How to Make The Best Vegan Puff Pastry

How to Make The Best Vegan Puff Pastry

If you are looking for the best and easiest way to make coconut oil vegan puff pastry, this is it! Ready for desserts, vegan crossaints and everything in between. 

How to Make Vegan Puff Pastry- If you are looking for the best and easiest way to make coconut oil vegan puff pastry, this is it! Ready for desserts, vegan crossaints and everything in between.

This week must be ‘how to’ week, since we started it off with how to make a flax egg and now, moving onto vegan puff pastry! I’ve done a few of these ‘how to’ posts in the past, one was on making the best cashew cream frosting and the other was all about that amazing vegan chickpea meringue that has been floating around the internet. I’ve had vegan puff pastry on the mind for a while, (more…)

Vegan Baking Basics: What is a Flax Egg?

Vegan Baking Basics: What is a Flax Egg?

Vegan Baking Basics: What is a Flax Egg?//heartofabaker.com

A few weeks ago I got a question on my Facebook page that said ‘What exactly is a flax egg and how do I make one??!’. As a vegan, it seems like something you just know, right? But non-vegans and a lot of people who don’t do egg-free baking are probably like ‘Um but really what is it? An egg made of..not egg?’. Well yes! I know it seems silly if you have been using flax eggs for a while, but for those who haven’t here’s an easy how-to on what it is, when to use it, and the do’s and don’ts of using the flax egg. Let’s hop to it!

Vegan Baking Basics: What is a Flax Egg?//heartofabaker.com

What is it?  It’s just one part flax seed mixed with three parts water, easy. Ground (make sure it’s ground!) flax seed does an awesome job at gelling up when it is combined with water, emulating the ‘gel’ and binding nature of a traditional egg in  vegan baking recipes.  The flax egg also gives back the correct amount of moisture to recipes, ensuring that your vegan baked goods don’t get too dried out or crumbly. I always like to picture the amount of  water/liquid that an egg would give to a recipe and think about how I need to replace that within the recipe. I’ve seen the ratios vary from recipe to recipe, but I’ve had the best luck with using the 3:1 ratio. This ratio gives you the best gelling and the lest amount of ‘too much water’ scenario, which can make or break a recipe. The general rule of thumb is 1 tablespoon ground flax seed + 3 tablespoons water= 1 ‘egg’, let sit for 5 minutes. 

When to use it: Flax eggs can be used in a multitude of vegan baking recipes, but I find that they are best in a recipe when they won’t be detected. Think brownies (chocolate always covers anything up), chocolate chip cookies, quick breads, and some cakes. I wouldn’t use flax eggs in a vegan vanilla cake or a delicate dessert, such as a crepe or cream pie. Recipes that can easily hide the flax eggs are a wonderful way to incorporate them, without giving them a weird texture or messing with the flavor. Hearty recipes, like bran muffins or anything loaded with other nuts and seeds are great for flax eggs too, since they have a lot going on in them anyway.

Do’s: Do make sure you mix up your flax egg ahead of time! Nothing is worse than getting halfway through a cookie recipe and realizing that your flax egg isn’t gelled properly. Then you have to measure, mix, let sit, etc. I always prepare my flax egg first, then pull out the rest of my ingredients while it sets up (am I freaking anyone out by talking about it gelling? I hope not!). If you do forget to make it ahead of time, I wouldn’t recommend just dumping it all in without letting it set. At this point, you are just dumping water and flax seed into your recipe and who knows how that will turn out. Don’t ruin your cookies like that, do it right!

Don’ts: Don’t assume that flax eggs are always going to be able to replace regular eggs! I know they are great for some recipes, but not all of them. If you are trying to convert a non-vegan recipe to vegan, I wouldn’t use them in, say crepes, or something that is designed to be very eggy. Past using them to sub for more than 2 eggs, things get a little wonky and don’t work out quite right. I have never subbed in flax eggs for more than 2 eggs, but I would be interested in hearing if anyone else has. Also, don’t forget to measure! I just eyeballed the measurements a few times for recipes and things just don’t turn out correctly. If you are going to make a flax egg, just make it right.

