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<![CDATA[Vegan Baking Recipes]]> http://www.veganbaking.net/ <![CDATA[Vegan Baking Recipes]]> http://www.veganbaking.net/images/stories/logo.png http://www.veganbaking.net/ http://www.veganbaking.net/how-to-start-a-food-blog <![CDATA[How to start a food blog - The ultimate step-by-step guide]]> http://www.veganbaking.net/how-to-start-a-food-blog {loadposition share}How to start a food blog - The ultimate step-by-step guide

There may come a point in your food adventures where you realize that it might be a great idea to start a food blog. But how? What are the steps? What are the pitfalls? Will I get famous? Will I be emotionally distraught by being a slave to technology? Here I’ll show you easy steps to start your own food blog. 
 
It happened to me! The deeper I dug into food the more I had this nagging urge to dig even deeper. Eventually I learned that if I started jotting stuff down, I could put down a current food project and jump back in later when I got around to it and just pick up right where I left off. Pretty soon the documenting part of the note-taking became fun and not as daunting. After years of almost flunking out of creative writing classes, it was now fun to just scribble down my thoughts on my journeys with food. How did that happen? I wish I would've discovered this in high school!
 

 The deeper I dug into food the more I had this nagging urge to dig even deeper. Eventually I learned that if I started jotting stuff down, I could put down a current food project and jump back in later when I got around to it and just pick up right where I left off.

Who cares if people pay attention to what I’m writing? But it could be worth it if even just one person out there got something insightful from my rambling. What if I started a food blog? Would it be something that I’d be really into and put down shortly thereafter or would I feel compelled to polish it year after year as I explored how deep this rabbit hole goes? There was only one way to find out.

Starting your food blog your way

There’s a lot of different ways to run a food blog and I’m by no means proclaiming that I know the one, true way. However, over the years I’ve learned how to do it in a way that works best for me. I jokingly refer to this as the Mattie way. This guide will focus on what’s worked for me, with other tips that should improve your overall understanding of what kind of options you have.
 
When you start your food blog, you’ll have almost too many choices in regards to the technology you have available to you. That’s because we live in the future! You’ll have the choice of using a pre-built system that’ll give you limited possibilities, or building much of your own system that has almost unlimited possibilities. 

How websites work, in a nutshell

Modern websites, including food blogs, are usually database driven, meaning they utilize a software application that runs on a server. When someone goes to a website, the software application tells a bunch of files how to interact with a database so the proper content gets delivered over the internet to the viewer’s web browser. Think of it as a library. Remember those? When you request a book about foreign policy at the counter, the librarian would go to the card catalog, which tells her where the book is located. She then goes and retrieves the book for you. In this case the card catalog is the database and the book is the files.
 
These software applications have a special url for the person running the website to log into so they can access the controls of the website. This is known as the admin interface. Some tech-nerds, such as myself, also refer to this as the back end. The website where the readers go to is referred to as the front end.
 
For example, most users who use Bill’s website go to www.billswebsite.com. When Bill works on his website, he goes to the admin interface at www.billswebsite.com/administrator. There, he’s able to write his articles and adjust the way the site looks and performs.
 
Back in the early days of the internet, people built websites with a bunch of files containing html code, with no database needed. These are known as static websites. Who wants to write all that html code? Ugh! Who has time for that drama? I just want to bake and write. Almost all websites today are database driven, which means that, depending on the type of website we run, we might not need to write any code ever. Yesss! I’m so glad I live in the future!

The two different types of blogs

To help you drill down and decide how to create your food blog, understand that there are two different types of blogs: 
  • A pre-built blogging platform that’s managed by a company.
  • A build-it-yourself blogging platform that’s managed by mainly you.

The pre-built food blogging platform

Think of the pre-built version of your food blog being a plant planted in a small pot. In this case the plant will grow really well early on with minimal maintenance. But if and when it gets too big for the pot, its growth and overall well-being will be compromised. You could be stuck!
 
Examples of popular pre-built blogging platforms are:
 TIPNotice the .com here that Joomla and WordPress use. This is their marketing teams wanting you to know this is their product that is pre-built as opposed to build-it-yourself. There are more platforms that fit the examples above but for the purposes of starting a food blog, the above platforms are what I recommend.
Benefits of pre-built blogging platforms are:
  • Easy to start
  • Easy to maintain; you aren’t weighed down by optimizing and upgrading so you can focus on creating content.
  • Reliability. If your food blog goes down at all, it’ll be so rare you probably won’t even notice it.
Drawbacks of pre-built blogging platforms are:
  • You can’t “open the hood” and make changes. It’s a cookie cutter world. Did you wake up in the middle of the night last night with a breakthrough idea that could revolutionize your food blog? You might not be able to do it! You might have to wait around until your blogging software company gets around to implementing the functionality, if they ever do.
  • Want to monetize your blog? Even if you’re allowed to run ads at all on your blogging platform, you’ll have extremely limited control over where you place them.

The build-it-yourself food blogging platform

Think of the build-it-yourself version of your food blog being a plant planted in a field next to a stream. Getting the plant off to a good start is going to be much harder because it’ll involve some extra love and care on your part. You might have to enroll in Gardening 101. But once that plant gets its roots developed, it’ll have the capability of growing into a beautiful tree; the sky is literally the limit!
 
Examples of popular build-it-yourself food blogging platforms are:
 TIPNotice the .org here that Joomla and WordPress use. This is their marketing teams wanting you to know this is their product that is build-it-yourself as opposed to pre-built. There are more platforms that fit the above examples but for the purposes of starting a food blog, the above platforms are what I recommend.
Benefits to build-it yourself blogging platforms are:
  • Because you own the entire platform, you have complete control over an almost infinite amount of things such as:
    • Precise content layout so you can tailor your food blog exactly to your audience
    • Search engine optimization, (also known as SEO) so more people find your food blog
    • Traffic analytics so you can streamline how your food blog gets to your readers
    • Monetization strategies such as ads so you can offset your costs and maybe even make a few bucks!
  • Remember when you woke up in the middle of the night last night with that crazy breakthrough idea? If you really want to, you can implement it by the morning!
  • More bang for the buck. The cost of running a publication that you have complete control over that has an international reach is more affordable than its ever been. This is because we live in the future!
Drawbacks of build-it-yourself blogging platforms are:
  • Very steep learning curve. You’ll definitely want to have an open mind and an iron resolve when it comes to learning the ropes. Think “student always”. Like learning crossword puzzles? Good because this is your new crossword puzzle. Embrace it. You’ll have to want to curl up with your blogging software platform and a cup of hot cocoa on a cold Winter’s night. You’ll find that it’s totally normal to have a love/hate relationship with your blogging software. You might cry. I did! Chin up kid; the hidden benefit is that if you stick with it, you’ll come out ahead!
  • You’ll need to remember to upgrade your food blog software platform as updates become available. This ensures that everything works as reliably and securely as possible. If you forget to upgrade your food blog for a couple years, it could be a major hassle to bring it up to date without something scary happening.
  • You’ll need to figure out a way to back up your food blog so if something goes haywire you don’t lose all of your hard work. Hint: two separate backup plans.

How to choose your blogging platform

The takeaway here is that your choice of which type of food blogging software you should use is largely based on your DNA. Are you the type of person who likes to push a button and have something just work? Or are you someone who isn’t afraid to spend a little extra time tweaking and adjusting something until it’s just perfect?
 
Put more succinctly, do you want to make your brownies from a box mix or would you like to know exactly how your brownie recipe works, then spend days, weeks or even months perfecting them so you can make the best brownies you possibly can? 
 
If you’re a box mix brownie baker, consider a pre-built food blogging platform.
If you’re a from-scratch brownie baker who bakes outside the lines, consider a build-it-yourself food blogging platform.

Pre-built blogging platforms

Of the pre-built blogging platforms, Joomla.com and WordPress.com have the most flexibility in regards to customization. You’ll be able to pick out the widest variety of visual layout themes and even be able to install a limited amount of plugins made available that can extend functionality. 
 
Google Blogger, Squarespace and Tumblr have extremely limited functionality in terms of customization. I don’t recommend them at all unless you’re just writing for yourself, and even then, why not just use Google Docs? You’re putting enough work into your food projects. Why not go the extra mile and showcase your work on a robust and beautiful blogging platform? You owe it to yourself!
 
Of the pre-built blogging platforms, I recommend Joomla.com. This is because Joomla.com is a scaled down version of the Joomla.org build-it-yourself platform. This gives you the option of being able to upgrade from Joomla.com to fully-featured Joomla.org if your blog grows. This is a really big deal. That means you can have the convenience of starting small and the ability to scale up to a more robust platform if the need arises.
 
As of this writing, WordPress.com doesn’t have the ability to be upgraded to the more fully featured WordPress.org. This is because the code that runs both platforms is not compatible. This means that if you build your food blog on WordPress.com and you later realize that you really intended to be a food blogging ninja, you won’t have an easy upgrade path as you migrate to a more robust blogging platform.

Build-it-yourself blogging platforms - Content Management Systems (CMS)

I have a confession to make: Build-it-yourself blogging platforms are actually called content management systems, or abbreviated as CMS. I wanted to make things simple so I referred to them in this way until now. 
 
They’re called content management systems in the web industry because they do exactly that; they’re systems that manage content. From here on out, I’ll be referring to build-it-yourself blogging platforms as CMSs. A CMS can run any type of website you choose. Most of the websites you go to on a daily basis are run on CMSs, consisting of either WordPress.org, Joomla.org or a variety of other products.
 
The CMSs I recommend for food blogging are Joomla.org and WordPress.org. At this point, it’s kind of like religion. Any platform I recommend can and will be protested by the 8,523,000 fans of that particular platform. 

Why I chose Joomla.org for Veganbaking.net

Back in 2007 when I started building Veganbaking.net, WordPress.org looked immature in my opinion. You could tell which sites were WordPress.org sites because most of them looked like regular blogs. At the time, I wanted a platform that would enable me to be as unconstrained as possible in terms of site design, but still be relatively easy to use. I felt that Joomla.org had a slightly steeper learning curve but had the flexibility to do more. As of this writing, the scene is much different. 
 
Currently, WordPress.org sites have the most market share in the CMS world as well as a huge fan base. This CMS now powers a surprisingly large percentage of websites on the internet. It’s no longer possible to tell that a site is a WordPress.org site because this CMS has matured considerably. 
 
