profile of the food you're preparing, for example,  when using unrefined coconut oil in coconut ice cream.
  • If you don't want the flavor of your baked item to be influcenced by your oil, I recommend flavor-neutral oils.

What happens when an oil reaches its smoke point?

The smoke point is defined as the temperature where a fat breaks down and visual gaseous products are formed. These gaseous products can be flammable and ignite when exposed to an open flame, effectively causing an oil fire. This breakdown consists of major oxidation of the oil which produces toxic and harsh flavor compounds, so it’s generally discouraged.

Free fatty acids determine the smoke point of the oil

The lower the free fatty acid content of the oil, the higher the smoke point. Free fatty acids can loosely be defined as fats that should be bound into tightly formed oil molecules but are instead floating freely.
 
Free fatty acids are generally lower in fresh oils and refined oils. This is why freshly refined oils have the lowest smoke points and are preferred for high-heat applications.

Here are the four of vegetable oils I recommend for vegan baking

Canola Oil

Canola oil was developed in the 1970s from a plant in the mustard family called mustard rape. As I’m sure you’ll agree, the name rapeseed oil wasn’t particularly appetizing so marketing wizards in Canada proposed the name, Canola, meaning Canada oil, low acid
 
Today’s canola oil is much different than its rapeseed origins. Due to selective breeding (some believe this to be GMO engineering which is different), canola oil features a fatty acid profile thats works extremely well in food applications. These features include a high level of monounsaturated fat, a low level of saturated fat and a neutral flavor due to low levels of erucic acid, which explains the low acid reference in the name.

Canola oil benefits

  • Canola oil’s claim to fame is its extremely high amount of monounsaturated fat in relation to polyunsaturated fat and saturated fat. Only olive oil approaches this healthy fat profile. 
  • Even unrefined canola oil has a high enough smoke point to work like a champ in vegan baking applications. If you wanted to specialize in frying, you could turn to a refined canola oil for the extra heat tolerance.
  • Canola oil also has a large proportion of omega 3 fatty acids in relation to omega 6 fatty acids, which is rare for a relatively heat-tolerant oil.

Canola oil drawbacks

  • Many people state that canola oil is a potential GMO minefield. Although its development preceded GMO crops be nearly two decades, there is concern that the majority of canola oil on the market is currently GMO. If you decide to abstain from purchasing GMO products, purchasing organic canola oil is a good way to get around the GMO issue. Spectrum brand canola oil contains no GMO canola as of this writing. An excellent writeup on canola oil can be found on their website.

Canola Oil Characteristics*

 1 Tablespoon (14.7mL)
Total fat14 grams
Monounsaturated fat8.8 grams
Polyunsaturated fat3.2 grams
Saturated fat1.1 grams
Omega 3 fatty acids840 milligrams
Omega 6 fatty acids2.2 grams
Smoke point, unrefined375 to 450F (190 to 232C)
Smoke point, refined400F (204C)
Melt/freeze point14F (-10C)

Get a price on the Canola Oil I Recommend at Amazon.

Light Olive Oil

Olive oil is unique in that it’s possibly the only oil extracted by a fruit instead of a seed or grain. Because of this, first pressings of olive oil, known as extra virgin contain high levels of healthy, flavorful unstable compounds characteristic of the fruit. 
 
These compounds include volatile aromatic substances such as terpenes, esters; pigments such as chlorophyll and anthocyanins; and numerous antioxidants such as phenolic compounds, tocopherols (Vitamin E and derivatives) and carotenoids. 

How olive oil is made

Olive oil is made by taking almost fully ripe olives, grinding them, pit and all into a fine paste for about 20 to 40 minutes, which gives time for the oil to separate from the olives and join together into an oily mass. This mass is then pressed to squeeze out the oil and water. This first pressing is known as extra virgin. The oil is then separated from the water by centrifuge or allowing the liquids to stand for a period of time until the oil floats to the top. The olive oil can then be skimmed off.

Refining olive oil

Since olive oil is pressed from the fruit of the olive and contains numerous unstable compounds, it’s not suitable for high-heat applications. Heat deactivates most of the compounds and the presence of the compounds results in an oil with a low smoke point. For use in baking applications, olive oil should ideally be refined so it yields a neutral flavor with a high heat tolerance.
 
Olive oil can be refined by filtration which commonly involves passing it through a charcoal filter. In this case, the unstable compounds are filtered out, leaving the fat composition equivalent to extra virgin olive oil. It can also be refined by solvent extraction. In some cases, small quantities of extra virgin olive oil are added back to the refined oil so there is a slight olive oil flavor. Depending on baking time and temperature, most or all of these olive flavors get deactivated during baking.

Light Olive oil benefits

  • Like canola oil, olive oil also features an impressive ratio of a high amount of monounsaturated fat and low amounts of polyunsaturated and saturated fats.

Light olive oil drawbacks

  • Depending on the refining process and the amount of heat and time used during baking, light olive oil may add a small amount of olive flavor to baked goods.
  • It's difficult to tell which brands of light olive oil are refined by flitration or solvent extraction.

Light Olive Oil Characteristics*

 1 Tablespoon (14.7mL)
Total fat14 grams
Monounsaturated fat9.8 grams
Polyunsaturated fat1.4 grams
Saturated fat1.9 grams
Omega 3 fatty acids103 milligrams
Omega 6 fatty acids1.3 grams
Smoke point, unrefinedn/a
Smoke point, refined468F (242C)
Melt/freeze point21F (-6C)

Get a price on the Light Olive Oil I Recommend at Amazon.

Rice Bran Oil

Rice bran oil is the oil extracted from the husk or germ of rice. It can either be expeller pressed or solvent extracted.

Is rice bran oil refined?

It’s my understanding that all rice bran oil is refined because:
  • When it’s produced by solvent extraction, it’s classified as refined.
  • When it’s produced by expeller pressing, it’s then filtered which classifies it as refined.

Rice bran oil benefits

  • Rice bran oil has an extremely high smoke point which can be beneficial in high heat applications such as frying. There are reports of it lending less off flavors to fried foods, resulting in a cleaner flavor at high temperatures.
  • According to some health experts, rice bran oil contains a fat profile that’s believed to be optimal according to the National Institute of Nutrition, India (NIN). This ratio is 27-33% Saturated fat, 33-40% Monounsaturated fat, 27-33% Polyunsaturated fat. According to the NIN, rice bran oil is the oil that most closely fits this ratio, clocking in at a ratio of 24: 42: 34.
  • Rice bran oil also allegedly contains chemicals that are beneficial to health. Tocotrienols are believed to have antioxidant properties and oryzanol, supposedly only found in rice bran oil, is also believed to be a powerful antioxidant.

Rice bran oil drawbacks

  • It’s extremely difficult to find expeller pressed rice bran oil. That means that the majority of the rice bran oil available on the market is derived from solvent extraction.

Rice Bran Oil Characteristics*

 1 Tablespoon (14.7mL)
Total fat14 grams
Monounsaturated fat5.4 grams
Polyunsaturated fat4.8 grams
Saturated fat2.7 grams
Omega 3 fatty acids218 milligrams
Omega 6 fatty acids4.6 grams
Smoke point, unrefined490F (254C)
Smoke point, refinedn/a
Melt/freeze point14-23F (-5 to -10C)

Get a price on the Rice Bran Oil I Recommend at Amazon.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is made by extracting the oil from the kernel or meat of the coconut harvested from the coconut palm. There are several ways to process coconut oil:

The Dry Production Process

In the dry process, the meat of the coconut is broken up and heat is applied to evaporate as much water as possible. This creates copra, which is dried coconut. To extract the oil, the copra is then either expeller pressed or subjected to solvent extraction. The leftover coconut solids are usually used as animal feed.

The Wet Production Process

In the wet process, the drying step is skipped. It’s important to note that in coconut meat, the oil and water are kept in an emulsion by the protein in the meat. The wet process is all about breaking this emulsion and separating the oil from the water. This can be done using centrifuges and/or a combination of heat, cold, salts, acids and enzymes. The wet process is less efficient at extracting the oil from the meat compared to the dry process.

Unrefined coconut oil

Unrefined coconut oil commonly goes through a quicker dry process or wet process before being expeller pressed. This ensures that most of the aroma and flavor compounds remain in the oil.

Refined coconut oil

Refined coconut oil, also known as deodorized coconut oil, goes through the dry process or wet process before being refined. The refining process consists of bleaching and deodorizing. For the bleaching phase, the coconut meat is passed through clay-based filters to remove any off-colors. Heat is then applied to deactivate enzymes that would normally spoil the oil. For the deodorizing phase, high heat is applied to remove the flavor and aroma compounds. 
 
No matter how coconut oil is processed, the fat profile remains the same.

What about saturated fats? Aren’t they bad?

The health aspects of saturated fats has been a debate that has rattled on for decades. It seems as if it depends on who you ask, on which particular day and which direction the wind is blowing. You can argue for or against the health benefits of saturated fats and point to extremely vast numbers of studies on both sides. The problem is that most health studies are flawed. 
 
To compound this, there’s another belief that animal-derived saturated fats are bad for health and coconut derived saturated fats are good for health. I used to believe the saturated fat from coconut is healthy but now I’m not sure. Who do you believe? I’d hate to make a recommendation and have it turn out to be wrong. The amount of data on both sides makes me extremely untrustful of people who claim wholeheartedly to know the answer.
 
So in the meantime, I’ve decided to eat coconut oil in moderation. That is, for the next twenty or so years, until the health experts wholeheartedly know the answer!

Coconut oil benefits

Unrefined coconut oil enhances creamy flavors
  • Coconut oil contains lactones which are flavor compounds found in peaches and cream. Coconut oil can be an extremely valuable flavor enhancer when your goal is to to enhance the creaminess or richness of a dessert.
The type of saturated fats might play a role
  • Coconut oil is high in lauric acid, a specific type of saturated fat that’s also known as a medium chain fatty acid. Since the saturated fats in coconut are made of mainly medium chain fatty acids, there’s speculation that the saturated fat in coconut oil may not be as detrimental to health as animal-based saturated fats, which are made up of fatty acids with longer chains.
  • It’s thought that these medium chain fatty acids get metabolized by the body more rapidly like a starch so they’re less likely to contribute to weight gain.
The lauric acid may have antimicrobial properties and other immune system boosting effects.

Coconut oil drawbacks

  • The same flavor enhancing characteristics of unrefined coconut oil can make it a drawback if the flavors aren’t compatible with what you’re trying to convey. For this purpose, you’ll have to seek out refined coconut oil which is usually harder to find.
  • Coconut oil solidifies below about 77F (25C) which means that if you add it to ingredients that are cooler than that temperature, the coconut oil can solidify which will keep it from adequately being mixed into the other ingredients. To work around this, the ingredients you’re mixing the coconut oil into will have to exceed 77F (25C).
  • Coconut oil unfortunately contains very little, if any, omega 3 fatty acids. 
  • Coconut oil is chock full of saturated fat which may or may not be bad for your health, depending on who you talk to. Who advises against the use of large amounts of coconut oil due to its high levels of saturated fat as of this writing? Oh I don’t know, maybe just the United States Food and Drug Administration, the World Health Organization, the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the American Heart Association, the American Dietetic Association, the British National Health Service, the International College of Nutrition, and the Dietitians of Canada.

Coconut Oil Characteristics*

 1 Tablespoon (14.7mL)
Total fat14 grams
Monounsaturated fat602 milligrams
Polyunsaturated fat167 milligrams
Saturated fat12 grams
Omega 3 fatty acids0
Omega 6 fatty acids167 milligrams
Smoke point, unrefined350F (177C)
Smoke point, refined450F (232C)
Melt/freeze point77F (25C)

Get a price on the Refined Coconut Oil I Recommend at Amazon.

Other oils

I didn’t include grape seed oil in this list. This is due to the difficulty of finding it expeller pressed. Most grape seed oil is produced via solvent extraction. I also don’t believe that it’s superior to any of the other oils in this list in terms of fat profile, smoke point or nutritive compounds.

So what type of oil do you recommend for vegan baking?

Years ago I was reading an article by Dr. Andrew Weil and remember him saying something to the effect of “the only oils you need in your kitchen are canola oil and extra virgin olive oil”. As I go through life, logging more hours in my kitchen and learning more about food, I become more and more convinced that this rule is true for me.
 
Extra virgin olive oil contains a treasure trove of beneficial compounds. It doesn’t hurt that it tastes amazing. I use it as a finishing oil on foods that aren’t heated substantially such as in sauces, spreads and salads. 
 
I use mostly organic (non GMO), unrefined expeller pressed canola oil for baking applications. I love the neutral flavor, fat profile and the price isn’t too expensive. If I were frying everything in sight I would probably invest in rice bran oil.

Occasionally, I’ll take advantage of the extra creamy oomph that a bit of unrefined coconut oil can lend to foods such as ice creams, chocolate-based desserts and custards. In these cases, I’ll usually substitute the unrefined coconut oil for about a quarter of the total fat in the recipe. The goal here is to enhance creamy richness and depth of flavor. If your tasters detect coconut, you've gone too far.
 
Although I’ve found what oils work for me, I understand that oil preference in the kitchen is a hotly debated topic. That’s why I’d love to hear your vegan baking oil preferences. So what kind of oil do you use for vegan baking and why?
 
*Note that these values are averages and may vary slightly. Oil characteristic values are from WolframAlpha.

