Bread Making Tips

Bread Making Tips

Since my last post about bread making, I’ve learnt several more lessons (some painful). Baking bread is definitely a science, and my style of improvisation doesn’t always work out. But if I can do it, anyone can.

Bread Making Tips
Whole wheat sandwich bread with almond ‘cheese’ spread and a sprinkle each of black sesame seeds, white sesame seeds, poppy seeds, garlic powder, onion powder, and dried dill weed.

The most important thing I’ve learned is how to adjust the amount of liquids for each recipe. You’ll need to add more liquids if you substitute any portion of your flour with whole wheat flour. The amount of water also depends on your kitchen’s humidity. If your kitchen is dry, you’ll need to add more liquids. Finally, it’s important to properly measure the flour because too much flour will result in a dry dough. Avoid packing your flour too tightly by fluffing it up in the container. Then, scoop it with a spoon and sprinkle the flour into your measuring cup. If you have a kitchen scale, then skip all of that and just weigh it for optimal results.

Understanding the above is helpful in preventing a dry and dense bread loaf early on. However, knowing it’s never too late to save the dough was the true game changer. Once the bread machine begins to knead the dough, you can quickly tell if the dough looks like a puddle or if it’s a shaggy dry mess. Instead of baking the dough and hoping for the best, you can salvage the bread by adding more flour or liquid. Start by allowing the bread machine to knead the dough uninterrupted, as sometimes the dough just takes time to form. If the dough isn’t coming together or is lumpy after several minutes, then it is too dry. If the dough is sticking to the sides, then the dough is too wet.

The key is to carefully add one tablespoon of either water or flour at a time. As I’ve learned, pouring water from the Brita onto a tablespoon above the dough isn’t going to end well.

The type and even the brand of your flour may also affect the amount of liquids needed. My unbleached all purpose Canadian flour has a higher protein percentage than American flour. This means that I might need much less flour than listed in the recipe. Although you can always adjust the liquids during kneading, the flavour and rise of the dough will be affected when the difference is too great. The ratio that works best for my flour and machine is 3 – 3 ½ cups of flour, 1 cup water, and 2 ½ teaspoons yeast. When you figure out your ratio, you’ll get better at identifying recipes that will result in a successful loaf. You’ll also be able to adjust any recipe that lists more flour for the same amount of water and yeast you require.

After baking your own bread, your patience will get tested while you wait for it to cool. Know that slicing your bread will be much easier once it is properly cooled. If that isn’t enough incentive, then keep in mind that the bread continues to bake outside of the bread machine. Let the bread complete its cooking process, and you’ll be rewarded with a better tasting loaf. Achieve the best results by removing the bread from the pan as soon as it is done baking. Place the bread on a cooling rack to ensure you won’t end up with a soggy bottom. Then place the bread in the oven, and leave the door slightly open. Cool the bread slowly to avoid a wrinkly crust.

The last time I baked bread, I was so eager to get it to cool that I burned my arm while flipping the pan over. Always use long oven gloves to carefully remove the freshly baked bread from the still very hot pan. If you’re curious, the bread turned out great and is now my go-to sandwich bread.

Below are both of my favourite recipes so far, though I suspect this French-Style Country Bread with poolish starter is going to taste incredible. Cooking with poolish could fill another whole post, but I’ll just say that it gives bread (and pizza dough) an amazing restaurant-quality flavour.

Maple-Glazed Water Challah

The original recipe & method: https://www.thespruceeats.com/vegan-water-challah-2121423

My modified recipe (which I usually halve)

  • 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons lukewarm water
  • 4 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 – 2 ½ cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast

Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

The original recipe & method: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/100-whole-wheat-bread-for-the-bread-machine-recipe

My modified recipe

  • 1 ¼ cups lukewarm water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon or orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup local lavender honey
  • 2 ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast yeast

Burger Buns

The original recipe & method: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/hamburger-or-hot-dog-buns-recipe

My modified recipe:

  • 50 ml water
  • 150 ml non-dairy milk
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 ¼ cups whole wheat bread flour
  • ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons bread machine yeast

My modified method:

  1. Add all of the ingredients into your bread machine according to your manufacturer’s recommended order (mine is liquids first).
  2. Run the dough cycle.
  3. Divide the dough into 6 equal buns, and place on a silicon mat for a second rise.
  4. Brush each bun with a mixture of maple syrup and soy milk before sprinkling with sesame seeds and baking.