The Joomla.org user base has grown a small amount but not as much as WordPress.org. At this point, both CMS platforms are so close in terms of capability that, as I mentioned before, it’s like debating religion. If I were to start a food blog all over again, I’d personally use Joomla.org because I know it extremely well. I know it well enough that I can wholeheartedly recommend it as a robust food blogging platform. Are you more familiar with Wordpress.org? Great, you might want to stick with that as your platform of choice.
 
In my opinion, any food blogger that’s interested in a CMS would do as well on Joomla.org as they would on WordPress.org. 

How to choose the best web host for your food blog

Where's this whole shebang going to live? There’s an overwhelmingly large selection of web hosts on the internet. There’s so much selection it actually hurts!
 
What’s the purpose of a web host? They house the physical servers that run your blog. Your web host runs a tight ship so your blogging software has the resources it needs in order to prosper. 
 
As you look at web hosting options, you’ll notice a trend. Some web hosts can afford to host websites for $4 per month. Others will charge, say, $15 per month for a similar web hosting plan. What’s up with that?! Obviously the $4 web host is the better deal, right? Well, you get what you pay for. Here’s what’s actually happening:
 
Think of the $4 web host as a business facilitating the use of widgets. They have an extremely limited amount of widgets, and everyone who buys them doesn’t know they’re sharing. If too many people are using the widget at the same time, the widget starts to fail. No problem. Why not contact their technical support? But wait: remember that they don’t own the widgets, they’re just facilitating the use of the widgets. This business just licenses the widgets from another company and resells them at a profit. What?! Yes. The web hosts that sell web hosting for $4 per month are crowding so many people on the web servers that they don’t even own, that if you ever have an issue, you’re completely out of luck. They have to call the company that actually houses the servers in order to get them fixed. Guess how well that’s going to go?
 
In contrast, the company charging $15 per month for their hosting plan usually owns the servers in-house and pays the technicians who maintain them directly. Have a problem with your website? If you call or email them, they’ll actually be responsive in resolving your issue and they’ll actually have access to the physical web server. When running a food blog that you’re passionate about, this is priceless!
 
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve contacted my web host and had them resolve an issue for me. They’re on your side. $15 per month is not a lot to ask for, for peace of mind. 
 
Another benefit of having a great web host that runs their own servers is that when you need to scale up your web hosting, they’re available to assist you with the best options. I’d hesitate to have the $4 web host scale up my food blog plans, when they don’t even house my web server!
 
Right now I’m paying about $250 per month on web hosting. I’ve been able to easily grow with my current web host.

The food blog web host I recommend

After spending several years working with several web hosts, I now wholeheartedly recommend Liquidweb. This is due to several factors:
  • Their pricing plan is well below what most web hosts offer for the same performance.
  • Their support is top-notch. I don’t even need to call them when I have a question or technical issue because when I email them, I get a response in less than an hour. Who calls people nowadays anyway? Aren’t we in the future?
  • Since the web hosting service is managed (more on that below), if I have an issue with web server performance, they’ll be able to tell me what’s causing it and easily resolve it in most cases. They have a wide selection of super-robust hosting options. As my food blog grows, they have the options that best fit my needs at an affordable price, as well as the technical expertise to guide me to the best option.
I’ve been with several web hosts over the years that don’t fulfill these criteria. I left my last web host because they told me that they were going to have to deactivate my website because it was taking too many resources from their web server. When I asked if they could help, the said they couldn’t do anything because my hosting plan was unmanaged. Unmanaged means that they basically don’t care what happens to your web server. You’re on your own! At the time, this web host didn't offer managed web hosting plans. I was screwed!
 
With Liquidweb, I utilize their managed web hosting option where they constantly monitor and oversee the performance of the web server that I use. This is for the same price as my last web hosting service. They’re able to offer this service considerably cheaper than the competition. Sometimes as soon as I notice a problem and contact them, they’re already working on fixing it and they send me an email shortly thereafter explaining what the issue was. They’ve got your back!
 TIPOther web hosting companies offer similar web hosting plans with unmanaged service for the same price as Liquidweb’s managed service.
For the beginning food blogger, I recommend Liquidweb’s Standard Web Hosting service which is $15 per month. This is more than those dreaded $4 per month plans but it’s significantly more robust. It’s an unmanaged plan, but if there’s an issue, they should at least be able to give you some insight if you’re having a web host-related problem. As your food blog grows you can upgrade to more robust hosting services with them with zero downtime.

The steps to starting a food blog

The great thing about starting a food blog now is that the process is now so streamlined and easy. The first thing you need to do is to choose your web host. If you don’t have a domain name yet, you’ll be able to sign up for one during the same time you sign up for your web host. They’ll take care of everything in one fell swoop!
 
After you’ve signed up with your web host, you’ll get a confirmation email with all of the critical details. Save this information under lock and key! When you need to access it, you’ll really need it. Not having it will not be an option (but you can reset your password by contacting your web host if you're desparate).

Once you get your email confirmation, you'll then proceed with creating the Joomla.org or WordPress.org installation on your new webserver. Then you're done! So in summary, starting a food blog consists of the following two steps:
  • Sign up for your web hosting plan
  • Install your blogging software on your web server
Below I'll cover these steps in detail.

How to sign up for a web host

Here's how to purchase web hosting from the web host I recommend, Liquidweb.
 
1) Go to Liquidweb. Click on Products then Standard Web Hosting.

How to start a food blog - Liquidweb


2) Click "Add to Cart" to add their Standard $15 per month web hosting service to your shopping cart.

How to start a food blog - Liquidweb shopping cart


3) Click "Checkout" to proceed to payment.

How to start a food blog - Liquidweb checkout


4) Enter your contact and billing information, followed by your credit card information. If you haven't registered a url for your food blog yet, this is the best place to take care of it. Enter your desired password and click "Submit Your Order".

How to start a food blog - Liquidweb enter information


5) You did it! Congratulations! Click "No Thanks" to the current offer below if prompted. You'll get a confirmation email in your inbox momentarily with all your Liquidweb hosting details.

 How to start a food blog - Liquidweb Thank You

 

How to start a food blog with Joomla.org

Here’s how to set up a food blog with Joomla.org
 
1) Check your inbox for the confirmation email from Liquidweb. Under "Control Panel Information" click the IP address to go to your Control Panel.

How to start a food blog - confirmation email for Joomla


2) Since we're navigating to a new webserver intance without an SSL certificate, you'll get the error message below. Don't worry! Disregard the message by clicking "Advanced".

 How to start a food blog - disregard the error


3) Now click "Proceed to (the listed IP address)" to continue to your Control Panel.

How to start a food blog - Proceed


4) Log in with the username from the "Control Panel Information" section of your confirmation email. Use the password you used when you signed up for Liquidweb.

How to start a food blog - Log into the Control Panel


5) You're now in the Control Panel. Scroll to the bottom of the page to the section that says "Softaculous Apps Installer". Softaculous is a system that easily installs software on web servers. Locate "Joomla" and click on it. 

How to start a food blog - Scroll to Softaculous


6) You're now at the Joomla install page. Click Install.

How to start a food blog - Install Joomla


7) This next part is more simple than it looks! Make sure "In Directory" is blank so Joomla installs into the main root directory. When you're done, click Install. You're almost there!

How to start a food blog - Joomla install options

8) Congratulations! I knew you could do it. Note your new food blog url, as well as the Administrative URL. Click on each to open them in new browser tabs.

How to start a food blog - note Joomla url and administrator url


9) To log into your Joomla food blog's admin interface, enter the login credentials you specified in Step 7 and click "Log in".

How to start a food blog - Log into Joomla admin interface


10) Now you're in the Joomla admin interface. This is where you configure your food blog layout and post all of your articles.

How to start a food blog - Joomla admin interface


11) Go to your food blog's url and you'll be taken to your new food blog! You did it! Now you're ready to show the world what's going on in your kitchen.

How to start a food blog - Joomla url

 

How to start a food blog with WordPress.org

Here's how to set up a food blog with WordPress.org. It's almost exactly the same as setting up Joomla.org, except there are a couple different options on the install configuration page.

1) Follow the above How to start a food blog with Joomla.org through Step 4. This will get you to the Control Panel interface on your web server.


2) Scroll to the bottom of the page until you see the section that says "Softaculous Apps Installer". Softaculous allows you to easily install software on your web server with just a few clicks. Locate "WordPress" and click on it. 

How to start a food blog - Scroll to WordPress


3) You're now at the WordPress install page. Click Install.

How to start a food blog - Install WordPress


4) Don't worry, this part is much more simple than it looks! Make sure "In Directory" is blank so WordPress installs into the main root directory. When you're done, click Install. You're almost there!

How to start a food blog - WordPress install options


5) You did it! Give yourself a pat on the back. Note your new food blog url, as well as the Administrative URL. Click on each to open them in new browser tabs.

How to start a food blog - note WordPress url and administrator url


6) To log into your WordPress food blog's admin interface, enter the login credentials you specified in Step 4 and click "Log in".

How to start a food blog - Log into WordPress admin interface


7) Now you're in the WordPress admin interface. This is where you post your articles and configure your food blog layout.

How to start a food blog - WordPress admin interface


8) Now go to your food blog's url and you'll be taken to your new food blog! See? That wasn't so bad was it? Now you can finally share your new food adventures with the world.

How to start a food blog - WordPress url
 

Ok I started my food blog. How do I use this thing?

I thought you'd never ask! Getting to know your food blogging platform can be intimidating at first. Like any powerful new piece of technology, it takes a little time to become comfortable. I recommend this analogy to help you learn how to work with your new blog: In order to move furniture into a house, you need to have the rooms available first. 

This simply means that in order to post content like recipes and guides, you first need to create an organizational structure of buckets the content will go into. Once you have these organizational areas, you then can create your content and configure your navigation menu to point to this content. Without the organizational structure, you won't have a spot to place your recipes; it's like trying to place a couch in a room when the house hasn't been built yet. I'll delve more into this in a future article. For now, just remember the key is to make your organizational structure first, and the actual content second.

Now you're well on your way to sharing your food projects on a global scale. You've chosen your ideal web host, blogging platform and installed it yourself. Congratulations on starting your own food blog!
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http://www.veganbaking.net/recipes/cookies/buttery-vegan-shortbread-cookies <![CDATA[Buttery Vegan Shortbread Cookies]]> http://www.veganbaking.net/recipes/cookies/buttery-vegan-shortbread-cookies Buttery Vegan Shortbread CookiesThere’s just something about buttery shortbread that’s otherworldly. How does that rich, savory-sweet, toastiness, sweep into your palate with buttery wave after buttery wave? How does it exist with such a crispy texture? That snap when you bite into it unleashes a lingering aroma that takes over you and lets you know that you’ve arrived. Everything is going to be okay now. As long as you don’t hog all the shortbread.

