Saturday 9 December 2017

GF Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Baking and decorating sugar cookies is one of my favourite Christmas pastimes, there's something really relaxing - almost therapeutic - about rolling out the dough, cutting the shapes, baking them and then carefully icing the cookies and of course adding plenty of sprinkles.

I usually make the traditional vanilla Sugar Cookies, however this year I decided to make some Chocolate ones too and I'm so glad I did! Not only are they delicious with an almost fudgy chew, but the icing and decoration stands out so much more on the dark brown cookies!

These are gluten free and vegan, but you'd never know it! They hold their shape perfectly, just make sure you don't skip the chilling of the dough, it really is crucial.

I made aquafaba Royal Icing to decorate the cookies with and it really gives such a beautiful finish to the cookies and it sets completely firm so you can stack them and package them without damaging the design at all. The recipe for the royal icing is by the extremely talented Swedish Vegan.

GF Chocolate Sugar Cookies
Makes 40-50 cookies

3/4C margarine, softened (I used Stork)
1C granulated sugar
1Tbsp cornflour
1Tbsp aquafaba
3Tbsp almond or soy milk
1tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2C GF plain flour (I used Doves Farm)
3/4C cocoa powder
1tsp baking powder
1/2tsp xanthan gum
1/4tsp salt

1 batch Royal Icing 
Food colouring gel
Various sprinkles (I get my vegan, GF sprinkles from Baking Time Club)

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or in a large bowl with a handheld electric mixer cream together the softened margarine, sugar & vanilla until light and fluffy.
Add the aquafaba, cornflour & milk and beat until well combined. 

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt and add to the wet ingredients. Mix slowly until completely incorporated. The dough should come together but not be sticky.
Split the dough into two pieces and roll each one out in between two pieces of baking paper to about 1/4 inch thickness. Refrigerate for a couple of hours.

Once the dough has been chilled remove one piece from the fridge, remove the top layer of baking paper and use cookie cutters to cut different shapes out of the dough. Carefully transfer them to a lined baking sheet, leaving a little space between each cookie (they don't spread). Bake one tray at a time in an oven preheated to 350/175 for 8 mins. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking tray for 5 mins before transferring the cookies to a cooling rack.
Re-roll the remaining dough and repeat this process until you've cut and baked all the dough.

Take the royal icing and split into however many different colours you wish to use. Add water a half teaspoon at a time if the icing is too thick. Spoon into piping bags and you're ready to decorate!

Pipe icing however you like onto the cookies and add sprinkles or whatever else you fancy!
Leave to dry out overnight on the baking trays or cooling racks. The icing will set firm and you can then transfer them to a Tupperware container to store.

The cookies keep for about a week in an airtight container.
You can freeze unfrosted cookies for up to 3 months - when you wish to use them remove from the freezer and allow to defrost for an hour before decorating.

Saturday 16 September 2017

Vegan Conchas/Pan Dulce

I need to admit something right off the bat - I've never had a Concha before.
Phew, now that's out of the way! I've never seen Conchas here in the UK although I know they're very popular in the US and Mexico, where they originate from. I've seen pictures on Instagram and always thought they looked delicious, and really pretty with their crunchy sugar topping. The other day while scrolling through pinterest I stumbled upon a blog post on Sprinkle Bakes with a recipe for these sweet rolls and I was immediately drawn in by the beautiful colours of the Pan Dulce. I couldn't put them out of my mind, so I decided to veganize the Sprinkle Bakes recipe and a few hours later I had the cutest, most delicious baked goods ever!

Traditional Conchas are made from an enriched dough made with egg and butter, and topped with a white or brown sugar paste before being baked. I used my go-to egg replacer AQUAFABA to replace the egg in this recipe (there's nothing aquafaba can't do) and replaced the butter with dairy free spread and vegetable shortening. And of course I made them brightly coloured, because if you can - why not! 

