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Repeat after me:  this is not a health food.

Despite it being a breakfast food, this is not the type of thing that rings a golden halo of healthy smugness over your head as, say, a bowl of bran cereal or a tall glass of fresh pressed green juice would.  It is exactly the type of thing, however, that will have you dancing around in tippy-toes of joy in front of your oven as you eagerly wait for the timer to go off.  It is the type of breakfast that pulls bleary-eyed sleepers away from happy dreams and warm beds and into the kitchen on cold mornings.  This is dessert showing up as breakfast at your doorstep on Halloween.

I saw these on apartment therapy a few weeks back and promptly booked marked them, knowing that I would have to have them.  I made them for a leisurely Sunday breakfast and was so glad that I did. As they do require some advanced prep work, they are not a spur-of-the moment breakfast, but they are perfect for special occasions like holidays or birthdays.  Be aware that this recipe makes a lot of rolls. If you are not feeding a crowd, I recommend halving the recipe.   I made the whole thing and was able to send one pan full over to our neighbors to enjoy, as well.

To adapt the recipe, I swapped out the dairy ingredients for their vegan counterparts.  I also swapped out white flour for a mixture of whole wheat and spelt flours (to attempt to assuage feelings of guilty decadence),  cut down the sugar by just a touch, and I swapped in Rice Nog for the milk to add just that much more holiday goodness to each bite.  I also swapped out individual spices for pumpkin pie spice because I love that stuff at this time of year.

 

I also have a confession to make.  I took a few of the leftover rolls the next day and slathered them in some maple butter cream frosting I had leftover in my refrigerator from a batch of cupcakes I had made earlier in the week and served them for dessert.  Oh. My. Goodness.  Over the top decadence.  My sweet tooth swooned.  And that is how you make a food item multi-task.

 

 

Pumpkin Rolls with Brown Sugar Glaze
Adapted from The Kitchn at Apartment Therapy

(instructions are verbatim except for my substitutions)

Dough:
¼ cup water
1 package yeast
1 cup Rice Nog
½ cup Earth Balance butter
¼ cup sugar
1 15 oz can pumpkin
¼ cup brown sugar
1 ½ tsp salt
3 cups whole wheat flour
3 cups spelt flour

Filling:
½ cup Earth Balance butter
1 cup brown sugar
4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 cup chopped pecans

Glaze:
½  cup Rice Nog
½ cup butter
½ cup brown sugar
Pinch salt
2 cups powdered sugar

Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let it sit a few minutes until the yeast is dissolved. Meanwhile, warm the Rice Nog and Earth Balance in a small saucepan on the stove top until the EB is melted. Combine this with the sugar in a large heat-proof mixing bowl and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.

Let the Rice Nog mixture cool until it is just warm to the touch – NOT HOT. Then stir in the yeast and the pumpkin. Add the salt and all of the flour all at once, stirring until all the flour has been absorbed. Squish it between your hands if you’re having trouble incorporating the last of the flour. The dough will be sticky, but should come together in a shaggy ball. If it’s still more the consistency of cookie batter, work in an additional 1/2 cup of flower.

Cover the dough and let it rise for 1-3 hours. Do not panic if it does not get very large in bulk.  It will be OK.   After letting it rise, you can punch the dough down and refrigerate it overnight or continue shaping the rolls.

To shape the rolls (either immediately or with the refrigerated dough), sprinkle your work surface with a little flour and dump the dough on top. Pat it down into a rough rectangle and then use a floured rolling pin to roll it into a rectangular shape about a half an inch thick, longer than it is wide. If the dough gets sticky, sprinkle a little more flour on the dough’s surface and on your hands.

Melt the Earth Balance in the microwave and stir in the brown sugar and the pumpkin pie spice. Spread this over the rectangle of dough, leaving an inch of bare dough at the top. Sprinkle one cup of the toasted pecans over the dough, if using. Starting at the edge closest to you, roll the dough into a cylinder and pinch it closed at the top.

