Monday, June 24, 2013

Pretty and Wheaty Pretzels

This recipe is from the cookbook Whole Grain Vegan Baking by Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes.

Recipe: see page 79 of Whole Grain Vegan Baking.
I messed up this recipe a bit. First, I've never made pretzels before so I was kind of excited, and I got a little carried away with the pretzel salt. I've never used that before, and it makes the pretzels look pretty. The recipe said to use just enough to cover the tops, but I may have interpreted that too liberally.  I had to brush most of it off before eating them because it made the pretzels too salty for my tastes.

The other critical part of making pretzels is to dunk them in boiling water before placing them on a sheet to bake in the oven. The water has baking soda in it, and I ended up putting 2x more baking soda in the bath than the recipe called for. That really made them salty. I was supposed to use a large saucepan that held 8 cups of water, but my largest only holds 4. I didn't think through that little math problem.

Part of the recipe calls for dissolving the yeast in the coconut milk, and that was kind of weird too. The yeast clumped up and wouldn't dissolve, so I stuck my hands in to try to break it up, and that just made my hands sticky with the wet yeast. I was sure these weren't going to rise, and surprised these came out as well as they did.

The pretzels have a short baking time at a high temperature. That makes them soft and chewy. I was looking around the internet and noticed that recipes for crunchy pretzels tend to have a longer baking time at a lower temperature. I guess that makes the pretzel dry out. This is a good recipe for soft pretzels.

Regardless of how I messed up, I think the photo gives you a good idea of what the recipe looks like.

Ingredients: white whole wheat flour, maple syrup, canned light coconut milk, active dry yeast, fine sea salt, pretzel salt, baking soda, cooking spray, water.

Monday, June 17, 2013

'Noochy' Crackers

This recipe is from the cookbook Whole Grain Vegan Baking by Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes.

Recipe: see page 111 of Whole Grain Vegan Baking.
I was a little wary of this recipe because I've never tried making vegan crackers, but these turned out very nice. The 'noochy' in the recipe name is a reference to nutritional yeast, which is often used in vegan recipes to give a cheese-style taste. I thought these crackers had a savory flavor, but weren't particularly cheesy. So if you are one of those people who is put off by the taste of nutritional yeast, I don't think you would notice it in these crackers. More than anything, the flavor of the crackers reminded me of a pot pie crust... but with the texture of a cracker.

I've made this recipe twice and have had problems rolling out the crackers to an even consistency. There is a note about that in the instructions because that affects the baking time. The thicker the cracker, the longer it takes, and that's fine as long as they are all the same thickness. But trying to bake thick and thin at the same time is tricky. On that first batch the thin ones burned and the thick ones never got crispy. They were more like biscuits.

These held together nicely and were very quick to prepare too.

Ingredients: whole spelt flour, whole wheat pastry flour, nutritional yeast, dried cilantro, black pepper, salt, oil, water.