Vegan Conchas
Recipe adapted from Sprinkle Bakes
Makes 16 
For the rolls
3 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water, 105 to 115°F
1/2 cup soy or almond milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup vegan buttery spread (I used Vitalite)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4C chickpea aquafaba (straight from the can)
4C all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

For the sugar paste
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup margarine or vegetable shortening (I used Stork block margarine)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

Various gel food colours

Pour the warm water into the bowl of a stand mixer and add the yeast, stirring to dissolve. Add the plant milk, sugar, vegan butter, aquafaba, salt & 2 cups of flour and mix with the paddle attachment until very few lumps remain. Switch to the bread dough hook and add 1.5 cups of flour and mix on a low-medium speed until the flour is combined into the dough. If the dough is too sticky add the remaining 1/2 cup of flour. Knead at a medium speed for about 5 minutes, until the dough is elastic and smooth. It should be fairly soft but not too sticky. Place dough in an oiled mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave to rise in a warm place for an hour an a half, or until doubled in size.

While the dough is proving, make your sugar paste.Cream together the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and flour and mix with a spoon until a fairly stiff paste forms. Split into three bowls and add your food colouring of choice. If the sugar paste is sticky after adding the food gel simply add a few more tablespoons of flour. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside until needed.

Once your dough has doubled in size carefully turn it out onto a well floured surface. Press down slightly to make a large rectangle and cut into 16 even pieces. Form each piece of dough into a ball and place on lined baking trays, leaving enough space between each bun for them to rise/spread out a little.

To make the sugar paste toppings take one of the balls of paste and carefully roll it out on a floured surface until its about 1/2 a centimeter thick. Use a round cookie cutter (about the same size or slightly bigger than the size of the rolls) to cut circles out of the paste. Use the cookie cutter to score lines into the paste to resemble a sea shell (concha). Using a pastry brush, brush the top of each roll with water and then carefully use a spatula to transfer each sugar paste design on to each roll. Use your hands to gently press the paste on top of each roll to secure it in place. (Heather of Sprinkle Bakes made a great video showing this method, pop over to her post here to see how it's done!)

Cover the buns with plastic wrap and leave to prove again for 40 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375/190. After the second prove bake the sweet rolls, one tray at a time, for 18-20 minutes. When done they will be risen, smell delicious and the bases of the rolls will be browned. Transfer to a wire rack to cool before eating.

Store in a sealed container for up to 3 days. Rolls can be reheated in the microwave for 20 seconds if they need softening up.

Friday 15 September 2017

Vegan Candy Corn

I love Autumn. I love the colour of the leaves as they fall from the trees. I love the crisp, chilly weather that allows me to wear my large collection of knitted jumpers. But most of all, I love the food. Comforting soups and stews, pumpkin spice coffee...well pumpkin spice everything! And of course, candy corn. 

I haven't had candy corn since going vegan because the original version is full of honey, sometimes gelatin & confectioners glaze (code for beeswax & shellac - ew!) The past few years I've searched the web for a vegan version, but there doesn't appear to be one! If anyone finds some, please let me know! This year I decided enough was enough, I would just have to make my own!

While there are plenty of recipes for vegan candy corn out there, I don't have a candy thermometer (or the patience to use one!) Last week I made these Vegan Googly Eyes by the incredibly talented Fork and Beans, and I thought the flavour was somewhat similar to what I remember candy corn tasting like! So a few adaptations here and there and I think I've got something close enough to the original, but 100% vegan and not quite so sickly! 

Vegan Candy Corn
Recipe adapted from Fork and Beans
Makes about 2 cups

2C powdered sugar (plus extra for dusting the counter top)
2tsp cornstarch
1/4tsp salt
2Tbsp liquid glucose or corn syrup
2tsp pure maple syrup
2tsp dairy free milk
1/2tsp vanilla extract

Orange and yellow food colouring gel

Line two baking trays with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl combine the powdered sugar, cornstarch & salt. Make a well in the center and add the liquid glucose, maple, milk & vanilla. Mix with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together to form a very stiff dough. Mix with your hands until the dough is very smooth (if it's too dry add another 1/2tsp milk) 

Split the dough into three equal portions and add a few drops of food colouring to the first two bowls until you achieve the desired orange and yellow colours. I found it helpful to make a hole in the dough, put the food colouring in the hole and then knead the dough by hand to incorporate the colour into it. Dust the counter top with powdered sugar and knead the dough until its an even colour and isn't sticky. Repeat with the second bowl of dough.

