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Jazzy Vegetarian: Five Tips For 'Baking It' Vegan


Baking a tasty vegan dessert can seem daunting, but a few smart substitutions make it a snap. Best of all, vegan baked goods are delicious, and often even nutritious. Here are a few of my Jazzy Vegetarian tips for veganizing your favorite baking recipes.

Ditch the Eggs
It’s actually very easy to bake without using eggs, once you get the hang of it! In general, I use one half cup (or more) of whipped tofu, two small mashed bananas or two tablespoons of ground flaxseeds mixed with about six tablespoons of water to replace two eggs in most baked goods recipes. (The amount of tofu, bananas or ground flaxseeds will vary depending upon the recipe.)

Go Bananas
Ripe bananas work particularly well as egg replacements when you’re making cakes and sweet muffins. Just mash them until they’re smooth and then add them to the batter, as you would eggs. Flaxseeds also work well in a variety of baked goods recipes and I especially like using them when I am looking for a replacement for egg whites. And if a baked goods recipe calls for only one egg, in most cases you can just leave the egg out without compromising the outcome of the finished recipe. Who knew?

No Oil Necessary
Fresh applesauce can sometimes stand in for eggs AND the oil — keeping your baked creations low in fat as well as vegan. My Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies are a great example of this method. Best of all, I sometimes use 2 or 3 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice along with a bit of baking soda to help “puff up” a baked goods recipe and keep it light without using eggs. I’ve done this with my German Chocolate Cake, based on my grandma’s recipe. Fabulous!

All of the ingredients mentioned here are available in most local supermarkets. So, with a little extra thought and some key ingredients, you can easily make delicious, vegan-friendly desserts and baked goods! You’ll surprise your family and friends by serving your own, homemade, delectable confections, and no one will ever know they are vegan … unless you tell them!


Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

David Kaplan

Ingredients (Makes 20 to 24 large cookies)

  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup maple sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup vegan chocolate chips (grain-sweetened variety works well)
  • 1½ cups fresh apple purée (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup plus 2 tablespoons nondairy milk

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper.
  2. Put the flour, maple sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and stir with a dry whisk to combine. Add the pecans and vegan chocolate chips and stir them with the whisk to combine as well. Stir in the apple purée, vanilla extract and nondairy milk, and mix just until incorporated. If the dough seems overly wet, stir in a bit more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Alternately, if the dough seems overly dry, stir in a bit more nondairy milk, 1 tablespoon at a time.
  3. For each cookie, drop about 2½ tablespoons of the dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Flatten slightly using the back of a flat spatula.
  4. Bake 15 to 18 minutes, or until slightly golden around the edges. Remove the sheet from the oven and let cool for 2 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack. Cool for about 10 minutes. Stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, the cookies will keep for about 2 days.

Chef’s Note: To make the apple purée, peel and core 3 very large or 4 medium apples. Rough chop the apples. Put the apples in a blender and process until the consistency of smooth applesauce is achieved. Be careful not to liquefy!

German Chocolate Cake

David Kaplan

FROSTING

  • ⅓ cup vegan margarine
  • ½ cup (about 4 ounces) soft regular tofu, drained
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup raw unsweetened shredded dried coconut
  • ¾ cup chopped pecans
  • 3 tablespoons maple sugar, brown sugar or sucanat

CAKE

  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¾ cup maple sugar, brown sugar or sucanat
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  •  ¼ cup unsweetened shredded dried coconut
  • 1¼ cups sweetened nondairy milk
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 10 whole pecans for garnish (optional)
  • ¼ cup vegan chocolate curls for garnish (optional, see note)
  • ¼ cup raw unsweetened coconut flakes, for garnish (optional)

Directions

  1. To make the frosting, put the vegan margarine, tofu, maple syrup and vanilla extract in a blender and process until smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add the coconut, pecans and sugar and stir until well blended. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Oil a 9-inch round cake pan.
  3. Put the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl and stir with a dry whisk to combine. Add the sugar, cocoa powder and coconut and whisk to combine. Stir in the nondairy milk, olive oil and lemon juice and mix just until incorporated. Don’t overmix or the cake will be tough.
  4. Pour batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Put the pan on a wire rack and loosen the sides of the cake with a knife. Cool for about 15 minutes. Carefully remove the cake from the pan. Let the cake cool completely for about 1 hour before frosting.
  5. Spoon the frosting over the top of the cake. Gently spread the frosting in an even layer, using an off-set spatula (the frosting will be very thick). Garnish with pecans and vegan chocolate curls (if using). Serve at room temperature or chilled. Covered tightly and stored in the refrigerator, the cake will keep for 2 days.
  6. NOTE: To make chocolate curls, slice a vegan chocolate candy bar into small “curls” using a carrot peeler.

For more vegan recipes, tune in to the fourth season of The Jazzy Vegetarian Tuesdays at 12:30 p.m. on OPB TV.

Editor’s Note - October 30, 2014: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated fresh lemon juice and baking powder can help “puff up” a baked goods recipe without using eggs. In fact, lemon juice and baking soda can be substituted in place of eggs.

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