Learn about the Melt/Freeze point temperatures of fats.

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http://www.veganbaking.net/articles/guides/how-to-veganize-a-cake-recipe <![CDATA[How to Veganize a Cake Recipe - The Food Science behind Vegan Cakes]]> http://www.veganbaking.net/articles/guides/how-to-veganize-a-cake-recipe How to Veganize a Cake RecipeSometimes you just have a recipe that you like. You grew up with it. Like the teddy bear that accompanied you through the thick and thin of your youth, certain sweets have always been there for you to bring you up when you’re down, celebrate your milestones and bring you and your friends together. They’re almost a part of you. You have a subconscious bond with these types of foods because you identify with them, they make you feel good and they define part of the personal culture that is you. This is part of the definition of comfort food.
 
But now you’re vegan and that german chocolate cake that your grandmother bought you up on is strictly verboten by the vegan police. Or it might not be, but you’re trying to eat less of it as you transition your diet to one that involves less animal products. You could just find a cake that’s been designed to be vegan from the ground up, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to measure up to Grandma’s cake. What a crisis! What are we going to do?
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Sometimes you just have a recipe that you like. You grew up with it. Like the teddy bear that accompanied you through the thick and thin of your youth, certain sweets have always been there for you to bring you up when you’re down, celebrate your milestones and bring you and your friends together. They’re almost a part of you. You have a subconscious bond with these types of foods because you identify with them, they make you feel good and they define part of the personal culture that is you. This is part of the definition of comfort food.
 
But now you’re vegan and that german chocolate cake that your grandmother bought you up on is strictly verboten by the vegan police. Or it might not be, but you’re trying to eat less of it as you transition your diet to one that involves less animal products. You could just find a cake that’s been designed to be vegan from the ground up, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to measure up to Grandma’s cake. What a crisis! What are we going to do?
 
For me it was my Mom’s carrot cake. Oh so luscious, with the kind of carrot shreds you could see and the perfect balance of pineapple, raisins and a hint of cardamom. “Sorry Mom, I’m vegan now and I’m not going to eat that anymore”. I was almost as surprised to say it as she was to hear it. Enough of this nonsense! I was going to have to figure out how to veganize her recipe. But where would I start? I wish I could go back in time and write an article that would help me understand the food science behind veganizing cakes- Wait a minute! If I write one now, all we’ll need is for time travel to be invented. Then I’ll be able to go back in time and email it to myself. Well then, let’s get started!
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Vegan cake disasters

Have you ever veganized a cake before? What was the result? When I started experimenting with converting traditional cake recipes to be vegan, I started to get real familiar with overly moist cakes that appeared to rise in the oven, but would then crash into an almost pudding consistency in the middle. Sometimes the sides would come out almost okay, if a bit on the dense and sticky side. These cakes also seemed more sweet which was likely due to them containing considerably less air which tended to concentrate sweetness. Even after adding more baking soda and baking powder, I could never get them to hold their rise and have an acceptable crumb. I was starting to get really good at baking up really moist sunken discs. 
 
I decided that my sunken discs were occurring because there were no eggs in my cake batter. After all, you must have eggs in order to make cake right? Oh and cake flour too! Bakers have been using eggs in cakes for at least a hundred years. So I made several different versions, all using different types of vegan egg replacers for the batter. I also baked cakes with and without cake flour and the cakes became even more sunken! I was either going to have to pioneer a dessert based off sunken discs, take up skeet shooting, or figure out this cake veganization thing once and for all.

Understanding traditional cakes

It wasn’t until I started to look into the building blocks of traditional cake that things started to become more clear. That’s right, in order for cake batter to bake into a light and airy cake, certain variables absolutely must be in place.

Toasted Coconut Cake ingredients

Cake building blocks

Both traditional cake and vegan cake share the same end goal: to bake a sweet batter that rises via trapped C02 (carbon dioxide) and steam bubbles before setting and cooling in place which results in a light and airy crumb. This is achieved with ingredients that fall into the following four categories, with some ingredients falling under multiple categories. 

Structure builders

These are the scaffolding of our cakes, working like rebar in concrete. These ingredients usually consist of coagulated egg proteins and/or gluten that forms a three dimensional protein network throughout the starches, fats, sugars and steam/gas bubbles of our cake. Too much structure results in a cake that can be dry and stiff like bread. Too little can result in a cake that rises and crashes into a moist pudding consistency.

Tenderizers

These ingredients are the opposite of structure builders. Tenderness can refer to the softness of the cake and the fine, small size of the crumb. Fats cause proteins to get slippery so they’re inhibited from coagulating to form structure. Water disperses glutenin and gliadin, the proteins that combine to form gluten, to the point of where they can’t join as completely. Sugar’s insatiable appetite for water can leave too little left over for egg proteins and/or gluten to bind together completely, leading to cakes that rise and crash. 
 
Acids such as apple cider vinegar can increase the tenderness of cakes because they slightly inhibit the coagulation of egg and glutenin/gliadin proteins. They can also promote tenderness by reacting with the alkalinity of baking soda, which produces more C02 gas that results in a higher rising, and thus, lighter cake. When I first got into baking I kept hearing people saying that cake recipes using acids such as apple cider vinegar produce cakes with a nicer crumb. I always thought, “what the heck do they mean by that?” This tenderness is what is most likely meant. Acids also have the benefit of increasing flavor depth as well as reducing browning to some extent.
 
Salt should have a special mention here, because it tends to increase gluten strength to some degree. This is the opposite of tenderizing but it's worth knowing that it can play a role. Whether it’s noticeable in a cake is up for debate; it's a more well known variable in hearth breads.

Moisturizers

Water is obviously a moisturizer but since sugar is first in line to absorb it and hold onto much of it during baking, the amount of sugar is directly proportional to the moistness of your cake. Fats get interspersed with water and also tends to make cakes more moist.

Drying agents

As egg proteins and/or gluten and gliadin coagulate, they require a large amount of water which can reduce the moisture level of the cake. Starches in the flour also absorb liquid to a smaller extent.

Rosemary Semolina Cake

Cake methods

There are several popular methods for mixing cake batter. The two most popular are:

The Quick Bread Method

In this method, also known as the one-stage method, the dry ingredients are mixed in one bowl and the wet ingredients, including eggs in traditional cakes, are mixed in another bowl. The wet ingredients are then transferred to the bowl containing the dry ingredients in one stage. The batter is then mixed until just incorporated. This is the method that most vegan cakes are based from. This is due to two reasons: 1) Vegan cakes usually take advantage of chemical leavening, that is, leavening with baking powder and baking soda. 2) It’s really easy to develop gluten with this method. More on that later.

Here's an example of a recipe using the Quick Bread Method.

The Cream Method

In this method, the semi-solid fat such as butter or shortening is beaten together with the sugar. The sugar crystals cut through the fat during beating and create microscopic air pockets. These tiny pockets end up seeding the cake batter with larger bubbles as soon as the batter is exposed to heat and C02 and steam are generated. After the fat is beaten with the sugar, eggs are beaten into the mixture along with other flavorings such as vanilla extract and spices. Lastly, the flour is carefully mixed or folded into the mixture so a minimal amount of gluten is developed.
 
In traditional cakes, the Cream Method is usually superior because it allows for a lighter and fluffier cake due to the seeding of the air pockets in the batter as well as egg protein coagulation providing structure and gas/steam holding capacity. In vegan cakes, this method isn’t often used because due to the absence of the eggs, the batter isn’t going to work the same way to justify the extra effort.

Here's an example of a recipe using the Cream Method.

What happens during cake baking, a timeline

Now that we understand the building blocks of traditional cakes, how do they play out when exposed to the heat of the oven? Here’s an approximation of how the magic happens.
 
1) Egg proteins and/or glutenin and gliadin absorb moisture as they become denatured (distorted) by the heat. 
 
2) The starches in the flour, in a crystallized granular state, begin to absorb water and become semi-solid. Sugars begin to melt.
 
3) Egg proteins (mostly albumen) and/or gluten begin to form protein films. These films trap rising C02 produced by the baking powder and baking soda, as well as steam being produced by the water-based ingredients.
 
4) The C02 and steam continue to push the cake up with rising power. This is the leavening process.
 
5) The C02 and steam begin to subside just as the coagulated proteins are beginning to firm up and the cake starts to dry out. The semi-solid starches are fully infused with mostly water and smaller amounts of fat and sugar molecules.
 
6) The cake is removed from the oven. The batter is still in a mostly liquid state because the starches are still semi-solid and the proteins haven’t completely set yet. During cooling, the protein network solidifies which reinforces the cake structure and the starches partially recrystallize which adds a smaller degree of firmness. The C02 and steam leave the cake resulting in a mass of millions of empty pockets. 

Vegan cakes are different

Once I familiarized myself with the traditional cake building blocks and methods, I began to realize that the reason I was having so much trouble with veganizing cakes was that I was still treating them as traditional cakes. Vegan cakes are completely different animals and need to be reworked with vegan-specific building blocks that actually buck cake tradition. Don’t tell Grandma! 
 
"What about my aunt’s cake recipe that uses four eggs? Can I veganize that?"
 
In a word, no. Traditional cake recipes that rely on any more than about two eggs are different beasts. These cake recipes are using egg proteins to make up the majority of the cake structure, displacing flour entirely in some cases. For example, in a cake recipe that uses eight eggs, almond flour and no wheat-based flour, walk away. You’re not going to be able to make up the structure building power of eggs if they’re providing 100 percent of the structure in the recipe. You’re better off finding another recipe and saving yourself your sanity. It’s just not worth the trouble.

Carrot Cake before baking

Okay, enough of this food science jibber jabber- How do you veganize cakes?

Now that you know the basics of cake science, I have some great news: Veganizing cake recipes will probably be easier than comprehending this guide. You now have what it takes! Here are the main ways in which it’s done:

1) Use gluten as your main structure builder

If you only remember one part of this guide, remember this: In traditional cakes, it’s all about minimizing gluten formation and utilizing egg proteins to build structure. In vegan cakes, the absence of the egg makes it so that it’s all about taking advantage of gluten formation to build structure.
 
This means that when you take the egg out of a cake recipe, you’re going to be taking out the primary structure builder, which means that the cake is going to fall flat. Adding vegan egg replacers won’t work because you’ll only be adding more starches, which is going to hold onto even more moisture during baking, making the issue worse. 
 
This obviously doesn’t apply if you’re baking vegan gluten-free cakes. In this case, I recommend experimenting with specialized gluten-free flours. I have several that are forthcoming. As soon as they’re fully tested, you can be sure that I’ll do extensive writeups on them.

2) Forget everything you know about proper cake batter consistency

The trick is to reduce the water content or increase the flour called for in your traditional cake recipe until the batter is the consistency of soft serve ice cream. You know that consistency of traditional cake batter where it’s similar to pancake batter? The best thing you can do for yourself when baking vegan cakes is to forget about this association. Vegan cake batter is so thick that the first few times you work with it you might be in disbelief, thinking that it must need just a bit more water. Don’t do it!

3) Forget about egg replacers

Here’s a little secret: Nowadays I don’t believe egg replacers are necessary for most cakes. In fact, I believe they’re actually detrimental. This is because, as I mentioned earlier, most vegan egg replacers don’t develop structure via protein networks as eggs do. In fact, they're not really structure builders at all. Vegan egg replacers work as binders which allows ingredients to stick together more by using long chains of sugars known as polysaccharides. These types of compounds make batters and doughs excessively gummy so they clump together and often result in a more dense, chewier baked item. This doesn’t work in cakes, where you need to build a reinforcing structure and have a means of trapping rising C02 and steam. Since polysaccharides hold onto excess water, they’re going to act as tenderizers which will result in cakes that rise and crash; exactly the opposite of what we want. 
 
Keep in mind that in gluten-free vegan baking, certain starches and gums such as xanthan gum can be marginally effective in trapping these rising gas bubbles. But if you’re not baking gluten-free and you already have gluten in your batter, gluten will work far better.

4) Embrace failure because it’s the best way to learn baking

This may sound funny, but when I veganize a cake recipe, I usually plan to fail at least once before I make the final cake. And why not? Cake ingredients are usually cheap and cakes are quick to make so failure will teach you immensely. Fail is just another word for learn. If you don’t fail, you don’t learn. One of the goals of this guide is to empower you with the knowledge to know how to adjust your cake recipe if it doesn’t turn out and the drive to succeed to sugary success. Reading words alone will only teach you what direction to go.
 
I first bake with a thicker batter that’s the consistency of soft serve. I bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean or with a couple crumbs attached. After the cake has cooled I assess it by taking note of how much or how little it rose as well as assessing flavor. Is it too sweet? Does it need more salt to enhance the flavors I'm trying to convey? I then move to next steps, such as the ones outlined in the chart below.

Toasted coconut cake before baking
 

Vegan Cake Troubleshooting

Cake ConditionExplanationFixing Options
Sank in the middleUsually caused by batter being too thin, lack of leavening power or excess sugar robbing water from gluten. Can also be caused by excessive fat.
Reduce water content. 
Reduce sugar content.
Increase baking powder and baking soda.
Reduce fat content
Didn't rise at allUsually caused by batter being too thin or lack of leavening power.
Reduce water content.
Increase baking powder and baking soda.
Too DryUsually caused by excessive baking time or lack of water and/or fat.
Decrease baking time.
Add additional water and/or fat.
 