 

 

 

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Winter brunch with freshly baked bread

Winter brunch with freshly baked bread

It’s that freezing time of the year where I dread going to the grocery store (I don’t drive). In addition to my usual planning and stocking up the freezer, I borrowed my friend’s bread machine. The bread machine came with a recipe booklet, but most of the recipes included eggs and dairy. Since baking is more exact than cooking, I looked up a vegan whole wheat bread recipe instead of improvising. I then bought a giant bag of whole wheat flour, before realizing I had to go back to the store to buy bread machine yeast. At least these two ingredients will last me for several loaves. Luckily the seeds and vital wheat gluten were listed as optional as I had just used the last of them earlier.

Before getting started, I figured I should wipe the machine down. Turns out it needed much more than a quick clean. Below the bread pan was a horrifying mess. I thoroughly cleaned the machine, and then turned it on bake mode for 20 minutes just to be safe. Finally, I was ready to get baking.

The first ingredient was warm water, so I got started while the machine was still warm. Even though the order goes from liquid to dry ingredients, I should’ve measured them all out to avoid having to wash and dry my measuring cup and spoons half way through. The last ingredient was the yeast, and I’d forgotten the recipe explicitly stated that it should not come into contact with any of liquids. Oops. I rushed to start the machine in the hopes that it wouldn’t matter if it started kneading the dough right away. After a few minutes, I noticed that I had accidentally put it on bake mode. I tried to switch it to the whole wheat cycle, but this didn’t go smoothly either as now the machine was too hot to start. Several minutes later with the lid open, and the machine was finally cool enough.

In the excitement of watching the machine knead the dough, I forgot all of my worries. Then the window fogged up during rise time. While waiting, I planned my next loaf of bread. Turns out milk powder is only used because many people put their machine on a delay, and without a delay I could easily substitute it with non-dairy milk or even yogurt.

When the bread begun to bake, the room filled with the lovely aroma of the honey lavender included in the mix. I was tempted to devour it right as the machine beeped, but instead I carefully removed the bread pan to cool in the oven. I left the oven door slightly open to avoid a crinkly and soggy crust.

The wait was worth it. As I sliced the loaf, the texture was perfect. I had a plain bite, and the taste was incredible. It was perfect alone, or with a simple spread of margarine or coconut oil. But I was inspired to quickly whip up a healthier cashew spread with just a hint of honey.

While thinking of other toppings like almond butter and bananas, I tried to come up with a savoury option that wouldn’t overpower the delicate flavour of the bread. There was a fresh bunch of carrots in the fridge, and I always had extra chickpea flour around, so I decided to make some chickpea omelettes. I even had some chickpea milk, but any non-dairy milk would do (even water works in a pinch). I usually only make enough batter for two, but this time I made enough omelettes for the entire week. A perfect winter brunch. I usually drink a matcha latte when I wake up, as I don’t like eating breakfast too early. Then by the time I’m done sipping on my tea and planning the day, I’m ready for a meal.

Winter brunch with freshly baked bread

The omelette sandwich tasted great with the cashew spread and topped with alfalfa sprouts. It would also be great topped with fresh cucumber, cherry tomatoes, or peppers. The only thing left to improve is the size of my slice. I’m still getting the hang of it, but while my slices are this thick I’ll just have to stick to open-faced sandwiches.  

Veg Food Fest 2018

Veg Food Fest 2018

If you’ve seen the highlights from last year’s Veg Food Fest then you know better than to read this post on an empty stomach. Though I bet the best eats of Veg Food Fest 2018 will still make your mouth water.

Hana James – Rise ‘n’ Blend: A Plant-Based Smoothie to Kick-Start Your Day

Veg Food Fest 2018How does a smoothie demo last an hour? It does when the speaker shares must-know facts about the ingredients you should be using to upgrade your breakfast (read:anytime) smoothies. Hana also spoke about the innovative way she scaled Greenhouse Juice Co., and how she founded the successful Toronto-based company in the first place. As for the samples, Hana made a chocolatey Rococoa Smoothie.

BRGR KVLT

Veg Food Fest 2018Before heading to the next demo, I grabbed dinner at BRGR KVLT. As someone who doesn’t usually mix cheese and meat (yes, even as a vegan), I was surprised by how delicious the mac and cheese tasted with BBQ sauce. Does this mean I have to stop cringing when people top their mac and cheese with ketchup?

