Author

Mihl

If you ever walk through a forest in April and the only thing you can smell is garlic, then you were lucky to find ramps. Ramps are a traditional herb which was “re-discovered” in Germany a couple of years ago. They taste like garlic or chives. These days you can buy them in nearly every supermarket (in Germany) during spring. Restaurants offer dishes including the herb and you can find all kinds of food (e.g. pesto or cheese) made with ramps. Well, they seem to be everywhere now.
This weekend I finally bought a bunch. Ramps have to be used immediately because they tend to look like dead grass an hour after you bought them. It’s best to use them fresh and not freeze or dry them. They will lose most of their flavour during that process.

Pistachio Ramps Bread

60 g (2 oz.) salted pistachios
60 g (2 oz.) fresh ramps (chives or scallions are a good alternative)
350 ml (1 1/2 cups) lukewarm water, divided
20 g fresh yeast (or one teaspoon instant yeast)
500 g whole wheat flour (4 cups plus 2 tablespoons, or more)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F and grease a loaf pan or prepare a proofing basket.
Combine pistachios and ramps in a food processor. Add 50 ml water (about 1/4 cup). Process well.
Combine remaining water, yeast, flour and salt in a bowl. Add pistachio mixture. Knead well for ten minutes. Let the dough rest until doubled in size. Knead briefly, transfer to the loaf pan or proofing basket, cover, and let rest for another 45-60 minutes. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely before serving.

These treats are the vegan version of bounty or mounds bars. They are much easier to prepare than you might think and wrapped in a nice package, they make a great gift. To make these, it is necessary to make a light sugar syrup first.

Vegan bounty or mounds bars (makes 5)

For the sugar syrup:
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and whisk constantly until the sugar is dissolved. Boil over high heat for five minutes. Set aside to cool.

To make the coconut treats:
1 cup lightly toasted shredded dried coconut
3 tablespoons soy milk
1/4 cup sugar syrup
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 tablespoons flour
1 pinch salt

100 g (3.5 oz) good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Combine coconut, milk, and sugar syrup in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add coconut oil. Stir to melt. Let cool to room temperature. Add flour and salt and stir again.

Form the coconut mixture into bars or balls. The mixture will be a bit sticky and if your bars don’t come out perfectly, don’t worry. You can reshape them later. Place the bars or balls in the freezer for 30 minutes. 15 minutes before taking them out, start to make the chocolate coating.

Melt 3/4 of the chocolate in a water bath. When the chocolate is melted, remove from water bath and stir in remaining chocolate. Remove bars from freezer and dip into the chocolate. Let cool on a piece of parchment paper.

Rolled fondant (adapted from this recipe)

750 g (6.25 cups, unsifted) confectioners sugar
75 ml (5 Tbsp.) water
2 tsp agar-agar powder
20 g  (1.5 Tbsp.) refined coconut oil
35 g ( 1,75 Tbsp.) sugar syrup (substitute corn syrup or agave nectar)

Start by adding  the confectioners sugar (powdered sugar) to a mixing bowl. You don’t need to sift the sugar. Set aside. Combine water and  agar agar powder in a small saucepan and cook for one or two minutes until it turns into a jelly-like mass. Add sugar syrup until dissolved, remove from heat, add coconut oil and stir until the oil is melted and everything is well mixed. Let cool a bit.
Pour the mass into the mixing bowl filled with sugar and kneed with your hands until you get a smooth, marzipan like mass. Voilà, your fondant!

Now you can store it in an airtight container, bake some cakes, make a filling if you like and then start decorating. If you want to work with the fondant, roll it out between two layers of plastic wrap.

You should try to always keep the fondant wrapped in plastic because it dries very fast. If it gets to dry while working with it, you can add a few drops of lemon juice. Also put some drops of lemon juice or water on the cupcake before you place the fondant there. I also added a few drops of food colouring.

Whole Wheat Corn Bread

Ingredients:

330 ml  (1 1/4 cup + 2 T) lukewarm water
1 t instant yeast
120g (1 cup) yellow corn meal (polenta)
360g (3 cups) whole wheat flour
1 tsp thyme
1 1/2 tsp salt

In a bowl sift together flours, yeast, thyme, and salt. Add water and knead for ten minutes, until the dough is elastic and not sticky any more.  Place dough in a mixing bowl and cover. Let rise in a warm place for approx. one hour, until doubled.

Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F

Grease a loaf pan (for 750g or 1 1/2 lb breads) or dust a bread basket with flour, place dough in pan,. cover, and let rise for one hour, until doubled.

Bake for 40-50 minutes. (Until a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean) Remove from pan immediately and let cool completely before slicing.