Pumpkin Pie

I know I said I was going on vacation, but I just couldn’t resist! I really felt obligated to share this pie with you. It’s how I’ll show my thanks for being here with me.

I already told you I like mini pies. They’re the perfect size. Who wants to make a whole 9″ pie for two (or three) people? Besides the fact that you eat twice as much, half of it goes bad (or soggy…) before you can really do any damage. And! When I make mini pies, it gives me an excuse to make them more often.

But, I do realize that some of you have large families. Or that you’re making it to share. Or that you just really really like pie! I recommend tripling both the pie crust and filling recipes if you decide to make the 9″ pie. You’ll likely have a bit left over, but that’s better than the alternative!

I also already told you that my boyfriend is a (keyword) self-proclaimed pie expert. Especially when it comes to pumpkin pie. So how did this one hold up?

Incredibly well.

He only had one complaint – The crust is too flaky. Now, I’m not sure that’s possible. Maybe he just likes it a little chewier, but I, for one, am a fan of this:

Give me all the flaky I can get!

Pumpkin Pie

Print this recipe!

For the mini 4″ crust:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp whole-wheat pastry flour (or 2 Tbsp AP flour)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
4 Tbsp Earth Balance butter, straight out of the fridge
2 Tbsp ice water

For the filling:

1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup soy milk
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp each ground ginger, nutmeg, and cloves
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp white granulated sugar
1 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 can pumpkin

Preheat the oven to 450F and lightly oil a pie dish.

For the crust:

Combine flours, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl. Blend in butter with a pastry cutter or two knives until you have chunks about the size of your fingernail. Add the water one tablespoon at a time, tossing well. The dough should be a bit rough, not sticky at all, and should just hold together when you squeeze it. You can add a bit more water if you like, but too much water will make it difficult to roll out and less flaky.

Squeeze the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes while you make the pie filling.

When you’re ready to roll it out, place the ball of dough between two layers of plastic warp and roll into a circle. You’ll want to make the circle a couple of inches wider than the diameter of your pie pan, or it won’t go all the way up the sides.

For the filling:

Combine lemon juice and non-dairy milk in a small bowl. Set aside for a couple of minutes.

Combine flour, cornstarch, spices, and salt in another bowl.

Mix pumpkin, sugar, and oil in a large bowl. Add milk mixture and mix well. Add half of the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and whisk until smooth. Add the rest of the flour and mix very well. Be sure not to leave any chunks of flour!

Roll out your pie pastry. Gently place it in your pie dish and add the filling. Leave about a 1/4-1/2 inch room above the top of your crust – the filling will rise a bit while baking.

Bake the pie at 450F for 20 minutes. Turn the heat down to 350F and bake an additional 30-35 minutes. To check for doneness, gently shake the pie dish in the oven. The center should jiggle slightly. Allow to cool for several hours, preferably overnight.

Now I’m off for my vacation. Have a great Thanksgiving, and eat lots of vegan pie!


Lemon Coffee Cake

I’m not sure why I am posting a lemon recipe at the end of fall. Normally this time of year calls for warmer flavors, like cinnamon and cloves. But lemon?

I guess I just had an urge. I wanted something decadently rich, but with a lightness of flavor. So lemon coffee cake it was.

And decadent is what I got.

This cake is dense, rich, and something you want to savor. Eaten alongside a steaming cup of tea, I can’t think of a better way to spend my morning.

Well, at least not today.

Lovely Lemon Coffee Cake

Print this recipe!

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
6 Tbsp vegan butter**
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)
2 1/2 tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer
3 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup vegan sour cream

Preheat oven to 350F and oil an 8.5″ x 4.5″ loaf pan. Combine egg replacer and water in a small bowl and set aside.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.

Cream butter, sugar, and lemon zest in a mixer (I tried it by hand… it is doable but difficult. I think my arm is actually sore!) for about two minutes. Add Ener-G mixture and vanilla and mix well.

Add half of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Mix well. Add the sour cream and mix again. Add the rest of the flour and make sure it is all incorporated very well.

Scoop into the oiled loaf pan and level the top with a spoon. The batter should be fairly thick. Bake for 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

**I want to try making this with about 2 Tbsp less butter and replacing it with 3 Tbsp applesauce.. If you’re feeling adventurous, give it a go and let me know how it turns out!

