Vegan homemade donuts!

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It’s national donut day and if you have the time tonight, celebrate by making donuts! These tasty guys are my favourite kind – old-fashioned cake donuts with a generous pinch of nutmeg, and a nice vanilla glaze.

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These are a vegan version of what Tim Horton’s “sour cream” donut could be if they really tried to elevate their donuts.

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They do need to be fried in oil to get that crinkly, tasty texture, but even so they are a simple recipe to make. Blend, whisk, mix, rest, roll, cut, fry, glaze. Eat, eat, eat.

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You will obviously get a bunch of donut holes, too, but we ate all the ones I made before I took the pictures. Oops!

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Vegan Old-Fashioned “Sour Cream” Donuts

By Agent Minty, heavily adapted the recipe posted at The Messy Baker. Makes approximately 16 donuts plus holes.

Ingredients: 

  • 3/4 cup (90g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups (180g) pastry or cake flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 block medium tofu
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp corn starch
  • 1 Tbsp dairy-free “milk” of choice
  • 2 Tbsp (30g) shortening
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 + 2Tbsp icing sugar
  • 3 Tbsp warm water
  • 2 tsp corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • at least 3 cups of Canola or other neutral-flavoured oil for frying

Instructions:

  1. Whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a food processor or blender, puree tofu until completely smooth.
  3. Remove 3/4 cup +  4 tsp (200g) of the tofu puree and combine with vinegar, corn starch, and milk. Set aside (unused extra tofu can be discarded or used in a smoothie).
  4. Cream together shortening and granulated sugar until fluffy, about 1 minute in a stand mixer.
  5. Alternate repeatedly adding 1/3 of flour, then 1/2 of milk, beating mixture between additions. The dough will be sticky afterwards and a bit lumpy.
  6. Transfer to a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 40 minutes or longer.
  7. Fill a heavy, deep pan at least 2inches deep with oil. Heat on med-high until a candy thermometer in the oil indicates that the oil is 325°F/165°C.
  8. While the oil is heating, roll out the dough on a well-floured surface until it is 1/2-inch thick. Cut into rounds about 2 or 3 inches across, with a hole in the centre (I used the lid from my bottle of vanilla extract). Scraps can be gently pouched together and rolled out again to cut out more donuts. You’ll see I also tried making the donut shape mentioned in Laura Wilder’s Farmer Boy, the passage mentioning it can be read here.
  9. Whisk the water into the icing sugar, mix in the vanilla and corn syrup, and set aside in a bowl near where your donuts will cool. Ensure that you have a wire rack set up with paper towels or a tray underneath, for cooling the donuts and that the oil is still the correct temperature.
  10. Brush extra flour off the donuts before frying – this will reduce splattering!
  11. Place 2-4 donuts at a time into the hot oil, allowing them to cook for 10-15 seconds on the first side, flipping them, cooking for another 1-2 minutes until golden brown on that seconds side, then flipping again (so the first side gets fully cooked).
  12. Remove donuts from oil and place more in one donut at a time. While second batch is cooking, dip the first batch in the vanilla glaze and set donuts to drip and cool on the wire rack.

 

Easy peaches-n-cream scones

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So, it’s full-on holiday season for a lot of people around here. Many parties and so on. We had an fun party this weekend where a lot of sweet friends came over and became even sweeter after being coated in royal icing and candy to decorate gingerbread houses.

I don’t know about you, but I can feel pretty tired the next day, even if I haven’t had much to drink (probably comes from no longer being in my 20s, too). A lazy post-party Sunday can call for a slightly rich breakfast with very little effort. That’s when you should make these scones.

Peaches and Cream Scones

An original recipe by Agent Minty

Makes 12 large scones

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups + 1 Tbsp  (250g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp white sugar
  • 4 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (about 130g) drained canned peach segments, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 6 Tbsp coconut cream from a can
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp (45g) cold Earth Balance or hard margarine
  • 3 Tbsp (45g) shortening
  • 2 tsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder

Instructions:

  1. Preheat over to 450F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together flour, 2 Tbsp sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine peaches, milk, coconut cream, and extracts.
  4. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut fat into the dry ingredients until the crumbs are the size of peas.
  5. Pour wet ingredients in and fold/stir gently until everything is combined. Dough will be quite wet!
  6. Plop the dough on the cookie sheet approximately 1/3-cup at a time, with 2 inches between each mound. Divide any remaining dough equally between all 12 scones.
  7. Combine sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over scones.
  8. Bake for 11-12 minutes, rotating sheet once.
  9. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Is it time to start posting holiday recipes?