Rub a tablespoon of soft Earth Balance into the bottom of two 9×13 baking dishes, two 9-inch cake pans, or a combination. (I used one oval baking dish and one glass pie dish)  Using a bench cutter or a sharp knife, cut the cylinder into individual rolls 1 – 1 1/2 inches thick (confession: I made mine bigger, probably in the 1.5 – 2” range).  Place them into your baking dishes so they have a little wiggle room on all sides to rise. Cover them with a clean kitchen towel and let them rise until they fill the pan and look puffy, 30 minutes for already-warm dough and 1 hour for dough that’s been refrigerated.

About 20 minutes before baking, begin heating the oven to 375°. When the rolls are ready, bake them for 20-25 minutes, until the tops are golden and starting to look toasted around the edges. Rotate the pans halfway through cooking.

While they are baking, prepare the glaze. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the Rice Nog and Earth Balance. When the EB has melted, add the brown sugar and salt. Stir until the brown sugar has melted.   Stir in the powdered sugar. This should form a thick but pourable glaze.

Let the baked rolls cool for about five minutes and then pour the glaze on top. Sprinkle the remaining cup of pecans over the top, if more nuttiness is desired. Eat them immediately. Leftovers will keep for several days and are best reheated for a minute in the microwave

 

 

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Cornbread Two Ways

It’s good to be back after an inadvertent eighteen-month hiatus from blogging!  I have no terrible or fantastical reason for being away so long.  Life just got very busy, and as I continually rearranged things on my plate to devote enough time to the day-to-day priorities of my life or to make room for new activities or experiences, I found that I simply did not have a big enough plate for all of the things I wanted to fit on it. I found, however, that I missed the experience of blogging and of being an active participant in a very awesome and active online foodie community. When I read about Vegan MoFo 2010 and realized that for the first time I was not too late to jump on board, I decided to take advantage of a perfect opportunity to jump back into this site and to once again have fun sharing my experiences in the kitchen.  I’ve signed up for Vegan MoFo and look forward to gaining momentum throughout the month. While I recognize my limitations (!) and will not attempt to post every day, I will post frequently, so please be sure to check back often!  Now, onto the food …

As we move into the holiday season we suddenly have reasons and happy excuses to make all of the side dishes that we may lazily ignore the rest of the year.  Bread climbs right to the top of that list for me at this time of year. Who doesn’t love home made bread?  (But who always has the time to bake a loaf while tending to the rest of dinner?) Cornbread is a quick way to add delicious homemade bread to a meal, and it readily pairs with thick autumnal soups and stews.  I also love it because it is so easily customizable – just add your favorite herbs or additions and you have endless (easy!) possibilities.  Below I have shared recipes for Caramelized Onion and Rosemary Corn Bread and a more classic Jalapeño Cheddar Corn Bread.

The first recipe came about because I love caramelized onions.  They are so simple to make: all that is required is patience.  They add a beautiful depth of rich flavor to any number of meals.  I like to make a large batch and keep some on hand in the refrigerator to add to soups, sandwiches, or vegetable dishes.  They elevate simple corn bread to a sophisticated side dish, and they pair nicely with the rosemary, but feel free to experiment with your favorite fresh herbs.

For the more traditional version of cornbread, I used Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds.  I have never made liberal use of vegan cheeses, mostly because the flavor and texture turn off my taste buds.  I have found with Daiya, however, that I like its creaminess and flavor in traditional comfort foods liked “grilled cheese” and “pizza” on the infrequent occasions that I order those items (mostly at Whole Foods hot bars when traveling).   It works really well in this recipe because it melts into the batter well and is complimented by the spiciness of the jalapeño.  (If anyone has any opinions about or successes with Daiya cheese, I’d love to hear about in the comments!).

Enjoy!

 

 

Caramelized Onion and Rosemary Corn Bread

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 ¼ cup corn meal
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
1 cup almond milk
¼ cup canola oil
3 tbsp melted Earth Balance butter
3 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped

1.    Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat.  Add the onions and stir often until they begin to become soft and translucent, about 10-15 minutes.  Turn the heat down a bit and continue to cook the onion for 30-45 more minutes, stirring often, until the onions have turned a deep, golden brown.  Remove from heat.
2.    Pre-heat the oven to 400F.  Lightly grease an 8×8” baking pan.  Whisk together the dry ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl.  Add the almond milk, oil, and melted butter and stir until well blended.  Fold in the onions and rosemary.
3.    Spread the batter into the pan and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool slightly in the pan on a rack before serving.