For convenience purposes, I always advocate finding a cake recipe that’s been designed to be vegan from the ground up. But if you’re feeling adventurous or you’re wanting to keep your favorite traditional family heirloom recipe alive, you now have what it takes to sharpen your whisks, put your baking helmet on and veganize almost any cake recipe that crosses your path.

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Thu, 02 Jan 2014 05:26:14 -0500 834 2014-01-02
http://www.veganbaking.net/articles/guides/how-to-temper-chocolate <![CDATA[How to temper chocolate like a pro]]> http://www.veganbaking.net/articles/guides/how-to-temper-chocolate
How to Temper ChocolateMy love affair with chocolate comes from many things: The smell of rich cocoa that fills your nostrils upon opening a box of chocolate; the numerous shapes and sizes and the way the light reflects off their glossy angles; the fillings that lurk within certain chocolates, waiting to be discovered; the snap when you bite into it, sending a shockwave throughout your mouth that signifies that the rush of chocolate flavor has been unleashed to your senses. This telltale snap is like a magician quickly withdrawing a velvet cloak, exposing the magic below.
 
Fascinated by this experience, long ago I set out to make my own chocolate chocolate bonbons with good quality store bought baking chocolate. I’d melt the chocolate and use it to coat some fillings and everything would be great. I could pack them up for Mom and she would be astounded when she learned that I had done this all myself.

There was only one little problem though.
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How to Temper Chocolate

My love affair with chocolate comes from many things: The smell of rich cocoa that fills your nostrils upon opening a box of chocolate; the numerous shapes and sizes and the way the light reflects off their glossy angles; the fillings that lurk within certain chocolates, waiting to be discovered; the snap when you bite into it, sending a shockwave throughout your mouth that signifies that the rush of chocolate flavor has been unleashed to your senses. This telltale snap is like a magician quickly withdrawing a velvet cloak, exposing the magic below.
 
Fascinated by this experience, long ago I set out to make my own chocolate chocolate bonbons with good quality store bought baking chocolate. I’d melt the chocolate and use it to coat some fillings and everything would be great. I could pack them up for Mom and she would be astounded when she learned that I had done this all myself.

There was only one little problem though.
 
Once I had given a full day for good measure, to give the chocolate a chance to solidify around the fillings, I grabbed a bonbon to survey it. Surprisingly, they weren’t as glossy as the ones I was trying to replicate from the professional chocolatier. They had more of a flat, blemished appearance with a mysterious white powder that I don’t remember dusting them with. Then I took a bite. Astounded would be the proper word to describe what I was feeling, but not in the way I had hoped. There was no snap and the chocolate crumbled and gave way like a landslide, filling my mouth with chocolate dust that turned from a sandy consistency, into a strange gum before finally melting away. The lack of the snap was like the magician was tripping and falling flat on his face before even getting up to the stage to do the trick. 
 
What happened?
 
It turns out that in the chocolate world, there is a difference between solidifying the right way and solidifying the wrong way. 

Find Chocolate recipes on Veganbaking.net
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We Live in a Crystallized World

Most of the solid things you see around you are actually made up of crystalline structures on the molecular level. Metal, ceramics, glass, ice, concrete and solid fats are just some of the materials that started out in liquid forms and have solidified into a crystalline structure, where molecules are able to pack tightly together enough to the point of where they are bonded together into large, dense, continuous masses.

Learn more about fat and oil melt point temperatures.

Chocolate Polymorphism

When molten materials such as chocolate begin to cool, crystals called seed crystals form and start to grow throughout the material, until solidification is complete. There are different ways these crystalline structures can form and grow depending on several factors, such as the material that’s solidifying, what other materials are mixed in and the temperature of the material. The ability of a solid material to exist in more than one solid form is known as polymorphism. Poly, meaning many and morph, meaning shapes. Carbon is a perfect example of a material that is affected by polymorphism. Crystallized loosely, it becomes graphite that makes the writing end of a pencil. When the carbon molecules are packed tightly together, the same material becomes a diamond.

Chocolate Bonbons

Cocoa Butter Crystal Forms

Cocoa butter molecules can be thought of as lego pieces. When you dump them in a pile, you get a loose mass without any structure. If you assemble the pieces together carefully, you get a strong solid mass. There are six known types of cocoa butter polymorphs, or crystal forms as the table below illustrates.

Cocoa Butter Crystallization
Cocoa Butter Crystal FormsMelting PointStableComments
Form I 64F (18C) No Produced by rapid cooling.
Form II 72F (22C) No Produced by rapid cooling of 2C/min.
Form III 79F (26C) No Produced at 5-10C. Eventually converts into Form II at that temperature.
Form IV 84F (29C) No Produced at 16-21C. Eventually converts into Form III at that temperature.
Form V 94F (34C) Yes Produced by slow crystallization after tempering. Produces high quality chocolate with gloss and snap.
Form VI 97F (36C) Yes Form V converts into this form after several months at room temperature. Chocoalte bloom happens here.
 
Melted chocolate, when left to its own devices will crystallize into a jagged mess of loose crystals with a large portion being Form V and smaller proportions of Forms I through IV. This is the chocolate I originally made for Mom that lacked the sheen and snap of professionally made chocolate. Since this chocolate consists of many crystal forms, these crystals can actually shift form over time and increasingly end up as lower forms of jagged crystals such as Form I. This chocolate can also show pure, white cocoa butter the precipitates from the chocolate in tiny dust like particles known as bloom. 
 
The goal of tempering is to promote chocolate to solidify with Form V crystals as much as possible. Every crystal form contains a small amount of all other types of crystals but by encouraging Form V crystals via temperature and time, we can end up with a majority of Form V that will give our chocolate a glossy sheen, a snap when bitten into and a stability where it will last this way on the shelf a while. 

Tempering Dark Chocolate

To temper chocolate, we need to first press the reset button on all of the existing crystal forms contained within it so we end up with a clean slate. We do this by heating the chocolate in the microwave or in a double boiler, also known as a bain marie, to a temperature of 122F (50C) (105F or 40C with white or milk chocolate) so it is completely melted. I recommend a double boiler due to its consistent temperature distribution and ease of use that will prevent your chocolate from being overheated. Overheated chocolate loses its flavor profile and increases in bitterness as it starts to burn.
 
Now we cool the chocolate to 81F (27C) (4F lower with white or milk chocolate) while whisking it periodically to initiate both stable and unstable crystal forms, especially Forms I, II and III. The chocolate is left here for a couple minutes so the crystal forms can seed or get established. This time is referred to residence time.
 
The chocolate is now heated to 90F (32C) (4F lower with white or milk chocolate) while whisking it periodically to melt off the unstable crystal forms such as I, II, III and to some extent, IV, leaving mainly Form V crystals. The chocolate is left here for another residence time of a couple minutes to ensure the unstable forms have melted.
 
The chocolate is now used for its intended purpose and left out to solidify at room temperature to ensure proper Form V crystal growth as it cools. Placing the chocolate in a refrigerator or freezer at this point would encourage the unstable crystal forms to grow.
 
In summary, tempering accomplishes the following:
 
1)
Melt out all of the existing fat crystals.
 
2)
Cool the chocolate so that both unstable and stable crystals form.
 
3)
Warm the chocolate to melt out the undesirable unstable crystals, leaving the desired crystals intact to seed the chocolate.
 
4)
Maintain the chocolate at the proper temperature while using so the desired crystals are available to solidify the chocolate when it cools.

Making Chocolates
 
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Chocolate Tempering Techniques

So now that we have the main theory down, it’s time to look into the three main ways to temper chocolate. The great thing about chocolate tempering is that if you make a mistake, you can just start over again and press the reset button by going back to the first step and reheating the chocolate again.
 
I recommend that for all of these techniques you have an instant read thermometer and a double boiler with water heated to around 200F. This will come in handy if you need to quickly bring your chocolate up to a higher temperature; just place the bowl on the double boiler and whisk it for a few seconds before removing the bowl and taking a temperature reading. Is the chocolate slightly too hot? Simply take the bowl off the counter and transfer it to the refrigerator for a few minutes, whisking occasionally.
 
Friends don’t let friends do chocolate work with chocolate chips. You’re already going the extra mile by working with chocolate in the first place. No matter how well you temper and how exquisite your design, if you use chocolate chips, it’s still going to taste like chocolate chips. Use real baking chocolate.

The Double Boiler Chocolate Tempering Technique

This is my preferred tempering technique because for someone who doesn’t work with chocolate too often, it’s easy to pick up and run through without making major errors. It utilizes a double boiler. I make my own by placing a stainless steel mixing bowl over a saucepan filled with water. Make sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. The benefit is that the chocolate can be easily heated when the bowl is on the double boiler and cooled by taking the bowl off and placing it in the refrigerator.
 
1)
Using a serrated knife, chop your chocolate into roughly ½ inch pieces.
 
2)
Fill a 2 ½ to 4 quart saucepan with water and heat to about 200F (93C). Place a 4 quart stainless steel mixing bowl over the saucepan so it sits partially inside. Make sure that the water doesn’t contact the mixing bowl.
 
3)
Place the chocolate in the mixing bowl and heat it to 122F (50C) (105F or 40C with white or milk chocolate), whisking occasionally so it’s completely melted. 
 
4)
Remove the mixing bowl from the double boiler and transfer it to the refrigerator. Allow it to cool, whisking and measuring occasionally, until the temperature drops to 81F (27C) (4F lower with white or milk chocolate). 
 
5)
Transfer the bowl from the refrigerator to the saucepan and whisk and measure frequently until the chocolate has risen to 90F (32C) (4F lower with white or milk chocolate). Maintain your chocolate at this temperature for a couple minutes while whisking occasionally before using.

The Seeding Chocolate Tempering Technique

This technique is best for people who work with chocolate professionally or frequently. It utilizes chocolate pieces to seed the Form V crystals into the chocolate. Provided you have chocolate pieces that are confirmed to be Form V crystallized pieces, it can go very fast. Many chocolatiers simply take a small batch of confirmed good Form V chocolate from a previous batch and use it to seed future batches, not unlike how bread bakers frequently use bread starters from previous batches. The Seeding Technique also works really well for large batches.
 
1)
Using a serrated knife, chop your chocolate into roughly ½ inch pieces.
 
2)
Place the chocolate in the bowl and heat it either in a microwave or a double boiler to 122F (50C) (105F or 40C with white or milk chocolate), whisking occasionally so its completely melted. 
 
3)
Whisk in pieces of tempered chocolate a little at a time until the temperature reaches 90F (32C) (4F lower with white or milk chocolate). It’s not necessary to bring the temperature down and back up again like the other techniques call for; the small pieces are all that’s needed to seed the Form V crystals. Maintain the temperature for a couple minutes while whisking occasionally before using.

The Tabling Chocolate Tempering Technique

This technique requires a marble slab to absorb the heat of the chocolate during cooling and the experience of using a scraper and palette knife to work the chocolate. The benefit is that once you have this method down it can be very fast.
 
1)
Using a serrated knife, chop your chocolate into roughly ½ inch pieces.
 
2)
Place the chocolate in a bowl and heat it either in a microwave or a double boiler to 122F (50C) (105F or 40C with white or milk chocolate), whisking occasionally so it’s completely melted. 
 
3)
Transfer about half of the melted chocolate to a marble slab and work it with a scraper and palette knife until it has thickened slightly. Don’t let any of the chocolate solidify completely. The thickening cools the chocolate so that both stable and unstable crystals form. 
 
4)
Transfer the chocolate from the marble slab back to the bowl of chocolate and mix it back in so the unstable crystals are melted out.
 
5)
Reheat your chocolate to 90F (32C) (4F lower with white or milk chocolate) and maintain it there for a couple minutes while whisking occasionally before using.
 
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Wed, 20 Feb 2013 05:12:33 -0500 803 2013-02-20
http://www.veganbaking.net/articles/guides/vegan-baking-day-is-coming <![CDATA[Vegan Baking Day is Coming the 1st of October!]]> http://www.veganbaking.net/articles/guides/vegan-baking-day-is-coming Vegan Baking Day is Coming this Friday, September 30th!Polish your whisks, restock your vanilla extract, proof your yeast, pre-sift your flour, sharpen your vegan butter knives and mise your place because Vegan Baking Day is almost here! Vegan Baking Day is a day to promote how awesome vegan desserts are and have fun doing it. Vegan desserts are still regarded as sub-par in many circles. Vegan Baking Day is all about changing that! Remember those delectible lemon bars you've been meaning to bring to work? you know, the ones that people say you should sell because they're so good? Bake 'em and share 'em! Vegan Baking Day is the day to share your little piece of heaven with your co-workers, friends, lovers, insurance adjusters, dog walkers, enemies and cohorts.

How it Works

Where are you going to be on October 1st? Wherever you are, bring along your favorite homemade vegan baked eats and place them in a communal area to share with anyone who happens to notice. Happen to be at the DMV? A picnic? A houseparty? Just another dreary day at work? These are perfect places to share your eats with the unsuspecting world. Better yet, team up with a few people, set up a table and give out vegan treats to the public at the location of your choice. Let's spread tasty vegan eats worldwide!

When you share your favorite vegan awesomeness with whoever you happen to be around during the 1st of October you accomplish two things:

1) You promote the fact that vegan baked goods are awesome.

2) You have fun. When was the last time someone hated on you for sharing your homemade treats? Everyone wins!

