Sunday, April 25, 2010

Last night, one of my friends from forever ago came over for a baking extravaganza. She recently (over the past couple of years) got into veganism, which is something I normally wouldn't mention. But for some reason the concept of vegan baking is something I just can't wrap my head around.

Don't get me wrong. I like tofu. My husband and I eat a lot of vegetarian meals. But baking? The world needs butter and eggs, you know?

In the early years of this friend's veganism, as she felt that recipes are guidelines rather than rules... so she often substituted one ingredient for another... except she didn't really know how to do that yet. Can you see where this is going? We made Christmas cookies together two years ago and I've never really regained my confidence in the kitchen after that particular experiment.

Canned pumpkin isn't really a replacement for butter and eggs in gingerbread cookies.

Just throwin' that out there.

So, when she showed up at my apartment with a bowl in tow - a bowl whose mystery contents she'd been carrying around all morning to her movie premiere too - I was afraid. And when I got close enough to smell the pungent onion odour, I was terrified. It was clearly some kind of dough, but not like one I'd ever seen before. The stuff was so stiff, she literally broke her wooden spoon in half stirring it.

She asked me if I had any caraway seeds. I didn't. So she
shrugged and asked if we had any left over coffee... which she promptly dumped on top of the dough.

I'm not going to lie. I respect you too much. I have no idea how liquid coffee could be a replacement for crunchy caraway seeds.

Staring at the monstrosity in the bowl before me, I had the urge to start muttering, "The horror. The horror."

She stuffed it into a loaf pan. We baked it for two freaking hours. And when it came time to turn it out, it fell onto the counter like a led brick.

She was enthusiastic. I was trepedatious. My husband looked at it with a raised eyebrow and said, "That's interesting".

Just when my confidence felt like it couldn't get any lower, my friend tried to slice it with our bread knife. I say tried because she pleaded no upper body strength and couldn't do it. My husband stepped up to the plate. He sawed away. It took a good 5 minutes to get 6 slices.

It looked moist. It smelled good. I slathered small hunk with hummus. And then magic happened.

It was delicious. Moist, dense, earthy... everything rye bread should be! Make no mistake though; it isn't your supermarket's rye bread.

Perhaps I had been too quick to judge. Sure, it had looked awful, smelled awful and broken a wooden spoon... but in the end, it was seriously tasty.

Hmm. Perhaps I should start being less judgmental with my bread.

Links to Recipes after the Jump!

Recipe (without substitutions) Onion Caraway Rye Bread (from Wild Fermentation).

With it, we made a few Moosewood recipes: Tofu Burgers (something I've made several times before) and Warm Potato Salad (from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics) and Fig & Pear Strudel (Sundays at Moosewood), where we used spelt filo (I didn't even know that existed) and canola oil instead of butter.

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