Cinnamon Apple Cake

Cinnamon Apple Cake

Cinnamon Apple Cake

Occasionally I decide to jump into the deep end and bake gluten-free. Gluten-free baked treats are difficult enough to make well, but when they are also made vegan at high altitude then they can spell disaster. But, a friend said she missed cinnamon rolls so I was on a mission.

The recipe I found was for a vegan cinnamon bread so I tried it but with high altitude alterations. The problem was that I didn’t like the gummy texture so often found in gluten-free baked goods. I also had a new bundt pan I needed to break in, so I scaled the measurements up to fit the larger pan. The cake version was not gummy, helped by the fact that I split the apples up and put one in the batter and one in the topping. The cake turned out very elegant. Oh, and it was tasty … very tasty.

Cinnamon Apple Cake adapted from Apple Cinnamon Swirl Bread
2 1/4 cups gluten free flour
1/4 cup + 1 TBS organic sugar
1/4 cup + 1 TBS organic brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
generous 1/2 tsp baking soda
generous 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
generous 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup + 2 1/2 tsp nondairy milk
1/4 cup + 2 TBS + 1 tsp canola oil
1/4 cup + 1 TBS unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup + 1 TBS maple syrup
4 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 red apples, one grated on large holes of a grater and one diced small
cinnamon topping
5 TBS organic sugar
2 tsp cinnamon powder
Preheat oven to 350F. Thoroughly grease and flour a bundt pan. In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, oil, applesauce, maple syrup, vinegar, and vanilla. Add wet mixture to dry mixture and whisk gently until batter is just combined. Mix in one grated apple.
In a small bowl, combine remaining sugar and cinnamon for topping. Scoop batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle one diced apple then cinnamon topping over batter. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely in pan. Invert onto a serving plate.

Until next time, happy baking!

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A Day at the Vegan Dairy Fair

Dale Ball and Donna Marino

Dale Ball (co-organizer of the Vegan Dairy Fair) and Donna Marino (organizer of Boulder and Beyond meetup)

Yesterday I had a great time eating and learning at the Vegan Dairy Fair held in Boulder, CO. There weren’t many baked treats, but I wanted to share the event with you because it was an afternoon of vegan fun.

The fair, touted as a totally plant-based celebration, was filled with vegan milk, cheese, yogurt, dips, dressings, ice cream, and confections. It occurs on the Saturday before Mother’s Day, “to honor mothers of all species.”

There were samplings from so many vendors that I was glad I showed up hungry. I tried vegan cheeses from Kite Hill, Follow Your Heart, Peaceful Rebel Cheese, The Honest Stand, and, my personal favorite, Miyoko’s. The food choices also included ice cream, candies, alternative milks of all kinds, dips, yogurt, and cupcakes. A Mac ’n Cheese Taste-off gave me the chance to try out a few prepared macaroni and cheese selections and donate to a good cause.

I was not able to attend all of the cooking demonstrations (I was busy eating!), but I thoroughly enjoyed JL Fields class on Pressure Cooking. She’s a delightful presenter with a ton of energy, information, and humor. JL prepared risotto in about 15 minutes which is amazing, considering my definition of risotto is “the dish that takes four hours to make.”

The event, organized by Bleating Hearts Sanctuary, Dale Ball, and Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary, is an educational project held “to represent those we believe to be the most important reason to choose vegan dairy – the cows, the chickens as well as all animals.” They ask that people keep in mind “that the fair is held on behalf of those whose lives depend on our switch to a vegan lifestyle.” I left with a renewed respect for animals, but also as a desire to make my own vegan butter thanks to inspirations and ideas from JL and Veganize Everything.

JL Fields

JL Fields demo with pressure cooker

Chocolate Cookie Sandwich with Flavored Fillings

chocolate cookies with flavored fillings

chocolate cookies with flavored fillings

Periodically I go through my baking supplies to find expired items. It also helps reacquaint me with lesser used ingredients. A recent search uncovered black cocoa powder from my Cream-Filled Mini Cakes. This cocoa is a Dutch process cocoa powder which is “washed with a potassium carbonate solution that neutralizes cocoa’s acidity to a pH of 7.” The black version is bittersweet and is alkalized to a pH of 8. It is also the signature taste of Oreo Cookies, so I went into the kitchen to make a version of that iconic treat.

I found a chocolate cookie recipe that I veganized by substituting with non-dairy equivalents. I was concerned about using my special cocoa powder because Dutched cocoas, especially the heavily Dutched black cocoa, are used a little differently. “Since Dutch process cocoa isn’t acidic, it doesn’t react with alkaline leaveners like baking soda to produce carbon dioxide. That’s why recipes that use Dutch process cocoa are usually leavened by baking powder, which has a neutral pH.” When I realized that you want an Oreo-type cookie flatter to make cookie sandwiches, I stuck with baking soda as my leavener and it worked beautifully.

