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TheStarvingArtist

NEEDED: Vegan Baking Advice for a skeptical pastry chef

25 posts in this topic

Hi Vegan friends and supporters!

i own a tiny French patisserie and do some private work on the side, and recently I've been getting bugged about doing some vegan pastry.

My problem: I come from a family of patissiers from France, and my blood is about 30% butter. I'd like to try and satiate people, but my instincts tell me that vegan brioche, vegan feuilettine, vegan financiers and canneles, etc. would all be TERRIBLE, both in texture and in flavor, and I refuse to sell something that I would never ever eat. 

I would LOVE some advice/techniques/recipes in the field of vegan French pastry, especially from non-vegans (or formerly non-vegan), who can give an adequate review of something (e.g. it's hardly a fair review when someone who hasn't eaten cheese in 30 years tells me that their yeasted-cashew crap is "JUST like cheese"! No it's not. Stop being ridiculous). Is Earth Balance really necessary? Does it work like normal butter? 

Thanks!


Torrence O'Haire - Private Chef, FMSC Tablemaster, Culinary Scholar

"life is a combination of magic and pasta"

-F. Fellini

"We should never lose sight of a beautifully conceived meal."

-J. Child

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In my world no,  butter shouldn't be replaced with dairy free margarine.   

I instead when my egg allergic,  dairy allergic, vegan and vegetarian friends are over make other  cakes instead.  I have a chocolate "cake"  that they love and a  sponge cake  from WWII  that has no eggs and uses  carbonated water that I can use as muffins.


Cheese is you friend, Cheese will take care of you, Cheese will never betray you, But blue mold will kill me.

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Torrence,

Please don't allow yourself to get pressured into making things that you have already decided would be terrible. Unless you are starving and need the custom of vegans please consider directing them elsewhere. For their sake but especially for yours.

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Never call a stomach a tummy without good reason.” William Strunk Jr., The Elements of Style

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

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I'm of two minds about this. Part of me, when hearing the words "vegan pastry," wants to turn red, breathe fire, and scream "Get Out." Just on general principle.

 

Another part sees how modern ingredients and techniques have allowed viable substitutes (and in many cases improvements) on many sacred cows.

 

I haven't experimented with these in pastry, but there's probably a lot of knowledge out there. The few times I've been tricked into eating vegan pastry I haven't been impressed. This doesn't speak to what's possible.

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I still cant  get into my head how replacing eggs with bacteria slime is better for you.  There so many E numbers and man made weird things in vegan foods today.  I actually have a vegan  pastry book from the  70 ties somewhere with zero replacement products and if I remember correctly some of that stuff was good. I just wish I could remember where.


Cheese is you friend, Cheese will take care of you, Cheese will never betray you, But blue mold will kill me.

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I agree with the above sentiments: don't use things that you don't feel good about, and don't make things that you're not going to be happy with. Instead, find recipes that start without eggs, butter, or cream. Are the vegans willing to eat traditional-process sugar? Will they have an issue eating things prepared in your dairy- and egg-laden kitchen? (If not, that might be a whole nother deal-breaker.) One book that seems to have some reasonably good ideas for vegan desserts is Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.

 

If you do chocolate work, what about non-dairy chocolate bark with dried fruit, nuts, or whatever else you could add? Or if you're into candymaking, what about nut brittle (with or without a chocolate coating)? Could you make something like a pastry shell out of baked phyllo dough, and use that in place of a traditional tartlet shell, with a fruit-based filling?

 

The one swap that I'm sometimes willing to make is to use coconut milk in place of dairy milk, assuming that whatever else in the recipe will work with that flavor. (Tropical rice puddings, maybe?)

 

If you think there's a market for vegan pastry in your area, it might be worth doing some experimenting in your spare time. But I don't think the traditional pastries you mention above would do the trick for anyone in vegan versions, especially if they don't work for you.


MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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I have to agree with Anna N. Trying to adapt your existing recipes to suit vegans may well be more trouble than it is worth. If you yourself have an interest in developing a vegan line and think it would be profitable, go for it. But if its just a few people you are considering humoring, all that R&D is not going to be worth the time or expense.

