Monday, January 21, 2013

Vegan No-Knead Seeduction Artisan Bread

Vegan Seeduction Bread
I was recommended to try an artisan bread called Seeduction at Whole Foods market by a friend. It is a delicious bread and whole grain healthy. Unfortunately, it contains honey in it so it is not a 100% vegan bread which is too bad because I really like it.  It is also kind of expensive for a small loaf of bread.   The bread is crusty on the outside and soft in the inside.  It has the crunch and tasty seeds on each bite.  The roasted millet on the outside is pretty crunchy and savory.  I love it, it is truly my kind of bread!

I set a goal to veganize this bread after perusing the ingredients on display.  It has become an obsession to obtain the right recipe.  I can say that I was seeduced.  :-)  I made it 4-5 times and each time DH said "this is good", then he said "it is better now", then he said "it is much better now", then he said "Wow, this is the best".   He had been eating too much seeduction bread for the last 2 months.  This post is about this bread and my journey in learning baking artisan breads.

On top of this obsession, in the past few months, I also learned other new bread baking skill by starting to bake simple French baquette with just white flour. Then, proceed in making vegan doughnuts, whole wheat bread, Vietnamese baquette, and all kinds of no-knead whole grain breads. I   found that no-knead bread is really interesting and easy.  It is just the way to do it to save time.  I invested a few tools during my bread making journey: a healthy whole grain cookbook, a bread lame, a bread whisk, and a dough scrapper(this one was a Christmas gift). The cookbook I bought was Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day byt Jeff Hertzberg, M.d. & Zoe Francois.

Below are the whisk with a long metal handle I used to stir the no-knead dough and the bread lame I used to slash the top of the dough.
Bread Lame and Whisk, both bought at Sur La Table for about $6.00 each.

6-quarts plastic container
I used the technique of making this bread: No-Knead Chocolate-Cherry-Pecan Bread into baking the vegan seeduction bread below.  This  chocolate-cherry-pecan bread is a real delicious bread.  I recommend it!
No-Knead Chocolate-Cherry-Pecan Bread
I would like to share several tips about tools in baking no-knead bread:
    - A whisk and bread lame such as pictured above are very helpful.
    - A large plastic container to raise bread dough overnight or in the fridge may be a necessity, especially, if making a large amount of no-knead bread.  Mine is a 6- quarts plastic container with a lid.
     - A cheap shower cap to cover the bowl of bread dough while it is rising can be a great help.  I brought home those shower caps provided in hotels/motels which are still in packages (unopened) and use them to cover my bread bowl (learned this from several blogs).
Cover bowl of bread dough with a shower cap(unused).
-  An oven thermometer is a good idea to check if your oven has an accurate temperature.
- A food scale can provide an accurate measurement of dry ingredients such as flour and water.  I like to weigh my flour and water for accuracy and consistency.
- An instant read thermometer ensures the baked bread is really done.  I had several bad experience thinking that my bread was done but it was doughy inside.  This problem could not be fixed so I've been using a thermometer to check the doneness of the baked bread since then.
- Invest on a baking stone, cloche, enameled cast iron pot, or a Rommertof Clay Baker.  I found that using these really made the crust of my bread crackling hard while the inside of the bread is still soft.  This is what artisan bread is all about.

I would also like to share several tips about ingredients:

- Yeast.  I've been using instant yeast SAF brand.  I found that this is the best yeast for no-knead bread making and the method I use below.  I had several experiences that my bread dough won't rise using the dry active yeast in the envelopes even though they are not expired yet.   I think those yeast may go bad after sitting on stores' shelves.  It was very frustrating so I bite the bullet and bought 1 lb. instant yeast and store it in the freezer.  I haven't had any problem since then.

- Flour.  I use Bob's Red Mill brand flour whether it is the Organic Unbleached White FlourOrganic Hard White Wheat Flour, or the Organic Whole Wheat Flour.  Somehow it is harder for me to find King Arthur brand which is also pretty expensive in my area but if you can, go right ahead.