 

 

Jalapeño and Cheddar Corn Bread

1 ¼ cup corn meal
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
1 cup almond milk
¼ cup canola oil
3 tbsp melted Earth Balance butter
1/3 cup Daiya cheddar
1 green jalapeño, diced

1.    Pre-heat the oven to 400F.  Lightly grease an 8×8” baking pan.  Whisk together the dry ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl.  Add the almond milk, oil, and melted butter and stir until well blended.  Fold in the Daiya cheddar and jalapeño.
2.    Spread the batter into the pan and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool slightly in the pan on a rack before serving.

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Naan

I love Indian food.  I first experienced Indian food in a small restaurant in Elyria, Ohio.   My friends Gitta and Heidi introduced it to me during the second semester of our freshman year at Oberlin.  That semester, I managed to bring my car to campus, despite restrictions on first years having their cars at school, we began to go on “big adventures” (as they seemed in those days) into the small towns that dotted the rural Ohio landscape southwest of Cleveland.  Once or twice a semester we would make it up to the big city, mostly to go to Coventry to shop, watch a movie at the cool little theater that would refrigerate your leftovers and feed your meter during the movie, and to eat some good Indian food.

I lived in Boston twice for two short periods of time (about six months in total) and continued the love affair with Indian food that I had started in college.  Boston is home to some incredible Indian restaurants.  I very distinctly remember taking my first spoonful of a bowl of soup in an Indian restaurant in Brookline and, for the first time, fully understanding the meaning of “layering of flavors” as a multitude of flavors exploded on my tongue, one after another.  There was also an Indian restaurant in Coolidge Corner that was quite good, and another two in Harvard Square that I enjoyed, as well.

The second time that I lived in Boston, the summer just after graduation, I roomed with my friend, Liz, who had spent a life-changing semester abroad in India during college.  There were several Saturdays that summer spent in the kitchen making our own Indian dishes.  This was when the idea of home cooked Indian food because more accessible to me, and I began to develop a sense of how I could recreate some of these dishes on my own.

Fast forward to now.  I live on an island that until recently did not have an Indian restaurant of its own.  I would try to get my fill on trips to the Mainland, but Indian restaurants can sometimes be tricky for the vegan to navigate because many dishes are made with cream or yoghurt.  The ones that are amenable to vegan diets are willing to mark the dairy-free items on the menu or happily point them out to you.  While this makes eating in such places much less difficult, it still limits one to a few items on the otherwise expansive menu.  So, over the years, I’ve amassed several Indian cookbooks and have begun to rely on what I can improvise in my own kitchen.

Last week I was feeling the urge for a full Indian spread for dinner, and for me that included naan.  Naan is a leavened bread popular in North India.  This bread is traditionally baked in a tandoor (clay oven).  Tandoors get very hot, and it can be difficult to recreate the heat and cooking environment of a tandoor in a home kitchen.  As I considered this dilemma, I remembered a book I had glanced through about vegan grilling, which contained a chapter on breads.  Grills get very hot …. perhaps they could better mimic a tandoor than my oven could?

My mind was made up – I decided to bake my naan on our outdoor grill.  I adapted the naan recipe in The Food of India to make a vegan version and, after letting it rise for several hours, I divided the dough into five balls and stretched them all out into small disks.  I then brushed each side of the disks with canola oil, fired up the grill, and baked bread.  It took, in total, less than four minutes to bake up, and it tasted fantastic.  The texture was not identical to what you get in an Indian restaurant, but oh my goodness it was good.  And, I must admit, it felt pretty awesome to bake bread on a grill, like I had tapped into my inner (vegan) Bobby Flay.  I feel inspired to apply this newfound knowledge of grill-baking to other projects in the future!