I’m pretty picky about my shortbread. I believe it should be a celebration of the flavor of butter. Any other flavors present need only be there to play a supporting role. As you bite in, it should yield with a snap and infuse the senses with buttery richness. But this is vegan baking. How do you do all these things as well as showcase butter? {loadposition share}Buttery Vegan Shortbread Cookies

There’s just something about buttery shortbread that’s otherworldly. How does that rich, savory-sweet, toastiness, sweep into your palate with buttery wave after buttery wave? How does it exist with such a crispy texture? That snap when you bite into it unleashes a lingering aroma that takes over you and lets you know that you’ve arrived. Everything is going to be okay now. As long as you don’t hog all the shortbread.

I’m pretty picky about my shortbread. I believe it should be a celebration of the flavor of butter. Any other flavors present need only be there to play a supporting role. As you bite in, it should yield with a snap and infuse the senses with buttery richness. But this is vegan baking. How do you do all these things as well as showcase butter?
{loadposition body-ad-1}

Bringing out the butter with vegan shortbread

This sounds all well and good, but how are you supposed to obtain these characteristics in vegan shortbread? For years I didn’t even try and just lowered the bar, tricking myself into thinking that regular vegan shortbread that adopts store-bought margarine did the job just fine.

Regular Vegan Butter

After I began experimenting with Vegan Butter, I decided to delve into the oily art of butter-infused desserts. After a few years of experimenting and reading up on shortbread food science, I learned that coconut oil provided an extra layer of buttery notes when baked into dry, crispy desserts. How could this be? Well, when coconut is combined with flour and the other components in Vegan Butter, magic happens and intense butter flavor is enhanced as the flour toasts during baking. You'll just have to taste this to see what I mean. One of the other factors driving this flavor development is due to coconut oil containing flavor compounds called lactones. These are among the same flavor compounds that give cream its signature flavor and aroma.

Find more Coconut recipes on Veganbaking.net

While baking, the coconut notes combine with the toastiness of all-purpose flour to provide a surprisingly substantial amount of savory, butteriness. I then began experimenting with Vegan Butter variations. I found that Regular Vegan Butter with refined coconut oil swapped out for unrefined coconut oil provided most of what I was looking for. But the texture of the shortbread was crumbling, along with my sanity. After considerable recipe testing I was in dire straits and badly in need of finding a way to optimize the texture for a suitable crispy mouthfeel.

Understanding traditional shortbread

The shortbread I kept making just wouldn’t stay together. It was retaining too much moisture and falling apart. Morale was falling. When I increased the water-based ingredients, it would get softer after baking. When I reduced the water-based ingredients, it would just turn to dust.

What makes shortbread with dairy-based butter stay together and shortbread with Vegan Butter fall apart? To answer this question we need to take a look at how traditional dairy-butter shortbread works.

Traditional shortbread gets the short from the fact that doesn't bend or stretch; it snaps off when bent or cut. Back when shorbread got its name, bakers probably didn't know that this was because the large amounts of fat in the recipe was doing two things:
  • The fat coats glutenin and gliadin strands, the protein components that later hydrate and combine to make up gluten in the flour. Large amounts of fat makes them slippery, which reduces the chances of them making strong bonds.
  • The fat makes the glutenin and gliadin strands hydrophobic, or water repelling by coating them. These gluten precursors require water in order to form bonds. Keeping water from the gluten is desired to a certain extent, because if gluten gets a chance to take a sip, it'll drink up as much as it possibly can and hold onto lots of it during baking, contributing to a soft texture. 
This results in the gluten bonds being short and weak enough to enable a loose, crispy texture. The small amount of water contained in the butter that does get through to the gluten facilitates this. The plays a bonus role here too: Since the fat used in shortbread is solid at room temperature, after cooling, it actually contributes to a slight solidification of the shortbread.

Gluten is pretty powerful stuff and it absolutely loves water. So usually a gluten-free starch-based flour such as rice flour or cornstarch is added to displace more gluten to make sure it backs off the water supply. So the takeaway here is that, as in pie crusts, shortbread is basically all about the manipulation of gluten.

Fine tuning vegan shortbread texture

So how was my Vegan Butter contributing to my crumbly texture issue?  I decided to look into other aspects that make my Vegan Butter different than dairy-based butter.

My Vegan Butters use various ingredients to get the oil and water-based ingredients to mix well and enable a smooth creaminess. These ingredients consist of lecithin and xanthan gum. Lecithin is an emulsifier which allows oil and water to mix. Xanthan gum also has emulsification abilities, as well as holds onto air bubbles to mimic dairy-based butter’s ability to do the same. I really didn’t need Vegan Butter to hold onto air bubbles in this particular case. What if I dropped it? After all, xanthan gum is also hygroscopic, which means on a microscopic scale it's probably writing endless love letters to water. Once it gets hold of it, it just won’t seem to let it go, even after extended baking. Wait, didn't we just go through all this drama with the gluten? Deja vu!

While I'm at it, why don't I ax the lecithin as well? I'm primarily concerned about fat inhibiting gluten in this recipe. The smooth, consistently soft characteristics that lecithin imparts in Vegan Butter aren't needed here.

Once I made my custom version of Regular Vegan Butter and used it in the shortbread, I knew I was onto something! The shortbread congratulated me by snapping as I bit in. Now all I had to do was fine tune the salt to turn the butter level up to 11.

 So the takeaway here is that, as in pie crusts, shortbread is basically all about the manipulation of gluten.

Maintaining shortbread texture

As I said earlier, a crispy texture is due to lack of water in the dough. In this state the shortbread actually contains less water than the surrounding air in most cases. I recommend storing the shortbread in a relatively air-tight container at room temperature. Why? Because after they're left out on the counter for a day or so they'll actually start to pull in moisture from the surrounding air which will result in a soft, crumbly texture. The good news is that if you find your shortbread in this state, you can bring it back to crispiness by placing it in your oven set to 275F (135C) for 20 to 30 minutes.

The importance of sanding sugar

Sanding sugar, also known as sparkling sugar, consists of large sugar crystals. These crystals are larger than regular granulated white sugar crystals and they're more resistant to melting. Since their crystals are large, they tend to catch the light and shimmer like diamonds. I like to use sanding sugar where it can really be used to visually dress up an otherwise boring looking dessert. If this shortbread was baked up without anything dressing up the top, it would look rather dull. Since I want the look to match the intensity of the buttery punch, sanding sugar is a great fit here. Remember, the best food allows you to get excited about it before you even put it in your mouth! 

Sanding sugar

This vegan shortbread emphasizes buttery flavor and crispy texture. Feel free to use it as a base for other shortbread variations. You should be able to swap out the rice flour with other gluten-free starch-based flours such as cocoa powder, almond flour or even coconut flour; just make sure there are no hydrocolloids like xanthan gum hanging around. Alternative flours can help you branch out into unexplored vegan shortbread territory. Just be sure to leave the all-purpose flour intact. And no, I don't have a 100% gluten-free version of this recipe. Yet.
 TIPThis recipe includes a recipe for a custom Vegan Butter called Shortbread Vegan Butter. It's xanthan gum and lecithin-free and has more salt to amplify buttery flavors. It’s found below and absolutely required in order to get the proper texture. I usually make it a few days before I make the shortbread to make preparation as simple as possible.

Buttery Vegan Shortbread Cookie Recipe

Yield: one 8 x 8 inch square of cookies

For the Shortbread Vegan Butter

¼ cup + 2 teaspoons soy milk
½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon coconut vinegar (if you can’t find coconut vinegar, substitute with ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar so the total is 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar)
½ + ⅛ teaspoon salt

½ cup + 2 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon (130 grams) unrefined coconut oil, melted
1 Tablespoon canola oil, light olive oil or rice bran oil

For the shortbread

1 ½ cups + 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
3 Tablespoons rice flour or cornstarch
7 Tablespoons granulated white sugar
 
1 cup (2 sticks or 215 grams) Shortbread Vegan Butter, refrigerator temperature
 
2 teaspoons sanding sugar

Prepare the Shortbread Vegan Butter

1) Curdle the soy milk

Place the soy milk, apple cider vinegar, coconut vinegar and salt in a small cup and whisk together with a fork. Let it sit for about 10 minutes so the mixture curdles.

2) Mix the Vegan Butter ingredients

Melt the unrefined coconut oil in a microwave so it's barely melted and as close to room temperature as possible. Measure it and add it and the canola oil to a food processor. 
 TIPMaking smooth Vegan Butter is dependent on the mixture solidifying as quickly as possible after it's mixed. This is why it's important to make sure your coconut oil is as close to room temperature as possible before you mix it with the rest of the ingredients.

3) Transfer the Vegan Butter to a mold so it solidifies

Add the soy milk mixture to the food processor. Process for 2 minutes, scraping down the sides halfway through the duration. Pour the mixture into a mold and place it in the freezer to solidify. An ice cube mold works well. The vegan butter should be ready to use in about an hour. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month or wrapped in plastic wrap in the freezer for up to 1 year. This recipe makes 1 cup (215 grams), or the equivalent of 2 sticks Shortbread Vegan Butter.

Vegan Butter in a mold

Learn more about Vegan Butter.

Prepare the shortbread

4) Mix your dry ingredients together

Preheat your oven to 425F (218C). If you have a food processor, add the all-purpose flour, rice flour or cornstarch, granulated white sugar and pulse 10 times. The goal here is to get all of the ingredients mixed together with no lumps.

If you don't have a food processor, place a sifter in a medium mixing bowl and place the all-purpose flour, rice flour or cornstarch, sugar and salt into it. Sift the ingredients into the mixing bowl.

Line an 8 x 8 inch square baking pan with parchment paper, leaving about an extra inch or so hanging off of either side. This excess parchment is what you’ll use to lift the shortbread out of the pan after baking. Set the baking pan aside.

8 x 8 inch baking dish

5) Cut your Vegan Butter into the dry ingredients

Cut the Shortbread Vegan Butter into ¼ inch cubes. If you used a food processor in Step 4, simply add the Vegan Butter cubes and pulse 20 times.

If you sifted, add the Vegan Butter cubes to the flour and toss the mixture with your fingers until they're well coated. Use a pastry blender to mix until the mixture resembles coarse sand.