- Salt.  I use kosher salt when baking bread. 

- Water.  I don't usually use warm the water when baking no-knead bread.  The water I use is usually a room temperature, not cold or not warm water.  If the weather is cold, I mixed cold water with warm water to make it lukewarm but not hot.  Also, since I was using the instant yeast I don't have the need to mix warm water with the yeast to activate it.  Instant yeast is great to mix directly with  dry ingredients before liquid is added to the dough.  I even sprinkle the instant yeast on the bread dough before the 2nd rise.

The instructions for this recipe seems long and complicated but it is not.  It needs planning but the mixing and preparing of this bread only take minutes.  Then, I let it rise for 12 hours, then I did something about it for a few minutes, then I had to wait again, then I prepared for the baking for a few minutes.  I could do all kind of errands, watch movie, and other things while making this bread.  After you do it once, you'll be able to do this on a weekend and enjoy it during the work days.

Vegan Seeduction Bread
Serve 6-8, this recipe can be doubled for 2 loaves

Dry Ingredients:
1 cup White Whole Wheat or Whole Wheat flour (4.5 oz)
1 1/2 cups Unbleached White Flour (7.5 oz)
3/4 cup rolled oats (not instant oatmeal)
1  Tbsp. Ground Flaxseeds (golden or dark)
1/2 Tbsp. kosher salt
2 Tbsp. Vital Wheat Gluten flour
3 Tbsp. Rye Flour
1/4 tsp. Instant Yeast for 1st rising (additional 1/2 tsp. Instant Yeast to be added later)

Liquid Ingredients:
    1 1/4 room temperature water
1 Tbsp. Organic Molasses
2 Tbsp. Agave Nectar
2 Tbsp. Canola Oil/Safflower Oil

Seeds( can be decreased or increased or use other types of seeds):
3 Tbsp. raw Pumpkin Seeds
2 Tbsp. raw Sunflower Seeds
1 Tbsp. Poppy Seeds
2 Tbsp. Hulled Millets
1 Tbsp. Sesame Seeds

Additional 1/2 tsp.  raw and not toasted Hulled Millets for on top of bread (for before baking)

From lefthand corner, clockwise: sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds,
hulled millet, sesame seeds, and poppy seeds.
Step 1:
Mix dry ingredients (not including the seeds) together in a bowl, stir with the whisk.
Step 2:
 Mix all the liquid ingredients together in a measuring cup and pour into the dry ingredients slowly.  
 Stir with the whisk vigorously until they are mixed.  The dough will be wet and brownish. No kneading is necessary!
Mixing dry and liquid ingredients together with whisk, no kneading.
Step 3:
Cover the dough with plastic wrap or an unused shower cap (as pictured above).  Do not use a tight lid.  Put the covered bowl on the kitchen counter for at least 12 hours (not refridgerator). After 12 hours, it can be stored in the refridgerator for 7 days before the next steps.
Dough will be brown and wet.
Step 4:
Meanwhile while waiting for the dough to rise, heat cast iron pan on a medium heat, roast all seeds except the 1 tsp. hulled millet for on top of the bread.  Keep stirring for 3 minutes until the seeds start to crackle (you'll hear tiny crackling).  Take it off from heat and take roasted seeds off the pan into a bowl.  Set aside.

Step 5:
After 12 hours, the dough should rise to almost double the original size.  If it doesn't, there is something wrong with the yeast (it is probably is not alive).

Step 6:
At this time, the dough will be easy to handle.  Spread some flour on a large cutting board.  Wet your hand and stretch the dough into flat rectangle.   Important:  Sprinkle  the additional 1/2 tsp. Instant Yeast on the stretched dough and then sprinkle the roasted seeds (step 4) onto the dough.  Roll the dough from the short end side to form an oval loaf.  The idea is that the seeds are kneaded in the dough instead on the outside of the bread.  This is to prevent the seeds to taste burnt due to baking.  It maybe hard to prevent all the seeds inside the bread dough but try as much as possible to hide them inside.