To finish my cookie sandwich, I dug up a recipe for flavored cookie fillings. I took the standard vanilla type and added coffee extract which added deeper flavor and a slight hue. I also thought that mint sounded tasty and was the perfect backdrop for my Color Garden plant-based food colors. Their food coloring isn’t as intense as artificial ones so I used more. If using another brand, use a drop at a time to get your shade. I liked my filling pale green.

Chocolate Cookie Sandwich with Flavored Fillings adapted from The Cooking Channel and Sugar Hero
1/2 cup vegan stick margarine, softened
3/4 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup organic dark brown sugar, well packed
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup black cocoa powder
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup + 1.5 tsp non-dairy milk
In a stand mixer, cream together margarine, sugars, and vanilla until light, about 2 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powders, soda and salt. Add dry ingredients to margarine mixture and mix just to combine. Add milk, in a few segments, and mix just to combine. Form dough into two 1 1/2-inch-thick logs. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours.
To bake: preheat oven to 350F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Slice each log of dough into 1/8-inch-thick coins. Arrange on baking sheets with 1 1/2 inches between cookies. Bake for 12-14 minutes, rotating trays in the middle of baking time. Bake for another 2 minutes or until they are dry looking and firm. Cool on baking sheets on wire racks for 5 minutes, then slide cookies onto racks to finish cooling. Makes 4 dozen cookies, or use the filling below to make cookie sandwiches.
Flavored Fillings
1 cup vegan stick margarine, at room temperature
4 cups organic powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt
For Coffee Latte flavor: 1 tsp vanilla bean paste + 1 tsp coffee extract
For Mint Flavor: 1 tsp mint extract + 18 drops Color Garden green food color
Combine margarine, powdered sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until powdered sugar is moistened, then turn to medium speed and mix for 1-2 minutes, until it has a lighter color and fluffy texture. Don’t over-mix. It needs to be somewhat firm. Divide into two portions to make two different flavors. For Coffee Latte: add vanilla bean paste and coffee extract. For Mint: add mint extract and green food coloring.

Color Garden food colors

Color Garden food colors

Until next time, happy baking!

In-The-Black Bottom Cupcakes

Black Bottom Cupcake

Black Bottom Cupcake

Today is the day that American income taxes are due. For those of us who have been struggling with numbers all weekend, I decided that a very indulgent treat was in order. Enter: In-The-Black Bottom Cupcakes.

The recipe I found was already vegan, thanks to master baker Fran Costigan. The changes I made were for high altitude. I reduced baking soda for altitude and added non-dairy milk for dryness. Then I reduced the oil because high altitude baked goods can get oily and the filling could make it heavy enough. These decadent cupcakes are just what my brain and tummy needed.

In-The-Black Bottom Cupcakes adapted from Black Bottom Cupcakes
Filling
1 1/2 tsp ground chia seeds
1 1/2 TBS water
8 oz nondairy cream cheese spread, straight from the refrigerator
9 TBS organic confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 oz chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
Cupcakes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup organic granulated sugar
1/4 cup organic whole cane sugar, ground in a blender until powdered
1/4 cup + 1 TBS cocoa powder, non-alkalized
scant 1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 cup + 1 TBS almond milk
5 TBS canola oil
1 TBS apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Mix chia and water and set aside for a couple of minutes. Mix with a fork until thoroughly combined. Repeat twice, 5 minutes apart. In a stand mixer, beat together cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Add chia gel and mix on medium for another 30 seconds until incorporated. Stir chocolate chips into the filling. Refrigerate in a covered container while you make the cupcakes. Position a rack on rung just above the center of the oven and preheat to 350F. Lightly oil the top only of a 12-cup cupcake tin and line with paper liners.
Put a wire mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Add all-purpose flour, pastry flour, granulated sugar, cane sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt to the strainer. Stir with a whisk to sift ingredients into the bowl and whisk to aerate. (If very small bits remain in the strainer, add them to mixture in bowl.) In a small bowl, mix almond milk, oil, vinegar, and vanilla until thoroughly mixed. Immediately pour into dry ingredients. Whisk hard until batter is smooth.
Fill cups just over half full with batter. Scoop 2 tablespoons of filling into center of each cupcake. Bake for 25 to 27 minutes, or until edges are firm when lightly tapped and filling is set. Set tins on a wire rack for 10 minutes. The filling will collapse into cakes while they cool. Remove cupcakes from tin, and cool completely on a wire rack before serving. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to three days.

Until next time, happy baking!

DIY Protein Bar

Protein Bar

DIY Protein Bar

Have you ever thought about making your own protein bars? My athletic husband, having tried and complained about many pre-packaged bars, inspired me to look into how to make them. After doing research I realized that I don’t have to experiment, thanks to Creation Nation’s Protein Bar Mixes. I discovered them at Natural Products Expo West and thought that the DIY homemade bar idea was brilliant.

