Honey Wheat Bread from the Slow Cooker (with vegan options)

I’ve been asked about baking bread in the slow cooker from start to finish and after seeing how wonderfully it rises in it, I knew a bit of research would give me the information I needed.  Now here’s the AWESOME part: it works with my favorite bread recipe!  *Does the kitchen happy dance!*

So here’s the recipe now made entirely in the slow cooker with vegan options of course:

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 tsp granulated yeast
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp and 1 tsp vital wheat gluten (rising agent)
  • 1/4 honey (or sweetener of your choice)
  • 2.5 Tbsp peanut oil
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm almond milk
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm warn
  • 3 & 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
  • Parchment paper
  • Bowl with water to dip your hands in
  • loaf pan smaller than your slow cooker; OR something to shape your loaf with; OR nothing of the sort if you don’t mid a dome of bread

Directions:

  1. Set the slow cooker on high with enough water to barely cover the bottom.  Cover and set aside.
  2. Fold your parchment paper into a rectangle that will fit snugly in your cooker. Set aside.
  3. Fill a bowl with some water (for dipping your hands) and set aside.
  4. If your milk and water are cold, combine them (equals 1.5 cups total) and microwave for 30 seconds.
  5. Mix all ingredients EXCEPT flour in a large bowl.
  6. Whisk briskly to incorporate the ingredients as much as possible.  This takes a bit as the vital wheat gluten likes to clump.  Doing this makes for a more evenly rising loaf so don’t skim on the whisking.
  7. With a large wooden spoon, slowly mix in the flour.
  8. Once you have a mixture too difficult to stir (roughly the second cup of flour), dip your hands in the bowl of water and begin kneading.  Continue to knead until all the flour is added and thoroughly mixed.  Keep dipping your hands as necessary to keep the dough from sticking to your hands and the bowl too much.
  9. Then transfer the dough to the parchment paper and shape into a loaf.
  10. Remove the lid from the slow cooker, place the dough in the parchment within (you can use ceramic plates, shallow bowls or anything similar to help shape the dough if you don’t want it round and your loaf pan doesn’t fit in the cooker; just make sure it’s not metal or plastic.  See image below).
  11. Cover the cooker and set it for high for three hours.
  12. Go watch two movies, take a stroll around the neighborhood, pick the kids up from school, knit a sock, play online, whatever.
  13. Come back in three hours and confirm bread is done (should be fully risen and pulling away from the sides of the parchment).  If you want a loaf with a crisper exterior, you can pop it into the broiler or on the top shelf in the oven at 350 degrees till sufficiently browned/crisped.

I wedge two ceramic plates on either side of the dough to create a more oblong shaped loaf.

Garbanzo Bean Salad

Grrr…I redid this image about three times and each time… I misspelled something!  So I’m just not going to bother… it’s one of those days.  Garbanzo (not Garbonza) beans or Chickpeas are a tasty little treat I always have around the house (because they are the main ingredient in hummus).  I love this quick summer salad that keeps well for a few days in the fridge and is quite healthy too!

Ingredients:

  • 15 oz. can of Garbanzo beans
  • 16 oz. bag of wide egg noodles
  • 16 oz. bag frozen broccoli & cauliflower mix
  • French Vinaigrette Dressing
  • Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

  1. Prepare your egg noodles as directed on the package.
  2. While your noodles are cooking, open your can of garbanzo beans and thoroughly rinse them in a strainer.
  3. Without removing your beans from the strainer, add your frozen veggies.
  4. Once your noodles have finished cooking, drain noodles by pouring the water over the veggies and beans (this thaws the veggies and cools the noodles).
  5. Empty the strainer with noodles, now thawed veggies and beans into a large bowl.
  6. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad while stirring with a large spoon to lightly coat everything.
  7. Sprinkle the cheese while still stirring until, again, lightly coated.
  8. Put a lid on the bowl and pop it in the fridge until entire mixture is cooled.

Eggless Pancakes with Vegan Option

Sorry, but there are no pictures of this recipe as we devoured them before I could snap any pictures.  They were THAT delicious!  This is what happens when I don’t have any eggs and really, really want pancakes.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Bisquick pancake mix (it’s vegan!)
  • 1 cup applesauce (this is the egg replacement)
  • 1 cup vanilla almond (soy works as well)
  • 1 Tablespoon custard powder
  • 2 Tablespoons raw honey (you can omit this entirely if you use sweetened applesauce or sugar)
  • Safflower or Grapeseed oil

Directions:

  1. Mix everything but your oil in a large bowl and whisk or beat with mixer till fully incorporated.  After you finish whipping the batter you can fold in any fruit desired or wait until they are cooked and add to the top… or both!
  2. Add oil to your pan on medium heat and allow it to heat.
  3. Pour desired size pancake batter into pan and allow to fully cook.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 till batter is finished.

 

Vegan Banana Bread (aka eggless)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c. honey, agave or sugar
  • 1/2 c. butter, margarine, applesauce or yogurt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-3 ripe or overly ripe bananas
  • 2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • Options: raisins, cranberries, nuts

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In a bowl, mix all your dry ingredients well and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, mush bananas first (can use a food processor for this step if you wish) then add your wet ingredients.
  4. Mix well.
  5. Stir dry ingredients into wet and thoroughly incorporate.
  6. Slightly grease your loaf pan.
  7. Pour mixture into pan.
  8. Top if desired (I like to add some nuts, drizzle with honey and sprinkle with oats)
  9. Bake for 45 minutes or until toothpick dipped into bread is clean when removed.