We Need Your Help

We need your help to help spread the vegan baking love as much as possible! If you happen to know any vegan bakers beside yourself who are interested in promoting veganism through baketevism, please let them know about Vegan Baking Day, follow @veganbakingday on Twitter and and Like the Vegan Baking Day Facebook Fan Page.

So what are you planning on baking for Vegan Baking Day and where do you plan to celebrate it?
{loadposition share}Vegan Baking Day is Coming this Friday, September 30th!

Polish your whisks, restock your vanilla extract, proof your yeast, pre-sift your flour, sharpen your vegan butter knives and mise your place because Vegan Baking Day is almost here! Vegan Baking Day is a day to promote how awesome vegan desserts are and have fun doing it. Vegan desserts are still regarded as sub-par in many circles. Vegan Baking Day is all about changing that! Remember those delectible lemon bars you've been meaning to bring to work? you know, the ones that people say you should sell because they're so good? Bake 'em and share 'em! Vegan Baking Day is the day to share your little piece of heaven with your co-workers, friends, lovers, insurance adjusters, dog walkers, enemies and cohorts.

How it Works

Where are you going to be on October 1st? Wherever you are, bring along your favorite homemade vegan baked eats and place them in a communal area to share with anyone who happens to notice. Happen to be at the DMV? A picnic? A houseparty? Just another dreary day at work? These are perfect places to share your eats with the unsuspecting world. Better yet, team up with a few people, set up a table and give out vegan treats to the public at the location of your choice. Let's spread tasty vegan eats worldwide!

When you share your favorite vegan awesomeness with whoever you happen to be around during the 1st of October you accomplish two things:

1) You promote the fact that vegan baked goods are awesome.

2) You have fun. When was the last time someone hated on you for sharing your homemade treats? Everyone wins!

We Need Your Help

We need your help to help spread the vegan baking love as much as possible! If you happen to know any vegan bakers beside yourself who are interested in promoting veganism through baketevism, please let them know about Vegan Baking Day, follow @veganbakingday on Twitter and and Like the Vegan Baking Day Facebook Fan Page.

So what are you planning on baking for Vegan Baking Day and where do you plan to celebrate it?

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Sat, 09 Feb 2013 22:05:00 -0500 757 2013-02-09
http://www.veganbaking.net/articles/guides/introducing-ask-a-vegan-baker <![CDATA[Introducing Ask a Vegan Baker]]> http://www.veganbaking.net/articles/guides/introducing-ask-a-vegan-baker Introducing Ask a Vegan BakerDuring the last few years running Veganbaking.net I've had many great conversations with passionate bakers from around the world. It's so great to connect on the baking level and realize that through all those miles and cultural variations we still strive to push vegan baking - and thus baking in general - forward while having fun doing it. For me, running Veganbaking.net is partly a way to go on my own quest to really make the best tasting food I possibly can and to have the best understanding of why it's happening on the food science level. But it's also a way to allow other vegan bakers around the world to connect and gain the knowledge and inspiration to passionately make great food. 

I'm constantly brainstorming to find ways to engage vegan bakers so they can share the knowledge they need to reach their goals. Over the years I've traded many baking tips with other bakers behind the scenes and I'm realizing that this really deserves a public forum. This is why I'm now re-launching part the Forum as a section of Veganbaking.net called Ask a Vegan Baker.

Ask a Vegan Baker is the place to reach out and ask the community your vegan baking questions. Why isn't your cake rising? Why are your cookies browning too fast and sticking to the cookie sheet? What are the best methods to temper chocolate for that big chocolate making fest you have coming up? Ask a Vegan Baker is also the place to answer these questions for other bakers so you can do your part to promote vegan baking. Remember that one afternoon you spent learning the in and outs of caramel? It wasn't all for naught! You know possess the knowledge to help someone out who hasn't tackled caramel yet. Ask a Vegan Baker should smooth out the learning curve for new bakers and make connecting and coming up with new, tasty eats ultimately more fun. So enjoy and check it out! {loadposition share}Introducing Ask a Vegan Baker

During the last few years running Veganbaking.net I've had many great conversations with passionate bakers from around the world. It's so great to connect on the baking level and realize that through all those miles and cultural variations we still strive to push vegan baking - and thus baking in general - forward while having fun doing it. For me, running Veganbaking.net is partly a way to go on my own quest to really make the best tasting food I possibly can and to have the best understanding of why it's happening on the food science level. But it's also a way to allow other vegan bakers around the world to connect and gain the knowledge and inspiration to passionately make great food. 

I'm constantly brainstorming to find ways to engage vegan bakers so they can share the knowledge they need to reach their goals. Over the years I've traded many baking tips with other bakers behind the scenes and I'm realizing that this really deserves a public forum. This is why I'm now re-launching part the Forum as a section of Veganbaking.net called Ask a Vegan Baker.

Ask a Vegan Baker is the place to reach out and ask the community your vegan baking questions. Why isn't your cake rising? Why are your cookies browning too fast and sticking to the cookie sheet? What are the best methods to temper chocolate for that big chocolate making fest you have coming up? Ask a Vegan Baker is also the place to answer these questions for other bakers so you can do your part to promote vegan baking. Remember that one afternoon you spent learning the in and outs of caramel? It wasn't all for naught! You know possess the knowledge to help someone out who hasn't tackled caramel yet. Ask a Vegan Baker should smooth out the learning curve for new bakers and make connecting and coming up with new, tasty eats ultimately more fun. So enjoy and check it out!

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Tue, 18 Oct 2011 02:54:12 -0400 760 2011-10-18
http://www.veganbaking.net/articles/guides/what-to-bake-for-vegan-baking-day <![CDATA[Your Vegan Baking Day Guide - What to Bake and How to Impress]]> http://www.veganbaking.net/articles/guides/what-to-bake-for-vegan-baking-day Your Vegan Baking Day Guide - What to Bake and How to ImpressVegan Baking Day falls on every October 1st.  Don't let panic set in just yet; It can be difficult to decide what to bake (or prepare raw) when gearing up to share your favorite eats. Luckily, I've got you covered with some tips to make this special day as stress-free and fun as possible. A little planning beforehand will make your treats easier to present with maximum impact. This guide applies to vegan bake sales too!

Choose desserts that are portable

Since you'll likely be preparing your desserts at home and bringing them somewhere else, prepare desserts that are somewhat firm and not crumbly. This would not be the ideal time to showcase your favorite cheesecake or cobbler. Dense recipes like fugde, blondies, and most types of cookies are ideal because they can be packed into freezer bags or placed into plastic food storage containers for easy transport. Since the desserts are somewhat firm, they'll make it there in one piece. {loadposition share}Your Vegan Baking Day Guide - What to Bake and How to Impress

Vegan Baking Day
 falls on every October 1st.  Don't let panic set in just yet; It can be difficult to decide what to bake (or prepare raw) when gearing up to share your favorite eats. Luckily, I've got you covered with some tips to make this special day as stress-free and fun as possible. A little planning beforehand will make your treats easier to present with maximum impact. This guide applies to vegan bake sales too!

Choose desserts that are portable

Since you'll likely be preparing your desserts at home and bringing them somewhere else, prepare desserts that are somewhat firm and not crumbly. This would not be the ideal time to showcase your favorite cheesecake or cobbler. Dense recipes like fugdeblondies, and most types of cookies are ideal because they can be packed into freezer bags or placed into plastic food storage containers for easy transport. Since the desserts are somewhat firm, they'll make it there in one piece.

Pre-cut your desserts into small finger-food portions

Since people will be picking up your desserts and eating them on-site, skip all the fork and plate drama and go with finger food desserts. Dense desserts that can be cut into pieces, picked up and placed on a napkin like brownies, brittle, and cinnamon rolls work well here. Finger foods make it easier for the eater because they can just pick up and go. It will also make things easier for you because tracking down plates and utensils as well as disposing of them afterwards will be eliminated.

Arrange those desserts on a plate!

Eaten anything out of a plastic tub lately? How was it? It's all about the presentation so arrange those desserts on a plate! Don't worry about what kind of plate- a paper plate works mighty fine. Just don't serve it out of a plastic food storage container. There is a reason why fine food establishments serve on high quality plate ware. The presentation of the food goes a long way. Oh, and don't forget the napkins!

If you really want to impress, make three or more dessert variations (extra credit)

What is it with the number three? It's the first odd prime number, it's the symbol of the Trinity and it's also the number of desserts on a plate that really make people go "wow, this is impressive!" it's obviously more effort but if you really want to impress and you have a little bit of help from your friends, go with three or more dessert variations. Three or more desserts are more than the sum of their parts.

Have fun!

This day is ultimately a day to connect with people and share food that you're passionate about. How fun is that?! it's important to embrace the times where we actually share things with strangers. This is just another excuse to share a moment in time with your fellow human and ponder how great food can be, even for a split second.

Here are some other vegan dessert ideas that are perfect for Vegan Baking Day.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Peanut Butter Maple Fudge

Chocolate Coconut Magic Bars
Double Cranberry Cinnamon Oatmeal Nut Bars
Peanut Butter Bombs
Chocolate Croissants
Coconut Macaroons

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Wed, 28 Sep 2011 04:11:29 -0400 758 2011-09-28
http://www.veganbaking.net/articles/faces-of-vegan-baking/anita-shepherd-of-electric-blue <![CDATA[The Faces of Vegan Baking: Anita Shepherd of Electric Blue ]]> http://www.veganbaking.net/articles/faces-of-vegan-baking/anita-shepherd-of-electric-blue Faces of Vegan Baking: Anita Shepherd of Electric BlueAnita Shepherd is the passionately creative vegan baker behind Electric Blue Baking Company. In this month's Faces of Vegan Baking interview, she shares her insights on what it takes to be a professional vegan baker, her main inspirations as well as an exciting new development for Electric Blue! Anita believes in bucking the norm and taking the time to do things right; she makes her own phyllo dough by hand in order to have the highest quality dough. If that's not dedication I don't know what is! {loadposition share}The Faces of Vegan Baking: Anita Shepherd of Electric Blue

Anita Shepherd is the passionately creative vegan baker behind Electric Blue Baking Company. In this month's Faces of Vegan Baking interview, she shares her insights on what it takes to be a professional vegan baker, her main inspirations as well as an exciting new development for Electric Blue! Anita believes in bucking the norm and taking the time to do things right; she makes her own phyllo dough by hand in order to have the highest quality dough. If that's not dedication I don't know what is!


Mattie: Please tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.
 
Anita: I live in Brooklyn, New York and have my own little baking company called Electric Blue. My menu goes beyond been-there-done-that cupcakes & cookies to offer more unexpected treats, like baked spelt donuts, sticky date rolls, buckwheat crepes, raw vegan tarts & multiseed brioche. I also offer savory options, like quiche, pizzettas, empanadas & phyllo pies.* The aesthetic is decadent, yet health-conscious. Meeting both of those standards can get pretty labor-intensive, but unfortunately, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
 
I am re-launching Electric Blue as a commercial bakery this month. This means that my baked goods will once again be available in local cafés and shops (my website will have an updated list of retailers next week). I had stopped production in the spring to work two irresistible chef jobs, and to kick-off Smorgasburg.
 
Smorgasburg is the weekly food market put on by Brooklyn Flea, fantastically perched on the Williamsburg waterfront every Saturday from 9am to 6pm. It’s kind of a circus. The opening weekend in June attracted over 10,000 visitors. We were just featured in the NY Times $25 & under dining section, the Wall St Journal, Village Voice, & the NY Magazine cheap eats issue. I spend Thursday and Friday prepping, and all day Saturday working at the booth. Just like the rest of the food world, it is a ton of work with plenty of fun sprinkled in.
 
I’m one of a few vegan vendors, and the only vendor that brings something completely different every Saturday:  two baked specialties, one sweet & one savory. So far, that includes empanadas, donuts, sausage rolls, caramel apples & pizza. I’m considering the slogan; “Always different, always vegan.” One thing I did not anticipate was how important it is to have a “gimmick.” So many of the vendors come with these impressive banners, logos, displays…even uniforms. Smorgasburg has definitely forced me to step up my game. Good food is just half the battle.
 
This week I am doing a collaboration with another vendor called Rob & Anna’s (say it two times fast). They make the most incredibly delicious banana soft serve that contains only frozen bananas, and comes with your choice of amazing homemade sauces and toppings. To celebrate national ice cream month, we have created a vegan brownie sundae with my banana brownies and their soft serve and toppings! At my booth, I will also have spicy vegan sausage rolls.
 
(*I have recently gotten into making homemade phyllo. Despite the extra effort needed to make the dough, it is so much more pliable and easy to work with than the frozen, store-bought kind that always falls apart.)
 
 
Mattie: Please tell us about Electric Blue Baking Company. What was your primary motivation and influence for starting it?
 
Anita: In my free time, I catered parties for friends & baked muffins out of my home kitchen for a local café. In 2007, I had some recipes published in Bon Appetit. That gave me the confidence to quit my desk job and leap into the food world.
 
My first pastry job was working for Pichet Ong at Batch Bakery. I walked in one day and recognized him from the same issue of Bon Appetit I was in, where he was profiled alongside Will Goldfarb and Sam Mason, two other innovative pastry chefs. I handed him my resume over the counter and started gushing about what a fan I was. His reply was “When can you start?”
 