Naan

2 ¼ cups flour
2/3 cup soy milk
1 tsp active dry yeast
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup canola oil
1 6oz container plain soy yogurt

1.    Place the flour, yeast, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl.

2.    Heat the soy milk in a saucepan until warm.  Ina separate bowl,  whisk the yogurt and oil until well combined.

3.    Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the milk. Stir, and then add the yogurt mixture.   Mix well.

4.    Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Add more flour if the dough is too sticky.  Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 2-3 hours.

5.    Punch down the dough, divide into five balls, and stretch out into thin disks.  Brush each side with canola oil, and stack the prepared disks on a plate.  Bake the disks on a grill over medium flame/heat until the tops are puffy and the bottoms have begun to brown (about 2 minutes), flip and bake for an additional 1 ½ – 2 minutes.

Naan getting puffy

Naan getting puffy

Naan browned

Naan browned

Naan ready for dinner

Naan ready for dinner

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Hawaii has many, many bananas.  Anyone who has ever lived here can attest to the bounty of banana trees that permeate the yards and gardens of the islands.  Banana trees are incredibly low maintenance to grow, but they are high maintenance to maintain.  They grow prolifically in the mineral rich Hawaiian soil, full tropical sun, and Pacific rains, which is  exactly the challenge of attempting to tame them – they get big, bushy, and can take over if you’re not careful.  Most households with banana trees also have their banana tree machete to keep the trees at bay, to chop down the bunches of bananas when they are ready, and to hack away the trees that are past their prime.  We used to have banana trees of our own when we first moved to Maui, but now we are just the happy beneficiaries of the fruits of our neighbor’s banana tree labors.

This abundance of bananas explains Hawaii’s abundance of banana bread recipes.  As you drive along any rural road in the islands you will encounter numerous road side stands and shops selling auntie’s or uncle’s homemade banana bread – guaranteed to be the best in the islands.  Everyone has their favorite.  Over the years, I have amassed a large number of banana bread recipes in my recipe binder and I happily have plenty of opportunities to try them all out.

 

 

I made this bread last week when we were gifted with a large bunch of bananas from our friend who lives next door.  It has a particularly tropical flair due to the addition of coconut, lime, and macadamia nuts.  It was adapted from an old Cooking Light recipe.  If you want to take it a  step further and dress it up for dessert, you can quickly whisk together some confectioners sugar and lime juice to create a glaze to spoon over top of warm slices;  garnish with coconut and sliced mac nuts and – voila! – fancy dessert.   Personally, I like mine plain and simple, but I will warm up a slice in the microwave and smear a bit of warm soy butter over it to enjoy for breakfast before skipping out the door to work.   The beauty of banana bread, in my opinion, is in its versatility.

 

 

Coconut, Lime, and Macadamia Nut Banana Bread
Makes 1 loaf

2 cups flour
¾ tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup soy butter or margarine
1/8 cup canola oil
3-4 mashed bananas
¼ cup vanilla soy yogurt
3 tbsp spiced rum
3 tbsp lime juice
½ tsp vanilla
½ cup unsweetened flaked coconut
½ cup chopped macadamia nuts

Extra flaked coconut to sprinkle on the top of the loaf

1.    Preheat oven to 350F.

2.    Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside.

3.    Cream together the soy butter/margarine and sugar with a mixer, then add the oil and mix until well combined.  Add in the banana, soy yogurt, rum, lime juice, and vanilla and mix until blended.  Add the flour mixture and mix at a low speed until just combined.  Stir in the coconut and macadamia nuts.

4.    Pour the batter into a 9×5 inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray and sprinkle the top of the loaf with the extra flaked coconut.  Bake for 50-60 minutes, until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

5.    Cool for 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack before removing from pan.

 

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Tropical Fruit Cake

We are now entering my absolute most favorite time of the year – the Holiday Season. The time from Halloween through New Year’s tickles my fancy like no other time of year can. I love the peppy music, the feel-good movies, the cookies, the traditions, the ornament-laden tree, crafting the ornaments, the cards, wrapping gifts, the gatherings, and that warm and fuzzy feeling that seems to take over most people at this time of year.