The mix is vegan and requires no baking, so it made my job easy. But, being a decadent dessert maker, I had to take it up a notch. I made a peanut butter frosting for the PB & Jelly Get In My Belly bars that took them from tasty to mmmmm tasty. I melted some creamy peanut butter on the stove to make it stirrable. After I removed it from the heat, I stirred in a little vegan powdered sugar and almond milk. The frosting was then drizzled onto the refrigerated bars. I was winging it so I didn’t measure any ingredients, so feel free to add as much or as little to get your desired taste.

The bars themselves are customizable, too, depending on how sweet you want to make them. It also offers add-in choices so you can use what you have on hand. I added almond milk and agave sweetener to the packaged mix. I made them a bit less sweet so my peanut butter frosting didn’t take them over the top. It was nice to use a mix and have a fun treat (or simple breakfast) ready in a flash.

Protein Bar Ingredients

Protein Bar Ingredients

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Cocoa Matcha Shortbread

Cocoa Matcha Shortbread Cookies

Cocoa Matcha Shortbread

Recently a local tea shop offered a matcha green tea tasting. Being a lover of all things tea, I attended and brought along hubby so we could experiment together. We learned that he is not a big fan of matcha, being a coffee aficionado. But I left with the inspiration to bake with the green tea powder. The challenge was to make it palatable for hubby, so I found a matcha cookie recipe and used a matcha / cocoa blend to appeal to his taste for chocolate. The result was a light, not too sweet cookie that we both enjoyed.

To veganize the recipe I replaced the butter with vegan margarine. My high altitude adjustment was to introduce a little non-dairy milk to counteract the dryness. You may think that adding tea to a recipe would make the cookie gritty, but matcha is powdered, not ground. If you find that your matcha is a little chunky, then sift it before measuring out the amount. These cookies are an eye catching green, but I couldn’t resist getting artistic and drizzling them with chocolate.

Cocoa Matcha Shortbread based on Matcha Green Tea Shortbread Cookies
2 cups all purpose flour
1 TBS matcha with cocoa powder blend
1⁄2 tsp salt
1 cup vegan margarine, at room temperature
1⁄2 cup organic powdered sugar
2 tsp non-dairy milk
chocolate chips, for garnish
Sift flour, matcha, and salt into a bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat margarine and powdered sugar until fluffy. Add non-dairy milk and beat again. Add flour mixture to mixer bowl and mix slowly until dough just comes together. Form dough into a log that is 2” in diameter. Wrap dough log in parchment paper and place in freezer for 30 minutes or until dough has firmed to the touch.
Preheat oven to 325F. Slice dough into 1/4” rounds and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet, 1” apart. Alternatively, take dough from freezer, pinch off round balls, place on cookie sheet, and flatten with the palm of your hand. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes (or until cookies are just starting to turn golden around the edges), turning pan halfway through baking time. Remove cookies immediately from cookie sheet and cool on a wire rack. Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler on the stove. Decorate cookies with melted chocolate. Store in an airtight container.

Until next time, happy baking!

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake-Pan Cake

gluten free chocolate cake

gluten free chocolate cake pan cake

Truth be told, there almost wasn’t any of this cake left to photograph. I had gluten free advocates around to do a taste test of my first gluten free, vegan, high altitude cake – and we nearly inhaled the entire cake within minutes of it coming out of the oven. The texture was perfectly moist, it didn’t crumble when cut, and (drumroll, please) it tasted great! We were very satisfied with this cake, eating it plain and accompanied by cashew ice cream. For all of you who have been asking me if I also bake gluten free, I can now answer with a resounding “yes!”

The recipe was adapted from one I did in a previous blog post. The only changes I made were for gluten free baking. I swapped the all-purpose flour with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour. I also added baking powder to give the cake some lift, as gluten free cakes often turn out overly dense. So, for those who eat gluten free and want an easy cake recipe to try, I offer you my now gluten free cake pan cake.

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake-Pan Cake adapted from my Easy Chocolate Cake-Pan Cake
1 1/2 cups + 2 TBS gluten free flour
1 cup – 1 TBS vegan sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup mini vegan chocolate chips
1/2 tsp salt
scant 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup + 1 TBS cold non-dairy milk
Preheat oven to 350°F. Measure all dry ingredients into an 8″ x 8” x 2” cake pan. Blend the ingredients together thoroughly with a whisk and scoop out three holes. Pour the vanilla into the first hole, the vinegar into the second, and the vegetable oil into the third. Take the milk and pour it directly over everything in the pan. Stir all ingredients together with your whisk until they are well blended. Don’t forget to stir the sides, bottom and into the corners. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the sides of the cake start to pull away from the pan. Serve right from the pan.

Until next time, happy gluten free baking!