** They make the Earth Balance butter in stick form!!!! I found it at the local health foods store, and it was definitely my most exciting find of the week (Wow. I sound exciting don’t I?)

How to Bake VEGAN

It’s no secret that I like to bake. More often than not, when someone asks what I did the past weekend, my answer will be somewhere along the lines of, I made an apple pie! or I baked a cheesecake! or I spent hours taking photos of my food!

So when people discover that I am vegan, their questions usually revolve around how I get around baking without the standard animal products. I’m usually at a loss.

What do you mean “get around” baking? Why does everyone perceive veganism as an obstacle??

The truth is, baking vegan is so EASY! Especially when so many people are devoted to helping people learn the values of a plant-based whole-foods diet. All you need is a recipe.

The challenge that I think these people are referring to is not a challenge limited to vegan eating. In fact, it is not a challenge limited by any type of diet or diet at all! The challenge is in the nature of baking itself – to create a product that meets the standards of flavor, texture, and nutrition that you have set for yourself. If you have a recipe that doesn’t meet these standards, you change it. It doesn’t matter if you change the amount of sugar you add, whether or not butter is involved, or the hydration of your dough, you are changing your recipe to find what you love.

And this is the essence of vegan baking.

So, to help you on your way to discovering new ways make things that meet your standards, I’ve compiled a list of vegan alternatives. Each of these acts in a different way and can change the outcome of your product. Get familiar with the different methods and how they react in your baked goods. Soon, you’ll be a pro at making traditional recipes animal friendly! Remember – vegan baking is FUN!

Egg Replacers

There is a wide variety of options for replacing egg. Some are used for binding purposes, some for moisture, some for leavening, and some for a combination of all three. Here I’ve listed the ones I’ve had the best experience with. There are others out there, but I wanted to keep it simple.

1 tbsp ground flax seed + 3 tbsp water (let sit 5-10 minutes to thicken)
1 tbsp chia seeds + 3 tbsp water (let sit 5-10 minutes to thicken)
1 tsp Ener-G egg replacer + 3 tbsp water (combine before adding to recipe)
1/4 cup applesauce or other fruit puree
1/4 cup silken tofu (use only in recipes that get pureed)
2 tsp baking soda + 2 tbsp water (combine before adding to recipe)
2 tbsp corn starch + 1 tbsp water (combine before adding to recipe)

Milk Replacers

Soy, almond, and rice milk all work very well. Try them all and find a flavor you like. BUT! Don’t go into drinking these thinking that they will taste like milk – they won’t. The texture is similar, they look the same… but it’s not milk. Not that that’s a bad thing! Not at all. Think of it this way – if you closed your eyes and expected to eat cake, but got soup instead, it would probably taste really gross, right? Not that the soup is gross – it might be the best you’ve ever had. But you expected cake, and soup is definitely not cake.

For me, I very much prefer the flavor of soy milk to regular milk. It is sweeter and lighter – and doesn’t involve any cows!

Butter Replacers

I don’t really have too much to say here… I use Earth Balance 100% of the time. It looks, acts, and tastes just like butter.* Just to be clear, just because it is vegan butter doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Earth Balance is simply fatty oils, through and through. Yes, it’s cholesterol free and animal friendly, but should still be used in moderation. You can substitute applesauce or yogurt for some of the butter or oil used in a recipe, but I don’t normally recommend substituting the entire measure.

*The Earth Balance “Whipped” style is not appropriate for baking. It is whipped more as it cools to incorporate extra air into the butter to make it more spreadable and less dense. While this is great for spreading on toast, air = nothing in baked goods, so it won’t turn out the same. Always use the “original” formula.

Other Alternatives

Yogurt – More difficult to find, but many grocery stores carry soy or coconut milk yogurts. Try them; they’re good!

Sour Cream – Tofutti makes a great tofu-based sour cream. No, it is nothing like tofu, and no, I don’t know if it really tastes like sour cream. I never liked sour cream growing up. But, I have tried this and I think it is fantastic – both as a topping and used in baked goods (such as a sour cream coffee cake!)