That about covers it! I’ve only been using flax eggs since I’ve been doing vegan baking (3 ish years), so if anyone else has any tips or tricks I would love to hear them! Also, totally not sponsored, but I am currently using and love Bob’s Red Mill ground flax seed meal for baking and making a good flax egg. I’ve also found huge bags of ground, good quality flax seed meal at TJ Maxx, which sounds odd, but they are an amazing value. Go figure!

Did I cover anything? Let me know if you have any other questions or want to know anything else about flax eggs. They sound so weird, but were really a game changer for me when I started veganizing recipes.

Tip: Store your ground flax seed in the freezer to prevent it from going rancid!

If you are looking to do some vegan baking of your own with flax seed eggs, I’ve included a few recipes below that I’ve used them in successfully. Happy baking!

Recipes using flax eggs:

Brown Sugar Almond Streusel Bread

Brown Sugar Almond Streusel Bread-- thefrostedvegan-6

4 Ingredient Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

4- Ingredient Vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies--heartofabaker.com

Banana Chocolate Chip Snack Cake

Banana Chocolate Chip Snack Cake//heartofabaker.com

How to Make Vegan Meringue

How to Make Vegan Meringue

How to Make Vegan Meringue//heartofabaker.comHow to Make Vegan Meringue//heartofabaker.com

This post will either amaze you or freak you out, kind of depends on how you feel about chickpea meringue! I personally heard about it and thought it sounded crazy (if you don’t know about this aquafaba/chickpea meringue deal, read more about it), but it’s actually really stinking amazing that juice from a can of chickpeas can be turned into a dreamy, creamy versatile vegan meringue. I held off on trying it for such a long time, partly because my inner desire for real vegan baking just couldn’t fathom that bean juice (<–promise I won’t ever use that phrase again) could be whipped into clouds of pillowy marshmallow fluff like clouds. But, a couple of weekends ago I decided to go for it and I’m pretty much hooked. Let’s look deeper into this vegan meringue and figure out how we can use it, shall we?

How to Make Vegan Meringue//heartofabaker.com

Honestly, I don’t know who figured out that whipping up chickpea juice would result in the easiest vegan meringue around, but I’m so glad they did. For a long time, I missed baking a few of my favorite pre-vegan fancy desserts, mainly anything that involved whipped egg whites or needed fluffy marshmallows folded in. I never thought I would be able to replicate high rising souffles, perfect macaroons, or even make easy homemade marshmallows vegan (attempting all of the above now that I know the wonders of this stuff, so stay tuned!). So, I was extremely pleased when I saw firsthand how easy it is to make vegan meringue and how many ways I thought up to use it right away. Basically, you take the juice from a can of chickpeas, add in some xantham gum or guar gum, vanilla and powdered sugar. After it’s whipped for a while in stand mixer, voila! Light, fluffy peaks of vegan meringue goodness are ready to be used. If you want to make it a bit less solid, like I did, add in a half cup of maple syrup and it becomes super easy to use as more of a spread, rather than stiff vegan meringue. The nice part about this meringue is that it keeps for quite some time and is super easy to whip back up if it starts to fall while it’s being stored in the fridge.

How to Make Vegan Meringue//heartofabaker.com

Is this creeping your out? It shouldn’t! I honestly thought it was going to be WAY harder to make chickpea meringue than it really was, but it’s all about keeping an eye on it and having faith that it will turn out. You might not want to tell non-vegans that you made it from chickpea juice (I certainly didn’t tell my fiance because he would be all WHAT and never go near it), but really, they don’t need to know if they are just going to be creeped out. Tell me, have you tried chickpea meringue and what have you made?! I have a million and one ideas running through my head and constantly being scribbled in my notebook to use it in, so I’m already dreaming up a whole month’s worth of recipes. I would love any tips, tricks or questions you might have about it!