I don’t love the commercialism, the consumerism, the malls, the advertisements, the materialism, the “buy-buy-buy!” mentality, or the charity scams that always seem to emerge around the holidays. That is why, in my own simple way, I like to stick it to The Man by taking the DIY route. I believe that the best way for me to show love and appreciation is with my own two hands, my hard work, and my good ol’ fashioned sweaty efforts; therefore, I like to go the homemade route for the holidays. I also think that unique, creative, non-commercialized acts are the ones that form our family traditions. Which leads me to today’s post, the first of what will be many holiday-themed posts … and what is more traditional than fruitcake?

This fruitcake is now a family tradition at the Outpost. It was originally a Martha Stewart recipe that inspired me. I adapted her recipe to suit my tastes, but I stayed true to her belief that fruitcake should not be filled with those oddly colored candied fruits. I use lots of dried fruits and nuts in mine, ones that bring a distinctly tropical flair to this traditional holiday treat. You, however, can adapt the nuts and dried fruits to suit your corner of the world.

I made a large batch of loaves two weekends ago. I like to give them as gifts, and I like to allow them plenty of time to develop their flavors.

This recipe includes refined sugars, despite my recent decision to bake almost exclusive with unrefined sugars. When I pulled out the recipe, I considered altering it but then decided to stick with tradition. I am, however, testing out several experimental loaves to see how they turn out with unrefined sources of sugar so that, hopefully, next year I will be able to share a healthier version. In the meantime, let’s indulge as this time of year only comes around once a year. 😀

Tropical Fruit Cake
Makes 1 large loaf or 3 mini loaves

2 cups unbleached flour
2/3 cup cake flour
1/3 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 small pinch of salt
1 1/3 stick Earth Balance Buttery Spread
½ cup vanilla soy yogurt
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp spiced rum
1/3 cup chopped dried pineapple
1/3 cup chopped dried papaya
1/3 cups dried chopped dates
1/3 cup dried cherries
2/3 cup whole raw almonds
½ cup chopped lightly roasted (no salt added) macadamia nuts
¼ cup chopped coconut
¼ cup of rum for dousing

1. Preheat oven to 300F. Oil sides of pan, line bottom with parchment paper and brush with oil.

2. Combine fruits and buts in a bowl and set aside.

3. Sift flours, baking powder, and salt into another bowl and set aside.

4. Cream together the Earth Balance and the sugars in a third on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the soy yogurt a little at a time until incorporated (the mixture will look a little goopy at this point – that’s ok!). Mix in the vanilla and the rum.

5. Slowly add in the flour mixture, mix until just combined. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. The mixture will be good and thick.

6. Fold in the nuts and fruits into the batter. Fold in the coconut. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth the top.

7. Bake the cake until golden on top and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. My large loaves bake for about an hour and a half, my mini loaves bake for about an hour. Be sure to cover the top with foil if the cake is browning too quickly.

8. Cool the cake on a wire rack. Remove the cake from the pan and discard the parchment. Douse a regular sized loaf with ¼ cup of rum; douse mini loaves with 1-2 tablespoons of rum.

9. Wrap the cake in cheesecloth or muslin. Store in a cool, dark place (I store mine in my refrigerator) and douse weekly with rum for at least one month before sharing.

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I don’t watch much TV, but when I do it’s almost always one of the following:

1. CNN with my tea and breakfast on the weekdays, no exceptions
2. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Cobert Report hour
3. Project Runway
4. Competitive cooking shows (ie. The Iron Chef, Top Chef, etc.)

One recent show that pulled me in was The Next Food Network Star. Strange, I know, given that the Food Network is wont to showcase all things meat and cheese, but I enjoy watching people get creative with their ingredients. I find that it inspires me to get into my kitchen or onto our grill and try something new.

Such was the case with this recipe. I have to expose my non-Foodie ways and admit that I had never even heard of cassoulet before the Throwdown episode of The Next Food Network Star, wherein the final four contestants got paired off and had to make not only their signature dish but attempt to outdo their competitor’s signature dish, as well – all in 45 minutes.