Cream Cheese – Again, Tofutti makes a wonderful tofu-based cream cheese. I’ve used it in awesome cheesecakes and just by itself, and I’m always impressed.

Note: None of the items above are found where you would expect them to be in the grocery store. For some reason, the employees there feel that alternatives need to be in their own sections (aka, hidden). My yogurts are found with the tofu (that is next to the beer), and the sour cream and cream cheese are found tucked in between the cheese and orange juice. I don’t know why yogurts don’t go with yogurts, or sour cream doesn’t go with sour cream, but I’m just happy they carry it! Ask around if you can’t find what you’re looking for.

That’s about all I can think of for now. I’ll continue adding more as I think of them. If you’re not sure of what type of substitute to use in a recipe, just shoot me an email at ovenmittsblog (at) gmail (dot) com and ask. I’m so happy to help!

Oatmeal Cinnamon Raisin Bread

It was soggy in San Luis yesterday. Very soggy. I don’t think it stopped raining from 11am to… well, I went to bed around 10. I also don’t think soggy is a very nice word. It’s wonderfully descriptive and fun to say, but just kind of sounds gross.

Anyway, I’m not a fan of being cold. I like the cold and how festive and fresh it feels, but I like experiencing this while all bundled up in loads of jackets and fuzzy socks. Especially those ugly fuzzy socks that you would be mortified to be seen wearing in public. I’m of the opinion that the uglier the sock, the warmer they will be.

I definitely wear mine in public.

So yesterday morning, to prepare for the rainy day ahead, I decided to make some bread. I wanted something warm, and cinnamon seemed to fit the bill. I wanted something sweet, so enter lovely raisins. I wanted something chewy, and oats seemed just right. So I threw them all in a bowl and ended up with a loaf that I am truly pleased with.

So here it is – my spur-of-the-moment Oatmeal Cinnamon Raisin Bread, that just might warm you up on a soggy, rainy day (and there’s that word again…).

Oatmeal Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Print this recipe!

5 oz whole wheat flour
9 oz all-purpose flour
2 oz rolled oats
6 oz soy milk (or regular milk, for the non-vegan version)
6 1/2 oz water
3/4 oz butter (I used Earth Balance, but regular butter works for non-vegans)
2 tsp cinnamon
2 oz raisins
1 tsp yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp melted butter, for brushing (optional)

Place oats and milk in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 2 minutes.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix in the bowl or in a mixer until a shaggy dough forms.

Knead 6-8 minutes, until a smooth forms. You won’t get super awesome gluten development because of the raisins, but it should still be smooth and stretchy.

Form into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Let rise 60-90 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Shape into a log and place in a well-oiled 8.5×4.5 loaf pan. Let rise 60 minutes, or until crested 1 inch above the rim of the pan.

20 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350F.

Bake for 35 minutes, or until golden. The crust should sound hollow when tapped.

Brush with melted butter, and let cool 1-2 hours. Enjoy!

Note: Brushing with butter is optional, but the lack of moisture in the oven will create a white-ish look to the top of the loaf. Brushing with butter returns the pretty golden hue, but isn’t necessary to the overall flavor.

Question of the Day: What’s your favorite remedy for a cold, rainy day?

I make myself some coffee, find a warm blanket, and snuggle down with a book (usually of the textbook sort…). As long as I can stay warm, bring on the cold!

What’s for Dinner Tonight – Butternut and Corn Chowder

Sorry about the lack of posting yesterday. I had a physics exam and figured that should take priority.. Let’s hope it went well!

Now, let’s get on to what you will be making for dinner tonight. I hope you noticed that I said “what you will” be making. Because you really should. This soup is the perfect ending to a chilly autumn day. It’ll help you ease into winter, and be happy about it – because you just can’t wait for another cold day to make it again.

Butternut and Corn Chowder

Print this recipe!

1 medium butternut squash
1 cup water
1 lb corn kernels (I used a bag of the Trader Joe’s Roasted frozen corn), divided
1 tbsp olive oil
3/4 of a medium onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp dried thyme
3 cups vegetable broth
3/4 cup carrots, sliced
pepper, to taste
hot sauce, to taste (optional)

Place the butternut squash unwrapped on a cookie sheet in the oven. Turn the oven to 400F, and let bake for an hour.

