An early vegan Christmas

15 December 2014

Mum and her new husband are in Melbourne at the moment, so yesterday we celebrated an early Christmas together. While, in my less sane moments, I dream of cooking up a Christmas feast for a dozen plus people, cooking a fancy dinner for just four was quite enough effort. The photos aren't brilliant as I took them in a hurry so that people could start eating, but they give an idea of what was on the table.

Christmas dinner

The centerpice dish was a Seitan Roulade, from Food Craft Lab, the sister site of, run by the same guy. This was quite a success. Mine wasn't quite as well rolled as it should have been, but put flat and viewed from above, it looked pretty good. If you want to try this, it's a bit of effort, but worth it. If you want to try this, I found that kneading for the full 5 minutes, as I did on my test run, gave a slightly tough result, probably because it gets a little extra "kneading" in the sheet forming process. The second time, I kneaded for only 3.5 minutes, and that had a better texture. Also, the glaze may need a bit more water, and easily makes enough for two roulades, probably enough for three.

Seitan Roulade

This was accompanied by Gracious Vegan Gravy, also from Food Craft Lab. This is not a quick gravy, but it is seriously good. I recommend making it a day or two before so you one less thing to worry about.

Gracious Vegan Gravy

Side dishes were roast potatoes - baked with olive oil, fresh rosemary (absolutely do not use the stuff out of a tube for this - it tastes bitter when roasted), garlic powder, and freshly ground salt and pepper

Baked potatoes with rosemary

Roast butternut pumpkin, purple carrot and sweet potato, with olive oil, salt and pepper. I swear the stuff in the middle is not burnt! It's just dark purple carrot...

Roast pumpkin, purple carrot and sweet potato

Stir fried Bok Choi - made as per Veganomicon p. 113 and sprinkled with sesame seeds on top.

Stir fried bok choi

I thought I had over-catered, but before long, all that was left was a little roulade and gravy, along with some overly full and lethargic humans.

There was also dessert, but dessert deserves a post of its own.
Update: Desert post now up

Happy Birthday to Me

08 December 2014

Saturday was my birthday, so I baked myself a cake. Happy birthday to me!

Vegan chocolate birthday cake

Since it was my birthday, I chose to have a chocolatey chocolate cake. What else? The cake recipe was from, topped and filled with a (not quite) double amount of Rich Chocolate Ganache from of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, p. 143, and drizzled with melted white chocolate. A friend helped with the strawberry arrangement. I would never have thought to stand them on end like that, but I was quite pleased with the result.

Vegan chocolate birthday cake

A few notes on the recipe:
  • If you're looking for a rich vegan chocolate cake, this is a good one. You could look at it as a rich chocolate cake, or a light mud cake. Either way, it was good.
  • The cake recipe explicitly said to use natural, not Dutch processed cocoa powder, and someone commented that they had had poor results using dutched cocoa. However, I bought a 5kg bag of organic fair trade Dutch processed cocoa powder earlier this year... The cake still rose as it should have. If you're Australian and confused about what I'm talking about, most cocoa in Australia is dutched.
  • I didn't have any bread flour on hand, so I mixed vital wheat gluten/gluten flour into ordinary plain flour. Use 1 teaspoon per cup. I removed the equivalent amount of plain flour first, or, in other words, used 1 teaspoon of gluten flour for 1 cup minus 1 teaspoon of flour, though that may have been unnecessarily pedantic.
  • I went easy on the espresso powder, because I didn't want a coffee flavour in my cake.
  • There are two layers of cake here, sandwiched with chocolate ganache. To do this, I doubled the recipe and spread it between two cake tins. 
  • Be careful watching the cake towards the end. I tested mine at the minimum time, and it was still underbaked, but a few minutes later, the toothpick came out completely clean, and I was aiming for not quite clean to ensure moistness - and it was on the dry side, though not badly so.
  • There is a lot of cake here. You could get at least 16 slices out of this.
  • I need to figure out how to ice the sides of a cake without also icing the plate...
  • To do the white chocolate drizzle, I used a small round icing tip. However, if you don't have any icing tips, you should still be able to get a good effect using one of these methods
    • Just dip a spoon in melted chocolate and gently drizzle it from a height. This will produce a thick and thin result, but I've done it in the past for other applications, and it still looks great.
    • Snip the corner off a ziplock bag, fill it with melted chocolate, and use the snipped off corner as make-shift piping tip. The hole should small, err on the small side, you can always make it bigger.