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!!

Gloriously Orange Muffins

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In case you haven’t noticed, I like making muffins. They were always in our home growing up: usually Mom would make a few dozen on a weekend and freeze them, and I would have them for breakfast before school. My mornings were populated by a parade of flavourful, interesting baked goods that were a much better than cereal: blueberry sunflower, orange bran, banana chocolate chip, apple cheddar, cherry pie, morning glory.

What a beautiful name for a muffin. My maternal grandparents had blue morning glories growing on an arch in their front garden, so every time I would eat one, I would think of the pleasant times I had spent at my grandparents’ house.

My family’s traditional morning glory muffin recipe contains crushed pineapple, but I am now allergic to pineapple. I’ve found a good sub in canned mandarine oranges. I have made several more changes to the recipe to reduce oil and sugar, but still kept it delicious. Because of the oranges and pumpkin, they’re a pretty shade of orange. Think of them as little suns to light up your mornings!

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Gloriously Orange Muffins

An original recipe by Agent Minty

Makes 12 large muffins.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups white flour
  • 2 Tbsp white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 240-280 mL can of mandarin orange segments, drained and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates
  • 1/2 cup canned pureed pumpkin
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • 1 Tbsp ground flax
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat over to 350F. Grease your muffin tin.
  2. Combine flour, sugars, baking soda, salt, and spices. Whisk to break up clumps.
  3. Combine dates, carrot, and pureed pumpkin.
  4. Allow to sit to rehydrate dates while carrots are grated.
  5. Add carrots, nuts, oil, water, flax, and milk to date mixture. Stir well.
  6. Add baking powder, stir quickly to combine, than add wet mixture to flour mix.
  7. Using a spatula, fold together until no dry pockets are left, but do not overmix.
  8. Divide between 12 well of muffin tin.
  9. Bake for 20-22 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Cool on a wire rack.

Nutrition Facts: Per Muffin: 172 Kcal, 4g fat, 15g sugars, 2g fibre, 3g protein, 54% RDA Vit. A.

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Amazing Vegan Mac

Growing up, my favourite meal was homemade macaroni and cheese. It had four ingredients: boiled elbow noodles, shredded cheddar, skim milk poured all over everything, and crushed potato chips on top. Talk about simple. And man, what an overload of dairy.

I’ve made a recipe to share with you that has the comfort food spirit of my childhood favourite, but with a little more flavour and zero animal products. Ooey, gooey, creamy, cheezy. This is my first follow up to my Vegan Cheeze post, and uses Daiya shredded Pepperjack and some Kick-Ace cheddar spread. This makes a large batch – be sure to use a very deep 9×9 dish, or a larger casserole dish will also work. It is amazing as leftovers, too.

Vegan Mac (2 of 2)

Amazing Vegan Mac – An original recipe by Agent Minty

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups dried elbow macaroni
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp margarine
  • 2.5 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup plus 2/3 cup almond or other non-dairy milk
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup prepared Kick Ace cheddar
  • 1/3 cup plus 2/3 cup Daiya Pepperjack shreds
  • 1/4 cup parsley flakes
  • Optional: a handful of rippled potato chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F and generously spray your casserole dish.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook macaroni until al dente, while preparing the sauce.
  3. Melt the margarine and oil together in a heavy-bottomed pot on medium-low heat.
  4. Whisk in the flour and stir vigorously until it starts to foam and thicken slightly.
  5. Gently sprinkle in a few spoonfuls of the wine and whisk vigorously until combined with the paste.
  6. Drizzle in the remaining wine while whisking vigorously.
  7. Stir in 1 cup of milk while continuing to whisk.
  8. Take the pot off of the heat and whisk in the kick-ace cheddar and 1/3 cup of the daiya shreds.
  9. Return to medium-low heat and stir until cheezes are melted.
  10. Remove from heat and stir in drained, cooked noodles.
  11. Fill casserole dish with alternating layers of 1/3 of cheezy noodles, 1/3 cup reserved daiya, and 1 Tablespoon of parmesan, until all are done.
  12. Bake in centre of oven for one hour.
  13. Top casserole with crushed potato chips, if desired.
  14. Broil casserole for 3 minutes, or until golden brown.
  15. Cool out of the oven for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Vegan Mac (1 of 2)

Gramma’s Onion Bread

When I was in junior high, one of my favourite sandwiches was cheddar and dill pickles on onion bread. Yes, it was odorous, but also delicious! These days I prefer my onion bread sliced thick and toasted with plenty of margarine. Or just sliced hot out of the oven – the loaf in the picture here was still warm when I ate my first slice – yum!

Onion Bread (1 of 2)

This recipe is altered from one my Gramma made to be used in a bread machine. If you want to use it in your bread machine, reduce the yeast to 2 tsp and add it in last, according to the directions in your machine’s manual.

Gramma’s Onion Bread

Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp very warm water
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 4 tsp rapid baker’s yeast
  • 1 packet of onion soup mix
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 Tbsp melted margarine or butter
  • 3.5 cups all-purpose flour

Instructions:

  1. Combine warm water with sugar and baker’s yeast in your mixing bowl.
  2. Allow to sit at room temperature until fully dissolved and bubbly, about 10 minutes
  3. Stir in onion soup mix, milk, nutritional yeast, and melted margarine.
  4. Let mixture sit 5 minutes to allow the soup mix to rehydrate.
  5. Stir in 3/4 of the flour into the liquid mixture.
  6. Start mixing the dough with the hook of your machine, or vigorously with a wooden spoon.
  7. Gradually add in all of the flour.
    Dough should be soft and stretchy – not too sticky, but not too dry, either. Add more flour if needed.
  8. Knead for about 10 minutes until silky smooth.
  9. Place the ball of dough into clean, oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
  10. Let rise in a warm place for about an hour until doubled in size.
  11. Punch down dough, knead on the counter with a small amount of flour about five times, and return to the oiled bowl.
  12. Rise for another hour or so.
  13. Roll out the dough on a floured counter into a 12×16-inch rectangle, and roll up the long end to make a 12-inch long cylinder.
  14. Pinch seam closed and orient at bottom of loaf. Pinch each end of the roll and tuck under. Place in the loaf pan, and cover with a damp towel.
  15. Heat oven to 400F.
  16. Meanwhile, let loaf rise until the top of dough rises about 1 inch higher than the top of the pan, 10-30 minutes.
  17. Slash the top of the loaf with a sharp knife and immediately place in oven.
    Optional: toss a few ice cubes on the floor of the oven to steam it up and give the loaf a nice crust.
  18. Bake at 400F for 10 minutes, then turn oven down to 375F.
  19. Bake for 30 or so more minutes, until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped with a fingernail.

Onion Bread sliced