Saturday, March 14, 2009

Don't eat blue cake...



Layer cakes, cheesecakes, bundt cakes, coffee cakes, and - let's not overlook cupcakes! Chocolate, lemon, vanilla, blueberry, coffee, key lime, elaborate with frosting, elegantly simple with a modest dusting of powdered sugar. Yep, I loved them all!

So when I first became vegan I was sure that they'd be forever off my plate. No more. A sweet memory only, filled as they are with chickens' eggs and cows' milk. But then I discovered the myriad vegan cookbooks out there with all of their simple cruelty-free substitutions and I quickly came to cherish a few particular favourites.

And during the last year and a half or so, I think I've become a pretty good baker. Good enough to please my family, friends and coworkers anyhow, so generally I am happy with my progress. But the one thing I have never mastered is formal icing. Piping shells, roses, lettering...that kind of thing.

So when a chance remark to a coworker revealed that one of the big box arts/crafts chains offers Wilton cake decorating classes I took the plunge and signed up for Course I. How hard can it be I thought, to learn smooth frosting, piping dots, leaves, stars and the like? And surely I have an advantage in that I already make cakes all the time and have a few things down pat. One thing did concern me: the stipulation that we use all Wilton supplies - some of which are not vegan - and follow prescribed recipes, which of course include butter. However, I remembered that a great blogger, Vegan_Noodle, also completed this course, so I emailed her for advice. Vegan_Noodle set me straight on substitutions - use the VCTOTW buttercream recipe and omit the meringue powder entirely - and I set off happily to the class.

In Week One I discovered that we are expected to bring a full cake to each class. Each week. It should be ready 'torted' and frosted all over. Man, this is more work than I had expected. The class is on Tuesday evenings so it makes for a pretty long day. Oh well..... In preparation for Week Two I made a basic yellow cake - just two layers because there seemed no point in making something extravagant - and followed the directive to frost it with pale blue buttercream.

Now, just to preserve my self-respect/ego, let us - before we go any further - review some of my past works:

And just for kicks, here's a couple of arty close-ups:

And what about a slice of Humphrey Hound's carrot and beet birthday cake:

So bearing all of the above in mind what, I ask you, what is this heap o'crap????

I despair.

Stay vegan, friends, and don't eat blue cake! :(

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Recipe: The 'Toothsome Tuscan Treat'

The weekend would not be the weekend without a trip out with the boys to run in the woods. And being that one of the boys is a beagle, and therefore ruled by his nose, and the other is a wannabeagle, and therefore ruled by his big brother's nose, it is vitally important to take plenty of irresistable treats, to ensure good recall.

And so, yesterday, we used up all of the remaining pup treats thus:

The SurfDog

The Thinker

The Recall

The Reward


So it was time to devise another canine may I now present: the 'Toothsome Tuscan* Treat'

You will need:

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp canola oil
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (ooohh, cheesiness!)
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (salty, yummy and weird-looking)
1/2 cup cooked pasta (excellent way to use up leftovers)
3/4 cup water

1. Preheat your oven to 325 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Boil a kettle and pour approx. 3/4 cup water over the sun-dried tomatoes to rehydrate. This will take about 10 minutes (the rehydrating...not the pouring).
3. In a large bowl, combine the wholewheat pastry flour, baking powder, nutritional yeast and the canola oil.
4. Finely dice the cooked pasta. I used penne which diced into cute little rings, amusing me no end. I am easily amused, it seems. Add amusing pasta shapes to the flour mix.
5. When safe to do so, retrieve the now plump sun-dried tomatoes from the water reserving the soaking liquid and dice finely.
6. Add both the tomato bits and the 3/4 cup soaking liquid to the mix and stir well to combine. You may need to knead it a little to incorporate all of the pasta and tomatoes.
7. Turn out onto the baking sheet and roll the dough until it's about 1/2 inch thick. Bake for 30 minutes, cut into shapes and then bake a further 30 minutes.
8. After this second set of 30 minutes, turn off the oven but leave the cookies inside to get fully crunchy.


Stay Vegan, Friends!
*If you're wondering 'Why Tuscan?', the truth is that I'm not sure. The pasta suggests Italian, and I like the alliterative qualities of 'tuscan' and 'toothsome'.....s'all!