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It’s November 26, a full 29 days before Christmas. Yet decorations have been up in stores for weeks, there has been a radio station playing Christmas music since the 15th, and some of my neighbours already have their lights up and turned on! Things usually start “too early” for most people, me being one of those people who likes to save Christmas stuff for December, please.

That said, I took a departure from reality and had a wonderful girls’ weekend at Jasper Park Lodge three weeks ago. My mom took my sister and I to their Christmas in November event. We spent four days sampling holiday drinks, learning festive recipes, making some crafts, and having a good time with the rest of the attendees. My mom and sister are big fans of Anna Olson, host of Sugar, cookbook writer, and all-around nice person. We enjoyed the presentation she gave with her husband Michael, although the recipes provided more inspiration than temptation – food from all the presenters was definitely not vegan-friendly, but I left with lots of ideas.

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This is the first recipe from that event that I have veganized so far: Anna Olson’s Empire cookies. They’re based on a basic sablé shortbread recipe, which is crumbly when you bite into them but not as fragile as some North American shortbreads. She used a cooked egg yolk in the dough, to enrich it without adding moisture. Instead, I removed the skins from a few canned chickpeas and mashed them very finely. Works perfectly!

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Now, to the cookies themselves. I shared them first as they are a really great recipe to put out when you have holiday visitors. They’re pretty, and look like they took a lot of effort, but are actually easier to make attractive than something like a traditional cut and iced sugar cookie. I chose red strawberry jam and green candied cherries to make them look festive. They’re delicious to have with a mug of tea, or to wrap up and give as gifts to your neighbours. You know, the ones with the Christmas lights up already 😉

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Empire Cookies

Veganized from Anna Olson

Makes 2 dozen sandwich cookies

Ingredients:

  • 14 canned chickpeas (11 grams/1 heaping Tbsp)
  • 1/2 tsp psyllium husk powder
  • 5 tsp water
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp Earth Balance or other baking margarine
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp icing sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups pastry flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • approximately 1/3 cup thick jam (cheap is good here-it won’t make things soggy)
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp water
  • 1//4 tsp almond extract
  • 8-12 candied/glacé cherries, cut into halves or smaller

Instructions:

  1. Pinch skin off chickpeas and discard. Mash very thoroughly on a plate with a fork until completely smooth.
  2. Combine psyllium husk powder with water and stir well. Add in olive oil, vanilla, and mashed chickpeas. Set aside.
  3. Cream margarine with icing sugar until smooth.
  4. Add “egg” mixture to the mixing bowl and stir until completely mixed in.
  5. Whisk or sift flour and salt together and add to mixer, and stir until well combined.
  6. Transfer dough to plastic wrap and chill for at least two hours.
  7. Preheat oven to 325F.
  8. Roll out dough to approximately 1/4-inch thick, and cut out 2-inch circles. Transfer to parchment-lined cookie sheets.
  9. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly golden. Cool cookies directly on cookie sheets for at least one hour.
  10. Spread 1-2 tsp of jam on the bottom of half of the cookies, and top each with another cookie to make a sandwich.
  11. Stir together icing sugar, almond extract, and 1 Tbsp of water, adding a few drops more of water at a time until the glaze is smooth and slightly runny (think very runny pancake batter).
  12. Spread glaze on top of each cookie and top with a piece of cherry.
  13. Allow to dry for several hours before storing in a sealed container. Assembled cookies keep for about three days at room temperature.

The Jelly Roll Failure Files

My mom has a yummy Christmas dessert that she has been making since I can remember. Chocolate Mint Yule Log (I know, very 80’s). It’s a chocolate jelly roll filled with minty whipped cream and crushed candy canes, topped with chocolate ganache and more candy cane bits, and served semi-frozen.

And I cannot veganize it yet. I’ve been trying every few weekends for a while now.

Traditionally, jelly rolls are made with sponge cake sheets, as the high egg content makes them stretchy and a little less soggy upon prolonged contact with filling.

The first two attempts, I didn’t take photos. First, I tried mom’s recipe, which used both egg yolks and egg whites. I tried some weird custard powder-aquafaba-psyllium powder mixture from the yolk. The egg whites were made from Aquafaba with Xantham gum added in. I recall that this version stuck to the paper like the dickens, and had large holes. I figured I would next try something that didn’t require egg yolks.