Vegan Butter cubes

6) Bake to perfection

Press the dough in the baking pan and use the flat bottom of a drinking glass to compress the dough into place. Try to find a drinking glass that has the flattest bottom you can find. The trick is to press down on the drinking glass as much as you possibly can within reason and give it a very slight twist as you lift it off the dough so it releases without sticking. Work your way over the dough, back and forth until the dough is fully compressed and flat. This step is crucial because it presses the air out of the dough and compresses it together, ensuring it'll have a nice crisp structure after baking. Sprinkle the sanding sugar on top. Reduce your oven heat to 300F (149C) and bake for 30 minutes.

Press the dough into the baking pan

Sprinkle the top with sanding sugar

7) Cut into squares

Remove the shortbread from the oven. Using a paring knife, carefully cut your desired size of the cookies by slicing straight, through the hot dough. I usually cut into small rectangular pieces. I advise cutting pieces on the small side due to the richness of this shortbread. Alternatively, you can use a cookie cutter to cut custom shapes into the dough but keep in mind that this may result in wasted dough because you can’t roll the dough scraps into a ball and use it again like you can in other cookie styles.

Cut the shortbread

8) Continue baking your vegan shortbread

Place the shortbread back into the oven, reduce heat to 275F (135C) and bake for 1 ½ additional hours. Remove it from the oven and allow it to cool on a wire rack. This allows the shortbread to lose as much of its internal moisture as possible which ensures a crispy texture. When cool, remove the shortbread from the baking pan by lifting it out by the parchment paper.

To preserve crispiness, Buttery Vegan Shortbread should be stored in a relatively air-tight container at room temperature where it'll keep for up to 1 month.

Buttery Vegan Shortbread

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Mon, 26 Jan 2015 15:58:41 -0500
http://www.veganbaking.net/recipes/non-dairy-milks/toasted-coconut-milk <![CDATA[Toasted Coconut Milk]]> http://www.veganbaking.net/recipes/non-dairy-milks/toasted-coconut-milk Toasted Coconut MilkLeveraging toastiness can be a powerful tool for creating rich, complex flavors. Toastiness is often defined in dictionaries as “comfortably or cozily warm”. I think it’s pretty cool how this definition describes the actual food flavor so spot-on. When you combine toastiness with coconut, you’d better watch out; you’re in for a burst of rich toastiness with a lingering creamy coconut finish that can fade into maltiness. Perfect for kicking your vegan baking up a notch or three!

Why confine toasted coconut to coconut flour? By making coconut milk out of toasted coconut flour, we’re able to apply this rich, complex creamy toastiness to a much wider array of vegan baking applications. Ice creams, cakes, puddings, cream sauces, pancakes; any food that uses a large proportion of liquid can take advantage of toasted coconut milk in place of regular non-dairy milk. You can even put it in your breakfast oatmeal where it’ll add a rich, savory maltiness. But how does this flavor come to be? {loadposition share}Toasted Coconut Milk

Leveraging toastiness can be a powerful tool for creating rich, complex flavors. Toastiness is often defined in dictionaries as “comfortably or cozily warm”. I think it’s pretty cool how this definition describes the actual food flavor so spot-on. When you combine toastiness with coconut, you’d better watch out; you’re in for a burst of rich toastiness with a lingering creamy coconut finish that can fade into maltiness. Perfect for kicking your vegan baking up a notch or three!

Why confine toasted coconut to coconut flour? By making coconut milk out of toasted coconut flour, we’re able to apply this rich, complex creamy toastiness to a much wider array of vegan baking applications. Ice creams, cakes, puddings, cream sauces, pancakes; any food that uses a large proportion of liquid can take advantage of toasted coconut milk in place of regular non-dairy milk. You can even put it in your breakfast oatmeal where it’ll add a rich, savory maltiness. But how does this flavor come to be?
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A primer on flavor

It’s important to note here an important summary of the definition of flavor: taste + aroma = flavor. Taste consists of the five or so flavors perceived by your tongue which are sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami. Aroma includes volatile compounds that are perceived in the olfactory bulb, where it’s known as your sense of smell. Your olfactory bulb, located behind your nose, is capable of picking up at least hundreds of aromas.
 
It’s easy to think that most of what we taste is sensed in the mouth. I mean, I know I’m tasting it there because I feel it there! This is a fascinating trick that the body plays; the olfactory bulb picks up most of what we perceive as flavor. It’s actually processed in your brain and your brain tells you that you’re tasting it in your mouth. Silly body! Always playing tricks on everyone.
 
Volatile flavor compounds fit into receptors in the olfactory bulb like keys fit into a lock. This ends up triggering what we perceive as flavor. Think of aroma as microscopic keys floating around in the air just waiting to plug into our olfactory bulbs. When several of these volatile compounds fit into the olfactory receptors at a time, it can be the flavor equivalent of playing a chord on a guitar or piano, where the collective notes are more than the sum of their parts. The result is yuuuuummm!

Toasted Coconut Milk in bowl

The blueprint for toastiness: the Maillard Reaction

It’s the maillard reaction, also known as maillard browning, due to the darkter colors generated, that enables these flavors to be created. This chemical reaction creates a multitude of new taste and especially aroma compounds, many of which are super small, lightweight and hence, volatile. A compound is volatile when it’s easily evaporated into the surrounding environment at normal temperatures. Not only are you going to get new tastes developed during the maillard reaction, you’re also going to get more volatile aroma particles that are going to make a very large impression of overall flavor.
 
The maillard reaction needs a few variables to be aligned in order to occur. The recipe for a healthy maillard reaction calls for:
  • A bit of protein to supply amino acids
  • Certain naturally-occurring simple sugars
  • A bit of heat (usually)
  • As little water as possible
These variables are required because the maillard reaction is all about proteins breaking down and letting go of their amino acids which react with simple sugars in the presence of dry heat. The result is taste, aroma, and dark color. The taste and aroma results in complex flavor. The variables needed for the maillard reaction are really small; you don’t need to seek out high-protein foods or foods that have a noticeable amount of sugar.

Most foods that are dry and exposed to heat will exhibit maillard reactions to some degree. Dairy-based dry milk powder is one of the rare ingredients that doesn’t require excessive heat in order for the maillard reaction to occur. If you’ve ever noticed bakeries where cakes on display have sat in the window for too long and white frosting is fading to brown, this is why. In this case, making display cakes without milk protein and lactose sugar in the frosting would keep this browning from occurring.
 
Foods that are in contact with water will not allow maillard reactions to occur. Think of chefs that are always saying “don’t crowd the pan” when sautéeing. They say this because too much crowding will allow the food to steam, which will not only keep the temperature of the food from rising above the boiling point, it also keeps the food moist which inhibits maillard reactions. Lower temperatures + higher water content = food that’s not as tasty as it could be due to a lack of maillard reactions. This is one of the reasons why there’s such a huge flavor difference between steaming and roasting.
 
Luckily for us, it’s really easy for us bakers to leverage the maillard reaction for baking ingredients. Foods like nuts, flour and coconut work particularly well. For instance, toasting corn flour to use in corn bread will lend another layer of savory corn flavor. Toasting pecans for pecan fudge will allow the pecans to cut through the intensity of the fudge, creating a more decadent overall flavor. With toasted coconut milk, we’re taking advantage of toasted coconut and creaminess to add a rich, silky, malty base to almost any dessert.

 Luckily for us, it’s really easy for us bakers to leverage the maillard reaction for baking ingredients.

Find more Coconut recipes on Veganbaking.net

Toasted Coconut Milk Recipe

Yield: 2 ½ cups (600 ml)

¾ cup + 1 Tablespoon (about 120 grams) toasted coconut flour
4 cups water (946 ml)
¼ cup water (57 ml)

1) Toast your coconut flour

Preheat your oven to 300F (149C). Distribute the coconut flour so it’s evenly dispersed on the baking sheet, no more than a ½ inch deep. Place the baking sheet in the oven for 20 minutes, rotating once halfway through the baking time.
 TIPIf you’re toasting a larger amount of coconut flour called for in this recipe, use more than one baking sheet and make sure to rotate them to different racks throughout the baking duration for even toasting.
Toasted coconut - before toasting

Coconut flour - after toasting
 
Learn more about toasting coconut.

2) Prepare your colander

Add the toasted coconut flour to a blender and set aside. Line a colander with two layers of cheesecloth and place the colander in a bowl so there is room for the coconut milk to drain. Here’s the colander I recommend.

Colander with bowl

Colander strainer

3) Boil your water

In a kettle or medium saucepan, add 4 cups water and place over high heat, covered until the water boils. 

4) Blend the toasted coconut flour

Transfer the water to the blender and blend on high for 1 minute. Be especially careful here and place a folded towel over the top of the blender to catch any spillovers. Start the blender slow and work up to high to ensure that the liquid doesn’t splash through the top of the blender.

5) Strain your toasted coconut milk from the coconut solids

Transfer the hot coconut mixture to the colander and allow it to drain. Running a spatula along the inside cheesecloth surface will allow it to drain faster. Once some of the liquid has drained, add the ¼ cup water to the blender and blend to clean it out. Now transfer this water to the colander and stir it into the mixture. This trick allows you to get a slightly higher extraction rate out of your toasted coconut flour. Once the draining has subsided and the coconut mixture in the colander is cool enough to touch, fold all four sides of cheesecloth over the top of the coconut mixture, twist it and use your hands to squeeze out as much toasted coconut milk as you can.

Strain the toasted coconut milk

6) Store in the refrigerator if not using immediately.

