Sunday, February 22, 2009
(photos courtesy of Toshiko Sato!)
Yesterday's class was all about converting, that is taking recipes using conventional ingredients (white sugar, white flour, eggs, canned additives) and one step at a time replacing the conventional ingredients with natural ones and ideally ones that have some health supportive properties. It wasn't easy and some of them weren't successful at all. We all had one recipe to work with, chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, banana bread, chocolate brownies and we were making carrot cake. The fruit ones of course seemed to be the easiest to convert but we had some BRUTAL results. It seemed logical to replace the white sugar with date sugar and a little molasses but the date sugar dried everything out even before we got it in the oven and the texture was just horrible. Our best result in the vegan zone was with an arrowroot slurry as egg replacer, coconut oil instead of canola, and maple crystals instead of white sugar. They were light and fluffy, not too sweet and definitely the prettiest.
In the other groups the ones that created interesting results were using cashew flour (just ground cashews) in the oatmeal raisin cookies. This produced tuile like results that were beautiful and tasty. Those are my favorite kind of cookies so I was psyched.
Here are some of the nuggets I gleaned from the exercise:
A good egg replacer is 2 Tablespoons Arrowroot mixed with 3 Tablespoons Water.
A bad one (in our results)was the flax egg (1 Tablespoon ground flax combined with 3 Tablespoons Water.)
Avoid date sugar!
Maple crystals are a pretty easy white sugar substitute. In most of the conversions the maple taste was barely noticeable if at all. Of course the color is a factor.
I'm gonna start experimenting with using panela and agave (agave seems to be having some sort of controversy these days so who knows if people will accept it as a natural substitute in a few months. My main goal is to try to minimize the use of refined ingredients as much as possible but not sacrifice taste texture and common sense.