Baking has always been intimidating to me. Compared to cooking on the stove, I wouldn’t be able to alter the dish in case it didn’t come out right. Once you popped the dough in the oven, there’s no turning back. Baking is a science, a set formula. Every measurement and procedure has to be precise otherwise the bread will come out too hard, or too soft, or it won’t rise, and all other inedible disasters.
But where to begin? Good thing a follower on Instagram suggested I should veganize ensaymada, a Spanish-influenced Filipino pastry coated in sugar, butter, and sometimes cheese. Ensaymada is definitely NOT healthy. It’s one of those guilty pleasures or special rewards you give yourself for being “good”. So proceed with caution, or in moderation.
To veganize ensaymada, I used readily vegan alternatives from the grocery store. I wish I could make my own butter, milk, and cheddar cheese from scratch but I honestly don’t have the time to conjure something like those, especially when ensaymada already takes some time to make. Nevertheless, if you could do them from scratch I highly recommend staying away from processed goods. But if you don’t have any choice, feel free to try Earth Balance vegan butter, Daiya cheddar cheese, and any regular nut milk-all available at major grocery stores. White sugar is usually not vegan, but organic sugar is, so be sure to check the label.
VEGAN ENSAYMADA RECIPE
Recipe adapted from: Filipinocooking.net
For the dough:
- 3 1/4 cups flour
- 1 pack of active yeast
- 4 tbsp organic sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp egg replacer (I used 3 tbsp flax meal mixed in 6 tbsp water, let it rest for at least 5 minutes)
- 1/4 cup warm almond milk (or any vegan milk)
- 1/3 cup warm water (110 F)
- Vegan butter
- Organic Sugar
- Daiya Cheddar Cheese (optional)
- In a small bowl, mix the warm water, yeast, and a teaspoon of sugar. Let it rest for at least 15 minutes or until foamy.
- In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, and salt
- Add in the wet ingredients: almond milk, yeast mixture, and egg replacer.
- The mixture should be a gooey consistency but not too wet. If so, add more flour to adjust.
- Knead for at least 30 minutes. I used an electric stand mixer and kneaded for 20 minutes until the dough is smooth.
- Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise for at least 1 hour.
Trick: I learned from vegan chef Chloe Coscarelli to pre-heat the oven at its lowest setting then turn off. Place the dough inside and let it sit for about an hour. This way, the dough will rise faster.
- After the dough doubles its size, remove the from the oven and punch it in the middle to let the air out. Form it into a log and divide it into 8-10 sections, depending on the size you want them to be.
- Using a rolling pin, flatten each section to a thin rectangular shape.
- Brush melted butter on top then roll the dough from end to end to form a log shape.
- Form a coil by rolling the dough sideways.
- Place the coiled dough on an oiled baking pan and let them rest for at least 30 minutes in a warm place (like the warmed oven)
- The dough should once again double its size.
- Bake in the oven at 325 F for about 30 minutes or until light golden in color.
- Once baked, remove from the oven and let it cool down.
- Spread soft butter on top then dip the bread on sugar. You may also add vegan cheese on top.
If you don’t have the time to bake from start to finish, feel free to refrigerate the dough to deactivate the yeast. You could do this right before you divide the dough into sections. Take the dough out of the fridge once you’re ready to continue the baking process.
Aside from these basic tips, I’ve also learned to pay close attention to measurements, temperature, and kneading procedures, which in turn have made me appreciate baking and its magic. Perhaps baking is not so bad after all!