How to Make Vegan Meringue//heartofabaker.com

p.s. No, it doesn’t taste like beans, promise.

How to Make Vegan Meringue//heartofabaker.com

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Keepin it Kind

How to Make Vegan Meringue//heartofabaker.com
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How to Make Vegan Meringue

Vegan meringue made from chickpea brine is fast, easy, and still fairly healthy! Sweetened with powered sugar and whipped up in less than 15 minutes.
Course Dessert
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 4 -6 cups
Author Abby Thompson

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chickpea brine 1 can's worth
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons xantham gum
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 cups powered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk together the chickpea brine, xantham gum and lemon juice on the highest setting until mixture is thick and foamy. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and continue to beat for another 3-4 minutes, until mixture is thick and creamy. Use in parfaits, smore's, to top oatmeal or put in between two cookies!

 

Vegan Baking Basics: Vegan Sweeteners

Vegan Baking Basics: Vegan Sweeteners

Vegan Baking Basics- Vegan Sweeteners //heartofabaker.com

Hi there! I’m back with more from the Vegan Baking Basics series! I have been getting a few questions about vegan sweeteners and the best ones to use in certain baking areas, so I wanted to put my two cents in on those. I rotate between a few different sweeteners in most of my baking, but there are several out there that can be used in vegan baking. Before I started baking vegan, I never really used anything outside of regular brown sugar and white granulated sugar, so it was a whole new world to me when I started vegan baking and discovered there was a whole world of vegan sweeteners out there! All of these range anywhere from super sweet to liquid to different tastes. A lot of them can’t necessarily be used in exchange for one another (subbing maple syrup for white sugar, etc.), it all depends on the recipe.  Ok, here we go!

Brown Sugar- Obviously this is a pretty common sugar used in most all baking. It differs from regular granulated sugar because it has added molasses, for color and for a bit more of a deeper flavor. Usually brown sugar is used in conjunction with granulated sugar and adds more of a deeper sweetness to baked goods.

Vegan Baking Basics- Vegan Sweeteners //heartofabaker.com

Granulated sugar- This is the most common sweetener for all baked goods. Not only does it add sweetness, but it affects the texture of baked goods too. Sometimes granulated sugar allows for baked goods to become more tender and  gives some baked goods more of a ‘crunch’. As always, to be truly vegan white sugar shouldn’t be processed with bone char (gross, right?), since that is technically using an animal product. White sugar is kind of an artificial thing and something that has gotten into our heads over time, so if you buy granulated sugar and it isn’t white, that’s totally fine! It means it has been bleached and hasn’t had weird things done to it.

Molasses- I don’t use this that often in baking as a sweetener, unless it’s in a gingerbread recipe or in something that needs more of a deeper, sweet flavor. I have a jar up in my cabinet (I think it leaked a bit, so it’s kind of stuck on the shelf at this point) that I’ve used maybe a fourth of in the last few years, but I find it good to have on hand.

Vegan Baking Basics- Vegan Sweeteners //heartofabaker.com

Dates/Date paste- I have a whole post devoted to baking with dates, but overall, they have become one of my favorite vegan sweeteners in the last few years. Using dates can be tricky, but once you get the hang of it, they are the perfect healthy alternative to regular sugars in vegan baking. I’ve found they do really well in granola bars, some cookies, and any other dense baked goods. They don’t do well in cakes or breads sometimes, trust me! (I’m speaking from experience of many a flat cake here!).

Brown Rice Syrup- To be honest, I’ve never really used this one, but I wanted to include it on the list because I know it’s becoming a more popular vegan sweetener. From what I know, it’s very similar to agave nectar and is great for binding things together, like vegan rice krispie treats or granola bars. This is on my ‘to try’ list. If you have any suggestions for baking with brown rice syrup, let me know!

Agave nectar- Agave was one of the first vegan sweeteners I tried experimenting with when I first began vegan baking. It is a great alternative to honey and is very, very sweet. I remember trying to sub agave in cup for cup for regular sugar and the results were less than ideal! Usually, a little less agave is used in relation to the original amount of sugar called for. I also tend to increase the amount of flour just a bit to compensate for the extra liquid being added to whatever you are baking.