So I tried a modification of a “hot milk sponge” recipe from Joy Of Cooking, with Aquafaba egg white whipped stiff, sugar whipped in, and then a dry mixture of flours and baking powder mixed in.  The second version had no xantham gum added to the “eggs”, and fell flat while folding in the dry powders. It also was crunchy on the top once baked.

The third time, I called my gramma and got her recipe (similar to the Joy of Cooking one). It’s lemon, rather than chocolate, but I figured I’d start with the lemon recipe and go from there. It didn’t collapse when folding in the dry ingredients, but I had upped the Xantham gum. It stayed relatively high, but the op of the cake almost seemed caramelized. Once flipped over for filling, it was full of very large air holes.

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A few nights ago, I tried gramma’s recipe again, but with some of the flour subbed out for cocoa, and I decided to follow the recipe more closely by using mostly granulated sugar instead of instant-dissolving sugar. However, I goofed and used four times the amount of hot milk – so the batter collapsed as soon as I added it. Undaunted, I baked it anyway, and was rewarded by a thin, gummy sheet. Mme. Minty tried it and said it gave her a stomachache.

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I decided to take a different tack and try an already vegan recipe, and make it more like the cake I remember eating in years past. I took the “Wacky Cake” recipe from How it All Vegan and modified the oil and water ratios and added some psyllium powder. It’s a cake that uses leavening from vinegar and baking soda, in addition to baking powder. It baked into the perfect thickness. However, I tried rolling it up before it was cool enough, so it broke. I also think that I need to fold in a little bit of “egg white”, to give it a bit more elasticity.

So here I am, five cakes later and not as far ahead as I had hoped. At least the last attempt tastes and looks good; I just need to make it a bit more durable. Have any of you, dear readers, ever made egg-less sponge cake? Have any suggestions? I’m hoping to have a recipe up here soon that will actually work!!

Upside Down Cake for Beginners

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I know that some of my recipes can be complicated: a lot of steps, exotic ingredients, or both. However, you don’t always need something to be complex in order to be delicious. More importantly, making something vegan, or even just egg-free, doesn’t always require any extra thought. I’m sharing a recipe that’s easy and even a bit fun to make, and will be received with excitement. I created the cake recipe so than you can make it with basic grocery-store ingredients, but nobody will know how basic it is!

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Pineapple upside-down cake is a retro staple, moist and tasty, not needing a layer of icing. If you’re allergic to pineapple or cherries, sub out for another canned or candied fruit. I’m allergic to pineapple, so I made a small cake with canned mandarin orange segments.

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The recipe makes a lot of cake: one large 9×13-inch (lasagna sized) pan, two square 8×8-inch pans, or three (slightly thin) round 8-inch pans. This is a perfect big cake to bring to a potluck, and is equally good eaten right away or after sitting on the counter overnight.

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Once the cake comes out of the oven, you’ll need to let it set a few minutes before you flip it, and may still have some fruit and sugar stick to the pan. This is no big deal! Just use a fork to pick up the stuck fruit, arrange it back on the cake. Scrape up the remaining sugar-goo and use it to fill in any cracks in the surface. After it cools down, no one will be the wiser!

Upside-Down Cake

An Agent Minty original recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of pineapple rings
  • 1/2 cup glace or maraschino cherries
  • 1/4 cup margarine + 1/4 cup + tsp table margarine (becel vegan or similar) divided
  • 1 1/2 cups, packed, brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp vegetable shortening
  • 2 cups superfine sugar (buy “berry sugar” or “instant dissolving sugar” but not “icing sugar” or “powdered sugar”. Alternatively, take regular white sugar and pulse in a blender for 20 seconds)
  • 2 Tbsp corn starch
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp + 4 tsp baking powder, divided
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups almond or other milk