Step 7:
Using a clay pot baker or an enameled cast iron pot,  put parchment paper on top of the pot and place loaf shaped dough onto the parchment paper.  The shape can be oval or round.  It doesn't really matter.  Cover it with the shower cap or the lid of the clay baker/pot.  Let it rise for 2-5 hours.

Step 8:
When the loaf almost double its size, remove the loaf by holding the parchment paper to carry the loaf onto another loaf pan or a cookie sheet, just a temporarily place while pot is heating.  

Step 9:
 Soak the clay baker (lid and bottom) in water (immerse completely) for 15 minutes.  This is not necessary when using an enameled cast iron or a baking stone.  Remove clay baker from water and wipe off the excess water.

Step 10:
Put the wet clay baker or enameled cast iron pot into a cold oven and preheat oven to 500 F with the clay baker/pot  in it (lid and bottom).  Set timer to 30 minutes.  When the timer goes off, the clay baker or cast iron pot should be hot.  Spray the top of the loaf with water and then sprinkle the additional 1 tsp. raw hulled millet. Slice the top with a bread lame (several slices). Carefully, remove the lid of the clay baker or enameled cast iron, drop the loaf  (by using the parchment paper as holders)  into the hot pot.  Cover with the lid. Lower the heat into 450F.  Set timer to 30 minutes.

Step 11:
After 30 minutes, take off the lid and bake uncovered for another 10-15 minutes.  Using the instant thermometer, check the thickest part of the bread for the temperature.  If the temperature reached 204-210F then, the bread is done.  Otherwise, continue baking until the inner temperature inside reached the desired number.

Now, however it is tempting to cut and eat the bread when it is hot off the oven, DON'T!  Let the bread cools down before you cut it.  If you do, it will be gummy.  The bread needs to rest for a while and finishing its baking.  Enjoy and hopefully you are seeduced like me!

The seeds inside the bread are not burned while
the raw millet outside were toasted during the baking process.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

10 Most Popular Spice Island Vegan Posts!

Vegan Mock Fish - Unagi Donburi
 Happy New Year Everyone!  I would like to thank my followers, viewers, vegan friends, and family for your support over the years.  I have been blogging since March 24, 2006.  I was very active in the beginning but other hobbies and work sometimes took over my blogging time.  It is not easy to create recipes, taking food pictures, write what I cooked, and to plan the whole thing, basically.  I found it hard sometimes to continue.  I faced hard issues such as injuries, death in the family, lacking of creativity and ideas what to blog, failed cooking experiments, laziness, boredom, poor food pictures, blogging technology issue, etc. but I strives to continue.  I am sure other bloggers agree with me that one time or another we all think about quitting.  I didn't.  It has been almost 6 years and I will keep it going and going.  I will be slow at times and active at times but I will move on.

Below is an interesting fact:  10 Most Popular Spice Island Vegan Posts (highest number of post visits, no. 1 is the highest):

  1. How to Make Vegan Fish or Mock Fish - Vegan Unagi Donburi August 14, 2008
  2. Vegan Sushi Party!  Septemer 28, 2008
  3. Revisiting Vegan Tiramisu February 13, 2009
  4. Buddha's 'Mock Peking Duck' or Mu Shu Tofu?  September 4, 2006
  5. Vegan Quinoa and Brown Rice Sushi and Cavi-Art August 7, 2006
  6. Vegan Pecan Sticky Buns - Move Over Cinnabon  April 14, 2008
  7. Cassava or Yuca --What is it?  April 26, 2008
  8. Vietnamese Green Mango Salad  June 19, 2009
  9. Spicy Tortilla Soup! April 16, 2007
  10. Vegan Korean Mushrooms and Tofu Stew  November 2, 2011
My very first post is this one:  Where is Punjab?  March 24, 2006 

