Parsnip Parsimony- A vegan baking and science blog.

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Posts Tagged ‘vegan’

Aromatic Rings!

Posted by Susie on May 19, 2008

Last Friday in my organic chemistry class, there was a take home test about benzene chemistry due. I, for the first time in memory, had finished the test a day early. So, instead of staying up all of Thursday night in order to finish my test, I made the decision that there was going to be a donut party in class the next day. This is a food pun which I have been resisting since the end of gen chem, and I simply could not hold back any longer. So I whipped out my kitchen notebook, reviewed some of the literature, and began planning my synthesis. I was going to make some aromatic rings!

Don’t you feel like you could go furan aromatic ring right about now?


I based my donut dough on this recipe, which was posted on Vegan Hedonism about a year ago. I always use some variation of it whenever I feel like making donuts. I left out the “egg replacer”, and used all cold soymilk instead of the mixture of water and warm rice milk called for by the Vegan Hedonism folks. The dough was mixed around 8 pm Thursday, fermented it in the refrigerator until 8 am Friday, then sectioned into 3.5 oz round balls of dough, placed on a floured pan, covered, and returned to the fridge to rest/proof. When I got back from my tech writing class at 11 am, I removed the pan from the fridge, and let the dough warm up while I prepped my icings and started heating my oil. When the oil was 375 Fahrenheit and the dough was sufficiently spongy, I stabbed each dough ball through its center, and pulled it out into a nice donut shape. Into the hot oil they went, two at a time. They fry on one side for 90 seconds, then get flipped with a skewer, and then fry on other side for 90 seconds before lifting them out with the skewer onto some waiting paper towels. I like to throw in the next two donuts at this point to get them started, then glaze the first ones while I wait for it to be time to flip the new ones. I glazed half of the donuts right out of the oil, and left the other half to cool so I could dunk them in the thicker frostings. I was in a bit of a hurry when I was frying and decorating these, so I didn’t record the weights of the glaze and icing ingredients I used. I will have to make donuts again some day and document it as a tutorial for you all.

(Transition state)


Despite the horrible/awesome mockery of my beloved “food science”, there WAS some real live aromaticity going on in these donuts. All of the icings contained your favorite and mine, 3-hydroxy-4-methoxybenzaldehyde, AKA “vanillin”, the major molecule responsible for the flavor of vanilla


The pink icing was spiked with benzaldehyde (which is what makes bitter almond extract taste like bitter almond extract).


I’ve always been more interested in using food science to affect the structure of bakery foods, rather than the details of flavor chemistry, but now that I’m almost done with this school year of O-chem, flavor chemistry is starting to seem more interesting to me- probably because I can understand parts of it now. Two years ago if I looked at these funny stick drawings, I kind of spaced out. Now, my mind fills with thoughts of resonance, sterics, functional groups, and pKa values. I tentatively think this is kind of cool, but I guess I will have to get back to you on that…

Look! Shiny!

So, all in all, I think its safe to say this synthesis was a success. The yield was 100% and the solvent was able to be filtered and reused, so these are some pretty damn green donuts, yknow?

And the best part is…. Theres only 50 kilocalories[1] per 6.022×10^23 donuts! … And they are “organic”! [2]

[1] About 50 kcal down to cyclohexene, and really I do not feel like going and remembering how to calculate the rest of the C-C and C-H BDEs. So lets just say 50 kilocalories because I’m sleepy. I had a physics test this morning, and have already done all the thermodynamics I feel like doing thankyouverymuch.

[2] Sorry. That wipes out my pun quota for at least a month, right?

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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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