Another influence was Cody Utzman. He has built a small empire here in Brooklyn—including a sandwich shop/bakery, a Mexican street-food restaurant, and a French café. All of his menus are inspired by his travels, by what local ingredients are in season, and the demands of the locals. A good portion of each menu is vegan, and incredibly tasty.  One of the reasons he hired me as a baker was that I could do both traditional and vegan baking. Over time, I started losing interest in non-vegan baking and eventually decided to go fully vegan myself. It seemed natural. It was the kind of food I enjoyed eating most, and that made me feel good physically.
 
I was still baking and catering in my free time, and decided that it only made sense to feed people the same kind of food I wanted to eat. My baking company went vegan about 3 months after I did.
 
Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to work with Neal Harden, my favorite vegan chef. I got to build a pastry menu to compliment his seasonal, vegetable-driven & sometimes raw menu. So that quickly took me from being just a baker to a full-blown pastry chef. For the first time I got to make plated desserts with many components, a big departure from the humble & rustic muffins that gave me my start.
 
My goal is to open a teahouse and vegan bakery. There are so many limitations on what I can make, the way that food is presented, and the message I can get across to customers by selling it to a middleman. Having my own location would open up so many possibilities. But I would continue building the wholesale side of my business. It would be nice for people everywhere to have decadent treats they can enjoy and not feel bad about—both physically and ethically.
 
 
Mattie: What is your favorite product that your bakery sells? Why?
 
Anita: The donuts. They are addictively delicious. I can sit down and eat six of them in a row. But unlike other donuts, I don’t feel gross after snacking because they are baked, very light, & not-too-sweet. They are made with ingredients like organic spelt flour, kubocha squash puree & homemade coconut butter. The flavors can be adapted to the seasons and holidays. In the summer I do one with strawberry rhubarb glaze and shredded coconut, or in the winter, pumpkin chai spice with chocolate drizzle and pistachios.
 
 
Mattie: What else sets your products apart?
 
Anita: Everything I make is soy-free. I overdosed on soy as a newfound vegan. Soy nuggets, burgers, cheese, butter, yogurt, milk and tofu scramble just made the transition from meat & dairy so easy. The truth is that the easy choice was a mindless one. As a result of my habit, I developed an intolerance to it. My body just said “enough” and stopped digesting soy. I would turn into a human balloon and get stabbing pains in my stomach. No amount of digestive aids would help.
 
Since then, I have learned that the secret to being vegan is variety. I also learned to trade many of those processed foods for homemade. Cashew ricotta, coconut butter and macadamia milk are some of my favorites, and are used as ingredients in many of my baked goods. 
 
 
Mattie: What is your favorite part of owning and operating a vegan business?
 
Anita: The clientele!
 
I graduated with a Biology degree and was going to continue onto grad school. After a tour I realized that most of my time would be spent by myself in a lab. I’m one of those people who needs human interaction to survive, and realized it was not for me. One of the reasons I initially got into food was the social aspect of parties and catering. I made food out of love for the people around me. To make them happy.
 
After all the long, hot hours spent baking labor-intensive food for not a lot of money, it’s natural to think “Why am I doing this!? It’s crazy!” But when you see a person enjoy it, all those doubts melt away. When profits are small, the people are what keep me going.
 
I get almost as much amusement from anti-vegans. This past weekend, there was a group of girls who walked by my booth. One of them said “Vegan?! I want BACON!” As loud as she could. Other people will see and smell something I make and excitedly come over to order one. As soon as they see the word “Vegan,” they change their mind and walk away. Some say they’d prefer “the real thing.” My philosophy is that ani-veganism is like homophobia. Those that are the most insecure in their “meathood” are the worst offenders.
 
 
Mattie: What is your favorite kitchen tool?
 
Anita: My turntable. I cannot cook without music. I listen to a lot of 80’s pop, punk and new wave, 70s classic rock, funk, disco and soul, world music, & my Dad’s old jazz albums when I’m up late baking. There is flour all over them! My husband is a musician and  has a band called Navegante. If I’m not up late baking I am probably front & center on the dance floor at one of their shows.
 
 
Mattie: What was the most valuable resource that helped you in starting your bakery?
 
Anita: My mother. She taught me how to make something out of nothing and to never give up. She came to this country to attend college with $4 in her pocket and somehow managed to become a published scientist and community activist who helps immigrant families who start out just like she did. Even though she was initially disappointed that I did not follow in her footsteps & pursue science, she has encouraged me at every crucial step. At 66 years young she is now in her first year of Grad School studying bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania. Total inspiration!
 
 
Mattie: What was the hardest part of starting your bakery?
 
Anita: The lack of profit in small-scale food production. You have to kiss goodbye to weekly mani-pedis or having any fingernails at all. New clothes. New shoes. Travel. Dinners out. All of my resources go into my business. If you are starting from scratch, like me, you will never make it past the beginning stages if you can’t live simply.
 
 
Mattie: If you had the choice to start your business all over again, what would you do differently and why?
 
Anita: If I could do-over school I would have studied business and not biology. More often, I find myself struggling to negotiate my cut of a sale and not as much analyzing the absorption rate of stomata on my basil leaves. Otherwise, I wouldn’t change anything about the history of Electric Blue. Every mistake is a learning experience.
 
 
Mattie: What advice would you give people who are thinking of starting their own business that caters to vegans and vegetarians?
 
Anita: 1- Think of something you crave on a regular basis that you can’t find anywhere. Chances are, you’re not alone!
 
2- Don’t limit yourself to vegan training. You’ll learn more “out of the box”, creative, innovative cuisine by working for chefs that share your personality traits more than your eating style. Food is like fashion. There are looks, techniques and ingredients that go in and out of style. I feel as though some vegans have trapped themselves in the past by isolating themselves. What I want to do is stay on the forefront of what is going on in the food world, and create my own, vegan interpretation of that for everyone to enjoy.
 
3- Be open-minded. The majority of my customers eat meat. I would not be able to appeal to them if my ego or politics came before my food.
 
 
Mattie: How much time did it take for your business to get from the idea stage to being open for business?
 
Anita: I’m not much of a planner, but I’m learning. Things just happened—in small steps. Vegan baking is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It is a very slow-building process. If I waited for my idea to be perfect, to have plans laid out for every brick of my dream bakery, I would still be sitting behind a desk somewhere.
 
When your resources are limited, you just have to kind of dive in and do what you can. I have literally put together menus for food I’ve never made before while typing an email to a customer. I have paid for packaging with pennies and nickels. I created my website overnight with a janky cut-and-paste application that has two layout options and won’t work on a Mac. In the words of Tim Gunn, you just “make it work.” If the end result is something beautiful, you move on to the next round. So far, I’m still in the game.
 
 
Mattie: What is your favorite baking ingredient right now? Why?
 
Anita: Spelt flour. It adds moisture & a nice nutty flavor to baked goods, and has more nutritional value than white flour, which makes it more satisfying. I am pretty hooked on it and put it in nearly everything.
 
 
Mattie: What kind of changes would you like to see in the current vegan baking world?
 
Anita: More diversity. Cupcakes and brownies are covered. I would love to be the first vegan baker to make a St. Honore cake*, but secretly wish someone else will beat me to it. Also, we need to demand better ingredients. There are still vegan bakers out there who use hydrogenated shortening and bleached flour. For me, as a chef, you cannot stand by food that is processed like that. I don’t care how ethical your food may seem. If I feel sick after eating it, where are the ethics in that?
 
*(A crush-worthy French dessert comprised of glazed, custard-filled choux pastry puffs, held together with flavored whipped cream. Sometimes topped with seasonal berries, caramel or nuts.)
 
 
Mattie: How can we find out more about Electric Blue Baking Company?
 
Anita: Go to www.electricbluebaking.com/contact and sign up for my mailing list & visit www.twitter.com/electricbluebk for the latest news on what I’m making and where to get it. But my preferred method is for you to come by Smorgasburg this Saturday and say “Hello!”


Mattie: Thanks so much for taking part in this interview Anita! A St. Honore cake will hopefully be forthcoming!
 
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Thu, 14 Jul 2011 04:09:17 -0400 749 2011-07-14
http://www.veganbaking.net/articles/guides/how-to-make-a-bunny-cake <![CDATA[How to Make a Bunny Cake]]> http://www.veganbaking.net/articles/guides/how-to-make-a-bunny-cake How to Make a Bunny CakeMy favorite part about Easter growing up was when my Mom made the Bunny Cake. This cake is in the shape of a bunny head with a bow tie. That's right. Cake in the shape of a bunny head. it's impossible to not get excited when seeing this cake. Usually a white or carrot cake is slathered in white or cream cheese frosting then a coconut fur covers part or all of the cake. Mom usually used red licorice for whiskers and jelly beans to outline the bow tie. She also colored the inside of the ears with shredded coconut that was dyed pink which gave the bunny an extra cute persona. She didn't bake very often back then so the Bunny Cake was a very special occasion for me and the rest of the family; more important than Easter itself to me on a subconscious level. She would bring out the colorful cartoonish cake that would lay on a bed of coconut which would conceal the crusty old non-stick cookie sheet underneath perfectly. I would always have the ear first in order to get the maximum amount of frosting before the rest of the family. {loadposition share}How to Make a Bunny Cake

My favorite part about Easter growing up was when my Mom made the Bunny Cake. This cake is in the shape of a bunny head with a bow tie. That's right. Cake in the shape of a bunny head. it's impossible to not get excited when seeing this cake. Usually a white or carrot cake is slathered in white or cream cheese frosting then a coconut fur covers part or all of the cake. Mom usually used red licorice for whiskers and jelly beans to outline the bow tie. She also colored the inside of the ears with shredded coconut that was dyed pink which gave the bunny an extra cute persona. She didn't bake very often back then so the Bunny Cake was a very special occasion for me and the rest of the family; more important than Easter itself to me on a subconscious level. She would bring out the colorful cartoonish cake that would lay on a bed of coconut which would conceal the crusty old non-stick cookie sheet underneath perfectly. I would always have the ear first in order to get the maximum amount of frosting before the rest of the family.

Years later I moved out and the Bunny Cake became a distant memory. Then, all of a sudden I noticed something was missing around Easter. The Bunny Cake! I want to share this wonderful cake with you all so you can start your own Easter Bunny Cake tradition, if you haven't already. It's now re-secured its place in my Easter festivities permanently after several years of absence.

If you were a bunny cake what would you want to be made out of? I think the answer is pretty obvious. This particular bunny cake uses carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. I decided to keep the decorations on the minimally processed side.

Find Easter recipes on Veganbaking.net
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1) Bake your cakes

Make 2, 8 inch Bunny Approved Carrot Cakes.

When the cakes have cooled don't forget to cut their tops off to make them flat if necessary.

Carrot Cake - Top Cut

2) Prepare your frosting

Make 3 batches of Easy Cream Cheese Frosting

3) Mark the center of one of your cakes

One of our carrot cakes is going to be the round part of the head. The other cake is going to be cut to create the bow and ears. To do this we need to take some measurements so we can make precise cuts. Since the cake is 8 inches in diameter this means that 4 inches marks the center of the cake. Make a mark at this measurement twice at 90 degree intervals (3 o'clock and 6 o'clock) with a paring knife. Note that the cake is crumb coated in the picture but this is unnecessary until later.

Bunny Cake - Center

4) Use cake pans to create your bunny ear outlines

Place both cake pans over the cake evenly spaced away from the center marking. You should aim to make each cake pan about ¾ inch (19mm) away from the center marking. This will ensure the bow tie and the ears are the appropriate size. I use removable cake pan bottoms in the below picture but regular cake pans will work fine. you may need someone to help you hold the cake pans in place.

Measure the ears and bow tie

5) Cut your bunny years out of the cake

Cut along the cake pans then separate the ears on the ends from the bow tie in the center.

Cut the ears and bow tie

6) Assemble the cake into a bunny head shape

Prepare a clean cookie sheet that is at least 12 x 15 inches. Cut about 1 inch (25mm) from one end of each ear. Place this end of each ear against the uncut 8 inch cake to make bunny ears. Place the bow slice of cake on the opposite side of the uncut 8 inch cake round. Position everything to your preferred bunny head proportions.

7) Apply a crumb coat of frosting

To make frosting easier I recommend applying a crumb coat. This is a thin initial coat of frosting that absorbs the crumbs so the second coat goes on effortlessly and crumbless. After applying a thin, even coat of frosting to the cake place it in the freezer for about 30 minutes. After you remove the cake from the freezer apply the frosting as you normally would.

Crumb coat the cake

8) Decorate your Bunny Cake to make it come alive

Decorate the cake and feel free to get creative! This particular cake used part of the frosting that was dyed with raspberry juice, carrot slices for whiskers and raisins for eyes and a nose because that's what I happened to have on hand. The sky is the limit to what you can do with this cake. Feel free to pipe frostings, sprinkles, add chocolate chips and garnish with candies among other things.

What have you used to decorate your Bunny Cake? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Sat, 23 Apr 2011 00:50:59 -0400 736 2011-04-23
http://www.veganbaking.net/articles/faces-of-vegan-baking/mary-doyle-of-petite-treats <![CDATA[The Faces of Vegan Baking: Mary Doyle of Petite Treats]]> http://www.veganbaking.net/articles/faces-of-vegan-baking/mary-doyle-of-petite-treats The Faces of Vegan Baking: Mary Doyle of Petite Treats This month Mary Doyle from Petite Treats joins us and shares her thoughts and experiences on being the creative mind behind Petite Treats in Ireland. I was lucky to meet Mary while she was enrolled in Vegan Boot Camp in New York. I think the words "you go girl!" apply here.