Dust the counter top with powdered sugar. Roll each ball of dough into a long sausage shape (depending on the size of your kitchen counter you may wish to split each ball of dough in half and do this in two batches) Once the sausages are about 1cm thick, layer them together and just gently press down to meld them together. (See above photo)

Cut the strip of dough into small triangles (see above photo) and then use your fingers to round the corners off and smooth down the surface of the candy. Place on the lined baking tray and repeat until all the mixture is used up. I found that after a while the dough did dry out a little bit, but the heat from handling them was enough to soften it up again. 

Leave the candy on the trays to dry out at room temperature for 24hrs, turning them over halfway through. Store in an airtight container, they last for a long time (unless they're gobbled up!)

My favourite way to eat the candy corn is mixed with roasted, salted peanuts! Delicious!

Friday 27 January 2017

Cinnamon Roll Muffins (GF)

These Cinnamon Roll Muffins are the lazy cousin of the cinnamon roll. Light, moist sponge swirled with sticky, sweet cinnamon & drizzled with vanilla icing. YUM.
 And they're gluten free. And delicious. 

Perfect for breakfasts, you can even freeze them and then just get a couple out before you go to bed and voila! You've got a yummy breakfast to wake up to!

It should come as no surprise that aquafaba is the star of these muffins (it's all about aquafaba now, amiright?) Using aquafaba in gluten free baking really improves the texture, giving them a delightfully soft, spongy chew not often found in gluten free goodies.

Cinnamon Roll Muffins
Recipe adapted from here
Makes 12 large muffins

For the batter
2C gluten free plain flour*
1/2tsp xanthan gum 
1/2tsp salt
1/2tsp baking soda
1tsp baking powder
8Tbsp vegan butter spread
3/4C sugar
8Tbsp aquafaba (straight from the can - not whipped)
1tsp vanilla extract or paste
2/3C almond milk + 1tsp vinegar

For the swirl
4Tbsp margarine, melted 
1/3C packed light brown sugar
2tsp ground cinnamon

For the icing
1C powdered sugar
1Tbsp almond milk
1/2tsp vanilla extract

*I used Doves Farm GF Plain Flour, but you can substitute a homemade GF flour blend, or another brand of GF plain flour if you like.

Preheat the oven to 350/175 and line a 12-cup muffin tin.

First make the batter. Combine the dry ingredients (except the sugar) in a medium bowl and set aside. In a small bowl mix together the almond milk & vinegar and set aside to curdle. In the bowl of a stand mixer cream together the vegan butter, sugar & vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the aquafaba, a couple of tablespoons at a time and mix well. The batter will curdle here, don't worry about it! Now add the milk & flour mix in three parts, alternating between the two until everything is incorporated. Set aside while you make the swirl.

Mix together the melted margarine, sugar and cinnamon until smooth.

Fill the muffin cases with half of the batter (I find it easiest to use an ice cream scoop to portion the batter out evenly) then top each with about a teaspoon of the swirl mixture and use a knife to swirl into the batter. Then top with the rest of the batter and the rest of the swirl mixture and swirl again.

Bake for 20mins, until risen and golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool while you make the icing.

In a small bowl mix together the powdered sugar, vanilla & milk until the icing is thick and smooth. if it's too thin, add a little more milk until it's just right. 

Once the muffins have cooled slightly, drizzle over a generous amount of the icing and serve.
They're especially delicious served with fresh strawberries & a cup of coffee.

Store in an airtight container for up to a week, or freeze for up to a month.
Best served warm.