Tina Stokes – Vegan Cheese Making

Veg Food Fest 2018Although I had no intentions of making cultured vegan cheese, by the end of the demo I was ready to give it a try. After learning about Tina’s fermentation process, a few extra steps seem doable and worth the health benefits. Not to mention the improved cheesy flavour compared to uncultured cashew cheese.

Apiecalypse Now!

Veg Food Fest 2018Knowing how crazy long the line up would be on Saturday and Sunday, I got my fix of Apiecalypse Now! on Friday night. Chocolate cake for dessert, and apple pie for breakfast. The apple pie would have probably tasted just as good heated in the microwave, but that would be an insult to the hard work gone into baking the perfect vegan pie crust. The extra few minutes in the oven were worth it.

Doug McNish – Veganizing the Classics

Veg Food Fest 2018Since launching Mythology Diner, Doug has somehow gotten even better at making tofu scramble. He also let it slip that he is working on his next cookbook tentatively called “Veganizing the Classics”. Sounds like it’s going to feature some epic recipes.

Globally Local

Veg Food Fest 2018Confession time: I’ve never eaten McD’s. Ok, I have had their sundae, and tasted a french fry. But that’s it. That’s why I didn’t get as excited as others did about Globally Local’s ‘Famous Burger’. This year though, I decided to give it a taste and was blown away. Believe the hype. The plant-based double cheeseburger tasted absolutely incredible. From the fluffy toasted bun, the secret sauce, all the way to the house-made chickpea patty. This burger was by far my favourite thing at this year’s Veg Food Fest. A close second were Globally Local’s BBQ wings which I devoured before taking a photo. Can someone please open a location in Toronto?

Taymer Mason – Pumpkin Everything: A Caribbean Vegan Fall

Veg Food Fest 2018Thank goodness when Taymer says pumpkin she means all squash varieties. Peeling a butternut squash is just so much easier than preparing a pumpkin. The only soup I’m able to make is butternut squash soup, but turns out it pales in comparison to Taymer’s version. I can’t wait to try to replicate her recipe now that it’s suddenly fall weather.

Away Kitchen + Cafe

I followed the smell of freshly baked double chocolate cookies to Away Kitchen + Cafe’s ice cream case. Pictured is their blueberry lavender lemonade ice cream sandwich in an easy to share container. Favourite dessert award over here. Best part is that I can come back for more with their new Queen street location. Oh, and their Saskatoon berry kombucha is the first kombucha I’ve ever enjoyed drinking. House-made and also available in their cafe.

Naza Hasebenebi – The Art of Injera

Veg Food Fest 2018This was my first time eating injera, but, as Naza promised, I don’t want it to be my last. Injera is a fermented flatbread which tastes like sourdough bread. I enjoyed it alone, and even more with Naza’s flavourful red lentil stew. I usually make my own curry powder, but the one she used smelled so good I had to take a picture of the container for future reference.

Veg Food Fest 2018

Sam Turnbull – Fuss-Free Vegan Cooking

Veg Food Fest 2018It was great to see Sam back at Veg Food Fest, especially since her cooking style is perfect for vegan beginners. Sam takes crowd-pleasing recipes, like pumpkin pie and cheese balls, and veganizes them in minutes using easy to find ingredients. Truly fuss-free.

Veg Food Fest 2018

Amy Symington – Transitioning to a healthful, balanced plant based diet

Veg Food Fest 2018Although this demo may sound like it’s only for new vegans, Amy’s nutrition advice served as a great refresher. I also enjoyed her encouragement of adapting recipes to your own tastes. Don’t be afraid to omit the cilantro, switch romaine lettuce to spinach, and add more chili flakes.

Veg Food Fest 2018

Amy Longard – Cooking with Seaweed

Veg Food Fest 2018It took me a while to warm up to nori in sushi, and years longer to appreciate kombu broth. But now that I’m a fan, I was curious on how to use more seaweed. Amy used seaweed varieties I’ve never heard of in popcorn, miso soup, kale salad, and chickpea tuna. I was so excited to taste the samples that I completely forgot to take a photo of the colourful food. Now comes the hard part of tracking down Hana Tsunomata, kelp flakes, and dulse to recreate the delicious recipes.

