Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Chocolate Chip Banana BreadThis bread is one of the first vegan recipes I ever tried back when I was at sea level and baking was easier. I still love this recipe, though, because it doesn’t require a lot of tools or equipment – you just need a few bowls and a whisk. It’s pretty quick to assemble and uncomplicated. It is also very yummy.

To alter the recipe to my tastes, I used all-purpose and whole wheat flour instead of spelt and deleted the date pieces. I also used fewer chopped walnuts and less nutmeg, and swapped canola for safflower oil. At altitude I added moisture with the addition of more banana and apple sauce, and adjusted the amount of baking powder and flour. Okay, I guess this is loosely based on the original.

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread adapted from the award winning Vegan World Fusion Cuisine‘s Bananananda Bread
1-1/2 cups + 2 TBS all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/8 tsp nutmeg, ground
Scant 1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1-1/4 cups mashed extremely ripe banana
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup + 2 tsp natural apple sauce
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350F with rack in lower third of oven. Place dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until mixed well. Combine wet ingredients in a larger bowl, add dry ingredients and mix well. Pour into a 5×9” Teflon loaf pan and bake for 51-53 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out dry. Leave to cool in pan.

Until next time, happy baking!

What is Vegan Baking?

wedding cakeI am often asked what it means to bake vegan. A vegan diet excludes all animal products and animal-derived ingredients. To a baker this means avoiding the use of eggs, honey, gelatin, dairy and dairy products. Fortunately there is a plethora of vegan substitutions available today.

Unfortunately the options were less plentiful back when I became interested in vegan baked goods. One year, for my birthday, I decided to have a local bakery produce a vegan cake for my celebration. My family, being less adventurous, thought this was absurd. But, the cake was pretty and it was my birthday so they followed my wishes and tasted it. The cake was horrible! Even I couldn’t stomach it. To this day my family still chides me about the catastrophic cake.

Years later I was redeemed at my wedding. The baker, from the now closed Joseph’s Dessert Company, made a spectacular vegan cake. It was not only beautiful but so delicious that nary a guest suspected the cake’s secret. The most important cake of my life was a success! (The picture above shows the cake that my husband and I helped design.)

Chocolate Coffee Cupcakes with Coffee Buttercream Frosting

chocolate coffee cupcakeA chocolate cupcake is a thing of beauty. This baking challenge is an adaptation of Your Basic Chocolate Cupcake from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by the girls at The Post Punk Kitchen. For fun I used coffee extract for the additional extract and added coffee extract to the frosting to ramp up the mocha-ness.

They turned out well with good texture, slight dimples and a not-to-sweet flavor. The cupcakes screamed for a mound of delicious frosting so I slathered a coffee Vegan Fluffy Buttercream on top. Good enough for breakfast.

Chocolate Coffee Cupcakes with Coffee Buttercream Frosting
1 cup vanilla soy or almond milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup organic sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp coffee extract
1 cup + 1 TBS all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
generous 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup nonhydrogenated shortening
1/2 cup nonhydrogenated margarine
3 1/2 cups organic powdered sugar, sifted if clumpy
1 tsp coffee extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup vanilla soy milk
For Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350F and line a 12-cupcake pan with paper liners. Whisk together the milk and vinegar in a large bowl, and set aside for a few minutes to curdle. Add the sugar, oil, vanilla extract, and coffee extract to the milk mixture and beat until foamy.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add in two batches to wet ingredients and beat just until no large lumps remain. Pour evenly into the liners, filling three-quarters of the way. Bake 18-19 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely.
For Frosting: Beat the shortening and margarine together until well combined and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat for 3 more minutes. Add the vanilla and soy milk and beat for another 5-7 minutes until fluffy.

Until next time, happy baking!

It’s All in the Math

math When adjusting recipes for high altitude there are some basics I follow. To counter the effects of low pressure and low humidity, science comes to the rescue with these alterations:

  • For each tsp of baking powder, reduce by 1/8-1/4 tsp
  • For each cup of sugar, reduce up to 2 TBS
  • For each cup of liquid, increase by 2-4 TBS

This information is for bakers at 6500 feet and can be found at the following link written by the Colorado State University Extension: High Altitude Food Preparation.

You can find info for other altitudes at this link, as well as more scientific explanations and specifics of certain baked goods.

The science may appear daunting to those who just want to eat cake. But a few moments of math can help make the cake (or cookies or bread) taste and look better. It’s well worth it.