rocket ship go!

March 12, 2008

i <3 teh cakes

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Rachel @ 2:50 pm
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I only have a picture of one of the cakes I made this past weekend (and luckily it’s the more delicious one), but both of them were nice n’ tasty. And making two cakes in one weekend is an amazing thing (one of the many things that made this past weekend grand).

The cake that I do NOT have a pic for is a re-do of chocolate pudding cake, but so much better. I added in the optional 1/2 c. chocolate chips to the batter, and instead of pouring 2 1/2 c. of hot water over the batter before baking, I used fresh coffee. So just imagine the cake in the link above, only blacker and 5 times as intensely chocolate. When I made it before, it was pretty easy to just gobble down cuz it was kinda light. But this cake actually left you feeling full, which desserts rarely do for me (unless I eat an insane portion). Satisfaction, finally! What made it all the more glorious was that a dear friend of mine from high school, Jordan, was in town Friday night, so he and I got together with one of my roommates and whipped this cake up and enjoyed it together, and Jordan and I introduced my roommate Kelley to some of our favorite Nashville muzik. It was loads of fun, and while Jordan and I hung out I lamented missing my bf (who is a friend of his), and he lamented missing his gf Dree (who is one of my best friends). We were feelin’ so nostalgic and reminiscing about our loves, it was great.

Now, the cake I have pictures of, that I made on Saturday night, is *even better* than the chocolate-y pudding cake I just talked about.

The recipes are all from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. It was the golden vanilla cake, filled with some plain ol’ strawberry jam (so good), covered in orange buttercream, and drizzled all over the place with quick melty chocolate ganache. Maybe it was just that the intenseness of the chocolate pudding cake from Friday overwhelmed me, but this this cake was so amazing and fresh tasting, I looooooved it. And all who partook were like, “This is so moist; how do you make it like this without eggs?” I was like, “It’s a special vegan recipe… and lots of oil.” I got to see one of my dear friends on Sunday, and I think she and I devoured most of it together. So nice to hang out with another girl who loves to eat cake as much as me.

But when I was baking the cake on Saturday night, I had to share the itty-bitty dorm kitchen with this handful of high people who were baking some cream cheese brownies or something like that and filling up and stumbling around the kitchen. I’m such a control freak, I wanted to be like, “STONERS OUT!” But everything turned out fine and they left about halfway through my time in the kitchen. So no worries, dude.

January 23, 2008

chocolate pudding cake

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Rachel @ 11:44 am
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I’ve been wanting to try this recipe for a few weeks, and as fate would have it, I found out a couple of days ago that one of my roommates, Kelley, was about to have her 19th birthday (which was yesterday). This recipe is simple, uses stuff that you probably have sitting around in the kitchen, and you don’t need a frosting, because as the cake cooks, this gooey chocolate pudding sauce forms beneath the cake, so it’s a complete dessert all in one dish. I think this cake would be enhanced if you took added 1/2 c. bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate chips to the batter. But it’s up to you.

This recipe is originally from the blog Jewish Vegan, the author of which I have never met, even though we live in the same city. Hmmmm…

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour (used white spelt again)
2 1/2 t. baking powder
3/4 t. salt
1 1/8 c. sugar
9 T. cocoa, divided
1/2 c. chocolate chips (optional)
3/4 c. soymilk
3 T. vegetable oil
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1 1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 c. hot water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar with 3 tablespoons of cocoa. Stir in the chocolate chips. In a separate bowl, stir together the soymilk, oil, and vanilla, then pour that into the dry ingredients and stir until smooth. Spread in an ungreased 9×13″ baking pan. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and 6 tablespoons cocoa. Sprinkle over batter. Pour hot water over all, do not stir. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Serve warm.

P.S.,
I discovered, with the help of my oven thermometer, that when fully preheated, the oven in the dorm kitchen is a full 50 degrees too hot! Which can cause baking disasters for sure.

December 27, 2007

christmas food

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Rachel @ 2:57 am
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I’ve been really busy cooking lately. Attending family gatherings means providing food for myself to eat there, and then at holidays all the food is really rich and even the vegetable side dishes are dairy-laden, so I end up only eating the entree that I brought with me, plus the obligatory green salad that someone else has made. And since it is the holidays and everyone in my fam is stuffing their faces with the plethora of non-vegan food around them, I compensate by eating copious amounts of my entree + salad. That gets a little boring, no?