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Drain fruit and place on paper towels to further dry during the next step.
  3. Spread 1/4 cup of margarine on sides and bottom of large 9×13 pan or two smaller pans.
  4. Sprinkle brown sugar over bottom of pan over margarine.
  5. Arrange drained fruit in an attractive pattern, leaving a few spaces for the cake batter to peek through.
  6. Cream remaining margarine with shortening and white sugar.
  7. In a small cup, combine corn starch, water, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and 1 tsp baking powder.
  8. Pour into margarine mixture and beat until white and opaque.
  9. In a bowl, combine flour, remaining baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  10. Add 1/3 of dry mix to bowl, beat until mostly mixed.
  11. Add half of the milk and mix, then repeat steps 10 and 11 until everything has been incorporated. The finished batter will be a little stiff – not runny like from a cake mix.
  12. Scoop into pan(s) and smooth the surface of the batter evenly.
  13. Bake in the centre of the oven until a toothpick inserted in comes out clean. Small pans: ~26 minutes, large pans, ~35 minutes.
  14. Let pan sit for 3 or 4 minutes on a cooling rack. Place a cooling rack or platoon top of cake, and flip together to unfold cake.
  15. Pick out and arrange any fruit or caramel that stuck to the pan.

Roll me out and cut me up! Iced chocolate sugar cookies.

I’m not actually a huge fan of traditional sugar cookies. I find that they have a weird taste to them, like they’re missing something. It’s not just that I make them with margarine instead of butter, either, as I didn’t really like them before I went vegan. I always felt that was a bit of a shame, as I really do like how pretty sugar cookies can be, iced and decorated.

However, these cookies are different, as they contain a magical ingredient: cocoa.

Cocoa makes the cookies dark and chocolate-flavoured, which not only provides a beautiful backdrop for both coloured and crisp white icing, but provides a slightly bitter contrast to the one-note sweetness of royal icing. I got the cookie recipe from Baking a Moment, and veganized it.

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First batch on the left, second on the right. Sorry about poor photo quality – I had fried the camera battery on vacation and for the last month only took pictures on my phone.

I’ve included our vegan royal icing recipe here too, as we first started experimenting with vegan royal icing a few years ago at our annual gingerbread house party. I can say that this recipe works well as construction-grade cement, but when thinned out works nicely for piping on and flooding cookies. The consistency of the icing is varied by how much water is added, so start on the lower and and add a few drops at a time to get the texture you’d like. Keep in mind that wetter icing can take longer to dry – my first attempt at flooded icing took several days to not be soft under the top “crust” of the icing.

Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Veganized from Baking a Moment

EDIT: I corrected the volume for corn starch. I hope it didn’t cause anyone a headache!!

Makes 3 dozen 2-inch cutouts

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance or other baking margarine
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp psyllium powder – I use an unflavored version of Metamucil powder
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Cream margarine in a a stand mixer, then add canola oil and sugar and stir until combined, but not fluffy (see the original recipe for more details on why – basically so that it doesn’t spread).
  3. In a cup, gradually add water to psyllium husk, and whisk until it starts to thicken. Add in vanilla and salt.
  4. Add liquid mixture to margarine mixture, scraping all of the liquid out of the cup.
  5. Stir on medium speed until combined.
  6. Add in cornstarch and cocoa and stir a few seconds.
  7. Add in all the flour and mix until dough is homogeneous.
  8. Take 1/4 of the dough and place it on a shed of parchment paper. Place another on top, and roll until dough is 1/4-inch thick.
  9. Remove top sheet of paper, and cut out shapes. Use a paring knife to pick the scraps out from between the cutouts.
  10. Place paper full of cutouts on a baking sheet and bake for 9-11 minutes, until firm at the edges and soft in the middle.
  11. Remove cookie sheet from oven, and wait 1 minute before transferring cookies to a wire rack.
  12. If using the cookie sheet immediately, wave it around the kitchen like a goof for a minute to cool it off.
  13. The dough scraps can be re-rolled again a few times until it’s all used up.
  14. Let cookies cool fully (at least an hour) before decorating with icing.

Vegan Royal Icing

An original recipe from Agent Minty

Makes about 1 1/4 cups of royal icing (enough for 3 or 4 dozen cookies)

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Xantham gum (available in gluten-free sections of the grocery store)
  • 1 Tbsp corn starch
  • 2 1/2 to 3 Tbsp water, divided
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla extract (white extract is best but usually found at baking supply stores)

Instructions:

  1. Whisk together sugar, Xantham gum, and corn starch in a large bowl.
  2. Start hand mixer or whisk attachment of your stand mixer. I find a hand mixer with the two beaters works better here unless I’m doubling or tripling a batch.
  3. Slowly add 2 Tbsp of the water, followed by vanilla extract. Continue beating until all of the sugar is mostly mixed in.
  4. Stop to scrape down sides of bowl, and mix for a few more seconds.
  5. Assess the consistency of the icing – do you really want it thinner?
  6. Add more water in small amounts until icing is the consistency you desire.
  7. Colour if you would like, and immediately cover up any portions you’re not going to use.
  8. If you don’t have someone to help you fill a piping bag (if you’re going to use one), I’d highly recommend the plastic wrap trick.

