Cranberry-Studded Pumpkin Breads with Streusel

cranberry pumpkin breads with streusel
Cranberry-Studded Pumpkin Breads with Streusel

‘Tis the season for pumpkin and pumpkin spice. But, to be honest, I’m only a fan of pumpkin spice when it’s in pumpkin bread. To get on board with the seasonal flavor, I had to make pumpkin bread soon. In order to make things more interesting, I added dried cranberries inside the bread and streusel on top. Now that’s a bread combination that would make anyone a fan.

The pumpkin bread recipe is an adaptation of a vegan cake recipe I found. To make it high altitude friendly, I reduced the baking powder and oil, and split it into smaller loaves, all of which created beautifully domed breads. The added sweet streusel topping and tart cranberries played nicely off of each other, but didn’t overpower the pumpkin and spice flavors. These tasty mini breads would look great on any fall holiday table.

Cranberry-Studded Pumpkin Breads with Streusel adapted from Pumpkin Spice Cake

Topping
2 1/2 TBS vegan butter (such as Flora Plant Butter)
1/2 cup vegan sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3/4 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 cup sweetened roasted almonds, chopped (such as Monk Crunch Cinnamon)
Mini Breads
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp powdered ginger
3/4 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 TBS vegetable oil
1 cup pumkin purée
1/2 cup + 1 tsp almond milk
1 cup dried diced cranberries (such as Patience Fruit & Company’s with no added sugar)

Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly spray 3 mini loaf pans with cooking spray. To prepare the topping, melt the butter in a pan over low heat. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, salt, flour, cinnamon, and almonds. Stir in the melted butter, making sure to leave some streusel clumps. Set the topping aside while you prepare the bread batter.

In a large bowl, sift together the flours, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and spices. Whisk in brown sugar. In a medium bowl, whisk together vanilla, oil, pumpkin purée, and almond milk. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until evenly moistened. Mix in the dried cranberries. Transfer the batter to prepared pans and spread the topping over all loaves.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a loaf comes out clean, or with a few moist crumbs. Remove from oven and let cool slightly on a wire rack. Tip out of loaf pans, trying not to lose the topping. To store leftovers, cool completely and wrap well. Will keep at room temperature for several days, or in the freezer for longer storage.

Until next time, happy baking!

Choosing the almond flavor for the streusel
Choosing the almond flavor for the streusel

Pear-Raspberry Tart with Vanilla Pastry Cream

Pear Raspberry Tart with Vanilla Pastry Cream

Pear Raspberry Tart with Vanilla Pastry Cream

Before I went through pastry school, I had never made a tart. I don’t know why but tarts never got my attention. Then, part of my training was to make everything and, in doing so, I discovered something. I love making tarts! The art of pressing the crust ingredients into a shell can be very meditative. There is also the flexibility of making the crust raw or baked. And don’t get me started on fillings or toppings — there are so many to choose from!

For this recipe I began with a vanilla pastry cream filling. Then I chose to roast pears to put on top, as I had pears that needed to get eaten. Next I opted for a raw crust that began as a basic recipe but then got a bit crazy with the inclusion of some Kibo chickpea chips. (It was a creative dare, and they worked beautifully.) I threw in a bit of raspberry jam and fresh raspberries and my creation turned heavenly, although hubby said it needed some chocolate. He can be predictable.

Pear-Raspberry Tart with Vanilla Pastry Cream
(This recipe is separated into components as any or all of the parts may be made ahead and the tart assembled later.)

Vanilla Pastry Cream adapted from Rouxbe Online Culinary School
1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 3-4 hours to soften
3 ounces unsweetened almond milk
1 ounce agave syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of sea salt
Place cashews, milk, agave, vanilla, and salt in a high speed blender. Process on high until very smooth, scraping down the sides of the jar as needed. Place in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble the tarts. (There will be extra, but it keeps in the refrigerator for a week.)