When we all went to visit my dad’s side of the family, I made some enchilada casserole, which I already made a few months ago. Also, a few days before Christmas, I made two types of food gifts for members of my family: peppermint brownies;

and cheezy crackers, and they both turned out tasty-liscious. The brownies are based on a recipe from the PPK. They’re not very sweet, but that went nicely with the minty aspect, I think. The only change I made to the original recipe was to sub 1/2 teaspoon of the vanilla extract with peppermint extract and sprinkle crushed candy canes on top. These brownies are soft, fluffy, and moist, so you should eat them.

When we went to my mom’s family’s house, I made a couple of different things. The first was sweet potato gnocchi:

Crappy shot, I know. I got the recipe from one of my favorite blogs. I made these last year for Thanksgiving, and while they are pretty tasty, I’m starting to feel like they’re not worth the effort. You have to resign your kitchen to having a coating of orange dough all over it, and the gnocchi turn out frail and break when you try to toss them with a sauce. Maybe more flour next time… Also, the sauce in the original recipe is a little overwhelming to the delicate sweet potato flavor, so I just tossed them with a spiced Earth Balance glaze.

For a low-fat cake, this chocolate orange creation turned out fantastic. I left out the cinnamon and added almond extract to make it like my favorite chocolate orange cookies, and the results were perfect. The recipe:

1 1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1/2 c. cocoa powder

3/4 c. soy yogurt
1 t. vanilla extract
1 1/2 t. almond extract
2 T. balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 c. water
1/2 c. orange juice (fresh-squeezed is best)
2 T. orange zest

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a Bundt pan.
Sift together the dry ingredients (flour to cocoa) into a mixing bowl. Stir to combine, and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Pour this into the dry ingredients and beat with a mixer on low or by hand until just combined, 1-2 minutes.
Pour the batter into your Bundt pan and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a knife stuck in the cake comes out clean (in the end, my knife still had a little batter stuck on the tip). Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn it out to cool completely.

chocolate glaze:
1/2 c. powdered sugar, sifted
1 T. cocoa powder
2 t. orange juice
1/4 t. vanilla
extra oj, as needed

Stir these together with a fork, adding just a bit of extra orange juice until the frosting is drizzle-able. Spoon it over the completely cooled cake. After it has set, do the same with the orange glaze:

1/2 c. powdered sugar, sifted
1 t. orange juice
1/2 t. vanilla extract
extra oj, as needed
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Guess what my parents gave me for Christmas?

Finally! They also got me a shiny aluminum 12-cup muffin pan to take back to college with me, and my sister got me a micro-plane grater, all of which I used to make a Christmas gift for Kate:

Coconut lime cupcakes. Sublime is the only way to describe them. When Kate’s mom tried one, she said, “These are four-star cupcakes!” (I’m going to assume she was rating them on a four-star scale, of course.) She really was mystified as to how to make cupcakes without eggs or milk or butter, especially the frosting, but then again, Earth Balance is a very mysterious concoction. You’d think that, in the year 2007, people would realize that just about anything is possible, food-wise or otherwise, but the phrase, “These are vegan?!” never gets old to me. I’m pretty sure I’m gonna freakin’ love this book.

And my dad got a new camera for Christmas, which means I have inherited his old one, which has a macro setting on it, so now I can take awesome food pics, such as the cupper-cake shot above. Even in the dying afternoon light, you can see the beautiful texture of the coconut flakes and the lime wedge. I love it!

December 9, 2007

jelly donut cupcakes gone wrong

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Rachel @ 2:47 am
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Past couple of baking endeavors have not turned out so very well.

Last night, I tried making strawberry cupcakes from an omni recipe that I adapted. Noooope. They were total mush, plus too much of a vinegar taste from trying to make them rise. Ughh, such failures. I don’t yet understand the chemistry and balance of cakes, so every non-veg cake recipe that I try to veganize ends in disaster and wasted ingredients. I mean, these things tasted so terrible that I couldn’t trifle-ize them or nothin’.

