Monday, April 28, 2014

My Tiny Loaves

It's been over fourteen years since I turned vegan. One of the best parts of eating this way is experimenting with food and trying to create amazing things to put in my mouth. You really have to appreciate food and cooking to love being vegan. One of my passions is baking. I always wanted to open a tiny vegan bakery or cafe of sorts and show the world vegan food is amazing. Even baked good.

Don't get me wrong, it's totally hit and miss. The other day I bought a vegan, gluten free cinnamon bun from a local spot and it was terrible. I have dabbled in gluten free baking and it can definitely be denser, but this was a cinnamon bun, most of which is yeasty awesomeness. I think the main problem was that it was frozen and they heated it up for me. I had a bite and actually threw the rest of it out, and we all know how I hate wasting food.

Anyhow, because of this horribly disappointing cinnamon bun, I decided to try my hand at making cinnamon swirl bread, something I'd never tried before. Bread can be intimidating. Mostly because it's time consuming. There's something terrible about not having your loaf rise when all you want if fluffy bread to stuff in your mouth.

After combining and altering three different recipes, I had success. And it wasn't even all that hard. Yes, it was time consuming, as all bread recipes are, but it had very few ingredients and turned out beautiful. And also delicious.

What's better than a loaf of bread? Eight loaves of bread. This recipe will make one big loaf, I imagine, and eight small loaves, like the ones I made in the pictures below. If you don't have a mini loaf pan, go get one. Seriously, they are the cutest things ever and you will use it all the time.

The recipe: Voluptuous Vegan Cinnamon Bread

1 Cup very warm water (not hot or you'll kill your yeast)
2.5 Tsp yeast (not instant, regular old yeasty poo)
2.5 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs oil (I used canola)
1 Tsp vanilla
1/2 Tsp salt
3 cups of flour (I used all purpose organic)
2 Tbs cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar (brown, white or both - I used white)

First, like all recipes, you proof your yeast in a big bowl. Combine water and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Once dissolved, add the yeast, but don't stir. Let it froth, foam and become fabulous. After about 7.5 minutes, add in the oil and vanilla and give a little stir. Now you add the salt and flour. You will need to knead. If it is too tacky/sticky, make sure you add a bit more flour until the dough is elastic-like and not too wet, you don't want it sticking to the counter.

Now you coat a large bowl with oil or margarine and  let it rise for an hour in a warm spot. I put it in the windowsill on a sunny day. If you aren't blessed with nice weather, inside the over with the light on will do. (Not the oven. Do not turn the oven on for rising. I feel stupid telling you that, like you should know better, but what if you don't?) Oh, I also cover my dough, mostly because I have dogs and don't want hair or dust getting in it, but also because I believe it traps the heat so it rises better.

Once it has risen, divide into eight equal blobs. Flatten these blobs out on the counter making them about four inches wide and eight inches long. Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a separate bowl, then sprinkle this mixture over the dough. Carefully roll the dough up and place in a greased loaf pan. (You only have to do this once if you are making one loaf, but the measurements will be different.)  Once the are all done, set them back in a warm place for half an hour or so, until you are happy with how they look.

Back at 350 degrees for about fifteen minutes. You will know they are done when the tops are brown and they sound hollow when you knock on them. In order to make sure they aren't too hard, brush them with margarine to soften the tops. Then eat all the mini loaves because they are amazing.

Aren't they cute? 

 See, palm sized!

My Tiny Loaves.

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