Tart Crusts
1 mini bag Kibo Himalayan Salt Chickpea Chips
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup almonds
1/4 cup finely chopped dates
1/2 tsp water, as needed
Lightly spray four mini tart pans with vegetable oil spray. Set aside. Place the chickpea chips into a food processor and process into a coarse meal. Pour the meal out into a bowl. (You will only need 1/8 cup of this meal). Put the walnuts and almonds into the food processor and pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Put 1/8 cup chickpea chip meal into the food processor. Add the dates a spoonful at a time, pulsing between additions, until the dates are incorporated and the mixture is crumbly. Add the water, a little at a time, and pulse until the mixture just holds together when pressed with your fingers. If the mixture seems a bit too dry, add another date. If the mixture seems a bit too wet, add a few more nuts. Spread the mixture among the prepared tart pans. Press the mixture thinly, firmly, and evenly onto the sides and bottom of the pans. (You can use a small glass or measuring cup to press down with). Put the pans in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble the tarts.

Roasted Pears
1 tsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 pear, sliced thin
Preheat the oven to 375F. Mix the maple syrup and balsamic in a bowl. Add the pear slices and toss to coat. Pour the pears along with the liquid into a baking pan, arranging in a single layer. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes. Set on a wire rack to cool completely. Use immediately to assemble the tarts, or store in the refrigerator for up to several days.

ready for tart assembly
ready for tart assembly

To Assemble Tarts
4 mini tart crusts still in their pans
3-4 TBS seedless raspberry jam
Vanilla pastry cream
Roasted pear slices
12 fresh raspberries
For each tart, spread a thin layer of jam over the bottom of the crust. Spoon the pastry cream on top of the jam almost to the height of the crust. Lay several pear slices and a few fresh berries over the pastry cream. To serve, carefully remove the tart from the tart pan. For tips on how to remove a tart from a pan with a removable bottom, see this article.

Until next time, happy baking!

A Sweet New Year Apple Muffins

sweet new year apple muffin

sweet new year apple muffin

The Jewish New Year is celebrated this weekend. The holiday offers new beginnings at a time when hope is welcome. Traditionally, apples are dipped in honey, two symbols of the sweetness and joy of a new year. Although it may seem a long way off until the Gregorian calendar ends in December, now I give you a festive treat of apple muffins drizzled with bee-free honey.

For the muffin, I tweaked a recipe already in my repertoire. I traded peaches for apples, used applesauce as the liquid, and scattered apple pieces over the tops — all chosen for the most apple flavor. For the vegan honey-like drizzle, I adapted a recipe I learned at Rouxbe Online Culinary School. The end result was like dipping apples in honey, but in muffin form.

A Sweet New Year Apple Muffins adapted from my Cardamom Peach Morning Muffins

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup agave syrup
3 TBS canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup + 2 TBS non-dairy milk
1.25 cup apples, peeled and diced into small cubes, divided
vegan honey (recipe to follow)

Preheat oven to 375F and line a muffin tin with paper liners. In a large bowl, sift together the flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. In a medium bowl, whisk together the agave, oil, vanilla, applesauce, apple cider vinegar, and milk. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until the batter is just smooth. Gently stir in 1 cup of apples.

Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared muffin tin. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of apples onto the tops of the muffins. Bake the muffins for 18 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool the muffin tin on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then gently remove each muffin and place on a rack to cool completely.

While the muffins are cooling, make the vegan honey. When the muffins have cooled, drizzle each with a generous spoonful of the warm honey. Store in an airtight container, at room temperature, for 1 day.

Vegan Honey

1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup agave syrup
1 tsp vegan sugar
thinly sliced orange, organic
thinly sliced lemon, organic

Combine the syrups and sugar in a medium saucepan with high sides. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil. Add the sliced fruit. Lower the heat and cook at a low boil for 15 minutes, stirring a few times. Adjust the heat as needed to maintain a low boil. Once the desired consistency is reached, pour the syrup through a mesh strainer into a jar, discarding the fruit. Cover and refrigerate leftovers for up to 2 weeks.

Until next time, happy baking!

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

perfect chocolate chip cookie

the perfect chocolate chip cookie

You’re probably thinking … does she really need another chocolate chip cookie recipe? Yes, I do, because I found a new plant-based butter and it’s a game changer. This new butter, called Flora Plant Butter, consists mostly of plant oils. But it also contains faba bean protein, a component of aquafaba. Aquafaba is used by bakers to bind things together, and in my cookies this protein seemed to keep the butter from separating and getting oily. When vegan butter or margarine separates it can lead to greasy cookies, and I do not like greasy cookies.