Since I had a batch of vanilla frosting that I had already made, I wanted to find something to go with it that I already had the ingredients for, so I settled on the jelly donut cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. Now, I’m not much of a cupcake liner girl myself; enough can be accomplished with the right amount of non-stick spray. However, they’re pretty essential to this recipe, as you can see from the pic above. Also, I don’t know if this has to do with the fact that I melted down Earth Balance instead of using canola oil like the recipe called for, but these cupcakes were again mushy. Me no likey.

What’s a girl to do? I needed something to present to my friend Kellye for her 18th birthday. That’s what both of these screw-ups were intended for. So I dabbed some more strawberry jam in the craters of these mini cupcakes and piped icing on them with a snipped Ziploc bag. And all was well.

November 24, 2007

success! (finally)

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Rachel @ 12:25 pm
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Isn’t it freaking gorgeous?! I oiled and cocoa’d the pans, and then I cut out rounds of aluminum foil and put them in the bottom of the cake pans, so I could have perfect rounds. And no cake-falling, either, because I used an actual already-vegan recipe, the one for red velvet cake from Paku Paku. I did veganize the frosting recipe from one I found on the Martha Stewart website. I loved the results– smooth and fluffy, and it tastes just like the commercial stuff that comes from a little plastic can, but defintely no high fructose corn syrup or trans fat.

Happiness is a big, beautiful, homemade vegan cake. Seriously, that’s the way it is in my book.

cake:
1/2 c. vegan margerine (like Earth Balance), softened
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 egg replacers (I used 2 T. flax meal + 6 T. warm water)
1 c. minus 1 T. non-dairy milk (I used rice milk)
2 T. vinegar (I used half apple cider and half balsamic)
1 T. red food coloring
1 t. vanilla extract*
1 t. almond extract*
1 t. salt
2 1/2 c. unbleached flour (scoop and level method**)
1/4 c. cocoa
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. cinnamon*

Preheat oven to 350F. Oil and dust with cocoa (and line with aluminum foil or parchment paper, if you like) two 8- or 9-inch round cake pans.
Beat Earth Balance and sugar together until combined. Add in egg replacement and beat until creamy.
In a glass measuring cup or small bowl, combine milk, vinegar, food coloring, and the extracts. Set aside to let it curdle.
In a large-ish bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and soda, and the cinnamon. Gradually beat this mixture into the EB-sugar mixture, alternating with the curdled liquid ingredients, until all is well blended and smooth.
Evenly pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 45 minutes, checking for doneness at the 30-minute mark with a toothpick. (Mine only took 33 minutes, but my oven may be too hot.)
Let the cakes cool in their pans for ten minutes, then carefully invert onto racks to cool completely. Frost with the following amazing vanilla buttercream recipe:

1/2 c. vegan margerine (like Earth Balance), softened
1 t. vanilla
dash of salt
4 c. powdered sugar, sifted
1/8 c. non-dairy milk (rice again for me)

Place first 3 ingredients in your mixing bowl. Slowly beat in powdered sugar, alternating with the milk until you have a very fluffy, smooth buttercream. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl occasionally. Add more milk if necesarry, but only in very small increments until the desired texture is achieved. Spread in between the layers of, on top of and around the sides of your cake. The great thing about this frosting is that it spreads easily at room temp but also keeps it shape without having to be refrigerated. Yessss!

If you’re new to baking cakes and whatnot, please do go to Paku Paku. The author, Kittee, has a whole cake-baking tutorial that is gold to bakers everywhere.

(* Indicates change from original recipe.)
(** I always use Celine’s scoop-and-level method when baking, with great results. You use a spoon or small cup to scoop flour into your measuring cup, and then you level it off with a knife. Yay for fluffy, light baked stuff!)
————————–

The cake was to celebrate my boyfriend’s birthday (it was on Monday), so he made us an awesome pasta dinner last night:


It’s whole wheat fettucine with this delicious raw sauce (pesto) of tomatoes, garlic, capers, mint, basil, parsley, red pepper flakes, and olive oil. The oil was really well emulsified into the pesto, so the sauce was ultra-creamy. The recipe is from The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen, a really awesome cookbook that I happen to have. Mmmm, the pesto was sooo good! Especially since it was made with love and all.