Vegan Baking Basics- Vegan Sweeteners //heartofabaker.com

Jam- This might seem like an odd man out, but stay with me here! I’ve found that jam is a perfect sweetener for cocktails, some sorbets, and granola bars (see a pattern here, granola bars are perfect for experimenting). My favorite is cherry jam from a place up in Northern Wisconsin, especially since there is a lot of real fruit in it and it’s lower on added sugars. I haven’t tried actually baking with jam yet, but it’s also on my to-do list.

Maple syrup- Not only is this stuff great for pouring on pancakes and sweetening up oatmeal, but I consider it to be an essential in my vegan baking pantry. I probably use maple syrup more and more as I continue baking, because it’s super sweet taste means I can use less and adjust the recipe accordingly (little more flour, etc.).  I love using it in fudge, donuts, brownies and almost every other baked good so far. I tend to buy mine by the huge jug, since I go through it like crazy. Also, get the real deal, not the corn syrup-y stuff that isn’t quite the same. (Trader Joe’s has a pretty good deal on high quality maple syrup).

There you have it! These are the sweeteners I know about right now, but tell me, are there any that I missed or you know more about? I’m sure this list will keep growing or changing over time, but for now,this is what I keep around as I bake. Sugar is sugar, but it seems like there are alternatives that can work well for everyone!

Vegan Baking Basics: Vegan Baking Pantry Essentials

Vegan Baking Basics: Vegan Baking Pantry Essentials

When I first started transitioning over to vegan baking my first thought was ‘What the heck do I use for this?’. After many years of baking with copious amounts of butter and always seeming to run out of eggs for my next batch of cookies, I wasn’t really sure where to start with this new venture into vegan baking. Thankfully, the internet is the best resource and helped out tremendously when I was navigating this weird and confusing change, so I wanted to share with you what I keep in my pantry so I can keep churning out top notch vegan cookies, cakes, and everything in-between. Keep in mind that this list isn’t definite and I will keep adding to it as I continue to learn and grow in vegan baking, but for now, these are my staples. I would also love to hear your staples and things you have to have on hand too. Let’s get started!

Vegan Baking Pantry Essentials//heartofabaker.com

Flour– Obviously this is a given, but I usually try to keep around whole wheat and all purpose flour. Whole wheat flour doesn’t work for all recipes but is a nice option to have around for the denser and heartier breads or cakes in my repertoire. King Arthur Flour and Hodgson Mill make reliable and awesome products, but sometimes I just go generic store brand too. Keep in mind that some flours are bleached and that just kind of creeps me out, so I try to go with the unbleached.

Sugar- Again, this is a given, but it was surprising to me that some sugar isn’t vegan  and it goes through a process that involves bone char and bleaching, which again, just kind of is weird, right? It’s all a matter of personal preference, but I try to go with more of an unbleached version, like this one from Wholesome Sweeteners  rather than the regular white stuff.

Vegan Baking Pantry Essentials//heartofabaker.com

Baking soda– This ingredient is one that I never thought I would use box after box of, but between using it to wash my face and hair (dang right!), plus using it for baking, I go through this stuff like crazy. Baking soda is an awesome leavener since we aren’t using eggs in traditional cakes, breads, and muffins.

Coconut Oil– This stuff is up there with baking soda for me. I try to avoid vegan butter as much as possible when baking, primarily because it’s expensive and just filled with different oils. I know that this is an oil, but it’s easier to find and can be used in several different ways in the kitchen, so it’s great to just keep around.

Maple Syrup- Growing up, maple syrup came from a bottle with a log cabin pattern and was only really used on waffles and pancakes, end of story. Now, I keep it on hand for sweetening desserts and, of course, breakfast too. Get the real stuff because that other stuff just won’t cut it. My favorite version comes from a small shop up in Door County, but since it’s hard to get up there in the winter, I grab a big jug from Trader Joe’s and call it a day. The real maple syrup is going to cost a little bit more, but it’s worth it!