Transfer the toasted coconut milk to a small container, cover and place in the refrigerator for several hours to cool. It’ll keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

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Sat, 24 Jan 2015 23:48:32 -0500
http://www.veganbaking.net/recipes/fats/vegan-shortenings/vegan-shortening-cocoa-butter-base <![CDATA[Vegan Shortening - Cocoa Butter Base]]> http://www.veganbaking.net/recipes/fats/vegan-shortenings/vegan-shortening-cocoa-butter-base Vegan Shortening - Cocoa Butter BaseShortening definitely has its place in vegan baking. From pie crusts, shortbreads and puff pastry, it’s a basic building block for texture. This solid fat is so integral to these types of desserts because it alters the way gluten is formed in baked items that utilize wheat-based flours. For more on the food science of shortening, check out my article on how to make vegan shortening.My original recipe for vegan shortening utilized a mixture of coconut oil and vegetable oil such as canola, light olive oil or rice bran oil. The coconut oil is solid at room temperature. When it’s mixed with a certain ratio of fats that are liquid at room temperature, a certain level of softness can be dialed in that makes it suitable to use as shortening. This recipe utilizes deodorized, also known as refined cocoa butter. {loadposition share}Vegan Shortening - Cocoa Butter Base

Shortening definitely has its place in vegan baking. From pie crusts, shortbreads and puff pastry, it’s a basic building block for texture. This solid fat is so integral to these types of desserts because it alters the way gluten is formed in baked items that utilize wheat-based flours. For more on the food science of shortening, check out my article on how to make vegan shortening.My original recipe for vegan shortening utilized a mixture of coconut oil and vegetable oil such as canola, light olive oil or rice bran oil. The coconut oil is solid at room temperature. When it’s mixed with a certain ratio of fats that are liquid at room temperature, a certain level of softness can be dialed in that makes it suitable to use as shortening. This recipe utilizes deodorized, also known as refined cocoa butter.
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Why would you want to make your own shortening? 

Why go through the hassle of making your own shortening? There are many reasons:
  • The United States is one of the only places in the world where shortening can be found.
  • Most of the shortening available in the US is derived from palm oil, which, as of this writing, is associated with environmental destruction in Sumatra.
  • Much of the shortening commercially available has additives that you might want to choose to avoid.
  • Making your own shortening allows you to unlock more creativity with your baked items. For example, if you want to add a layer of white chocolate or hazelnut flavor to your dessert, you could swap out some or all of the refined cocoa butter for unrefined cocoa butter and some or all of the canola oil with hazelnut oil. How about a hazelnut shortening that doesn’t resort to hazelnut extract for flavoring? Making your own Vegan Butter or Shortening and using hazelnut oil allows this to be possible! Toasted sesame oil in a vegetable pot pie crust? Why not?

What is Cocoa Butter?

Cocoa Butter is the fat from the cacao bean, the bean used to make chocolate. It’s had all of the dark cocoa solids removed so it’s an opaque white instead of chocolate colored. Even though the dark solids have been removed, cocoa butter in its unrefined state still has a certain level of chocolate flavor. It’s important to use refined, also known as deodorized cocoa butter in this shortening recipe in order to produce a flavor-neutral shortening. 
 
Refined cocoa butter has been passed through a filter to remove all traces of chocolate flavor. If you’d like to leverage chocolate flavor in your shortening, by all means, use unrefined cocoa butter. 

Cocoa Butter

Where do you find Cocoa Butter?

I usually order my cocoa butter online because it’s not yet available at my local health food store. When ordering online, it’s very important to confirm that your refined or unrefined cocoa butter is food grade. If it doesn’t specify food grade, assume that it’s cosmetic grade and look elsewhere. Food grade fats are processed in a way that either adequately preserves or removes flavor. For example, if you’re looking for good quality unrefined cocoa butter, food grade will ensure that the manufacturer uses processes that preserve maximum chocolate flavor. Conversely, food grade refined cocoa butter will be handled in a way that removes as much of the flavor as possible. 
 
The opposite of food grade cocoa butter is usually cosmetic grade. Cosmetic grade cocoa butter may or may not be safe for human consumption, depending on the processes used for preparing it for market. In my experience, cosmetic grade cocoa butter usually contains slight off-flavors, making it unsuitable for food applications if even if it were refined in a way that would be safe for food consumption.

Why use Cocoa Butter?

To understand why cocoa butter is so valuable in vegan shortening, we must understand the limitations of coconut oil. Coconut oil has a melting temperature of about 77F (25C). Cocoa butter melts at about 93-100F (34 to 38C). This is more in line with the melting point of palm oil, which is 95F (35C) and animal-based fats. The lower melting point of coconut oil means that once it’s mixed with vegetable oils, the shortening starts to melt at somewhere right below 77F (25C). In the United States this isn’t much of a concern, but in hotter climates, your shortening will often melt so quickly that it’ll be partially liquefied before you get a chance to bake your dough. Cocoa butter gives you added insurance that your dough will remain at the optimal texture before it goes into the oven in these hot conditions.
 
This Vegan Shortening recipe utilizing cocoa butter, in contrast to the vegan shortening that utilizes coconut oil, has a melt point between 80 and 85F (27 to 29C). 
 
Due to the slightly lower melting point of coconut oil, I realized that it would be beneficial to have recipes for Vegan Butters, Shortenings and Frostings with higher melt points. I mean, have you seen frosting slide off a cake in hot weather? What a bummer! 
 
Regular Vegan Butter - Cocoa Butter Base is another example of a Vegan Butter that likely has a slightly higher melting point than Regular Vegan Butter - Coconut Oil Base

Vegan Shortening

Learn more about the melting temperatures of fats.

Vegan Shortening Recipe - Cocoa Butter Base

6 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons refined cocoa butter (72 grams)
9 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon (140 ml) canola, light olive oil or rice bran oil

1) Melt and mix your fats

Melt the cocoa butter in a microwave so it's barely melted and as close to room temperature as possible. Measure it and add it and the canola oil to a food processor. Making smooth shortening is dependent on the mixture solidifying as quickly as possible after it's mixed. This smoothness depends on the fats solidifying before they get a chance to separate. This is why it's important to make sure your coconut oil is as close to room temperature as possible before you mix it with the canola oil.

2) Transfer the Vegan Shortening to a mold and freeze

Process for 1 minute, scraping down the sides halfway through the duration. Pour the mixture into a mold such as an ice cube tray and place it in the freezer to solidify. An ice cube mold works well. The vegan shortening should be ready to use in about an hour. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 months or wrapped in plastic wrap in the freezer for up to 2 years. This recipe makes 1 cup, 215 grams, or the equivalent of 2 sticks Cocoa Butter Vegan Shortening.

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Mon, 01 Dec 2014 05:22:31 -0500
http://www.veganbaking.net/recipes/fats/vegan-butters/spreadable-olive-oil-vegan-butter <![CDATA[Spreadable Olive Oil Vegan Butter]]> http://www.veganbaking.net/recipes/fats/vegan-butters/spreadable-olive-oil-vegan-butter
Spreadable Olive Oil Vegan ButterI've gotten into the habit of using various Vegan Butters in my baking projects. I like having the peace of mind in knowing I have complete control over what goes into it. These butters were designed to mimic real butter. But lately I’ve been noticing something. The same hard consistency that allows the butter to work well with creaming into cookie batter, cutting into pie crust dough and rolling with croissant dough can also be its downfall.
 
This firmness inhibits the butter from being enjoyed on a completely different level: being spread onto toasty pieces of hearth breads, smeared on steamy biscuits and dabbed on pancakes fresh off the griddle. In these cases, butters that are optimal for baking tend to sit on the food, desperately depending on the residual heat to allow them to melt so they hopefully spread out as they ooze along. Then while you’re eating, hopefully you’ll eventually get to the part with the melted butter on it. What a treat that’s going to be! It shouldn’t have to be this way.
{loadposition share}Spreadable Olive Oil Vegan Butter

I've gotten into the habit of using various Vegan Butters in my baking projects. I like having the peace of mind in knowing I have complete control over what goes into it. These butters were designed to mimic real butter. But lately I’ve been noticing something. The same hard consistency that allows the butter to work well with creaming into cookie batter, cutting into pie crust dough and rolling with croissant dough can also be its downfall.
 
This firmness inhibits the butter from being enjoyed on a completely different level: being spread onto toasty pieces of hearth breads, smeared on steamy biscuits and dabbed on pancakes fresh off the griddle. In these cases, butters that are optimal for baking tend to sit on the food, desperately depending on the residual heat to allow them to melt so they hopefully spread out as they ooze along. Then while you’re eating, hopefully you’ll eventually get to the part with the melted butter on it. What a treat that’s going to be! It shouldn’t have to be this way.
 
So naturally, I’ve been using my Vegan Butters for baking only and I only noticed there was a problem when another type of commercial vegan butter somehow ended up in my refrigerator, unannounced. “How did that get in there?” I wondered. If I'm having trouble spreading Vegan Butter that's designed for baking, how many other people out there are having the same issues? Sharpen your butter knives, it's time to enjoy Spreadable Vegan Butter!

Spreadable Vegan Butter on bread

Let’s break some buttery rules

The most exciting part of developing this Vegan Butter was that I didn’t have to follow as many rules as I did when I worked on the vegan-baking-centric Vegan Butters. This is because we’re not emulating real butter from the ground up here. I decided to keep the fat-to-water ratio about the same as regular butter which is in the neighborhood of 80% fat, 20% water. Since we’re free to focus on spreadable, savory butteriness, let’s see what else we have in our food toolbox!

Not all extra virgin olive oils are created equal

Why not showcase the regal, grassy, earthy flavors of extra virgin olive oil and pair it with buttery flavors? This would make it a healthier and possibly more flavorful option than the commercial competition. To really drive olive oil notes, I recommend seeking out unfiltered extra virgin olive oil because it contains more tasty compounds such as polyphenols and terpenes. I’m a huge fan of unfiltered arbequina and kalamata extra virgin olive oils. Most of the stuff on the US market seems to be intentionally dumbed down and relatively light on flavor. Go forth and be bold ye olive oil taster! Don’t be afraid to try a variety of extra virgin olive oils and select what you prefer. No matter what type of olive oil you choose, keep in mind that the olive oil notes will be in the background due to it only consisting of about half of the overall fat content of this Vegan Butter. The ratio of fats is important because the refined coconut oil takes care of enabling just the firmness we need so things remain spreadable.

The subtle role of acids

Originally I preferred the light tang of apple cider vinegar in my Vegan Butters. Apple cider contains both malic acid as well as acetic acid. The malic acid profices a sharp, fruity tang followed by the acetic acid notes that can emulate cultured flavors. For some people this initial malic acid burst can be a bit much. It also tends to drop off rather quickly after its initial rush. Recently I’ve come to enjoy the smooth, soft acidity of coconut vinegar. I now prefer to combine these characteristics in my Vegan Butters so there's a more subtle fruity start which evolves into a drawn out, smooth and buttery finish that lingers longer on the palate. Of course all of this should be perceived in the background. If it's a little too strong for your liking, feel free to reduce the acid content. If you're having trouble locating coconut vinegar I recommend adding the full amount of apple cider vinegar.

Let’s upgrade the salt

Since we’re going to be spreading this vegan butter on our favorite eats, why not enhance it with a larger amount of a next-level salt such as fleur de sel or Maldon salt? That’ll elevate the olive oil and butter notes to Butter 2.0! Alright then! 
 