If you do want some vegan offerings, I'd stay away from trying to make vegan puff pastry and creme brulee, and look for things that can be made with 'normal' ingredients (ingredients you would already use - I refuse to use margarine, for anybody!). Vegan chocolate mousse a la Herve This' chocolate + water mousse, truffles made with coconut milk, fillo cups with tapioca pudding and fruit compote, 'lemon curd' made with pectin. Or make pate de fruits and dip various things in dark chocolate. But messing around with egg substitutes to try to make cream puffs? I would not bother. You should be able to offer a few things that are up to your standards, and vegan, but they may not be vegan versions of your regular offerings.

Here's a vegan lemon curd I developed for a wedding cake a few years ago:

Vegan Lemon Curd - makes about 1 c

lemon zest 1/2 lemon

lemon juice 100 g

water 25 g

sugar 160 g

cornstarch 10 g

pectin 6 g

cocoa butter 45 g

Bring juice, zest, and water to a boil.

Mix sugar, starch, and pectin and whisk it slowly into the boiling juice.

Boil 1 minute, whisking, until it looks thick.

Remove from heat and stir in cocoa butter.

Strain and chill before using.

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Vegan chocolate balls

 

50 ml of  chopped peanuts

200 ml of  almond flour

150 gram of stone fre dates

1 tablespoon of golden treacle or agave

½ teaspoon cinamon

1 teaspoon of vanilla

Dark dairy free chocolate for dipping

 

 

Mix everything in a mixer /blender until  you get a sticky mess. 

Roll into balls, its say  15, but that might be tiny. If the dough is to sticky add more almond flour.

Refridgate and  when cold tip into tempered dark chocolate and let it set.

 

You can also add  coarsly chopped nuts to it and makes  "cookies" and dip in chocolat, but that is fiddley and

I who is lazy makes into a  cake and  spreads the chocolate on top.


Cheese is you friend, Cheese will take care of you, Cheese will never betray you, But blue mold will kill me.

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The biggest issue for me is the flavor of butter. It only comes from butter. So if you replace that, it better be with something that's delicious in its own right, and not just a flavorless oil, or worse, fake butter that tastes like microwave popcorn.

 

Eggs aren't as big a problem. In much of pastry they're used for structure / texture, not flavor. To be blunt, they're an additive. Chefs have discovered myriad ways to get just about any texture you can imagine, with ingredients that typically work at much lower concentrations than egg protein, and that mask flavors less. I prefer ice cream made without eggs, or with a couple of yolks per quart, over traditional French ones with 6 or 8 yolks per quart. Hydrocolloids make up the difference, and do so without any disadvantages.

 

(Not to suggest that this is vegan. I'm not giving up the milk ... ) 

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Can something like coconut oil be a butter replacement for pastry purposes?  It seems worth experimenting with... The idea of a puff pastry made with coconut oil is not an offputting thought...  better and healthier than Crisco, in all probability.


Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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Coconut Cream or Copha Sticks?

Earth Balance COCONUT SPREAD.

Organic palm oil 'shortening"


Wawa Sizzli FTW!

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I agree with the above, I also refuse to use margarine. There are a few things where coconut milk or cream of coconut can replace dairy, but puff pastry and croissants just do not have tasty substitutes for the butter component. (supermarkets in the US offer 'pastries' made with shortening and they are pale in color and flavorless)

 

I have made the old, 1950s era, mayonnaise cake with Veganaise and it tasted good, and was moist, it was just super-delicate and fell apart when I tried to decorate it as a 2-layer 8" cake. It might have been ok as cupcakes. I notice that most vegan cake recipes guide the baker to making cupcakes, IMO that's because the binders do not work as well and larger cakes simply do not have the needed structural integrity.

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My go-to in such matters has been Chef Sato's All-Natural Desserts (currently out of print, and very expensive to buy). He has a bunch of recipes for vegan muffins, cookies, cakes, and pies, but no traditional French pastries. The closest he gets is a recipe for scones that, frankly, looks rather boring.

 

I see on Facebook that you're doing some recipe-testing today. What are you working on?


Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and their readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

 

The mosque is too far from home, so let's do this / Let's make a weeping child laugh. -Nida Fazli, poet (translated, from the Urdu, by Anu Garg, wordsmith.org)

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Thanks for the discussion so far!