November 22, 2007

thanksgiving

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Rachel @ 10:15 pm
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I had so much energy last night, I couldn’t stop cooking! It started with sweet potato casserole:


Here it is, pre-topping and pre-baked. My mom made a non-vegan sweet potato casserole, and she set aside some plain boiled taters for me to make my own version, which I adapted from this recipe at Get Sconed. What a great recipe! I 1/6’d it to make a portion for my little ceramic pan, and I added a bit more sugar to the potatoes and replaced some of the Earth Balance with rice milk. The finished result, all smooth and creamy with a rich cinnamon-nutmeg topping, made for some serious comfort food.


I also made a vegetable casserole with a chili polenta topping (looks a lot like sweet potatoes, right?) Here it is pre-baked. The recipe was originally a “Three Sisters Casserole”, but I made so many substitutions that it’s hardly the same recipe at all. I found the polenta to be slightly bland, but even so, I realized that I LOVE polenta and want to start cooking with it more often. So cheap, so simple, very quick, and gluten-free, too.

One important note: I’ve made this particular recipe before, and it calls for you to prepare the polenta in a huge double boiler for 40+ minutes. When I made it for the first time, I tried that technique, with little success. This time around, I read up on polenta from a free recipe on the Herbivore website. I used the process described there, and the polenta thickened up like a dream, in far less that 40 minutes. Here’s a basic outline:

4.5 c. water
1.5 c. cornmeal
1 t. salt
your favorite herbs (I think some dried basil and other Italian herbs would be great)

Heat the water in a large saucepan till it’s hot but not yet boiling. Add other ingredients and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Turn down the heat to simmer and keep on whisking for about 5 minutes. A good way to see if it’s done is to take a glob of it on the tip of a spoon and set it aside. When the glob cools, if it’s nice and thick and basically solid, you’re good to go. This makes a pretty big amount of polenta. If you’re gonna save some for later, you should probably add some liquid before reheating to keep it from drying out.


I also made a chocolate cake with cherry filling and a little cherry sauce (recipe converted from the back of a box of Hershey’s cocoa powder). The cake was very gooey and rich and pretty delish all around, but the cake sunk somewhat in the middle, so I’m not going to copy the recipe here. Let’s just say I enjoyed it several times over the course of the day.


Clockwise from top right: a standard salad, jellified cranberry sauce (mm, high fructose corn syrup), sweet potato casserole, and the polenta-veggie casserole. (Diet Pepsi pictured is NOT mine!!!)

November 19, 2007

screw you, cake pan.

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Rachel @ 6:40 pm
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You can go jump off a cliff. I don’t care if you’re adorable and shaped like a heart, or were only 79 cents at the AmVets thrift store.

I meticulously oil all your little crevices (uh, sick) and lovingly dust you with cocoa powder, but you insist on crumbling and sticking and being a humongous jerk to me. I turn down the oven temperature by 25 degrees to accommodate your hot coppery-ness, yet you still burn the crap out of whatever I make.

I guess turning this cake upside-down and slathering it in icing makes it presentable enough for a potluck tonight, but this is unacceptable. Your selfish, crumble-inducing ways are giving people a bad impression of vegan cake, which is the last thing I want because it’s my favorite food. And also, you are forcing me to give in to the Wilton empire if I ever want to make successful heart-shaped cakes. Why are you doing this to me?

November 10, 2007

where’s the love?

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Rachel @ 6:33 pm
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I had such high hopes for this cake.

I love baking: you take flour and sugar and other humble elements, and something gorgeous emerges. Everybody’s really inpressed, and you feel special because you made something vegan and sweet and delicious. So, I wanted my (early) birthday cake to be really special. I wanted to veganize a recipe, so I searched online until I found a sexy, fattening recipe for vanilla cake on the website for Country Living magazine. Then I decided to change a recipe for chocolate cream cheeze frosting at Paku Paku to make it strawberry cream cheeze. It was gonna be so sweet and smooth, a perfect birthday indlugence.

As you can see from the pics, not so. It was so disheartening to see how the middle fell completely, pretty much as far as gravity would allow. When I tried to turn it out onto the cooling rack, it crumbled. Then the frosting was way too thin; I think the strawberry preserves added too much liquid. I’ve made good vegan cakes before; I guess I just didn’t realize that this recipe didn’t have what it takes. And that I still have a lot to learn about vegan baking.

At least it tastes delicious. I made a trifle out of it.

Sometimes, you put so much love and affection into a recipe, but you just don’t get back the lovin’ you deserve. What a disappointment.

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