I tried this new butter on a recipe of mine, Chocolate Chip Shortbread, so I didn’t have to worry about making vegan or high altitude changes. I did alter my original recipe to make it look, feel, and taste more like a classic chocolate chip cookie. If you like your cookies slightly chewy with crispy edges (like I do), then you will love these!

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 cup Flora Plant Butter
1/2 cup slightly ground organic sugar
1/2 cup organic brown sugar, packed
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 TBS aquafaba (bean water)
1/2 TBS non-dairy milk
1 cup vegan chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. In a medium bowl, sift together the flours, baking soda, and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla, aquafaba, and non-dairy milk and beat again. Add in the sifted dry ingredients one cup at a time, beating between each addition. With a spatula, stir in the chocolate chips.

Flora plant butter

Flora plant butter

Using a scoop, portion out balls of dough onto two cookie sheets. Flatten each ball slightly with the heel of your hand. Bake for 14-16 minutes until the edges are firm. Let pans cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then move cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes 24 cookies.

Until next time, happy baking!

Just Peachy Oatmeal Cookies

peachy oatmeal cookies

peachy oatmeal cookies

Peach season is just starting where I live in Colorado. I have waited very patiently for this, so I am now gobbling up peaches in a frenzy. They are too few and too precious to do anything other than eat raw with their juices running down my arm. Using them in baking will have to wait until my tummy’s desire for fruit salad has been quenched. Until then I have a supply of dried peaches.

If properly soaked, dried fruit can often be a replacement in baked goods for their fresh counterparts. Cookie recipes are the perfect place to try dried fruit, so use any dried gems that you have. Just remember to soak them first so they get moist and plump. The amount of water and time this takes will depend on your fruit’s moisture content.

My recipe is loosely taken from one on Organic India’s blog. It was already vegan, with no changes required for altitude, and it allowed me to test their fiber supplement as an egg substitute. I tweaked it to accommodate my dried peaches and their soaking water. (Here’s a tip: never discard soaking water from fruit — it’s delicious). Next I made many other radical changes that suited my eating habits and pantry supplies. Cookies are forgiving that way, and they turned out wonderful.

Just Peachy Oatmeal Cookies loosely adapted from Organic India

3/4 cup soaked and chopped dried peaches
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp Organic India Cinnamon Spice Pre & Probiotic Fiber Supplement
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup soaking water from the peaches
1/3 cup + 1 TBS vegetable oil
1/4 cup + 3 TBS maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract

soaked and dried peaches

soaked peaches and dried peaches

Several hours prior to making the cookies, soak the dried peaches in plenty of water. Strain and save the soaking water. Chop the peaches into small bits.

Heat oven to 375F and line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, sift in flour, fiber supplement, baking soda, cardamom, and ginger. Add rolled oats. To a medium bowl, add soaking water, oil, maple syrup, and vanilla. Whisk together, then pour into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Stir to combine until a dough forms. It will be slightly sticky. Fold in chopped peaches.

Set the bowl of cookie batter aside for 15 minutes. This will make the dough easier to handle. Drop dough by tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets, making 30 cookies. Bake for 19-20 minutes, or until the undersides are lightly brown. Let cool slightly before removing onto a wire rack to fully cool.

Until next time, happy baking!

How to Make Essential Vegan Desserts

pear tarts from my final showcase

pear tarts from my final showcase

Earlier this year I mentioned that I was taking an online pastry class from Rouxbe Culinary School. It was a wonderful course that showed me how to refine and challenge my baking skills. Chef Fran Costigan explained techniques and ingredients that enabled me to build a stronger baking skillset. The course has delicious recipes, including the tarts in this photo that I prepared as part of my final dessert showcase. My final project was so much fun, and I was proud of how professional my vegan desserts looked.

