Parsnip Parsimony- A vegan baking and science blog.

“You’re crazy, Susie!”

Archive for April, 2008

The deal with the egg replacer thing.

Posted by Susie on April 14, 2008

So I’ve been swinging a lot of hints and promises around for the past three weeks, and I figure that I should just tell everyone what the deal is.

At the beginning of spring break three weeks ago, I had come to the decision that I would put an end to making everyone wait and wait for the mystery egg replacer that I’ve been talking about forever and ever. I resolved to write up a summary of all the things I’ve tried, what my logic was for trying them, why the egg replacer is not perfect yet, and my thoughts on possible solutions to the persistent problems. I felt guilty for not being able to put as much time into the project as I would have liked while I was doing other things in school and everyone else was waiting on me, so I thought it would be best if I created a summary of the past five years of work on this egg replacer, so that anyone who was interested would be free to mess around with trying to solve the problems that I was too busy to solve.

So I put some time into figuring out the best format for presenting all the information I’ve accumulated, the things I’ve tried, and the thought process that led me to this current obsession. That took about a week, but I finally decided on a format I was satisfied with. Then I started to outline and to organize my information and to trace my process of developing this egg replacer over the past five years. I found all the really badly taken notes on “experiments” I conducted years ago when I had no concept of experimental design, “significant digits” or of good scientific note taking practices. The fact that I did these “experiments” anyway, and even took notes on them, was a bit nostalgia inducing.

Then (after three-ish years of making outlines intending to write something on this subject) I actually started writing!  However, by the time I started making sentences, the outline that I had made myself for this document had become much more than a “short summary”. I was not writing at the speed I had imagined I would write at, either. After writing/researching/thinking only of this document for about a week and a half straight, by the last Friday of spring break, I had to face the fact that I was not going to finish this “short summary” by the time spring break was over.

Spring quarter started a week ago today, and I have been working on this when I get the chance, but I still am not even halfway done with a rough draft. I don’t know when I might finish this project, as I’m taking 16 credits again and I feel like its only a matter of time before I have no free time left. Also, in addition to writing this summary of my past research, I’m also still testing and acquiring new ideas of how I might be able to make the necessary transition from “super promising egg replacer with a few kinks to work out” to “Hey! This stuff is easy to prepare non-industrially and it works just like egg in everything!”

So, please accept my apologies for underestimating the amount of time it would take to write a summary of my egg replacer project. I realized a while ago that there is no reason to be secretive about this anymore. The only thing in my way is the difficulty I’m having with distilling five years of experimentation, conclusions, and unanswered questions into an effective communication.  I mean- I could post a “recipe” that everyone would try only to be disappointed by a lengthy process that gives mediocre results, and that doesn’t say why, despite its imperfections, that it represents a whole lot of potential as an egg replacer if the imperfections can be overcome, and what those imperfections are, and what doesn’t work to solve the problems that persist, and what might work if only we had the time or resources…. That is why I’m taking so long typing this thing, and why I’ve not just “said”.

So, please, by all means, if anyone out there just read through this ramble and has any sort of opinion, I would love to hear what it is.

And I will keep you posted about the status of the document I am working on.  Rest assured that I AM hellbent on getting this project to you all, and that given enough time, I will!


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Spring Break! I’ll show you my Brioche à têtes

Posted by Susie on April 5, 2008

I made some orange/ dark chocolate brioches the other day.  This time, I used measuring cups to weigh out my ingredients, so I have a volume unit recipe for you all! Enjoy!

The chocolate-orange flavor combination was suggested by the recipe that came with my pretty new brioche pans. I didn’t bother veganizing that recipe, but instead, I just added chocolate and orange to the added-gluten brioche formula I developed in January. The orange zest and bittersweet chocolate chunks made for the most outrageous yeast dough I have ever been in the presence of. Normally, yeasted bread doughs are not known as being irresistable, but this dough was.


Orange-Chocolate Brioche à têtes

Made four short brioches. I think if I had made two, maybe three bigger ones, they would have been better.

Starter: Mix together the following ingredients in a stand mixer with a spoon until uniform.  Allow starter to ferment for  20-30 minutes.

  • 3 Tbs bread flour
  • 1.5 tsp dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup+ 1 tsp room tempurature unsweetened soymilk

Dough: After starter is done fermenting, place a dough hook or paddle attachment on the stand mixer. Add  the water and lecithin to the mixer and mix to break up starter thoroughly.  Add flour, gluten, orange zest, and sugar to mixing bowl and mix on the lowest speed until all the flour is moist. Continue mixing, and begin adding the Earth Balance brand buttery sticks to the mixer, waiting until each addition is fully incorporated into the dough before adding more. Take your time adding the fat. Going too fast will result in an incoherent dough.

Note: There is no salt in this recipe on purpose. (The high amount of  salted margarine provides all the saltiness that is needed.) 

  • Starter (from above)
  • 1/4 cup + 3 tsp water
  • 1 drop liquid soy lecithin (a pinch of lecithin granules would work)
  • 1.5 cups bread flour (Thats the “scoop and shake method” for those who might otherwise do it “right”.)
  • 4 tsps vital wheat gluten
  • 4 tsps Sugar
  • Zest from one large washed orange.
  • 1.5 sticks earth balance buttery sticks.

Chocolate: Add the chopped chocolate to the dough and mix thoroughly.

  • 1/4 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate (I chopped 1/2 of a large lindt bar in a blender, but you could use a knife or a food processor. Or prepackaged chocolate chips, but I really liked the variety of size of chocolate chunk I got from using the blender: some powder to make the whole dough chocolate-y tasting, and some big chunks to be melty, gooey, and wonderful.)

Fermentation: Remove the dough hook from the mixer, cover the mixer bowl with something airtight, and let the dough sit for 3-4 hours at room tempurature.

Form the brioche: Devide the dough into pieces of the desired size, and place them into the pans you wish to bake them in. For traditional Brioche à têtes, place a small ball of dough on top of a larger ball. Anchor the small piece by rolling it out a little to give it a “tail”, make an indentation in the large piece with your thumb, and connect the two pieces. You can also form brioche as loaves and use a plain bread pan, or you can use muffin pans. As long as you give this fragile dough something to hold itself up with (I wouldn’t recommend hearth brioche, except maybe if you are making a ring-type thing.), the possibilities are only limited by your creativity.  Keep in mind the dough will almost double, but filling your pan to near the top will only result in impressive, high-rising brioche. (I should have made mine bigger.)

Chill and proof the shaped brioche: Cover the shaped brioche with something air-tight. Put it outside in the cold or in the refridgerator for 2-3 hours. (larger brioche will need more time.)

Bake the brioche: Preheat the oven to 350 F for smaller brioche, and 325 F for larger brioche. Take the Brioche out of the cold and let it set at room tempurature for a while (half hour-ish, less if you’re in a hurry. More if it doesn’t seem to be that poofy, no time at all if it is overproofed.) Prepare a xantham gum “egg wash” with a teensy weensy pinch of xantham in soy milk or soy creamer (leave out the xantham if you don’t have it), and wash the surface of the brioche right before placing them in the oven.

Take the brioche out of the oven when they have a golden brown color on the outside. My 4.6 oz mini Brioche à têtes took 50 minutes to reach the perfect crust color- yours will take about that long if they are a similar size, less time if they are smaller, and more time if they are larger. If in doubt: “if its not burning, five minutes longer won’t hurt it!”


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