Matan Volach – Edible IQ – Chocolate Dreams

Veg Food Fest 2018Ever wanted to learn how to properly temper chocolate? No chocolate dream is too big with Matan. The chocolate hazelnut spread recipe was exactly what I needed. I’ve been craving Nutella for a while, and avoided buying a vegan version with just as much refined sugar and oil. Luckily I hadn’t resorted to making my own yet, because I would have never guessed how important it is to roast the hazelnuts first.

Veg Food Fest 2018

Veg food Fest 2018 was full of good food, and recipe inspiration. Now all that’s left is to attempt to cook them at home while waiting for next year’s event.

Last Year’s Veg Food Fest

Veg Food Fest 17 milkshake

The annual Veg Food Fest is this weekend, and I’m getting into the spirit by looking at photos from last year. Turns out there’s a whole lot of them. Here’s a taste of veg food fest 2017.

BRGR KVLT

From the team that brought you Apiecalypse Now! comes the tastiest, biggest, and most inventive vegan burger menu you’ve ever seen. I’m talking about BRGR KVLT of course, which were last year’s main event. Oh, and they’re back at it again this year so don’t miss out.

It was a tough choice, but I finally decided to get the EYEATETHOU. This giant burger is actually a mouth-watering chicken and waffles sandwich. Two gluten-free cornbread waffles barely hold together the following: gluten-free southern fried crunchy tofu, sweet potato salad, buttermilk ranch, coconut bacon, and corn succotash. Are you drooling yet? It was so good, I had to get it twice. The other burger pictured? Oh, that’s just BRGR KVLT’s most popular burger: WOLVES IN THE BURGER ROOM! Imagine a double cheeseburger gone wild. This burger has a white bun, lettuce, two soy patties, cheese, bacon, mac and cheese, chips, deep fried pickles, maple bbq sauce, and garlic mayo. The best part? These burgers are 100% plant-based so you won’t feel like crap afterwards. Now all that’s left is to head to Apiecalypse Now! and scope out dessert.

Bloomer’s

Veg Food Fest 17 french toast doughnut

This french toast doughnut from Bloomer’s has got to be the best doughnut I have ever eaten. After finding out about this doughnut online, I headed straight to the Bloomer’s booth on Saturday morning. Good thing I arrived early because the french toast doughnut sold out fast. My guess is that once people tasted the doughnut, they couldn’t help but tell a friend and get at least one more. I know I did.

Richa Gupta (Good Food For Good) Cooking Demo

Veg Food Fest

Aside from the amazing food vendors, Veg Food Fest also has presentations, yoga, workshops, and cooking demos. In between taking notes and nibbling on samples, I forgot to take photos of the most of the food served after the cooking demos. However, I do have a photo of the incredible food prepared by Richa Gupta from Good Food For Good. Pictured is popcorn, soup, tea, tofu scramble, and chickpea crepe. All made with turmeric! Who knew you could use turmeric in so many ways? It’s tough to pick a favourite, but if I’d have to choose I’d go with the curried coconut carrot lentil soup. For some unknown reason, I am terrible at making soup, and so I’m always impressed when I taste one that is spot on.

Sam Turnbull (It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken) Cooking Demo

Veg Food Fest nacho cheese

Another cooking demo where I remembered to take photos of the food was Sam Turnbull’s demo with recipes from her blog It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken. After Sam’s demo, I was an instant fan. She had a great positive energy, and made cooking seem fun and effortless. In addition to baking a classic chocolate chip cookie, Sam made sweet Korean lentils which I’ve never had or even heard of before. She also made her Melty Stretchy Gooey Vegan Nacho Cheese, and managed to convince me of how easy making plant-based cheese can be. I vowed to recreate the fuss-free recipes the following week (and successfully have made them many times since!).

King’s Café

Veg Food Fest 17 steamed bun

One of the last things I had at last year’s Veg Food Fest was a steamed bun from King’s Café. The freshly steamed dough was pillowy and light, and the vegetable filling was perfectly seasoned. I’ve wanted to try a steamed bun since discovering Mean Bao, but figured the filling couldn’t possibly be vegan. After having my first taste at Veg Food Fest, I wanted more and was amazed to find how many steamed bun options across the city were accidentally vegan.

Veg Food Fest 2018 starts this Friday (September 7th – 9th), so stop by Harbourfront Centre to celebrate all things veg!