The class, called Essential Vegan Desserts, teaches you how to make an array of scrumptious treats. I have shared a few course recipes on my blog, but if you want to join in the baking fun, the next cohort starts July 28. You can get information here. Or you can keep reading my posts and see where my new-found knowledge is taking me. I’m okay with that.

National Ice Cream Day Cake

national ice cream day cake

national ice cream day cake

Today is National Ice Cream Day, and I almost missed it! I wanted to celebrate by assembling an ice cream cake, and rapidly because the weather was heating up. So, I looked to my favorite chocolate cake, the Easy Chocolate Cake Pan Cake. With the vanilla ice cream in my freezer and a few dessert syrups, I was ready to go.

The Easy Chocolate Cake Pan Cake had previously been adapted to high altitude and veganism on the blog. To ensure that I had a strong structure for this cake to hold up to ice cream, I omitted the chocolate chips when it was baked. Next came the ice cream, and I used So Delicious Creamy Vanilla Soymilk Ice Cream because I enjoy its true vanilla flavor. Rummaging through my fridge produced a caramel sauce I had purchased at the farmer’s market. All that remained to complete the cake was a pourable fudge sauce that I quickly mixed together.

National Ice Cream Day Cake

2 layers of Easy Chocolate Cake Pan Cake
1 cup non-dairy ice cream
several TBS non-dairy caramel sauce, warmed
several TBS Raw Chocolate Syrup (recipe below), warmed

To assemble the National Ice Cream Day Cake, prepare the Easy Chocolate Cake Pan Cake in two 6” cake pans that are greased and parchment-lined. For ease of preparation, whisk the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another, then stir well before pouring into the pans. Once fully baked and then cooled, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 15 minutes. This helps the cake and ice cream to be at similar temperatures when put together.

Place ice cream on a kitchen counter to warm slightly. Remove cake layers from the freezer and level off if the tops are uneven. Place one layer on a serving plate. Scoop slices, not balls, of ice cream and place on top of the cake layer almost to the edge of the cake. Gently place the second cake layer upside-down on top of the ice cream. Drizzle warm caramel sauce and chocolate syrup over the cake. Enjoy immediately, or it will get melty like the one in my picture. (It’s okay; my cake still tasted delicious).

Raw Chocolate Syrup from Rouxbe Online Cooking School
2 cups cocoa powder
1 cup raw agave syrup
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 TBS coconut butter
1/2 cup water
1 TBS vanilla extract

In a high–speed blender, blend all ingredients until fully mixed and smooth.

Until next time, happy baking!

Cheesecake with Strawberries and Chocolate Crust

raw cheesecake with strawberries and chocolate crust

raw cheesecake with strawberries and chocolate crust

It’s Father’s Day and I wanted to show my love by making a dessert. My initial inspiration was the gorgeous fresh strawberries in my fridge. Strawberries … chocolate is fantastic with strawberries … hmmm … chocolate cookie crust … what goes in the crust … cheesecake … Yes, I have it! A raw cheesecake from cocoa butter in a chocolate crust with strawberry on top. The chocolatey cocoa butter ties to the chocolate crust, and strawberry jam swirled into the cheesecake echoes the strawberry jam on top.

My cheesecake recipe search found a filling that was already vegan, and raw. The changes I made were to I bump up its tart flavor so it wouldn’t be too sweet when the jam was added in. This filling went with a simple cookie crust recipe I had. I chose a baked crust, but a raw one would work just as well. Strawberry jam and fresh strawberries were added, with a bit of shaved chocolate as a garnish. It was a dessert worthy of any special man.

Cheesecake with Strawberries and Chocolate Crust with a nod to Deliciously Raw Kitchen

cookie crust
8 chocolate cookies (I used Enjoy Life Double Chocolate Crunchy Cookies)
1-2 tsp vegan margarine, melted
cheesecake filling
1 cup raw cashews, soaked for two hours or up to 24 covered in water in the refrigerator
2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
5 TBS agave syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 TBS lemon juice
1/4 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp liquid lecithin (this is very sticky, so coat measuring spoon with oil first)
2.75 oz melted cocoa butter
5 TBS strawberry jam, divided
garnishes
fresh strawberry slices
chocolate curls