It has been a very exciting cooking journey!   I have never thought that being a vegetarian and vegan can be this exciting.  I am enjoying cooking and blogging!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Stew

Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Stew served with homemade vegan Seeduction bread
This blog is the result of watching too much cooking shows on TV.  I was watching the show called The Chew with Daphne Oz's healthy recipes and was inspired to cook this stew.  I changed it a little bit and I love the result.  It is a stew with full of vitamins from lentils, sweet potato, and other vegetables like carrots, kale, celery, and leeks(leeks was my addition).  This is a stew that you can consume to avoid colds, flu, and other ailments during the cold winter months.

I like what Daphne said about red lentils.  She said that after cooking red lentils the orange color of the lentils disappeared so she used carrots and sweet potato to maintain the orange color in the stew.  It is definitely true.  If you buy Red Lentils raw ( which is also called Masoor Dal in India), you buy orange color lentils as the picture shown below.  They are very pretty.  Then, after you cook them, they become cream color or light yellow.  I often become disappointed with the disappearing color such as shown in the picture above.  Using vegetables such as carrots and sweet potato will maintain the orange color of the dish so it looks more appetizing.  Daphne even chopped the sweet potato so small, the same size of the red lentils.  What a great idea!   In this stew I chopped the carrots and sweet potato the same size so you will need to guess when you bite into it:  Is it carrot or is it sweet potato?  Or you can slice the carrots bigger like Daphne did (coins size).

Uncooked red lentils or masoor dals
The addition of kale is for health and color, adding deep green color into the stew.  The final result is a stew with light yellow, green, and orange color.  She also used cumin, coriander, turmeric, and chipotle pepper flakes, the spices I love.  I don't have chipotle pepper flakes so I used chipotle pepper powder. 

The stew is really easy to make and delicious.  It is a bit sweet from the natural sweetness of carrots and potato and it went well with whole grain Seeduction bread.  The chipotle pepper added a little bit of bite of spicyness.  I served the stew with the home made bread I made with a recipe I've been working on for a month.  It is the healthy Seeduction bread.  I will blog about it later when I am satisfied with the result.  Meanwhile I can show you a picture of a Seeduction loaf I baked.

Homemade Seeduction bread with pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, millet, flaxseeds, and sesame seeds
Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Stew
Serve 8-10
Adapted from Daphne Oz stew recipe

1 Tbsp. Olive oil or Safflower oil
1 Red Onion, finely chopped, about 1.5 cup
1 small Leeks, cleaned and finely chopped (the top part only), about 1 cup
2 cups Carrots, peeled and chopped into 1/4 inch cubes or smaller
2 cups Sweet Potato (yam), peeled and chopped into 1/4 inch cubes or smaller
1 Tbsp. minced Garlic
1 cup chopped Celery, about 2 ribs
2 cups Red Lentils or Masoor Dals (rinsed thoroughly)
2 tsp. Cumin powder
1 tsp. Corriander powder
1/2 tsp. Turmeric powder
1 tsp. Chipotle Pepper flakes or 1/2 tsp. Chipotle Pepper powder
6 cups broth made from  Better than Bouillon No-Chicken base ( I used 4 tsp with 6 cups of hot water)

4-5 cups Lacinato Kale (black kale), ribs removed and chopped coarsely

Salt and Pepper to taste (about 3/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper)

  1. Heat a 4-5 quart soup pot and then add the oil.
  2. Add onions, leeks, and minced garlic. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and black pepper.  Saute for 4 minutes.
  3. Add celery, carrots, sweet potato.  Then add all the spices: cumin, coriander, turmeric, and chipotle pepper.  Stir and saute for another 4 minutes.
  4. Add the red lentils and vegetable broth.  Bring to a boil and turn down the heat to a simmer.  Simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Finally, add the chopped kale and simmer for another 5 minutes.  Taste for more salt and black pepper.  Turn off the heat.