Top egg replacement options

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Are you looking to go egg-free, for health or ethical reasons? Do you actually eat eggs but ran out of them in the middle of your recipe? We often get asked how it is possible to bake vegan desserts. It is actually surprisingly easy to substitute eggs. The key to success is understanding what the role of eggs are in the particular recipe you are trying to adapt.

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Eggs in recipes like pancakes, soda bread, or muffins often serve to “fluff up” the baked good. Usually only 1 or 2 eggs are required in the recipe. Acceptable substitutions per egg are:

a) A commercial “egg replacer” from brands like Ener-G (the best!), Pane Riso, Planet Organic, or Bob’s Red Mill. Their recommended amount of replacer plus water per egg is written on the box. Check ingredients on the box if you have any allergies. Mix with a fork until homogeneous.

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Egg replacer usually comes in a cardboard box and is white in colour.

b) 1 tbsp corn starch + 1 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice + 2 tbsp water per egg. Whisk tougher with a fork.

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c) If you are making muffins or quickbreads that already have more than 2 tsp of baking powder/soda, try using a substitute from the “enrichment” category instead.

Glue

Eggs in these recipes need the stickiness and protein of eggs to glue bits together. If only one or two eggs are needed, such as in a pastry crust, this is doable. Lots of eggs cannot be replaced for this type of recipe, however, such as in choux pastry – the whole recipe would need to be reformulated, which is a topic of its own. This is also what is needed when you are coating things with breadcrumbs, like sliced green tomatoes or tofu nuggets.

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Flax egg on the left and psyllium on the right

a) Combine 1.5 tbsp of ground flaxseed with 3 tbsp water per egg. Sit for 2 minutes before using.

b) Combine 0.5 tsp of  pysillium (Metamucil) husk with 3 tbsp water per egg. Sit for 2 minutes before using.

c) Make an emulsion of oil and vinegar. Into a mixing bowl of vinegar, drizzle canola oil with the egg beaters running. When it looks white and frothy, it can be used for dipping things that need to be breaded. Prepare immediately before using.

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d) Mix equal proportions of Aquafaba (see section below) and water.

Enrichment

Eggs give softness and flavour to sweet breads, cupcakes, and muffins. Substitutes in this category are best sticky or mushy. This is the easiest egg to substitute.

a) Combine above quantities of ground flaxseed or pysillium husk with 3 tbsp water per egg. Sit for 2 minutes before using.

b) 2 tbsp of mashed banana or canned pumpkin and one Tbsp of water or oil per egg.

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c) 3-4 tbsp of mashed silken or “dessert” tofu per egg.

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Glazing

Eggs brushed on pastries and bread combine with the natural starches in the dough to produce a rich brown crust. While this can be eliminated altogether, substitutes will keep the nice appearance you are used to.

a) Soymilk, almond milk, or dairy milk combined with a little melted margarine. If low-fat milk is used, add a pinch of sugar per tbsp of milk.

b) If canned fruit was used to prepare a pie, combine some of the syrup with a few drops of oil and/or a splash of milk. This makes the richest pie glaze ever, but it browns faster than plain milk.

Note: BOTH of these options are improved by the addition of 1/4 tsp of psyllium husk (I use this in my Tourtière recipe), as it helps the wash cling to the pastry

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From left: fruit syrup plus oil, fruit syrup plus oil and milk, milk plus margarine and sugar.

Aquafaba

This gets a section of its own. In honesty, I researched, photographed, and prepared 90% of this post back in late winter, before I first heard of aquafaba. It’s a cool alternative to eggs that whisks up really well, just like egg whites.

It is the “juice” drained from a can of chickpeas or navy beans! Full of starches and protein, it’s both gooey and whisks into something fluffy. I’ve mostly used about 3 or 4 tablespoons of liquid per egg with success.


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After whisking

I have used them to make numerous variations on homemade marshmallows and marshmallow creme, and have experimented a bit with meringue pies. I’m still working on perfecting using them to make a chiffon cake, so stay tuned for that recipe in a few months! Until then, also check out Seitan Is my Motor and Vegan Dad for some aquafaba recipes.