Lisa Garza, the prim and proper reincarnation of Martha Stewart, declared her signature dish to be cassoulet. To me it seemed a given that she would choose something French for her dish. She described cassoulet as being “beans and sausage” and a comfort food. Interesting. By the time she was done (and Bobby Flay declared her cassoulet to be the best he’s ever had) I was hooked. This was a dish that would be mine.

Veganizing Lisa’s cassoulet recipe was surprisingly easy. Her original recipe can be found here. I cut back on the amount of oil and garlic, I exchanged her sausage and chicken stock for their vegan counterparts, and I replaced her spinach pesto with my basil pesto. I was happy to be able to use herbs straight from my garden for this dish. (On a complete aside: if you do not grow your own herbs, I highly recommend that you change that right now. If you don’t have a garden plot, herbs grow just as well in pots on a windowsill. Fresh herbs snipped from the plant moments before use in a recipe adds a freshness to food that con not be replicated by store bought herbs.)

In the end, I must say that this dish is pretty amazing. It looks fancy and like it took a lot of work, while at the same time it is very comforting and flavorful – and it only took about an hour. I made this for us after work one day – while it simmered I was able to take care of other things around the house (I love recipes that allow me to multi task!)  It also makes fantastic leftovers for lunch the next day.

(I must apologize for the subpar photos for this post – they most definitely do not portray the loveliness of this dish!)

White Bean Cassoulet
Recipe adapted from Lisa Garza from The Next Food Network Star

3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 herb bouquet tied with string: 4 stems fresh rosemary, 8 stems fresh oregano, 10 stems fresh thyme
1 dry bay leaf
2 cans white beans
2 quarts Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base
4 links Field Grain Co. Spicy Italian Sausages

1. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and cook until lightly browned at the edges. Add the garlic and stir for about 30 seconds

2. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the sausages. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 40 minutes.

3. While the beans and vegetables are simmering, heat a small amount of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Brown the sausages on each side, remove from heat, and slice into ¼ inch slices.

4. Stir in the sausage and cook for 10 more minutes.

5. To serve: ladle into bowls, top with a dollop of pesto, and serve with a crostini.

Crostini

1 French baguette, cut into ½ inch slices
A few tablespoons olive oil
A few teaspoons nutritional yeast
1-2 cloves garlic

1. Heat the oven to 400F.

2. Lightly brush each slice of bread with olive oil. Sprinkle each slice with nutritional yeast.

3. Place the bread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes on middle rack.

4. Remove bread from oven, and rub each slice with the cloves of garlic. Serve warm.

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This month’s challenge involved crafting a puff pastry that incorporated a block of butter. This is yet another DB challenge that will be chalked up to the list of things I never, ever would have attempted to make due to the recipe’s most decidedly non-vegan attitude and sneer had it not been for my fellow DBers pushing me into new, uncharted vegan baking territory.   And that is why I love the Daring Bakers.

For this particular recipe I had to make some of my usual adaptations:

Soy milk for cow’s milk

Soy yogurt for eggs

Earth Balance for butter

The original recipe called for an apple filling, but I wanted something more seasonal so I made a chocolate cherry cream cheese filling, which I thought paired well with the mild flavor of orange and cardamom in the dough. I topped the braid with an orange glaze and chopped pistachios.

Even though I knew how easy it was to make this braid, I was still massively impressed with myself when it was complete. The finished product is beautiful and very complicated looking. I served this one to many “ooohs” and “aaaaahhhhhs.”

Mahalo to Kelly of Sass and Veracity and Ben of What’s Cookin’? for hosting this month’s challenge.

DANISH BRAID
Makes 1 braid

For the dough (Detrempe)
½ tbsp active dry yeast
¼ cup soy milk
1/6 cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
½ tsp ground cardamom
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup vanilla soy yogurt
1/8 cup orange juice
1 5/8 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt

For the butter block (Beurrage)
1 stick cold Earth Balance
1/8 cup all-purpose flour

1. Combine yeast and soy milk in a bowl with a hand mixer on low speed or a whisk. Add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, soy yogurt, and orange juice and mix well.