Vanilla Extract- I learned from my dad that when baking, if there is vanilla extract involved, more is always better. For a long time, I bought the store brand extract because it is cheaper, but now I’m in the habit of making my own vanilla extract  and I don’t see myself going back to the generic version anytime soon. Vanilla beans seem to always be a bit on the expensive side, but I’ve found that Penzey’s has a great price on vanilla beans with awesome quality (they aren’t paying me to say that, I just love basically everything they sell).

Apple Cider Vinegar- Again, this was something that, before vegan baking, I didn’t use much of, since I didn’t have a lot of reason to. Now, it’s a perfect leavener when combined with baking soda, since the reaction between the two makes cakes and breads rise and stay light and fluffy.

Dates- Before I went vegan/plant based, I had never purposely touched a date in my life. Dates conjured up images of gross, shriveled fruit that shouldn’t be anywhere near my cookies, thank you very much.  Now, I usually have a jar of date paste or a container of dates in my fridge at all times. These can be a bit expensive, but I’ve found great prices on them at local type grocery stores. The Italian market close to my house used to carry Medjool dates at an awesome price, but stopped last year, so I’m on the hunt for a new source! If kept too long, dates can dry out, but rehydrating them in hot water makes them good as new in no time. For a more comprehensive guide on baking with dates, check out another one of my Vegan Baking Basics posts.

 Ground flax seed-  Again, this was an ingredient that, before going vegan, I thought was only used by hippies and the ultra-healthy fitness fanatics. Turns out, ground flax seed gels up much like an egg when it’s combined with water and allowed to sit for a few minutes. Where I purchase ground flax seed varies, I’ve found good deals on it anywhere from TJ Maxx (weird, right?) to Whole Foods. Make sure you store it in the freezer, or it can go rancid rather quickly! I detail more about how to use ground flax seed as an egg substitute in my Egg Replacements post.

Vegan Baking Pantry Essentials//heartofabaker.com

Chocolate-  I mean, there really doesn’t need to be an explanation for this, right? At a given time, I usually have a bag of chocolate chips and a big bar of chocolate in our cabinets. Chocolate chips are usually the easiest to melt and use in cookies, but the bar chocolate is good for grating and chopping up for other recipes. Higher quality chocolate makes a huge difference too. You don’t need to break the bank, but avoid chocolate chips and bars that are primarily fillers rather than the good stuff.

Tell me, what are the essentials you keep around for baking? Like I said, this will change and evolve over time, but for now, this is what I like to keep around.

 

Vegan Baking Basics: Making a Non-Vegan Recipe Vegan

Vegan Baking Basics: Making a Non-Vegan Recipe Vegan

Oh hi there! It’s been a little bit since I’ve done a VBB post and I have a lot of ideas bouncing around up in my brain, so this time, let’s tackle taking a recipe from not vegan to vegan. Obviously, these rules of thumb apply to baking recipes, since savory and cooking recipes are a bit different. All of this advice is from a couple years of experience and personal preference, so if you have any tips you have found work or are a favorite, chime in!

Vegan Baking Basics: Turning a non-vegan dessert recipe into a vegan recipe

When I first started out transitioning from the Standard American Diet to a plant based/vegan diet, one of the many fears I had was that I would never again get to enjoy a perfect chocolate chip cookies or a slice of pecan pie at Thanksgiving. I always assumed that if you are vegan, you are either eating really weird desserts (like a banana, not dessert) or not eating dessert at all. Wrong! I don’t know how I quite came about it, but I always knew there were vegan dessert recipes out there, I just wasn’t sure how great they were. You can make cheesecake without cream cheese? Or you nuts in place of cheese? This is just insane. While it might seem crazy to people who haven’t tried vegan desserts, those of you who have tasted a delectable vegan cake or two in your day know it’s completely possible. To best illustrate how I take a non-vegan recipe and make it vegan, let’s use an example! (more…)