Hints & Tips:

  • You can substitute 1/4 c. of sugar for 1 banana should you not have enough bananas
  • Try buttering or oiling your pan instead of greasing it
  • Yogurt should be full fat for best results

Seitan Burgers

The other day, Bre mentioned she really wanted a burger so… I had to try making seitan burgers.  They came out amazing!  Just look at them:

Now do they look like homemade burgers or what?!  Here’s what I did:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1 packet brown gravy
  • Water
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Seasoned salt
  • Neutral flavored oil

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, empty the packet of brown gravy.
  2. Whisk in a small amount of water into the gravy, just enough to dissolve the gravy.
  3. Add wheat gluten.
  4. Mix with a spoon until clumps form then slowly add water until mixture is thoroughly incorporated. (see Hints & Tips)
  5. Knead the mixture a few times and set aside.
  6. In a large pot, boil a few inches of water.
  7. Roll seitan into small balls (think large meatball size) then flatten.
  8. Drop seitan discs into boiling water.
  9. Allow to boil for 30 minutes then turn off burner but leave the pot (it will finish cooking the rest of the way while you prep the next step).
  10. In a large frying pan, pour enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan and heat slightly.
  11. Transfer the seitan from the pot to the pan (don’t worry about it dripping with water, that’s fine).
  12. Sprinkle with garlic, onion and seasoned salt powders.
  13. Cook until its a firm but not chewy consistency (break off a small corner from time to time) while flipping often.  Usually about 20 minutes total.
Hints & Tips:
  • I’m learning that the trick with seitan is to keep it a consistency desirable BEFORE you start cooking.  When you add more seasoning to the mixture, it becomes mushier when you cook it.  I’ve been adding some extra wheat gluten to the mix or reducing the amount of ingredients added to the powder.
  • Instead of brown gravy mix, you can use beef cubes, broth, etc.

Experimenting with Seitan: frying

If you have been following my Seitan posts then you know I’m all about making it as close as possible to a meat-like consistency or at least not rubbery or mush.  I’ve discovered that adding powder mixes (such as gravies) add a lot of flavor but creates a mushier substance.  If we add more gluten or less powder, we lose flavor.  So my new quest is to add only liquids to the gluten and see how that works.  This means that I am making the sauce packets prior to adding the gluten.

Yesterday, I decided to try tomato paste as a liquid.  I added a bit of oregano, garlic salt and onion powder to the mix as well.  I kneaded it like dough and added only a few tablespoons of water to get the consistency as I would like it.  Then I separated it into pieces and added it to a pan of hot oil!  Yes, I skipped right past the boiling portion of the recipe just to see what happens.

Here’s the results:

  • The seitan burns EXTREMELY easily when not boiled first so keep it on the move even at a low temperature.
  • Keep the pieces small as the outside will cook long before the inside or keep the pieces thin.
  • Taste, taste, taste!  I had to check it numerous times for consistency before it was done.  Remember it can go from perfection to a door stop within a very small window.
  • It will absorb some oil and thus the oil’s flavor.  I used olive oil which was perfect for the dish I was making (Italian) but can easily see how this factor could ruin a good idea.  Keep your oil neutral or in line with the flavors of your dish.
How did it come out?
They tasted like and had the consistency of sun dried tomatoes!  I can easily imagine using a broth to add a meatier flavor to it or even using it in an Italian “meat” sauce.  I was very impressed with how it came out and am encouraged to try it again with a different flavor… PESTO!  From there, I’d like to try something closer to a hamburger flavor as Bre misses Boca burgers and I hate to deprive her of anything.

Veganism and the Madame Zen

Doesn’t that sound like an interesting book title?  LOL!  Sadly, I definitely have NOT written the book on veganism.  As a friend pointed out on HIPC’s Facebook page, “…beware militant vegans when including honey in a “vegan” recipe”.  I automatically add agave, stevia, etc as honey alternatives in my recipes though to be honest, I leave the measuring to those who use it.  For those of you who aren’t “militant vegans” and don’t know what the fuss is about, let me explain a bit.  See many vegans feel that being vegan goes way beyond just your diet and they do not wear, use or purchase anything made from, tested on, made by or derived from animals.  Honey is a substance made by an animal and therefore many vegans don’t use it.

I don’t claim to be vegan… technically, I don’t claim to be anything really other than a health conscious person.  Honey has a lot of health benefits and thus is my sweetener of choice.  Sugar, raw or otherwise, has nothing but empty calories so I don’t use it.  My choices in food are solely based on health benefits and personal tastes, nothing else.

That said…

I am a VERY environmentally conscious consumer and do not purchase products tested on animals, are considered harmful to the environment either as the product itself or the manner in which it’s made, aren’t biodegradable and/or contribute to the rapid decline of any species.  There are of course, exceptions to every rule.  Tires… kind of hard to drive a car without them despite what their production does to the environment.  I can, however, purchase tires from companies that offer recycling programs and “give back” programs that help offset their damages to the environment.  Also, by rapid decline of any species I mean I don’t purchase fish that is being over harvested, I don’t purchase products that are harvested by destroying a natural habitat, so on and so forth.  I believe that I make the biggest impact with my wallet when it comes to big business and how corporate America works.

I buy locally and in season.  I make as much of my own products/foods as I can in order to not only ensure what we’re eating or coming into contact but also to cut down on trash.  Having Multiple Chemical Sensitivity changes the way you look at the world and how you interact with it.  I find that most people are always looking for the fastest, quickest, easiest way to do something even though it honestly doesn’t take that much more of your time to do something.  Like bread making for example.  The recipe I’m currently working with literally takes ten minutes to mix and the rest is either waiting for it to rise, cool overnight or bake.  But people are intimidated by it or just don’t want to bother.  It’s such a shame because it really is so rewarding and takes so little effort.  You spend more time and going to the store and purchasing it than you do baking it.