2. Sift flour and salt on your working surface and make a fountain. Make sure that the “walls” of your fountain are thick and even. Pour the liquid in the middle of the fountain. With your fingertips, mix the liquid and the flour starting from the middle of the fountain, slowly working towards the edges. (Add more flour as necessary. I used an additional 1/3 cup flour in this step). When the ingredients have been incorporated start kneading the dough with the heel of your hands until it becomes smooth and easy to work with, around 5 to 7 minutes. You might need to add more flour if the dough is sticky. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

3. While the detrempe is chilling, combine Earth balance and flour in the bowl and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then beat for 1 minute more, or until smooth and lump free. Set aside at room temperature.

4. After the detrempe has chilled 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 18 x 13 inches and 1⁄4 inch thick. The dough may be sticky, so keep dusting it lightly with flour. Spread the beurrage evenly over the center and right thirds of the dough. Fold the left edge of the detrempe to the right, covering half of the butter. Fold the right third of the rectangle over the center third. The first turn has now been completed. Mark the dough by poking it with your finger to keep track of your turns, or use a sticky and keep a tally. Place the dough on a baking sheet, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

5. Place the dough lengthwise on a floured work surface. The open ends should be to your right and left. Roll the dough into another approximately 13 x 18 inch, 1⁄4-inch-thick rectangle. Again, fold the left third of the rectangle over the center third and the right third over the center third. No additional Earth Balance will be added as it is already in the dough. The second turn has now been completed. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.

6. Roll out, turn, and refrigerate the dough two more times, for a total of four single turns. Make sure you are keeping track of your turns. Refrigerate the dough after the final turn for at least 5 hours or overnight. The Danish dough is now ready to be used. If you will not be using the dough within 24 hours, freeze it. To do this, roll the dough out to about 1 inch in thickness, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze. Defrost the dough slowly in the refrigerator for easiest handling. Danish dough will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Chocolate Cherry Cream Cheese Filling

1 8oz tub Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese
½ cup confectioner’s sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 ½ tsp vanilla
1 cup cherries, pitted and quartered

Use hand mixer to mix together the Tofutti, confectioner’s sugar, and cocoa until smooth. Mix in the vanilla until well blended. Fold in the cherries.

TO ASSEMBLE DANISH BRAID

1. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll the Danish Dough into a 12 x 20-inch rectangle, 1⁄4 inch thick. If the dough seems elastic and shrinks back when rolled, let it rest for a few minutes, then roll again. Place the dough on the baking sheet.

2. Along one long side of the pastry make parallel, 4-inch-long cuts with a knife or rolling pastry wheel, each about 1 inch apart. Repeat on the opposite side, making sure to line up the cuts with those you’ve already made.

3. Spoon the filling down the center of the rectangle. Starting with the top and bottom “flaps”, fold the top flap down over the filling to cover. Next, fold the bottom “flap” up to cover filling. This helps keep the braid neat and helps to hold in the filling. Now begin folding the cut side strips of dough over the filling, alternating first left, then right, left, right, until finished. Trim any excess dough and tuck in the ends.

4. Brush a bit of melted Earth Balance over the top of the braid.

Proofing and Baking

1. Spray cooking oil (Pam) onto a piece of plastic wrap, and place over the braid. Proof at room temperature or, if possible, in a controlled 90 degree F environment for about 2 hours, or until doubled in volume and light to the touch. (I proofed min in my oven set at 90F).

2. Near the end of proofing, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Position a rack in the center of the oven.

3. Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan so that the side of the braid previously in the back of the oven is now in the front. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and bake about 15-20 minutes more, or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Glaze

½ cup confectioner’s sugar
1 tbsp Earth Balance, melted
1 tbsp orange juice
1 tsp soy milk powder

Mix all ingredients together until smooth.

To Serve

Brush glaze over braid. Sprinkle with ½ cup chopped pistachios. Slice the braid, reheat in microwave, and serve warm. Or don’t microwave it and serve at room temperature. Either way, it’s delicious.

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