Mattie: Please tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into vegan baking. {loadposition share}The Faces of Vegan Baking: Mary Doyle of Petite Treats

This month Mary Doyle from Petite Treats joins us and shares her thoughts and experiences on being the creative mind behind Petite Treats in Ireland. I was lucky to meet Mary while she was enrolled in Vegan Boot Camp
in New York. I think the words "you go girl!" apply here.

Mattie: Please tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into vegan baking.

Mary: Baking has been my passion for several years.  I was made redundant in 2009 from my teaching job and this spurred me to follow my dreams.  I traveled to NYC to attend ‘Vegan Baking Boot Camp Intensive’ with Fran Costigan at the ‘Natural Gourmet Institute’.   I returned later that year to New York to work as Fran’s intern and take more classes.   This was an amazing experience and I knew I just ‘had’ to set up something at home in Ireland and Petite Treats was born!


Mattie: Please tell us about Petite Treats. What was your primary motivation and influence for starting it?

Mary: I have been baking for friends and family events for several years- I would find any excuse to bake goodies- especially for themed events!   Many non – vegans are wary of the term ‘vegan’ and I wanted to try to dispel some common misconceptions about vegan baking.  My products are decadent, visually appealing and delicious and you don’t have to sacrifice anything. I knew that if people just tasted my treats that it would not matter whether they were vegan or not. 


Mattie: What is your favorite product that Petite Treats sells? Why?

Mary: HMMM that is a difficult question!  I ADORE my ‘Belgian Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons’ – they have their own fan club by now!


Mattie: What is your favorite part of owning and operating a vegan business?

Mary: I love being my own boss.  I love being able to provide a service for parents of children with allergies who might not be able to have a treat otherwise.  Attention to detail is very important to me and I like being in charge of every aspect from the preparation, baking, frosting, decorating, packaging and delivery!  As many of my customers are not vegan, I am thrilled that they have chosen my products- they just love how they taste which is the best compliment!


Mattie: Did you have prior experience before starting Petite Treats? If so, what kind of experience? If not, what did you do to acquire the knowledge you needed to succeed?

Mary: I traveled to NYC to attend ‘Vegan Baking Boot Camp Intensive’ with Fran Costigan and also worked as her intern where I learned SO much.  My family and friends have been willing ‘guinea pigs’ for a long time now and they have given me honest feedback while I tested and honed my recipes to perfection. I have also taken a number of Sugarcraft classes to learn professional decorating techniques.  I think that it is important to keep learning as the business grows.


Mattie: What was the most valuable resource that helped you in starting your bakery?

Mary: I would have to say that the encouragement and support that I have gotten from my husband, family and friends has been the most valuable resource. They have helped me to overcome the many fears and uncertainties that come with starting a new business.


Mattie: What was the hardest part of starting your bakery?

Mary: My husband would probably say that the hardest part was all of my ‘blind taste tests’ when I was trying to perfect my recipes!  Not having a set wage coming in every week is a little scary after having a stable job as a teacher.   


Mattie: If you had the choice to start your business all over again, what would you do differently and why?

Mary: I would hire someone else to do all of the paperwork and web design... I just want to bake!


Mattie: What advice would you give people who are thinking of starting their own business that caters to vegans and vegetarians?

Mary: I think that if you have an excellent product people will buy it whether or not they are vegan themselves. It is important to market your product towards everyone and not just vegans.


Mattie: How much time did it take for your business to get from the idea stage to being open for business?

Mary: Having my own vegan baking business was a dream for a few years and I spent a year preparing before being open for business.


Mattie: What is your favorite baking ingredient right now? Why?

Mary: I cannot live without Neilsen Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla extract. I am also experimenting with guar gum and agave nectar to create a new frosting!


Mattie: What kind of changes would you like to see in the current vegan baking world?

Mary: I would like to see vegan bakers attempt to attract non vegan customers as well as vegan.  People can be wary of the term ‘vegan’ and unaware that a good vegan product can be every bit as decadent, delicious and creatively decorated (as a traditional one).   


Mattie: How can we find out more about Petite Treats?

Mary: You can telephone me on 087– 8695998 or email to mary@petitetreats.ie or fill in the ‘contact us’ on the website – www.petitetreats.ie   I am also on facebook/petitetreats and twitter @petitetreatsIE


Mattie: Thanks for sharing your thoughts in this interview Mary!

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Wed, 30 Mar 2011 02:09:42 -0400 727 2011-03-30
http://www.veganbaking.net/articles/faces-of-vegan-baking/shannon-michelle-of-cinnaholic <![CDATA[The Faces of Vegan Baking: Shannon Michelle of Cinnaholic]]> http://www.veganbaking.net/articles/faces-of-vegan-baking/shannon-michelle-of-cinnaholic The Faces of Vegan Baking: Shannon Michelle of Cinnaholic This month I was lucky enough to ask Shannon Michelle, of Cinnaholic fame, some questions on the ins and outs of starting and operating her vegan bakery.

Mattie: Please tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into vegan baking. {loadposition share}The Faces of Vegan Baking: Shannon Michelle of Cinnaholic

This month I was lucky enough to ask Shannon Michelle, of Cinnaholic fame, some questions on the ins and outs of starting and operating her vegan bakery.

Mattie: Please tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into vegan baking.

Shannon: I started dabbling in "traditional" baking in my early 20's at home. When I transitioned from vegetarian to vegan in my late 20's, I spent about a year slowly converting all my recipes into vegan recipes. Most of them were simple substitutes like soy milk in place of regular milk or soy butter in place of real butter. The challenging part was adding new ingredients I wasn't yet familiar with things like egg replacer, xanthan gum and experimenting with different types of flours and sweeteners.


Mattie: Please tell us about Cinnaholic. What was your primary motivation and influence for starting it?

Shannon: I used to bake almost every day for the people at my work, my friends, family and for places I would volunteer at. It got to the point where people would almost expect me to arrive with a handful of treats and some even started making specific requests for birthdays, desserts, etc. Everyone told me I should open a bakery. I smiled at the thought and sort of laughed it off knowing that on the salary I was making at the time, it was likely never going to happen. That's about the time I baked a tray of pumpkin cinnamon rolls for my now brother-in-law. He was so impressed and had such a huge amount of faith in my husband and I, that he offered to give us the start up money to open Cinnaholic.


Mattie: What is your favorite product that Cinnaholic sells? Why?

Shannon: I really like our caramel apple pie roll. It's our basic cinnamon roll smothered in caramel frosting with fresh chopped apples and a buttery spiced brown sugar & oatmeal crumble on top. The caramel is by far my favorite frosting flavor and I love how well the crunchy spiced apple pairs with the warm gooey cinnamon dough.


Mattie: What is your favorite part of owning and operating a vegan business?

Shannon: I love the diversity of the people who come through our store. We have our students, people in the vegan community, Hollywood celebrities, homeless wanderers & our every day average people. It's fun to see everyone in an excited, almost child-like state of mind building and creating their own personal dream rolls. It's nice to see people happy and finding a common ground for those 10 minutes they are in our store.

Shannon: I'm also really stoked on all the organizations we get to help out and contribute too. Most of our donations go to animal rights related causes. I've always been a big supporter of compassionate people who fight for justice and try to make a difference in the world.


Mattie: Did you have prior experience before starting Cinnaholic? If so, what kind of experience? If not, what did you do to acquire the knowledge you needed to succeed?

Shannon: I can't say that I had any 'real' experience other than experimenting in my kitchen, using my friends as guinea pigs and dabbling as a server at a few restaurants in my younger years. Before Cinnaholic I had been focusing my efforts on things like accounting, veterinary medicine, radio broadcasting, music industry studies and real estate. I learned a lot about running a business through miscellaneous skills acquired at my previous jobs (customer service, managing our finances, quality control, etc.) The fact that my husband had his own company helped a lot as well. The rest was learned by reading books and articles, taking a small business course and talking with other local business owners. I'm still learning and I think I always will be.


Mattie: What was the most valuable resource that helped you in starting Cinnaholic?

Shannon: When we first had the idea to start a bakery, we decided to hire someone to oversee our finances and give us insight on things like permits, laws, contracts and whatnot so that we wouldn't end up biting off more than we could chew. We had been referred to an amazing company called Tax Ninja who had previously worked with a family member of ours. After pitching them our idea, he and his wife broke down some numbers and gave us a thumbs up shortly after. We jumped in with both feet and everything has been going according to their calculations thus far. They even do my parents taxes now!

The other person who played a huge role in the beginning was our real estate agent Santino DeRose. We found him through Craigslist after inquiring about a location in SF. For weeks he sent us updated lists of potential locations and for weeks, we tirelessly rejected them. He never gave up, never pushed us into a place that wasn't right for us and even helped mediate the contract for us with our landlord at signing.

Last but definitely not least, our family, friends, media contacts and the vegan community were a HUGE support. Without them Cinnaholic wouldn't exist. They blogged, Facebooked, Tweeted, showed up to events, wrote articles, connected us to others who they thought might be able to help us... they helped push us forward and reassured us that everything was going to turn out awesome on our toughest days.


Mattie: What was the hardest part of starting Cinnaholic?

Shannon: It's a tie between perfecting the recipe (there were countless baking failures, long nights, and tear-filled kitchen destroying sessions in the process) and not knowing what the next step was. Since I had never owned a business before and had no knowledge about specific city regulations, permits, contracts, etc. it was really stressful knowing that there were deadlines coming up that required a lot of money and there were no instructions on how to get the task done. I can't even count how many hours I spent listening to automated phone messages, listening to elevator music on hold or being transferred around to different departments.


Mattie: If you had the choice to start your business all over again, what would you do differently and why?

Shannon: I would have done more thorough research on the estimated cost of individual expenses like payroll, ingredients, bills, services, packaging, etc. and I probably would have taken more time to shop around for the best deals. We learned that lesson the hard way in the beginning unfortunately.


Mattie: What advice would you give people who are thinking of starting their own business that caters to vegans and vegetarians?

Shannon: Support your community and they'll support you. Network! Before we opened we catered a lot of events for free. We wanted to get a feel for what people were looking for in the vegan community, get to know them and try to make a name for ourselves. We met a ton of great people, some who had invaluable resources, simply by attending events and talking with them over a baked good.


Mattie: How much time did it take for your business to get from the idea stage to being open for business?

Shannon: I met my husband in November 2008. We started talking about the idea early 2009. By July 2010, we were up and running! I would say for a good solid year and a half we worked our asses off talking to people and putting all the puzzle pieces together.


Mattie: What is your favorite baking ingredient right now? Why?

Shannon: I'm really stoked on Coconut sugar right now. I haven't experimented with it a whole lot yet but I love coconut anything!


Mattie: What kind of changes would you like to see in the current vegan baking world?

Shannon: More independent styles, new ideas and creative techniques. Your product should be an extension of your creativity. If you're into skulls and daggers rather than the traditional hearts and flowers you might find today at 9 out of 10 pastry shops, then by all means, embrace it!

I'd also like to see more male bakers. We have 3 guys that work at Cinnaholic currently and they are the greatest! There's just something rad about a guy in a flour stained apron who can bake. Ya know?


Mattie:How can we find out more about Cinnaholic?

Shannon: Our storefront location in Berkeley, CA is open Tues-Fri from 8am to 7pm and Sat/Sun from 9am to 7pm.

You can order our products online at www.cinnaholic.com/shop or read more about us in the press section of our website at www.cinnaholic-berkeley.com/press.

You can also stay connected and get updates on our daily specials via Facebook and Twitter or get special deals by signing up for our newsletter.

Mattie: Thanks so much for taking part in this interview Shannon!

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Wed, 23 Feb 2011 19:33:45 -0500 713 2011-02-23
http://www.veganbaking.net/articles/guides/introducing-vegan-baking-day <![CDATA[Introducing Vegan Baking Day!]]> http://www.veganbaking.net/articles/guides/introducing-vegan-baking-day Introducing Vegan Baking Day!What if there was a special day where people around the world shared their favorite vegan eats with everyone no matter where they happened to be? I pondered this question and quickly found that there was no such thing. So after much planning, I'm proud to introduce our day, Vegan Baking Day!

What is Vegan Baking Day?

October 1st is a day to celebrate the goodness of vegan baked goods. A day to share them with your friends, neighbors and co-workers. A day to revel in the fact that you can have your cake and eat it too. Vegan Baking Day is all about promoting vegan baking and having fun doing it!

How Does it Work?

It's simple: Bake up your favorite vegan eats and share them at work, band practice, school, drama rehearsal, jury duty, the car wash; wherever you find yourself going on the 1st of October. I guarantee whoever you're around will go nuts because who doesn't love baked delicious goodness? You'll also be promoting vegan baking because once people get wind of the fact that these eats are vegan, there's a good chance they'll be impressed, inspired, or at least happy that they happened to be around to get a free snack.

So what do you think? What would be the ideal thing to make for Vegan Baking Day?
{loadposition share}Introducing Vegan Baking Day!

What if there was a special day where people around the world shared their favorite vegan eats with everyone no matter where they happened to be? I pondered this question and quickly found that there was no such thing. So after much planning, I'm proud to introduce our day, Vegan Baking Day!

What is Vegan Baking Day?