If you haven’t tried fleur de sel or Maldon salts for finishing, or sprinkling on top of already cooked or raw food like salads and bruschetta, you’re missing out. I’m obsessed with this stuff. These salts offer layers of complex, minerally, earthy saltiness. Normally you wouldn’t put them inside your food; they’re usually used strictly as finishing salts only. But since we’re breaking the rules, we’re going for it! Just please don’t tell anyone. 
 
Not into breaking the rules or having a hard time finding these salts? If you’re having difficulty ordering them online, there’s hope. Ready? Just use regular salt. Your vegan butter will still rival commercial spreadable vegan butter. I promise.
 
One of the caveats of using these types of salts is that they’re made up of large, rather strange looking flakes that don’t dissolve easily. This is one of the reasons these salts are used mostly for finishing. To get around this, I call for some extra time in the food processor so these little guys get a chance to dissolve completely.
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Spreadable vegan butter prefers jars, not cubes

Since this Vegan Butter is spreadable, it’ll melt into your warm toast on-contact. This spreadability and meltability means that it should be poured into a mold resembling a small jar or bowl so it can be easily accessible by your spreading knife. That's right- no more juggling with cubes anymore! This spreadability also means that this Vegan Butter shouldn’t be left out of the refrigerator for extended periods. Since it’s not loaded with hydrocolloids like the commercial alternatives, it’ll eventually soften and liquify. In this case It'll need to be whizzed in the food processor and frozen to get back to its buttery self again.
 
The great thing about using a jar is that it makes your Vegan Butter even easier to make; just pour it into the mold and place it in the freezer so it solidifies quickly. An hour later, place the lid on, transfer it to the refrigerator and marvel at never having to buy the store-bought stuff again. I love wire bale jars because, hey, life is short. Why not store your vegan butter in a cute Bormioli Fido 200 mL wire bale jar? This size happens to hold exactly what this recipe makes.

Spreadable Vegan Butter in a jar
 
Be fearless when it comes to mixing up your Vegan Butter by adding fresh or dried herbs, swapping out the olive oil for hemp oil or swapping out the refined coconut oil with unrefined coconut oil. You could even include a dash of smoked paprika or other spice to see how it affects the savoriness. Oh and one more thing: smoked Maldon salt. It’s waiting for you when you’re ready.
 
This Vegan Butter is for spreading and general cooking only. For baking applications, use other non-spreadable vegan butters such as Regular Vegan Butter. This link also covers the food science of Vegan Butter in more detail.

Spreadable Olive Oil Vegan Butter Recipe

¼ cup + 2 teaspoons soy milk
½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon coconut vinegar (if you can’t find coconut vinegar, substitute with ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar so the total is 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar)
4 grams fleur de sel, Maldon salt or regular salt (if you don’t have a scale, use ¾ + ⅛ teaspoon regular salt)
 
¼ cup + 2 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon refined coconut oil, melted
¼ cup + 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
 
1 teaspoon liquid soy lecithin or liquid sunflower lecithin or 2 ¼ teaspoons soy lecithin granules
¼ teaspoon xanthan gum or ½ + ⅛ teaspoon psyllium husk powder

1) Curdle your soy milk

Place the soy milk, apple cider vinegar, coconut vinegar and salt in a small cup and whisk together with a fork. Let it sit for about 10 minutes so the mixture curdles.

2) Mix your Vegan Butter ingredients

Melt the coconut oil in a microwave so it's barely melted and as close to room temperature as possible. Measure it and add it and the olive oil to a food processor. Making smooth vegan butter is dependent on the mixture solidifying as quickly as possible after it's mixed. This is why it's important to make sure your coconut oil is as close to room temperature as possible before you mix it with the rest of the ingredients.

3) Transfer the Vegan Butter to a mold so it solidifies

Add the soy milk mixture, soy lecithin and xanthan gum to the food processor. Process for 3 minutes then scrape down the sides with a spatula. Process for 3 additional minutes. This lengthy processing time is to allow the salt to dissolve completely. Pour the mixture into a shallow jar or other container and place it in the freezer to solidify with the lid removed so it solidifies as quickly as possible. A 7 ounce wire bale glass jar or similar container works well. The Vegan Butter should be ready to use in about an hour. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month or in the freezer for up to 1 year. Makes about 1 cup (215 grams), or 8 fluid ounces Spreadable Olive Oil Vegan Butter.

For more Vegan Butter recipes check out the Vegan Butter recipe section.

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Wed, 30 Apr 2014 06:52:33 -0400
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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Tue, 01 Apr 2014 05:50:18 -0400
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
http://www.veganbaking.net/recipes/cakes/sponge-cakes/vegan-toasted-coconut-cake <![CDATA[Vegan Toasted Coconut Cake]]> http://www.veganbaking.net/recipes/cakes/sponge-cakes/vegan-toasted-coconut-cake
Vegan Toasted Coconut CakeCoconut is one of my favorite ingredients due to its neutral flavors that add richness to almost anything. Coconut contains flavor compounds called lactones that are among the same flavor compounds that give traditional dairy cream its trademark creamy flavor. And we all wondered why coconut and cream went together so well! In this Toasted Coconut Cake I wanted to maximize these layers of coconut and cream for a truly decadent cake.
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Coconut is one of my favorite ingredients due to its neutral flavors that add richness to almost anything. Coconut contains flavor compounds called lactones that are among the same flavor compounds that give traditional dairy cream its trademark creamy flavor. And we all wondered why coconut and cream went together so well! In this Toasted Coconut Cake I wanted to maximize these layers of coconut and cream for a truly decadent cake.
 
This cake is borne out of the success of my Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies. While developing that recipe I found that using multiple types of coconut provides layers of coconut flavor.

How to build maximum coconut flavor

You’d think that coconut milk would be one of the most effective ways to infuse coconut flavor right? That’s what I thought too. After several test batches, I found that coconut milk contains too much water and not enough solids or fat to contribute a substantial amount of coconut flavor. And even if it did, there’s just way too much variation from brand to brand and even can to can. Some tend to have way more fat than others and some even have added guar gum which can throw things off if you’re not looking out for it.
 
Coconut flour and coconut oil tend to be where all the flavor is, probably because there’s no water to get in the way which makes the flavors more concentrated.

To toast or not to toast

Coconut usually has an extremely smooth, rich, creamy flavor, unless of course it’s lightly toasted. In this case, you get to experience the more edgy, complex, nutty and toasty side of coconut. I love the combination of both of these flavor profiles so I utilize toasted coconut flour for the batter and toasted shredded coconut for the frosting to provide the toasty notes in this recipe. If you’re not a fan of this edgier side, I won’t judge if you forego the toasting.

Toasted Coconut
 
Unrefined coconut oil is another great way to pack coconut flavor into baked items. Unrefined just means that the oil hasn’t been passed through an activated charcoal filter which removes the lactones and other coconut flavor compounds. 
 
Finally, coconut sugar is a subtle but worthy opportunity for us to add another layer of coconut flavor. Coconut sugar is a golden granulated sugar that originates as a sap from the coconut palm. This sap is then cooked down, filtered to some degree and processed into granulated crystals that lend a slight coconut caramel note to baked goods.
 
I should add that since we’re going whole coconut with this thing, Coconut Buttercream Frosting is recommended. This requires you to make Coconut Vegan Butter in advance, but if you don’t have time, any regular frosting of your choice will do.
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Coconut flour’s insatiable thirst

Now that we have our coconut flavor, we need to keep in mind that, as with my Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, the coconut flour is going to absorb about six times the amount of water as regular flour which is going to create a problem. Luckily, we’ve been through this before so the solution is to compensate for this by calling for a considerably larger amount of non-dairy milk in the recipe. 
 
The coconut flour is also going to displace gluten-based flour, which is the primary protein building block for structure in regular gluten-based vegan cakes. Luckily, we can bring gluten levels back in check by adding a flour with a higher gluten content: good ol’ bread flour. We’ll call for even more non-dairy milk so the glutenin and gliadin have enough moisture to combine into gluten without giving a fuss. Yes, this amount of non-dairy milk is so much liquid for a vegan cake recipe it's almost laughable. But at least now everyone’s well hydrated and happy.
 
One caveat of all these coconutty modifications is that we’re not going to be left with a light and airy sponge of a cake. This cake is going to be on the heavy, dense, rich and moist side. I happen to prefer these types of cakes and I’m hoping you do too.
 
At this point, all we need is a little vanilla extract and salt to tie everything together. Coconut Buttercream Frosting is what they call icing on the cake.

Find more Coconut recipes on Veganbaking.net

Vegan Toasted Coconut Cake Recipe

1 ½ cups shredded coconut, unsweetened
 
2 ¾ cups + 2 Tablespoons non-dairy milk
2 teaspoons golden flax meal
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
 
1 ½ cups bread flour
1 cup toasted coconut flour
3 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
 
¾ cup + 2 Tablespoons coconut sugar
¼ cup unrefined coconut oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt

Coconut Buttercream Frosting

Easy Buttercream Frosting
Coconut Vegan Butter

1) Prepare the toasted coconut

Preheat your oven to 300F (149C). Spread the shredded coconut evenly on one rimmed baking sheet and the coconut flour evenly on another rimmed baking sheet. Place them in the oven for 20 minutes. Set aside. Feel free to find out more information on toasting coconut flour. If you work with it often and you love it as much as I do, you might want to consider making a large amount and storing it in a covered container for future use.

2) Prepare your cake pan and curdle the non-dairy milk

Preheat your oven to 350F (177C). Lightly coat two 8 inch round cake pans with vegetable oil and dust them with flour, making sure to shake off any excess. In a small bowl, whisk together the non-dairy milk, flax meal and apple cider vinegar. Set aside for at least 5 minutes so the mixture thickens. 

3) Whisk together the dry ingredients

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the bread flour, toasted coconut flour, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside. 

Whisk together the dry ingredients

4) Whisk together the flavor building ingredients

In another medium mixing bowl whisk together the coconut sugar, coconut oil, vanilla extract and salt. Now whisk in the flax mixture from Step 2 until well incorporated.

5) Mix the batter

Add the dry ingredients to the bowl containing the wet ingredients and whisk together until well incorporated and the lumps are eliminated.

Toasted Coconut Cake before baking

6) Bake to perfection 

Pour equal portions of batter into each cake pan. To eliminate air bubbles lift each cake pan about 2 inches off the counter and drop it onto the counter a couple times. Bake for 30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool for about an hour then transfer to a cake rack to cool completely before frosting.