Prepare the onions, garlic, and carrots. When the squash is done cooking, remove from the oven and let cool at least 10 minutes. Cut in half vertically and remove seeds and strings. Cut into 1/2 inch squares; set aside.

Take about half of the corn kernels and puree them in a food processor with 1 cup water.

Heat oil in the bottom of a large saucepan. Add onions and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add tomato paste and thyme and cook one more minute.

Add the broth, corn puree and kernels, squash, carrots, and pepper to the saucepan. Simmer 30-60 minutes (the longer you simmer, the better it tastes!).

Add extra pepper and hot sauce before serving, if desired. I thought it gave it a nice kick!

Aren’t squash just so pretty? I love the orange, especially this time of year 🙂 Have a good Friday!

Cranberry Orange Bread

Before I get into this post, I wanted to apologize for the blurry photos… Every time I think I can shoot without the tripod, I am reminded that it is a bad idea!

I wasn’t happy about this bread. I didn’t like how it came together, I didn’t have the ingredients I wanted, and I forgot to add the walnuts. I put it in the oven and expected to be disappointed.

As you might guess (since I decided to post it), the bread actually turned out alright. I do thing adding walnuts would have improved the overall flavor and texture, but they definitely aren’t necessary, especially if you aren’t a nut person. I had to use canned cranberry sauce because there were no fresh cranberries to be found at my grocery store. So strange, considering that November is cranberry month! The canned cranberries turned out fine, but I would like to try it using fresh. I feel like the flavors would just pop!

Cranberry Orange Bread

Print this recipe.

1 tbsp ground flax seed
3 tbsp water
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup vegan vanilla yogurt (I used Whole Soy & Co. yogurt)
1 tsp grated orange rind
1/2 can whole cranberry sauce OR 1 1/4 cups cranberries, chopped
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

Combine flax seed and water in a small bowl, set aside. Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In another bowl, combine juice, yogurt, and orange rind. Add the flax mixture and mix well. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix only enough to moisten all the flour. Gently fold in cranberries and walnuts (if using).

Pour batter into an oiled 8×4 loaf pan (or I used the KAF bake-and-give pans). Bake for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Question of the day: Are you ever surprised about the outcome of your baked goods?

I often am! Many times I am surprised in a good way, but it’s such a bummer when something I think is going to be good turns out bad. All I can say is I’ve definitely failed at zucchini bread a couple of times…

Have a good Wednesday!

Banana Bread

I know, I know. Who needs another banana bread recipe, right? That’s exactly what I was thinking when I was posting this. It seems that everyone has a recipe that is the perfect one and can’t be beat.

BUT! There was a point in time when I went searching the internet for a banana bread recipe. I made it, liked it, but searched again. I made another loaf, and searched again. After all the trial and error, I came up with something that I really liked and wanted to make time and again. So here it is. It has a lighter texture than some other recipes out there, making it something that I feel I could eat every day. I give it just a bit of spice to liven it up, and throw in some walnuts just for fun. For all those out there searching for the banana bread that makes you tick, give this one a go.

Banana Bread

Print this recipe.

1/2 cup Earth Balance vegan butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
3 medium or 2 large bananas (about 1 pound, before peeling)
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp soy milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 egg replacers (I used Ener-G)
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4-1/2 cup chopped walnuts (if using)

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease an 8×4″ loaf pan, or two mini loaf pans. Prepare egg replacers and set aside.

Place the bananas in a zip-top plastic bag. Leaving a small hole at the top, gently smash the bananas with your hands until creamy. A few chunks are okay, but try to get it fairly uniform.

Cream the butter, sugar, and smashed bananas in a large bowl. Add the baking soda, salt, and spices. Add the egg replacers and mix thoroughly.

Add the flour slowly, mixing only enough to moisten all the flour. Fold in chopped walnuts, if using.

Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes. If the top begins to brown too quickly (usually around 45-50 minutes), tent with foil and continue baking. If you are using mini loaf pans, shorten the baking time about 10-15 minutes. Test for doneness using a toothpick, and let cool 10 minutes. Enjoy!

Question of the day: Where did you get your favorite banana bread recipe, and what is so special about it?