October 1st is a day to celebrate the goodness of vegan baked goods. A day to share them with your friends, neighbors and co-workers. A day to revel in the fact that you can have your cake and eat it too. Vegan Baking Day is all about promoting vegan baking and having fun doing it!

How Does it Work?

It's simple: Bake up your favorite vegan eats and share them at work, band practice, school, drama rehearsal, jury duty, the car wash; wherever you find yourself going on the 1st of October. I guarantee whoever you're around will go nuts because who doesn't love baked delicious goodness? You'll also be promoting vegan baking because once people get wind of the fact that these eats are vegan, there's a good chance they'll be impressed, inspired, or at least happy that they happened to be around to get a free snack.

So what do you think? What would be the ideal thing to make for Vegan Baking Day?

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Thu, 10 Feb 2011 12:40:01 -0500 709 2011-02-10
http://www.veganbaking.net/articles/guides/how-to-veganize-a-cookie-recipe <![CDATA[How to Easily Veganize a Cookie Recipe]]> http://www.veganbaking.net/articles/guides/how-to-veganize-a-cookie-recipe How to Easily Veganize a Cookie RecipeCookies are among the most enjoyed and frequently baked desserts in home kitchens and it's no wonder. There's no faster path to satisfying a sweet tooth than whipping up a batch of chocolate chip, shortbread, oatmeal or sugar cookies, just to name a few. Up until recently, making vegan cookies was a slightly more treacherous journey, littered with numerous potential pitfalls that could turn your cookies into hockey pucks, skeet shooting discs or worse.

How do I substitute butter? How do I make sure they turn out chewy? Luckily, these issues have been addressed and currently vegan cookie recipes are becoming increasingly easier to come by due to the efforts of bloggers and cookbook writers everywhere. However, they still remain rather sparse due to the sheer number of cookie styles that are out there. If you're unable to find a vegan version of your preferred cookie recipe you're going to have to take a deep breath, step up to the mixing bowl and veganize them yourself. Below I'll detail major tips to keep in mind when veganizing a cookie recipe that will enable you to tackle almost any cookie recipe with confidence. {loadposition share}How to Easily Veganize a Cookie Recipe

Cookies are among the most enjoyed and frequently baked desserts in home kitchens and it's no wonder. There's no faster path to satisfying a sweet tooth than whipping up a batch of chocolate chip, shortbread, oatmeal or sugar cookies, just to name a few. Up until recently, making vegan cookies was a slightly more treacherous journey, littered with numerous potential pitfalls that could turn your cookies into hockey pucks, skeet shooting discs or worse.

How do I substitute butter? How do I make sure they turn out chewy? Luckily, these issues have been addressed and currently vegan cookie recipes are becoming increasingly easier to come by due to the efforts of bloggers and cookbook writers everywhere. However, they still remain rather sparse due to the sheer number of cookie styles that are out there. If you're unable to find a vegan version of your preferred cookie recipe you're going to have to take a deep breath, step up to the mixing bowl and veganize them yourself. Below I'll detail major tips to keep in mind when veganizing a cookie recipe that will enable you to tackle almost any cookie recipe with confidence.

Find Easy recipes on Veganbaking.net
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1) Keep it simple

When I first started to veganize cookie recipes over a decade ago I would develop complex schemes often involving things like cashew butter, raisin purée and a complex assortment of vegetable starches. The cookies never really seemed to emulate their classic version and I'll bet you can guess why. Later I learned that simplicity is key to veganizing recipes in most cases. Try to avoid putting an ingredient in your cookies that you wouldn't want to eat by itself. Most cookies just need substitutions for eggs and butter. Once you've figured those out you're already half way there.

2) Pick an egg replacer

My favorite egg replacer consists of 1 Tablespoon golden flax meal whisked together with 3 Tablespoons water and allowed to sit for about 10 minutes until it thickens. This starchy mixture does a great job of binding in recipes with up to about 3 eggs. Keep in mind that this goopy mixture is suitable for cookies in the realm of chocolate chip, oatmeal and peanut butter styles. It's not going to help you for those meringue cookies you may have your eye on. I recommend storing the flax meal in the freezer for up to one year to keep their highly perishable oils from going rancid.

3) Choose your fats wisely

Depending on the style of cookie you're veganizing, it's important to choose a fat that is similar to the one you're replacing. Margarine is the recommended substitute for butter and Earth Balance is the best vegan margarine available. Earth Balance Buttery Sticks are recommended over tub margarine because the sticks have a water content that's more similar to butter. If you'd like to substitute canola oil or coconut oil for the butter keep in mind that you should use less because butter is about 15% to 20% water.

If you have the time you should also look into making Vegan Butter. Vegan Butter has the same fat profile as regular butter. Making your own Vegan Butter empowers you to have control over more of the recipe. For instance, you can make chocolate brownie cookies with White Chocolate Vegan Butter to obtain a flavor profile that will bring your cookies to a whole new level. Also, most non-hydrogenated margarines on the market utilize palm kernel oil, which is increasingly being linked to rainforest destruction. Making your own Vegan Butter frees you to steer clear of this critical environmental issue. I like to make large amounts of it and store it in the freezer. The night before baking I'll transfer it from the freezer to the refrigerator or countertop so it gets to the right consistency for the recipe I'm using it in.

4) Do you want your cookies to be chewy or crunchy?

Eggs are amazing culinary miracles of nature. Taking them out of a recipe can have all sorts of ramifications including reduced chewiness, dryness and crumble issues. If you'd like your cookies to be on the chewier side, consider adding a touch more of molasses, brown rice syrup or barley malt syrup which will hold onto moisture. The ratio of fats also control how chewy your cookies will be. Generally, look for a ratio of 1:3 of saturated fat to unsaturated fat for the chewiest cookies. This would mean that for the chewiest chocolate chip cookies you would want to use about 33% coconut oil and 66% canola oil.

5) Make your dough slightly thicker than normal

Eggs have a tendency to really pull together and thicken batters during baking. Since you're not using them it's a good idea to use slightly less water-based liquid in your recipe to make your dough slightly thicker to compensate for this.

6) Choose your baking sheets with care

Vegan cookies are often more sensitive to burning on the bottom. To ensure you don't need a chisel to free your cookies from their baking sheets, use thick aluminum baking sheets lined with parchment paper for baking. The thick aluminum will allow for optimum heat distribution and the parchment paper will guarantee effortless removal from the sheets. This will also make cleanup a cinch because you won't even have to worry about washing the baking sheets later. 

These six tips should significantly reduce your cookie veganizing drama in the kitchen. Soon it will be second nature and whipping up vegan versions of almost any cookie recipe will be almost as easy and fun as eating them.

Sugar Cookies

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Mon, 13 Dec 2010 00:23:11 -0500 684 2010-12-13
http://www.veganbaking.net/articles/guides/vegan-holiday-recipe-ideas <![CDATA[Holiday Vegan Recipe Ideas for an Unforgettable Feast]]> http://www.veganbaking.net/articles/guides/vegan-holiday-recipe-ideas Holiday Recipe Ideas for an Unforgettable FeastThanksgiving. Few holidays get anywhere close to the ultimate celebration of family, food and friends. I don't know of a single person who avoids this blatant quest of sheer gluttony. Utter the words Vegan Thanksgiving or Holiday Feast to an unsuspecting dinner guest, however, and you can sometimes see the look of horror on their face for a few seconds before the politeness kicks in. "Oh yes, a vegan feast will be such a gleeful endeavor!" they may half-heartedly exclaim. Well, while you were fake-smiling your way through our tofu pudding several years ago, we vegans have been doing our homework and now the fruits of our labor can be found all over the place, as a quick Google search can prove.

Gone are the days of tasteless mashed potatoes, dry rolls and no centerpieces. Over the years I've been hard at work perfecting Thanksgiving and Holiday Feast-friendly vegan recipes. Here are some of the best from the Veganbaking.net recipe arsenal. {loadposition share}Thanksgiving. Few holidays get anywhere close to the ultimate celebration of family, food and friends. I don't know of a single person who avoids this blatant quest of sheer gluttony. Utter the words Vegan Thanksgiving or Holiday Feast to an unsuspecting dinner guest, however, and you can sometimes see the  look of horror on their face for a few seconds before the politeness kicks in. "Oh yes, a vegan feast will be such a gleeful endeavor!" they may half-heartedly exclaim. Well, while you were fake-smiling your way through our tofu pudding several years ago, we vegans have been doing our homework and now the fruits of our labor can be found all over the place, as a quick Google search can prove. Gone are the days of tasteless mashed potatoes, dry rolls and no centerpieces. Over the years I've been hard at work perfecting Thanksgiving and Holiday Feast-friendly vegan recipes. Here are some of the best from the Veganbaking.net recipe arsenal.

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Stuffed Seitan

Vegan Stuffed Seitan

Stuffed Seitan consists of a savory seitan casing wrapped around a stuffing such as Apple Walnut Stuffing. Some people think you don't need protein centerpieces at holiday feasts and I'm here to say au contraire mon fraire. Protein centerpieces are what holiday feasts are all about!

Apple Walnut Stuffing

Vegan Apple Walnut Stuffing

Whether you tuck this inside your Stuffed Seitan or enjoy it on the side, this Apple Walnut Stuffing will hold it's own because it's made with two different types of bread, features apple juice and spices for a delightful combination of savory, with a hint of welcoming sweetness.

Gracious Gravy

Gracious Vegan Gravy

No matter what dinner item you end up making for your Holiday feast, it's nice to know that you can probably drizzle it with copious amounts of Gracious Gravy and be all the merrier. This gravy spawned from my inability to choose between mushrooms or toasted flour and nutritional yeast flakes as a foundation for a vegan gravy. Why not use both? The result has been claimed to be better than the real thing.

Golden Corn Bread

Vegan Golden Corn Bread

Ditch the rolls this year and embrace your inner savory with Golden Corn Bread. This bread is studded with real corn and can be easily customized, plus it's simple to make.

Cranberry Sauce

Vegan Cranberry Sauce Recipe

This is just your simple, no frills Cranberry Sauce. A hint of orange juice and ginger enhances it without making it too over the top. Of course, if you do want something a bit more flashy, there's always Chunky Apple Cranberry Sauce which features Granny Smith apples, red wine, ginger, a dash of curry powder, currants and a touch of orange zest to unify the tartness.

American Apple Pie

American Vegan Apple Pie

You just can't beat apple pie for dessert when topping off a festive holiday feast. American Apple Pie features tart apples enhanced with maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.

Pecan Pie

Vegan Pecan Pie

Need a little something more than apple pie for dessert? Check out this Pecan Pie that, thankfully, doesn't feature the questionable brown mush that you remember avoiding as a kid. It's chock full of toasted pecans that have been baked in a rich caramelesque blend of barley malt, maple syrup, and just the right amount of cardamom.

These recipes should eliminate any vegan food-related panic attacks from unsuspecting dinner guests as soon as they dive in and realize that it was all for naught; we vegans have been doing our food homework lately, and it's time to chow down.

Have any vegan baking recipes you'd love to have featured on Veganbaking.net? Share them with us!

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Thu, 25 Nov 2010 01:27:29 -0500 681 2010-11-25
http://www.veganbaking.net/articles/guides/four-tips-for-convenient-non-stick-cookie-baking <![CDATA[Vegan Cookie Baking Tips for Easy Non-stick Cookies]]> http://www.veganbaking.net/articles/guides/four-tips-for-convenient-non-stick-cookie-baking Vegan Cookie Baking Tips for Convenient Non-stick CookiesI've been through it all when it comes to searching for convenient ways to bake cookies with even, consistent results and unburned bottoms. When I first started baking vegan cookies I would get frustrated when they would often affix themselves to the baking sheet with an unknown force that would rival Superglue. Rather than marketing this as CookieGlue and becoming a millionaire I decided to find ways to make cookie baking as easy and reliable as possible. It's all about using the right tools for the job. {loadposition share}Vegan Cookie Baking Tips for Convenient Non-stick Cookies

I've been through it all when it comes to searching for convenient ways to bake cookies with even, consistent results and unburned bottoms. When I first started baking vegan cookies I would get frustrated when they would often affix themselves to the baking sheet with an unknown force that would rival Superglue. Rather than marketing this as CookieGlue and becoming a millionaire I decided to find ways to make cookie baking as easy and reliable as possible. It's all about using the right tools for the job.

When I first started my vegan baking journey back in '99 I found that AirBake cookie sheets work well to inhibit burned cookie bottoms due to their excellent even heat transfer. AirBake cookware consists of thin aluminum sheets sandwiched together with an air cavity between them. This allows extremely consistent baking because the sheets heat more evenly. The layer of air also insulates slightly so the bottom of the cookies don't get as hot as they would on a thin steel baking sheet. The AirBake sheets didn't solve my issues with cookies sticking to the sheets until I discovered Silpat silicone baking mats. Silicone baking mats are silicone sheets with a fiberglass mesh sandwiched between them to enhance durability. Most food-grade silicone can withstand temperatures up to 400F (204C) to 500F (260C) which makes it great for non-stick bakeware. The downside is that the mats are expensive, need washing and sometimes you want a little bit of crisp on the cookie bottoms. The silicone mats slightly insulate the cookie bottoms so while they don't stick, they also don't develop crisp on the bottom which is a slight drawback.

Find Cookie recipes on Veganbaking.net
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4 Tips for Convenient Non-stick Cookie Baking

1) Even heat transfer is key to unburned cookies.