Toasted Coconut Cake after baking

7) Prepare the Coconut Buttercream Frosting

While the cake is cooling, prepare the frosting by using Coconut Vegan Butter in place of Regular Vegan Butter in this Easy Buttercream Frosting recipe. If you prefer less frosting drama, feel free to use another frosting or prepare the regular Easy Buttercream Frosting with store-bought vegan butter.

8) Frost the cake

Frost the cake by first applying a crumb coat to both layers separately and place them in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes so the frosting hardens. This extremely thin, cold, hard layer of base frosting will provide a good foundation for the rest of your frosting and ensure that no cake crumbs get caught up into it. Apply the rest of your frosting and sprinkle the toasted shredded coconut on top. The cake can be stored in a covered container at room temperature for about 1 week or in a freezer bag in the freezer for up to 6 months. Makes two layers of an 8 inch round Vegan Toasted Coconut Cake.

Toasted Coconut Cake

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Tue, 12 Nov 2013 08:25:29 -0500
http://www.veganbaking.net/recipes/fats/vegan-butters/white-truffle-vegan-butter <![CDATA[White Truffle Vegan Butter ]]> http://www.veganbaking.net/recipes/fats/vegan-butters/white-truffle-vegan-butter
White Truffle Vegan Butter What I like best about Vegan Butter is how it can be crafted to meet your exact flavor and texture specifications. Since we’re building butter from the ground up, we have the freedom to use building blocks that contribute almost any quality we desire. In that roughly 80% fat and 20% water, we have lots of room to play around. For this version I wanted to showcase the unbelievably smooth, savory flavors of truffle oil for a Vegan Butter that could stand up to traditional dairy-based butter as a bread spread, or even quite possibly outdo it when baked into pastry such as savory pie crusts. But why are we infusing vegan butter with truffle oil? Let’s get some background information on what truffle oil brings to the table.
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What I like best about Vegan Butter is how it can be crafted to meet your exact flavor and texture specifications. Since we’re building butter from the ground up, we have the freedom to use building blocks that contribute almost any quality we desire. In that roughly 80% fat and 20% water, we have lots of room to play around. For this version I wanted to showcase the unbelievably smooth, savory flavors of truffle oil for a Vegan Butter that could stand up to traditional dairy-based butter as a bread spread, or even quite possibly outdo it when baked into pastry such as savory pie crusts. But why are we infusing vegan butter with truffle oil? Let’s get some background information on what truffle oil brings to the table.

Truffles

Truffles are the fruiting body of a fungus. This fungus grows symbiotically with trees such as oaks, hazels and lindens. Like most mushrooms, the majority of the fungus is underground; it’s only when the fungus needs to spore that it cultivates the necessary energy to produce the fruiting body. Unlike mushrooms, the truffle is a fruiting body that grows underground. It emits an aroma that attracts animals that find it, eat it and spread the spores back into the environment through their excrement. This is why truffle hunters often employ animals to help them unearth their bounty.

Black truffles

Black truffles are known to be subtle and earthy, with a flavor that is thought to be slightly enhanced by cooking. Bonus: it also contains a compound called androstenone that can be found in men’s underarm sweat! Though not everyone can perceive this particular aroma quality.

White truffles

White truffles have a stronger pungent aroma more akin to garlic, which is a result of their more complex sulphur compounds. These truffles are more suitable to be eaten raw. This quality, as well as the more complex, garlicky characteristics, is why I selected white truffle oil to be used in this Vegan Butter.
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Truffle oil

Truffle oil is traditionally a vegetable oil such as olive oil that has been infused with the flavor of truffles, usually by immersing a few slices of truffles into the oil. These days, due to the expense of truffles, most truffle oil is made with the use of natural flavors. By this I mean that food scientists have figured out that the majority of truffle flavor is produced by a compound called 2,4-dithiapentane
 
This compound creates most of what we know as truffle flavor but there are other compounds that produce or highlight other flavor attributes which differentiate black truffle oil and white truffle oil. I’m unsure of whether other compounds are added to truffle oil to achieve these flavor characteristics, or whether real truffles are used in smaller amounts in these cases.
 
This natural flavoring conundrum has caused a great deal of controversy in the food world, with many chefs proclaiming that truffles not produced from the real thing don’t belong in the kitchen. At the same time many world class chefs counter that, although real truffle oil is broadly preferred, the artificially flavored version is still a great tool for enhancing flavor as long as you know when and where to use these truffle oils. Combine this controversy with the truffle-oil-mania backlash of the early 2010s and it appears that every chef these days has a strong opinion on it.
 
The fact is that the unaffiliated palate never really knows whether truffle oil has been produced from real truffles or 2,4-dithiapentane; there’s no regulating body that certifies truffle oil so you can’t really be sure that you’ve ever tasted the real thing or not unless you’ve been lucky enough to eat a real slice of truffle. That brand that the famous chef recommends: maybe they used real truffles in it a few years ago but who knows now? It’s anybody’s guess. This makes it almost impossible for me to recommend a particular brand of truffle oil.
 
I happen to believe that truffle oil in small amounts is fantastic; as long as special attention is paid to how, when and where it’s used, it can be an extremely useful and fun tool to expand your flavor repertoire in the kitchen. If you agree, then keep reading.

"What?! Are you attemptlng to justify putting chemical flavorings into my food?" Keep in mind that many flavorings such as almond and vanilla often feature their true flavor compounds, but created in a controlled environment instead of in the natural world. I look forward to purchasing real truffle oil the next time I come across it. I'm not concerned that small amounts of the compound that provides true truffle flavor, natural or not, is detrimental to my health. You're free to come to your own conclusion.
 
I found that white truffle oil’s smooth, funky garlic notes were enhanced further by lemon juice as the acid component in this vegan butter. Salt significantly amplifies the savoriness of truffles so I increased it slightly. I then added white pepper and thyme to round out the buttery flavors.

Learn more about the food science behind Vegan Butter.

White Truffle Vegan Butter Recipe

¼ cup + 2 teaspoons soy milk
1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice
¾ teaspoon salt
 
½ cup + 2 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon refined coconut oil, melted
1 Tablespoon white truffle oil
1 teaspoon fresh thyme or ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
1 pinch white pepper
 
1 teaspoon liquid soy lecithin or liquid sunflower lecithin or 2 ¼ teaspoons soy lecithin granules
¼ teaspoon xanthan gum or ½ + ⅛ teaspoon psyllium husk powder

1) Curdle the soy milk

Place the soy milk, lemon juice and salt in a small cup and whisk together with a fork. Let it sit for about 10 minutes so the mixture curdles slightly.

2) Blend the fats, thyme and white pepper

Melt the coconut oil in a microwave so it's barely melted and as close to room temperature as possible. Measure it and add it to a food processor along with the white truffle oil, thyme and white pepper. Making smooth vegan butter is dependent on the mixture solidifying as quickly as possible after it's mixed. This is why it's important to make sure your coconut oil is as close to room temperature as possible before you mix it with the rest of the ingredients.

3) Blend the mixture together and place it in a mold to solidify

Add the soy milk mixture, soy lecithin and xanthan gum to the food processor. Process for 2 minutes, scraping down the sides halfway through the duration. Pour the mixture into a mold and place it in the freezer to solidify. An ice cube mold works well. The vegan butter should be ready to use in about an hour. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month or wrapped in plastic wrap in the freezer for up to 1 year. Makes 1 cup (215 grams), or the equivalent of 2 sticks White Truffle Vegan Butter.

For more vegan butter recipes check out the Vegan Butter section.

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Tue, 29 Oct 2013 05:38:06 -0400
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  • Find the recipes, guides or vegan bakeries you were looking for in the search section above.
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Wed, 09 Oct 2013 05:19:53 -0400
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Wed, 09 Oct 2013 05:01:00 -0400
http://www.veganbaking.net/articles <![CDATA[Vegan Baking Articles]]> http://www.veganbaking.net/articles Vegan Baking Guides

The Faces of Vegan Baking

Vegan Bakery Directory

Baking Tools


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Fri, 16 Aug 2013 06:35:18 -0400
http://www.veganbaking.net/component/content/article/46-general-information/general/825-tags <![CDATA[Vegan Baking Recipes by Ingredient]]> http://www.veganbaking.net/component/content/article/46-general-information/general/825-tags

Chocolate Vegan Baking Recipes

Coconut Vegan Baking Recipes

Gluten-free Vegan Baking Recipes

Nut-free Vegan Baking Recipes

Soy-free Vegan Baking Recipes


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Thu, 15 Aug 2013 06:16:06 -0400
http://www.veganbaking.net/recipes/cookies/black-and-white-cookies <![CDATA[Vegan Black and White Cookies]]> http://www.veganbaking.net/recipes/cookies/black-and-white-cookies Vegan Black and White Cookies“I’ve never had a black and white cookie before” I mumbled to my vegan food friends, not thinking that it was that big of a deal. “Living in New York City, you’ve never had a black and white cookie?!” they desperately exclaimed. Right then, I perked up. What is it about these flat perfectly looking cookies that straddle the line between black and white so mysteriously? After all, this is New York City’s cookie. Does this cookie dare to celebrate chocolate and vanilla at the same time? What about the cookie part? Is it just a boring pseudo shortbread crust underneath or something special? I had to know more. {loadposition share}Vegan Black and White Cookies

“I’ve never had a black and white cookie before” I mumbled to my vegan food friends, not thinking that it was that big of a deal. “Living in New York City, you’ve never had a black and white cookie?!” they desperately exclaimed. Right then, I perked up. What is it about these flat perfectly looking cookies that straddle the line between black and white so mysteriously? After all, this is New York City’s cookie. Does this cookie dare to celebrate chocolate and vanilla at the same time? What about the cookie part? Is it just a boring pseudo shortbread crust underneath or something special? I had to know more.
 
Soon after trying one I learned that it in pure New York City style, it in fact does, boldly dare to celebrate chocolate and vanilla at the same time. All while sporting a light but compact cake inspired cookie with a hint of lemon that is rich enough to where it can stand up to the chocolate and vanilla. It straddles the line between cake and cookie, with the dual icings dealing a deathly blow of chocolate and vanilla intensity if you take a chance and eat right down the middle. I was hooked! 

The search for the ultimate Black and White Cookie

It wasn’t long before I integrated my quest for the ultimate black and white cookie into my search for the ultimate New York City bagel, due to most bagel stores in the city also happening to sell outstanding black and white cookies. 
 