For the crust: Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 6” tart pan with cooking spray; a pan with a removable bottom is easiest for serving. Put the cookies in a food processor with 1 teaspoon melted margarine. Process until the mixture looks like damp sand and just holds together when pinched between your fingers. If needed, add additional margarine and process again. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the tart pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

For the filling: Rinse soaked cashews under cold running water. Place drained cashews in a blender together with the milk, agave syrup, vanilla, lemon juice, lemon zest, and lecithin. Blend until smooth, then add melted cacao butter and blend again. Pour mixture into a bowl and stir in 3 tablespoons of jam. Spoon filling into the cooled crust and chill until firm.

raw cheesecake with strawberries

raw cheesecake with strawberries

To garnish: Put remaining 2 tablespoons of jam in a bowl and stir vigorously until spreadable. Spoon gently over the chilled cheesecake. Decorate the cheesecake with fresh strawberry slices and chocolate curls.

Until next time, happy baking!

How to Make the Perfect Date Paste

the perfect date paste

the perfect date paste

The first time I made date paste I found the results to be less than desirable. I had followed the directions, as minimal as they were, but it looked more like I was making a smoothie. Paste wouldn’t describe what was in my blender. Later, after poring over many recipes, I discovered that the key was the water. Too much made a runny mess, while too little seemed to tax the blender. It was like the fairy tale in which the middle was “just right.”

The success of the paste starts with the dates. The moisture content in them varies greatly depending on how old they are and how they are stored. My guess was that my dates were very old so I added lots of extra water at the start. But the trick is to add water a little at a time; this helps to create the perfect consistency. Another trick is to use the soaking water as it has a hint of date flavor. These tips will help you create the perfect date paste to add to baked goods, such as Baked Oatmeal with Peaches.

Date Paste adapted from Fruit Paste from Rouxbe Culinary School’s Essential Vegan Desserts

1/2 cup pitted dates
1 cup water (or as needed)

Soak the dates for 1 to 2 hours or until quite soft. Strain in a colander set over a bowl in order to save the soaking water. Transfer the dates to a high-speed blender with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the soaking water. Process until smooth. Add more water as needed to create the desired consistency. If using the paste in baked recipes, use as little water as possible. The paste will keep for over a week in a jar in the refrigerator. It can also be frozen for several months.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Baked Oatmeal with Peaches

baked oatmeal with peaches

baked oatmeal with peaches

With my husband working from home now, he has time for more than cereal for breakfast. I concluded that if I made a large dish of baked oatmeal on the weekend, then it could be reheated on many mornings. This meal would be hearty enough to keep his hunger at bay while he toiled at the computer. Another bonus was that I adapted the recipe to use up what I found in the backs of my cupboard and freezer. Feel free to use whatever you find in your pantry — the recipe is very flexible.

This dish is by nature vegan and not one that requires adjustments for high altitude, so I didn’t need to make those modifications. You can choose the fruit and oats you include, and the thickeners and sweeteners. Ultimately, I ended up with a sweet treat that was gluten-free and refined sugar free. Here is my healthy, pantry staple version of baked oatmeal.

Baked Oatmeal with Peaches adapted from Peach Crisp

5 large peaches, peeled and sliced (or 10 cups frozen)
2-3 TBS chia seeds (or tapioca starch)
1 TBS fresh lemon juice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats (gluten-free, if desired)
1/8 cup brown rice flour (or oat flour)
1/8 cup date paste*
1/8 cup smooth almond butter
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch ground nutmeg

Heat oven to 350F. Put peaches in a large bowl and sprinkle with chia seeds, lemon juice, cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger. Depending on how much juice the peaches give off, you may need to vary the amount of chia seeds. Let peaches stand for 15 minutes to thicken up and release some of their juices. Put peaches into a baking dish (mine was 10 x 10” but you can use a similar size).

In the same large bowl, add oats, brown rice flour, date paste, almond butter, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix until it forms a crumbly texture that is neither too wet nor too dry. Sprinkle the mixture over the peaches. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top starts to brown. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack for 5 minutes.

*If you don’t know how to make date paste, or even what it is, keep an eye out for my post next week.

Until next time, happy baking!