Tag Archives: baking

I love cake! It was always my favorite dessert as a kid- next to ice cream (for obvious reasons?). I never quite could relate to friends who thought cake was lame. I always had homemade cakes for my birthday. My favorite part was the actual cake part, not the frosting. Having a good frosting is especially important, and something I always remember is my friends having really gross cakes and frosting (probably because they would get cheap sheet cakes with Crisco frosting. Yuck.). 

I also remember admiring The Cake Bible. Baking seemed fun and exciting. But as I got older, it seemed that the American baked goods scene was boring. It is dominated with desserts that are made to taste like other things (like french toast covered in crushed sugary cereals, PB&J flavored everything, birthday cake flavored cookies, etc) or cakes that look like other objects. Nothing compared to the creativity with edible ingredients found in The Cake Bible (hello meringue swans on a blueberry jam pond)

Then Jon and I started to watch The Great British Bake Off. I fell back in love. I loved learning about all the different cakes, pastries, and desserts. Even the savory dishes were fun, mostly when they didn’t involve meat. It got me wondering, what about America? Do we have distinctive desserts?

I heard about American Cake from the podcast Stuff You Missed in History Class. I knew I needed that book. It combined so many things I loved, history and cakes. I also knew these cakes wouldn’t be vegan, so I would have to alter the recipes.

I originally was going to make this into a project for Vegan MOFO, but decided to post as I go along in the book. I won’t be making every single cake in the book. Some I am honestly not sure how to make vegan, or rather not sure how similar it would end up being to the original. For example there is an early colonial cheesecake that uses ricotta cheese. Do I bother trying to recreate that? Also there are three or four different pound cakes. Should I even bother? And don’t even get me started with angel food cake.

So follow me in my journey. I will either post about my adventures trying to make the cakes, and if possible, I will share my recipe. I naturally started with the first cake recipe, and one of my favorite types of cake- Gingerbread Cake. Hopefully, I will post it soon.

Recipes:

Blackstrap Spiced Cake


Shop on 090615-oAmazon or Barnes and Noble

With the Christmas season here, there is a good chance you are making cookies. And I thought it would be a good time to try out a bunch of recipes from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. It is a classic vegan cookbook that covers the topic of… well… cookies. It goes a little further covering bar cookies, brownies, and biscotti. Some of the cookies I made for christmas, and some I’ve made in the past for daily eating.

Photos

There are lots of photos in this book, I would say about half of the cookies have a photo. All are well lit and beautifully photographed. All the cookie photos are places on brightly colored backgrounds, making the photos very kid friendly (which let’s face it, we all remember the joys of cookies as kids.) There are enough photos to spark the reader in making new cookies, but I do have a problem. There are a few cookies that are nicely clipped to have white backgrounds and randomly show up in recipes. For example the Mexican Snickerdoodles show up in the recipe for Chocolate Marmalade Sandwich Cookies. At first I found this confusing, until I noticed the same cookies photo appearing over and over again.

Set-up

The book starts with some cookie basics which truthfully I skipped. I started to read it, but it can be painfully boring to the seasoned vegan baker. BUT it is filled with important information to a new baker. For example, I think my husband could read it and feel more confident about the different flours out there. There is even a section that have various troubleshooting situations. So if your cookie doesn’t turn out right, you can fix it.

They divide the cookies up by drop cookies, wholesome cookies, bar cookies, fancy cookies, and roll and cut cookies. When flipping through, it is easy to go from one section to another without ever noticing. I think this is true for all of their baking books. I am not really sure if I care too much about having “sections” or not. 

Writing

The book has the usual fun writing styles of Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. They really make you feel comfortable with baking, and make veganism seem less exclusive. They also make you smile for the “fancier” cookies, they aren’t that hard, you got this. The directions are easy and to the point, making it easy to tell if I need a stand up/hand mixer or just a big wooden spoon.

Overview

I love this cookbook. All these cookies have been winners, though I wish or rather could see this book being much bigger. Compared to the vegan pie in the sky and the cupcake take over the world, I feel like there are SO many types of cookies that I wish this book could be just a little bit bigger. There seem to be a large amount of drop cookies that used oatmeal. There also aren’t many of the classic Christmas cookies that you might find with Christmas tree decorations, or other classic cookies I grew up with. I know they can’t cover ALL cookies ever made, but I feel like there are so many that aren’t easily interchangeable like how a cupcake can be paired with different frosting to make a new flavor.

But everyone loves the cookies I’ve been making, and there are so many new inventive flavors. Carrot cake cookies? Grapefruit? Tahini lime? And out of all the cookbooks there are the least amount of “weird” vegan ingredients. Meaning I would feel pretty comfortable giving these recipes to an omni baker, who wouldn’t have to go out and buy new ingredients.

Below are all the cookies I made from the book- which is a lot. They are so good, and I recommend buying this book for any vegan who needs to make cookies from time to time.

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Man, now that Vegan Mofo is over, my reading material has completely changed. Plus my mind has shifted gears. I am looking at old post drafts and thinking “Oh yeah, I should still post that!” But I think this week’s collection of reading materials really shows the shift. Yeah, some are vegan. Some aren’t. Some are VERY VERY not vegan. I debate how it relates to this blog even. But I just thought it was so cool that I had to share.

