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Brot

This week sucked. After the political thing that happened on Tuesday I didn’t feel very motivated to post anything about food anyway. Sorry, Vegan MoFo! Then F and I also got sick. But I guess we all still need stuff to cheer us up, right? And why not use some colourful food for that? Like these kale tortillas which I made a couple of weeks ago.

The original recipe for these is by one of my favourite cookbook authors: Terry Hope Romero. In her book Viva Vegan! there is a flour tortilla recipe that I have been making for years. It’s such a simple recipe and the tortillas always come out perfectly pliable and tasty. Over the last few years I made many different variations and my latest one included kale pulp. Yes, that is right. I juiced some kale.

We Germans have a very traditional relationship with kale. To most it is a boring winter vegetable. In Northern Germany it is an important winter staple. Cooked in fat and served with potatoes and sausage or meat it makes a filling and tasty meal. (Veganising it is a breeze, especially with all the tofu and seitan sausages around these days.) I used to eat this a lot when I was a kid. And everyone always told me that kale had to be cooked for at least an hour to be digestible. Ha!  A few years ago it completely blew my mind that you don’t have to cook kale for that long to make it edible. This discovery has made this vegetable much more versatile for me.

kale tortillas

At work this green has been popping up since late summer, which is very unusual. Here kale is often not harvested before the first frost, because freezing makes it sweeter. Or at least that is what my parents and grandparents used to say. And look what I also found. Purple kale. So weird. After all the German name for kale is Grünkohl (green cabbage). But since we also have purple kohlrabi and purple carrots, why not?

With its tough skin and chewy texture this green (ha) is really great for wintery recipes such as warming stews and traditionally meat and potato dishes. Putting it in a salad or a smoothie? Nah, that is not gonna happen for most people. Every year when kale season starts, I get very exited. And I tend to buy all the kale. At first it took me some time to get accustomed of the texture and taste of fresh kale that is only briefly cooked. When we used to make kale dishes at home, we often bought the chopped and frozen kind and then as I already said, cooked it for a good amount of time. Now I love kale stir fries or I use some thinly sliced leaves in my tomato sauce. And my daughter loves her monster juice, which is a smoothie made with lots of fruit and one or two small kale leaves. For one of our last smoothies I experimented a bit and suddenly found myself juicing the kale.

kale tortillas

Juicing is something I have never really liked. I think it is weird.  Why would you do this instead of making a smoothie? You have to throw half of your produce away. Since that really bothered me I came up with methods to put the pulp in my bread. I made rolls and loaves and then transitioned to tortillas.

Usually you’ll need an expensive kitchen appliance for juicing. An appliance, which is high maintenance because you have to clean it a lot.Our at least that is what I’ve heard since I don’t own a juicer. Whenever I juice I use a very simple method: I put about two cups of kale (144 g) and one cup of water in my blender and blend until the vegetables turn into a smoothie. Then I place a small laundry bag in a large measuring container. (Seriously people, don’t buy nut bags, if you can avoid it. Your drugstore might have really cheap laundry bags made from almost the same material. They work just as well.)

juicing kale with a laundry bag

You’ve got to use your hands to press out as much liquid as possible. In the end you should have about 30 – 50 grams of pulp left. That is what we’re gonna use for our flour tortillas. As for the juice, you can drink it if you like a strong cabbage taste. Or you can mix it with other juices, add it to your smoothies, etc.

The tortillas came out just as awesome as the regular version. I had to use less water than the recipe originally called for (1/3 instead of 2/3 cup). But that might be different for you, depending on the flour you use. I used yellow wheat flour, which does absorb less water than regular all purpose flour. (When I made this with whole wheat flour, I used only 1/3 cup of water as well.) To keep them soft I usually place the tortillas between two plates. I place the first tortilla on the plate and place the second plate on top but upside down so that the tortillas are kept from fresh air. Then I stack the other tortillas on top of the first and always put the plate back on. This works much better than a towel and you can save energy and resources by not using aluminum foil.

juicing kale with a laundry bag

Kale Tortillas

8 tortillas, 7 inches (18 cm)

Ingredients

240 g (2 cups) yellow wheat, all-purpose or whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
55 g (1/4 cup) refined coconut oil, at room temperature
30 - 50 g kale pulp (made from 144 g (2 cups) kale and 240 ml (1 cup) water
1/3 - 2/3 cups water

Instructions

Make your kale pulp as described above.

In a bowl, combine flour, salt, and baling powder.

Add coconut oil and use your hands to work it into the flour really well. You are looking for a crumbly dough with no lumps of fat left.

Add kale pulp and water. (Start with 1/3 cup water and add more if needed) You'll want a firm but pliable dough.

Divide the dough into 8 equally sized pieces.

Roll out until the tortillas are approximately 7 inches (a little les than 18 cm) in diameter.

Heat a cast iron pan over high heat.

Cook the tortilla on each side for about 1 to 2 minutes.

Place on a plate and cover with a second plate upside down.

Repeat with remaining tortillas.

http://www.seitanismymotor.com/2016/11/kale-tortillas/

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I have to admit that I don’t know much about Halloween. It has become very popular in Germany lately, mostly because companies and shops have been pushing it. When I grew up I only knew Halloween from US-American pop culture and I don’t think it would ever have occurred to us to celebrate it in any way. We didn’t celebrate All Hallows’ Evening, we kind of celebrated All Hallows’ Day or All Saints’ Day, which, of course, is the day after Halloween. “Kind of celebrated” means that we might have had a day off from school so we’d get the chance to go to Catholic mass. And a day later, on Reformation Day, all my Protestant friends would get a day off from school. Kind of funny that we’d remember the saints one day before the Protestants celebrate that there are no saints. Or something like that.