I use Vollrath cookie sheets for this reason because they consist of a thick piece of aluminum that transfers heat uniformly. If you don't have access to Vollrath sheets I recommend something consisting of thick aluminum for optimum, even heat transfer.

2) To eliminate issues with cookies sticking to the sheet I recommend using baking parchment paper.

This paper has been coated in silicone which makes it act similarly to a silicone baking mat. Since it's just thin paper, cookie bottoms bake to a crisp and cleanup is effortless. Baking parchment paper comes in a roll it can sometimes curl up just as you're about to arrange the cookies on the sheet. This is particularly problematic when working with light items such as vegan meringue cookies. Placing a binder clip on each end of the sheet makes the parchment paper stay put. You can even leave them on while the cookies go into the oven.

3) Accurate temperature is extremely important when baking cookies.

Are you going to rely on that shady thermometer built into your oven that hasn't been calibrated since 1989? Get a second opinion and use a liquid-based thermometer.Thermometers filled with liquid are more reliable over time than ones that use metal coils because the liquid doesn't wear out due to repeated heat exposure like the coils do. This will ensure that 350F (177C) is really 350F (177C) and not 370F (188C). This can make or break your cookies.

4) Rotate the cookie sheet or sheets 180 degrees halfway through the baking duration.

Every oven has hot spots and cool spots. Rotating your cookie sheets ensures that they will all have about the same exposure to the heat in your oven. When baking with multiple sheets I recommend the additional step of switching the cookie sheets on the racks for optimum heat exposure.

Following these simple steps will soon become second nature and will vastly improve the outcome of your baking adventures. Have any other cookie backing tips? Share them below!

Baking Sheet with Vegan Meringue

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Sun, 14 Nov 2010 18:41:02 -0500 679 2010-11-14
http://www.veganbaking.net/articles/guides/five-types-of-non-dairy-milk-reviewed <![CDATA[5 Different Types of Non-Dairy Milk Reviewed]]> http://www.veganbaking.net/articles/guides/five-types-of-non-dairy-milk-reviewed 5 Different Types of Non-Dairy Milk ReviewedThere's been lots of development in the world of non-dairy milk in the last couple years. We used to just have soy milk then rice milk showed up on the scene followed by almond milk. Lately coconut milk and hemp milk have arrived on market shelves. I've been using soy milk religiously ever since I switched from dairy milk back in ye olden days and loved it so much I never really felt the need to move away from it. Non-dairy milk is such an important staple in vegan baking that recently I felt it would be beneficial to the world of vegan baking to sit down and take a really close look at what I consider to be the five most popular non-dairy milk types. I wanted to see how they measure up against each other from a vegan baking perspective. How do they taste? How creamy are they? Do they curdle when exposed to apple cider vinegar? Will my recommended non-dairy milk for vegan baking, soy milk, retain it's vegan baking crown or will another non-dairy milk prevail? Read on to see what I found. {loadposition share}5 Different Types of Non-Dairy Milk Reviewed

There's been lots of development in the world of non-dairy milk in the last couple years. We used to just have soy milk then rice milk showed up on the scene followed by almond milk. Lately coconut milk and hemp milk have arrived on market shelves. I've been using soy milk religiously ever since I switched from dairy milk back in ye olden days and loved it so much I never really felt the need to move away from it. Non-dairy milk is such an important staple in vegan baking that recently I felt it would be beneficial to the world of vegan baking to sit down and take a really close look at what I consider to be the five most popular non-dairy milk types. I wanted to see how they measure up against each other from a vegan baking perspective. How do they taste? How creamy are they? Do they curdle when exposed to apple cider vinegar? Will my recommended non-dairy milk for vegan baking, soy milk, retain it's vegan baking crown or will another non-dairy milk prevail?
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The Role of Non-Dairy Milk in Vegan Baking

In vegan baking there are two schools of thought. One is to take measures to make foods that are somewhat less detrimental to one's health by using less sugar, fat and utilizing alternative ingredients that add nutrients. This school of thought is common when baking for restricted diets. The other school of thought is to make foods where taste and texture are of the utmost importance. In this school of thought, making healthy baked goods is considered a contradiction in terms. No matter what vegan baking school of thought you adhere to, or if you adhere slightly to both, choosing your non-dairy milk wisely will greatly effect the outcome of your baked goods. I personally follow the school of thought that puts flavor and texture above all else and go to great lengths in order to create flavors and textures for food items that need to measure up to their non-vegan counterparts. We're competing against butter and eggs which are miracles of baking science. We need all the help we can get.

Curdling Soy Milk to Add Flavor Depth

One way that I enhance flavors and create flavor depth in vegan baking is to slightly curdle soy milk before it's added to the recipe by whisking it in a small bowl with a bit of apple cider vinegar. This can be done with lemon juice as well but I prefer apple cider vinegar because it adds dairy-like flavors on it's own. The acids it contains curdles the proteins in the soy milk which allows a multitude of complex flavor compounds to be produced. Before curdling, the proteins in the soy milk are coiled up like little balls of yarn. The acids allow these proteins to unfold and cause the mixture to thicken as the flavor compounds are generated. This thickened curdled mixture can further improve vegan baking performance by increasing leavening power and enhancing the crumb quality of cakes and muffins.

As part of this review I performed a curdle test to measure flavor production. I tasted the non-dairy milk after curdling to assess the degree to which these flavors were produced. This test was performed by placing ½ cup non-dairy milk in a bowl, whisking 1 teaspoon unfiltered apple cider vinegar into it, letting it sit for 15 minutes then tasting the results.

I picked the particular non-dairy milks in this review because I felt they are widely available brands in the continental United States that were good representations of their non-dairy milk type. I selected unsweetened versions of all non-dairy milks except the Rice Dream because they don't make an unsweetened version of it. I picked unsweetened versions whenever possible because I didn't want the sugar to mask the true flavors in the non-dairy milk. I use unsweetened soy milk in my vegan baking recipes for this same reason; I like to have complete control over how much sugar I'm adding to a recipe.

Please keep in mind that the ratings and opinions in this review are from my taste perception alone and may not be the same as what your palate tastes. I encourage you to buy different types of non-dairy milk and come to your own conclusions while using this review as an aid.

Blue Diamond Natural Almond Breeze Almond Milk Unsweetened

Almond Breeze Almond Milk

The Taste Test

I found this moderately creamy non-dairy milk to taste slightly sour with a nutty, salty finish. I remember how much I love the chocolate version of this almond milk but I didn't find the same to be true of this version. The sour, nutty, salty flavor was a little off-putting. Curdling barely created more flavor. I would turn to this non-dairy milk for vegan baking if my preferred alternatives weren't available.

The Ratings (0 to 5 with 5 being the best)

Overall Flavor: 3
Creaminess: 3
Ability to curdle with apple cider vinegar: 2
Overall: 3

Ingredients

Purified water, almonds, tapioca starch, calcium carbonate, sea salt, potassium citrate, carrageenan, soy lecithin, natural flavor, vitamin A palminate, vitamin D2 and D-alpha-tocopherol (natural vitamin E).

Nutrition Highlights

Serving size: 1 cup (240mL)
Fat: 3g
Protein:1g

Living Harvest Tempt Hempmilk Unsweetened

Tempt Hempmilk

The Taste Test

Hemp milk is one of the newest non-dairy milks on the scene. I found this moderately creamy beverage to have a pleasant slight maltiness that was consistent throughout the flavor journey. I found it the most similar to regular dairy milk at room temperature and the best tasting out of the bunch. It did have a barely discernible bitter finish that reared it's ugly head when I added it to coffee, making the coffee almost undrinkable for me. After curdling it produced a moderate level of complex flavors; more than almond milk but not as much as soy milk. I would use this non-dairy milk for vegan baking if soy milk wasn't available.

The Ratings (0 to 5 with 5 being the best)

Overall Flavor: 5
Creaminess: 3
Ability to curdle with apple cider vinegar: 2
Overall: 4

Ingredients

Hemp nut base (filtered water, hemp nut (shelled hemp seed)), natural flavors, tricalcium phosphate, carrageenan, sea salt, vitamin A palminate, vitamin D2, riboflavin, vitamin B12.

Nutrition Highlights

Serving size: 1 cup (240mL)
Fat: 6g
Protein:2g

West Soy Organic Soy Milk Unsweetened

West Soy Organic Soy Milk

The Taste Test

This is the non-dairy milk that I've been using for years and the one that most of the recipes I've designed have used. Hain Celestial Foods (the owner of West Soy as of this writing) is one of the last, big honest companies selling organic, nationally distributed soy milk which is also one of the reasons I patronise this brand. I've found the flavor of West Soy to be very good compared to most of the other soy milks out there. When pinned against the rest of the competition in this roundup, I found it to come out on top in regards to smoothness and creaminess. It had a light initial sweetness that evolved towards a slightly tart, beany aftertaste that was pleasant. It performed best on the curdle test, creating a complex yogurt-like flavor, reminiscent of sour dairy cream; perfect for adding extra flavor depth to everything from ice creams to leavened breads to cookies.

The Ratings (0 to 5 with 5 being the best)

Overall Flavor: 4
Creaminess: 5
Ability to curdle with apple cider vinegar: 5
Overall: 5

Ingredients

Filtered water, whole organic soybeans.

Nutrition Highlights

Serving size: 1 cup (240mL)
Fat: 4.5g
Protein: 9g

So Delicious Coconut Milk Unsweetened

So Delicious Coconut Milk

The Taste Test

The first time I saw this on the shelf at the local health food store I did a double take. It's great to finally have so many options for non-dairy milks. I found this non-dairy milk to be surprisingly low in creaminess. Coming from coconuts I was sure it would be more creamy than soy milk, almond milk and hemp milk but found it to be slightly watery. Another thing that surprised me about this unsweetened beverage was how much it generally lacked flavor and actually had a slightly bitter finish on my palate. I'm sure the sweetened version must benefit from the sugar really waking up the coconut flavor. I would have a little trouble guzzling a glass of this stuff in this unsweetened state. It didn't curdle at all during the curdle test which was probably a result of the low protein level. I would use this non-dairy milk for vegan baking if no other alternatives were available.

The Ratings (0 to 5 with 5 being the best)

Overall Flavor: 2
Creaminess: 2
Ability to curdle with apple cider vinegar: 1
Overall: 2

Ingredients

Organic coconut milk (organic coconut cream, water, guar gum), calcium phosphate, magnesium phosphate, carrageenan, vitamin A palminate, vitamin D2, L-selenomethionine (selenium), zinc oxide, folic acid, vitamin B12.

Nutrition Highlights

Serving size: 1 cup (240mL)
Fat: 5g
Protein: 1g

Rice Dream Rice Drink Original Classic

Rice Dream

The Taste Test

Rice Milk has been around for awhile and it's been years since I revisited it. I was excited to taste it again since my palette is much more well tuned than it was the last time I worked with it. Surprisingly, I found it to be watery, thin and lacking in substance and creaminess. I was unable to find it in its unsweetened form because Rice Dream doesn't make it. This is probably because without the sugar this drink would taste a little too much like water. It had a overly sweet, sugary flavor which only slightly reminded me of milk. You could actually see the oil droplets suspended in it because they weren't completely emulsified. It didn't curdle at all in the curdle test probably due to the lack of protein. I would use this for vegan baking if no other alternatives were available.

The Ratings (0 to 5 with 5 being the best)

Overall Flavor: 1
Creaminess: 1
Ability to curdle with apple cider vinegar: 1
Overall: 1

Ingredients

Filtered water, organic brown rice (partially milled), expeller pressed high oleic safflower oil and/or sunflower oil and/or canola oil, sea salt.

Nutrition Highlights

Serving size: 1 cup (240mL)
Fat: 2.5g
Protein: 1g

Non-Dairy Milk Review Wrap Up

I learned a great deal about how different non-dairy milk types stack up against each other in vegan baking applications in these tests. You could argue that I didn't bake anything as part of these tests so this review only goes so far in judging their performance. This is correct but after years of baking I've learned that the flavor of prepared food is the sum of its total parts. This means that in order to make great baked items, every ingredient you add must be of the best flavor and highest quality. This is why I stay away from things like tofu and beans when designing recipes. If you want it to compete with the non vegan competition you must ensure that every ingredient used produces good flavor.

I found it interesting how the curdling quality was directly proportional to the amount of protein in the non-dairy milk. I'll now think twice before calling for non-dairy milk instead of soy milk in many of my recipes where I rely on the flavor compounds created by the curdling of apple cider vinegar and soy milk.

I'm going to stick with soy milk for my vegan baking adventures but keep hemp milk as a close second alternative (as long as it's not added to my coffee). The next time I'm in a pinch and soy or hemp milk can't be found I'll turn to almond milk as a third alternative and if I can't find this I'll go on the lookout for coconut milk, followed by rice milk. I'm aware that over use of soy in food products may be a health concern to many readers as of this writing due to some health studies that have been published. In vegan baking we're using so little of it that if you're concerned about it you really shouldn't be eating baked items in the first place because the sugar and glycemic index issues are a much more serious health issue. Remember that most things in moderation are ok. If you're still concerned or allergic to soy then it's great that we now have hemp milk as a soy-free alternative. Its wonderful to finally be in an age where we have so many alternatives to dairy milk to choose from.

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Fri, 15 Oct 2010 03:00:48 -0400 669 2010-10-15