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Not All Who Blogs Bakes by Specs and the City

Melissa has a super cute photo collection of her recent baking journey. Not many words, but sometimes I think visuals are more powerful. I have a lot of beef with pinterest and blog. It creates weird standards. Perfect homes, crafts, cupcakes, holiday decor, clothes, drawings, cupcakes, cupcakes, oh and cupcakes. 

It seems that every blogger bakes and crafts, and that might not be everyone’s thing. It seems that there a cliches that are forming for female bloggers. Baking and fashion seems to go hand in hand. Melissa just made a photo series of her fight against blogging stereotypes rather that writing about it.

Side note- I am always down with ice cream and beer.

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The Future of Animal Rights & Vegan Teen Tips by The Vegan R.D

I think it is important that parents learn about veganism when their kids make the transition. There is a lot of confusion and myths that surround veganism, which can scare parents. Educating parents help keep them active with their children’s interest, and understand them better. It might not convert them, but might cut in their animal consumption.

The article gives some basic tips to make eating easier for teens. Parents can use the information for tips on what to look out for with their kids needs. Some tips are just for easy preparations. For example they suggest freezing extra grains for easy reheating. A tip that helps everyone out really.

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How to Dye Your Armpits by Offbeat Home

There seems to be a lot more buzz about armpit hair. I shave my armpits. I just don’t like the feel of hair there, and I have no idea how my husband bears it. I am fairly certain if I was a man I would still be shaving my armpits. But I really applaud women who are stepping up and are willing to let it all grow out because they just don’t like to shave there. It has become a HUGE social taboo. If I didn’t shave my legs, it would be okay. But armpits? It would make me a social outcast.

As I mentioned before, visuals can be louder than words. Something about saying “I want my armpits to match my cute hair” is a big smack in the face to social norms. It something that is really weird, but it looks so rad.

Bringing-his-playmates-to-the-stars-1980

Chinese Space Children Painting

I’ve got a weird soft spot for Soviet Realism and art for communist propaganda. Then there is the weird world of Chinese Space art. I’ve seen a few before, as a way to get children excited about space travel. But some paintings are simply put odd. Many include traditional gods and goddesses waving to children in space. Other make little to no sense, like a naked baby talking on the phone. This small collection is really fun, and I hope everyone else enjoys them as much as I do.

Yeah, this link has little to do with food, fashion, feminism, but it does have to do with art (my love) and little with Sailor Moon (both Alexa and my love). I mean Sailor Moon comes from a space colony from the moon. So these kids are just trying to find her. Right?

Jessica’s Feminized Atmosphere by The Daily Show

Both Alexa and I have had our fair share of cat calls when living in Philadelphia and New York City. Some people find it flattering, most don’t. I know that once I moved back to the burbs it really has made me paranoid. I cringe at thought of passing by men and construction sites on my walk to work. Most of the time it is honking from cars rather than shouts.

I love this short by Jessica Williams. She pokes a little fun at the situation, and brings some awareness of how messed up cat calling can get. And I can totally relate. I avoided walking by one side of a HOSPITAL since I was constantly being harassed by the men. Seriously, a hospital.

I remember having even guys at my school get cat called by other men. This really creeped them out, and probably helped them understand how girls feel. I mean shouldn’t they feel complimented that all these guys think they look good? Duh, no. It’s creepy and annoying. Yes, some people like it, but most people don’t. 


asksnanswers

Alexa is working toward a vegetarian diet, and is loaded with questions. Jennifer’s got answers. We talk about anything as long as it is vegan. Are tattoos vegan? How do I politely not eat Thanksgiving dinner? How do I order without pissing off the waitress? We know you are dying to ask!

asksalexaDo you think Vegan desserts are harder to pull off? I have had some vegan desserts where the texture is a bit mealy and gross, and some that you wouldn’t even be able to notice the difference between that and a “traditional” treat.

Wow. It sounds like your friends are terrible bakers. I’ll give you a quick example of an everyday vegan baked good. Oreos. Bet you didn’t know those were vegan? It’s been that way for years. So why are there so many bad vegan baked goods? Although vegan alternatives can work well replacing butter, eggs, and milk, there may need to be minor changed to original recipes. That means converting Grandma’s chocolate chip recipe might not be as simple as 1 cup dairy milk to 1 cup almond milk. There is a lot of trial and error. It helps to understand the role of each ingredient in a recipe. 

Eggs: These guys are a binding agent in cakes and cookies. There are a huge array of replacements out there including, tofu, fruit, veggies, powders, flax seed, and more. Egg replacement is a little more tricky in frostings and meringues. Fork and Beans has a great in depth page on egg replacements.

Butter: It adds flavor and fats. Traditional baking is already making a shift away from butter as oils make a more moist and tender cake. But vegan margarines and shortenings are available and can be subbed pretty easily. Again, Fork and Beans has a great page about non-dairy fats in baking.

Milk: Usually milk is used to add more protein to baked good but most essentially moisture. Since protein is important sometimes soy milk triumphs over other substitutes. But sometimes, it doesn’t make a difference and any other milk replacement works fine such as rice, almond, oat, or hemp milk. 

So what are the major pitfalls of baking and picking a vegan recipe? Well, for starters, implement good baking practices. Weight flours, level measuring cups, completely preheat the oven, etc. If you are making bad cake with butter and eggs, you’ll make bad vegan cake.

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