Over the years I was able to drill down and find the aspects of the black and white cookie that I preferred most: The cookie has to be light in texture, slightly rich in flavor and soft with a hint of lemony acid but not too sweet. The icings need to complement not only each other, but the cookie too. None of the components should be the star of the show; they should all build on each other to make a memorable cookie experience. But don’t get too crazy; this cookie’s amazingness should lie in its simplicity which just happens to make you happy.
 
This vegan Black and White cookie recipe is designed to have all those traits. A touch of tapioca flour enables the batter to be extra light and perfectly moist. A specific combination of apple cider vinegar, lemon extract and vanilla extract gives this vegan cookie both richness and brightness that enables it to be on par with its traditional dairy-laden counterparts.

Find more Soy-free recipes on Veganbaking.net
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Vegan Black and White Cookie Recipe

For the cookies

2 cups non-dairy milk
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
 
3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
6 Tablespoons tapioca flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
 
1 ¾ cups granulated white sugar
¾ cup + 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon lemon extract

For the icings

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
 
¼ cup amber agave, corn or glucose syrup
5 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons water
5 cups (650 grams) confectioners sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
 
½ teaspoon water

1) Curdle the non-dairy milk

Preheat your oven to 375F (191C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the non-dairy milk and apple cider vinegar. Set aside for about 10 minutes so the mixture curdles.

2) Whisk together the dry ingredients

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour tapioca flour, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.

3) Whisk together the flavor building ingredients

In another medium mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, vegetable oil, salt, vanilla extract, lemon extract and the non-dairy milk mixture from Step 1.

4) Whisk the batter together

Transfer the wet ingredients to bowl containing the dry ingredients and whisk together until well incorporated.

5) Pour the cookies out onto the baking sheet and bake to perfection

Using a dry quarter measuring cup and a dining spoon to catch drippings, scoop up the batter and pour it on the baking sheet, making sure to leave at least 1 inch between each cookie. The batter should be in a disc that’s roughly 2 ½ inches round after it’s poured onto the sheet. The batter will spread out more as you pour the rest of the cookies. Bake until the center of the cookies are firm, about 23 minutes. Rotate the baking sheets halfway throughout the baking duration.

Vegan black and white cookies before icing

6) Melt the chocolate

Make a water bath, also known as a bain marie, by placing a medium bowl over a saucepan of almost simmering water. Melt the chocolate in a the bowl while whisking frequently. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Learn how to make a double boiler or bain marie.

7) Prepare the vanilla icing

In a medium saucepan, prepare the vanilla icing by bringing the agave syrup, corn or glucose syrup and water to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in the confectioners sugar and vanilla until well combined.

8) Prepare the chocolate icing

Transfer ¾ cup of the vanilla icing and 1 teaspoon water to the bowl with the melted chocolate and stir until well combined. If the mixture thickens, heat it up in a microwave.

Vegan black and white cookies, ready to ice

9) Glaze one half of each cookie with vanilla icing

Place 2 or 3 large wire racks on top of parchment or waxed paper. Using a small offset metal spatula, spread about 2 tablespoons of the vanilla icing on half of the underside each cookie. That's right, since the underside of the cookie is perfectly flat, we're frosting it and it now becomes the top of the cookie. Tilt the cookie and run the spatula around the edge of the cookie to scrape off excess icing. Place the cookies on the wire rack and allow the icing to harden, about 15 minutes. 
 
If the vanilla icing begins to thicken, stir in hot water, teaspoon by teaspoon, until the icing is fluid enough to coat the cookies. Alternatively, if the icing is too thin and runny, whisk in additional confectioners’ sugar, teaspoon by teaspoon, until the proper consistency is attained. 

Vegan black and white cookies glazed with vanilla icing

10) Glaze the other half of each cookie with chocolate icing

Using the spatula, spread the chocolate icing on the other half of each cookie, tilting the cookie downward and scraping away excess icing. If the chocolate icing thickens and cools, reheat it over a water bath until it's fluid enough to coat the cookies. If the icing is still too thick, stir in hot water, teaspoon by teaspoon, until the proper fluidity is reached. Place the cookies on the wire rack and allow the icings to harden, at least 1 hour. The cookies may be stored at room temperature in an airtight container, layered between sheets of parchment paper, for up to 3 days. This recipe makes about 24 to 26 Vegan Black and White Cookies.

Vegan black and white cookies glazed with chocolate icing

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Sat, 03 Aug 2013 05:19:22 -0400
http://www.veganbaking.net/recipes/cookies/toasted-coconut-chocolate-chip-cookies <![CDATA[Vegan Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies]]> http://www.veganbaking.net/recipes/cookies/toasted-coconut-chocolate-chip-cookies Vegan Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chip CookiesI decided to assemble Team Coconut: an all-star team of players dedicated to bringing in some serious coconut action. Like a Quiet Riot - Bang Your Head (on the Coconut) remix. Based on my Vegan Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, Vegan Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies boast toasted coconut flour, unrefined coconut oil, coconut sugar and shredded coconut that toasts during baking. Let’s do this. {loadposition share}Vegan Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

I decided to assemble Team Coconut: an all-star team of players dedicated to bringing in some serious coconut action. Like a Quiet Riot - Bang Your Head (on the Coconut) remix. Based on my Vegan Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, Vegan Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies boast toasted coconut flour, unrefined coconut oil, coconut sugar and shredded coconut that toasts during baking. Let’s do this.

Infusing multiple layers of coconut into a cookie recipe

Reworking my vegan Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe into a toasted coconut version was much more difficult than I had anticipated. A couple months and many happy taste testers later I had an entirely different recipe. I say many happy taste testers because even when this recipe doesn’t turn out, it’s still just coconut, chocolate and sugar; you can’t really go wrong with that.

Did you know you can toast coconut flour and it becomes twice as good? Check it out. Below is coconut flour before toasting.

Coconut flour before toasting

Now here's coconut flour after toasting at 300F (149C) for 20 minutes, below. It makes your house smell real nice.

Coconut flour after toasting

Working with Coconut Flour

The piece of the puzzle that made this recipe so hard to master was the coconut flour. How much coconut flour should you add? It can lend a sandy mouthfeel to things like cookies and cakes when used in excess so you probably want to add just enough to where you have coconut flavor, but just before you feel like you’re eating something from the beach. 
 
Coconut flour absorbs about six times the water content of regular all-purpose flour. This means that once you find out how much coconut flour you can cram into your recipe, you’re going to need to know how much more water-based ingredients to add. Now since your recipe contains more water, you’re going to need to know how much longer you’re going to need to bake it. Oh and your recipe now has less gluten than it used to so the texture is going to be different too. Good luck with that. 

Getting gluten levels back in check for optimum texture

Less gluten normally means that you’re not going to have the chewiness you used to have. So I got around this problem by using gluten-rich bread flour instead of all-purpose flour, which increased the water requirements even more because gluten absolutely lurvs water. "Can you make these cookies gluten-free?" you might ask. Unfortunately the simple answer right now is no. It would require a complete rebuild from the ground up. A challenge which I'll probably rise to someday.
 
Unrefined coconut oil and coconut sugar is used to increase the level of coconut flavor as much as possible. It's actually still on the subtle side but if you’re a fan of chocolate chip cookies and coconut, you’re going to love these cookies. Please don’t skimp on the molasses. I use it instead of brown sugar because brown sugar is just granulated white sugar with molasses added anyway. It’s crucial to moisture retention and chewiness in cookies and it adds a subtle background richness. It’s all part of Team Coconut.

Find more Coconut recipes on Veganbaking.net
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Vegan Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

1 cup + 2 Tablespoons non-dairy milk
2 Tablespoons golden flax meal
½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
 
1 ½ cups bread flour
¾ cups toasted coconut flour
¾ teaspoon salt
 
1 ½ cups + 1 Tablespoon coconut sugar or granulated white sugar
½ cup + 3 Tablespoons unrefined coconut oil, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons molasses
 
1 cup + 2 Tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips
 
1 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened

1) Toast the shredded coconut

Preheat your oven to 300F (149C). Toast your coconut flour by placing it on a rimmed baking sheet and baking it for 20 minutes. Set the toasted coconut flour aside. Feel free to find out more information on toasting coconut flour. If you’re working with toasted coconut flour often and you love it as much as I do, you might want to consider making a large amount of it and storing it in a covered container for future use.

2) Curdle the non-dairy milk mixture

Preheat your oven to 350F (177C). In a small bowl whisk together the non-dairy milk, flax meal and apple cider vinegar. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes so the mixture thickens and slightly curdles. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

3) Whisk together the dry ingredients

In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the bread flour, toasted coconut flour and salt. Set aside.

4) Whisk together the flavor building ingredients

In another medium mixing bowl whisk together the coconut sugar or granulated white sugar, coconut oil, vanilla extract and molasses until well mixed. Add the flax meal mixture from Step 2 and beat until well combined.

Add the ingredients then beat until well combined

5) Mix the dough

Add the flour mixture from Step 3 and hand mix with a spoon until just incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips until well mixed but no more. This recipe utilizes bread flour to add additional gluten to make up for the lack of it in the coconut flour. Overmixing this dough will activate too much gluten which will result in cookies that don’t spread and come out excessively dry and crumbly due to gluten’s ability to hold onto moisture the more it’s activated. This is why it’s important to mix this dough by hand with a spoon only until just combined. Do not use an electric mixer to mix the dough.
 
After mixing, allow the dough to sit for about 1 minute so the coconut flour can soak up extra moisture in the dough. The cookie dough will be easier to handle this way.

6) Form the dough into balls, place them on the cookie sheet, coat with coconut and bake to perfection

Form the dough into 1 ½ inch balls. Place them on the cookie sheet so they're spaced about 2 to 3 inches apart. Using your hands, press the shredded coconut up against and on top of the cookies so it’s sticking to the dough while still leaving the dough mostly in the shape of a dome. If you were careful to not overmix your dough during mixing, they will flatten adequately during baking.

Form the cookies into balls then press the shredded coconut into them
 
Bake for 26 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through the baking duration. This long baking time is required due to the cookies containing a significantly higher amount of water due to coconut flour's absorptive properties. The cookies will store in an airtight container at room temperature for about one week or in a freezer bag in the freezer for up to six months. This recipe makes about 22 to 24 Vegan Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies.

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Thu, 01 Aug 2013 04:59:06 -0400