In response to some of the comments: I totally agree. I have no interest in loading my stuff with weird chemicals or lowering my quality just to appease a handful of noisy vegans. HOWEVER, I have on (very) rare occasion had a vegan baked good that shocked me with how nice it was. That said, I KNOW there must be some good recipes and techniques out there, but I don't care enough to change my process at the bakeshop or spend countless hours experimenting. I just like the idea of being able to provide something that I respect and can fill a requested niche.

I recently had a vegan brioche bun filled with raspberry jam that was absolutely delicious. No, as most of us know, it won't be quite the same without loads of butter and eggs, but at the same time if somebody served me one of those buns every morning with coffee, I wouldn't complains bit.

At this very moment I'm experimenting with a vegan brioche trial: coconut milk and coconut oil, with a bit of lecithin for emulsion. I'll let you know how it turns out...

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Torrence O'Haire - Private Chef, FMSC Tablemaster, Culinary Scholar

"life is a combination of magic and pasta"

-F. Fellini

"We should never lose sight of a beautifully conceived meal."

-J. Child

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I would LOVE some advice/techniques/recipes in the field of vegan French pastry, especially from non-vegans (or formerly non-vegan), who can give an adequate review of something (e.g. it's hardly a fair review when someone who hasn't eaten cheese in 30 years tells me that their yeasted-cashew crap is "JUST like cheese"! No it's not. Stop being ridiculous).

You remind me of my Dad. He used to laugh at vegetarians until his GP told him he can't have meat anymore.

Don't be arrogant or narrow-minded. For people with health issues (they are in growing numbers, from what I understand), that "yeasted-cashew crap" is the only "cheese" they are allowed to eat without getting sick. How's that for fair?

Others avoid dairy and eggs (and meat, obviously) for religious reasons, during lent for example. I bumped into this very issue when selling chocolate truffles a week before Easter.

Coming back to your question: no, you cannot get the flavour of butter from substitues. But you can make items that are suitable for those on dairy-free or dairy- and egg-free diets, MelissaH and pastrygirl gave some excellent suggestions above. As a non-vegan, I honestly would not be tempted to try a vegan croissant. But there are many chocolatey things you can make, from truffles (with nut milks, wine, beer, fruit purees etc) to meltaways, to praline centres, barks, mendiants, chocolate-dipped fruit, dragees etc. Any of these, I would, without hesitation, be willing to try.

Oh, and please post about that vegan brioche if you have a chance. I'd love to give that a try!


Edited by DianaM (log)

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One area of expertise to look at would be kosher parve desserts. They are dairy-free. They may contain eggs, and a test of an egg substitute would be required, but there is a long cultural heritage behind these desserts and probably some good methods to explore.

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I don't do Vegan or Gluten Free as a general rule because there are already plenty of recipes out there that are naturally those things.  I don't need to use GF mix when I can make a killer dacquoise for example.  I just have to make sure I use the right sugar, no honey (or at least ask if they care if I use honey), etc.  For what its worth, here is my standard vegan cake - nothing too goofy just using the old baking soda and vinegar as leavener trick.  http://blogquat.blogspot.com/2008/11/recipe-vegan-cakethats-goodreally.html

 

Editing to add: This is my goal not a universal truth.  I'm just suggesting that we not think in terms of vegan but look at tried and true classics that are already so.


Edited by gfron1 (log)
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That looks like a tasty cake, gfron, and I speak as someone who's never attempted (nor had reason to attempt) vegan. I'm curious about the orange juice and orange extract in the recipe. You noted that the flavors can be messed with, but as it's written do you get a distinct chocolate / orange flavor combination, or does the orange disappear? Next question: if different juice is selected, do you have to compensate for the different acidity?


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Ironically I just got an order for a vegan chocolate cake and made this this morning, using fresh apricots (our local trees are bursting) to make a fresh apricot marmalade to go with it.  A splash of apricot brandy and they'll be happy as vegan clams.

 

I hadn't made that cake in a while so today when I made it I followed the recipe except when it came time to mix.  I put my dry and wet in a stand mixer and whisked until smooth, then added the vinegar and finished.  Worked really well actually - more lift than I remember it having.


Edited by gfron1 (log)
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And just finished the cake packed with this note:

 

Vegan Chocolate Apricot Cake

 

Gleaned apricots from my neighbor’s tree this morning.