Saxony is the area where the Protestant Reformation started and the 31. of October is a civic holiday here. And while many bakeries sell bright Halloween treats, you will also find a local bake right next to them. It’s a yeasted roll made from a very light stollen dough, which is decorated with jam and powdered sugar. It is called Reformationsbrötchen (Reformation Roll). It’s shape is supposed to look like a Luther Rose, although a very sloppy version. I have to admit that I do not know much about this baked good, I looked up both its history and a recipe online and adapted it. Instead of zitronat (German for candied citrus peel) I used dried and ground clementine peel. And instead of regular all-purpose flour I used gelbweizenmehl (yellow wheat flour). Yellow wheat flour is something I discovered recently. According to the mill’s website this flour is an old wheat variety which has a lot of carotenoids. They give the flour a light yellow tint. It makes for very beautiful plain rolls:

rolls made with yellow wheat flour (gelbweizen)

I couldn’t find much information about this kind of wheat online, but from my experience I can say that although this flour makes beautifully golden baked goods, you have to get used to working with it. A dough made with yellow wheat flour will need much less water than a dough made with regular all-purpose flour. That is especially the case for unenriched yeast doughs, it seems. For the following Reformationsbroetchen I didn’t have to make a change at all. Which means that you should just go ahead and make them with regular white flour.

To make dried ground clementine peel  – you can use lemons or oranges as well, but clementine peels dry much faster –  simply peel a couple of clementines and let the peels dry. This works faster if you place them on your central heating or dry them in the oven at a very low temperature. Then all you’ve got to do is pulverise the peel in a coffee grinder. (Or just use a teaspoon or two of freshly grated peel.)

clementines

 

Wow, I just realised that this post is all over the place! You probably wanna know how the rolls are, right? They are fabulous! Lots of juicy raisins, a couple of chopped almonds, and the clementine peel make them indeed taste like a very light stollen. Plus they have fig jam in the centre and lots of powdered sugar.

Reformationsbroetchen

Ingredients

500 g yellow wheat flour (or regular all-purpose), divided
20 g fresh yeast, divided
150 ml water
150 ml soy milk
100 g raisins
50 g sugar
50 g chopped blanched almonds
50 g margarine, softened
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried clementine peel (or fresh, or lemon zest)
water for brushing
6 teaspoons red jam of choice
powdered sugar for dusting

Instructions

To make the dough, place half of the flour in a large bowl.

Crumble 5 grams of fresh yeast over the flour and add the water.

Let sit for 5 minutes.

Knead everything into a stiff dough and let rise at room temperature for 5 hours. (Or over night in the fridge. If you use the fridge, let the dough come back to room temp before proceeding.)

Once your dough is ready, combine soy milk and raisins in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and remove from heat immediately.

Let cool to room temperature, then stir in remaining yeast and sugar.

Stir until yeast is dissolved.

Add the soy milk mixture, the remaining flour, chopped almonds, margarine, salt, and dried clementine peel to the prepared dough and knead until all ingredients are incorporated and the dough is smooth.

Place in a bowl, cover, and let rest for 45 minutes.

On a floured surface, roll the dough into a rectangle, about 36 x 48 cm.

Cut the dough into 12 12x12 cm sized squares.

Brush the corners of each square with a bit of water, then fold each corner into the centre and press down gently. Transfer the squares to two baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

Cover with clean kitchen towels and let rest for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile preheat the oven to 200°C.

Place 1/2 teaspoon of jam in the centre of each roll.

Place 1 baking sheet in the hot oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Repeat with the other sheet. Let the rolls cool completely before dusting with powdered sugar. Serve on the same day.

http://www.seitanismymotor.com/2016/10/reformationsbroetchen-reformation-rolls/

reformationsbroetchen

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Welcome back to the quest for the ultimate vegan croissant. (Find part one with tips and tricks here. Please read if you want to make this recipe.) Writing these two posts down and taking all these pictures took almos as long as making the actual croissants. But once in a while I really love to splurge on these things. Because after all baking and blogging are my favourite things to do. I am super lucky that I can afford to spend an afternoon here and there working on my blog projects and I really hope thse instructions are useful for one or two of you.

But let’s get right into it and start baking! For both versions (margarine and coconut oil) we will start with a basic dough that you have to prepare the night before you want to bake your croissants. A long rest and slow rise in the fridge will help the dough develop flavour.

vegan croissants with margarine or coconut oil

Although you can use all-purpose flour with no problem, I’ve found that white spelt flour (German type 630) works better with the coconut oil version. It is a bit stretchier than all purpose flour. That means the croissant dough is easier  to roll out. But as I said, all-purpose flour will be fine, if you don’t have white spelt on hand.

Also, as always I encourage you to experiment! My recipe is only a suggestion and maybe you will get better results with the coconut oil version, if you leave out the flour for the filling or choose a sturdier flour (like all-purpose or bread flour). You never know. I am not a trained chef and am figuring out these things out as I go. If you experiment with this recipe (or have experimented with croissants), please let me know and leave a comment.

vegan croissants with margarine or coconut oil

مناقيش manaqeesh (topped flatbread)

I live in a city that is used to homogeneity, not multiculturalism. In the last year though this town has been forced to welcome more and more people from other countries. I consider this a huge enrichment. It’s interesting to hear what these people have to tell us about their lives, their home countries, their home cities, and their food. But sometimes they don’t want to talk about what they’ve left behind. So food is the safest topic. The people I’ve met so far are very proud of their traditional dishes and they love to share their recipes. With their help I have learned quite a lot about Arabic cuisine. And I have been gifted ingredients.