 

Cake using my recipe: http://blogquat.blogspot.com/2008/11/recipe-vegan-cakethats-goodreally.html

 

Filling is fresh apricot marmalade

 

Topped with water base ganache using Amedei “9” which is a dairy free, soy free chocolate from Italy 75% cocoa mass, finished with Rothman & Winter Austrian apricot brandy.

 

Decorated with fresh apricot paté de fruit and Pacari raw organic cacao nibs

----

Cake turned out so moist today!  Very happy and like I said, naturally vegan all around.

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There are some born vegan desserts I just happen to love, they are more rustic if you want to call it that way. Some of my favorites:

-schiacciata con l'uva (it's like a focaccia with grape and sugar)

-ciambelline al vino (it's a rustic cookie from around Rome: flour, sugar, extra virgin oil, wine and aniseeds)

-sassanelli, LOVE them with fig molasses http://ammodomio.blogspot.com/2012/11/sasanellisassanellisassaneddre.html

-panpepato it has honey

-panforte (it has honey)

-strudels, with strudel dough made with oil and no eggs

-castagnaccio

-I make some "ravioli" baked with quince or grape jam and I absolutely adore them.

-for something flaky, I would look into sweet tahini bread, maybe substituting with other nut butters http://www.tasteofbeirut.com/2009/11/cinnamon-roll-with-tahini-tahinov-hatz/

- crispy cookies like the ines Rosales

- Alice's cakes look so inviting even being vegan http://www.kitchenbloodykitchen.com/search/label/Torte%20e%20crostate


Edited by Franci (log)
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I agree that nothing can replace butter and eggs. Also, from a business point of view: why would you want to compete with dedicated vegan bakeries anyway as this won't be your core business anyway? I think it would be a lot more appealing to put something relatively new on the menu, instead of competing with others doing the same thing. Also, as it is 'new', clients won't have much to compare it to, but will judge it on a sort of clean slate. It being vegan can be used as a bonus and doesn't have to be the primary selling point, which as we can see here will repell what some vegans like to refer to as omni's.
Like you, I have also tasted some vegan baking that was nice. It does interest me, so I did collect some books on veganism, vegan cooking and baking. Haven't read much of it lately and I almost never bake, so I don't have suggestions as it is. But if you have a specific question, I can look it up for you if need be.
 

There are some born vegan desserts I just happen to love, they are more rustic if you want to call it that way. Some of my favorites:
-panpepato it has honey
-panforte (it has honey)
 

Are you sure you could sub the honey ith a sugar syrup of so with a similar effect?

Otherwise, strict vegans feel that honey is not vegan and checking above options with the client beforehand, might give them the idea you don't really understand the concept of veganism to begin with or that you might be trying to push their limits.

Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romere were already mentioned, but not yet their baking books:

 

- Vegan pie in the sky

- Vegan cookies invade your cookie jar

- Vegan cupcakes take over the world

 

Vegan Bakery BabyCakes also has 2 cookbooks available, where some classics are covered in a hardcore 'healthy' way as it doesn't contain gluten and almost no sugar. She has a FAQ on baking listed below the books here: http://www.babycakesnyc.com/books.html

If you are looking for replacing cheese and dairy techniques, check out Artisan Vegan Cheese by Miyoko Schinner. She has a chapter on sweet cheeses and desserts. The glossary of ingredients can be looked into: http://www.amazon.com/Artisan-Vegan-Cheese-Miyoko-Schinner/dp/1570672830


Some vegan suggestions:

 

- Baklava can be made with a sugar syrup iso honey

- Halva can be made vegan too
- Indian sweets inspiration, although some textures might need time to get acustomed to (link to recipe is provided in the pop up when you click a picture: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.219854958075504.54976.143274179066916&type=3 and also http://www.vegrecipesofindia.com/recipes/vegan-indian-sweets-desserts-recipes/

- To thicken fluids, you could experiment with chia seeds. Not sure how well they bind, but I've seen basil seeds and tukmaria been used in a bit of a similar way. 1 dessert comes to mind: Parsi's make faluda with these seeds, you could swap the regular milk for a nut-based one.


 

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Ground flax seeds mixed with water make a pretty good egg substitute. I used to take whole flaxseeds and about double the amount of water and run it in the blender until thick. IIRC, it could be used ounce for ounce like eggs. (2oz = 1 egg)

 

Agave nectar is a popular substitute for honey and doesn't have the issues that you may face with people not eating refined sugar because that's made with animal bones.

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