Zaq's Snacks :D

Adventures in vegan baking

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Lasagna and French Bread
sweedish chef
This is my first weekend in my new city, because I was back home last weekend for a wedding. That means that I hadn't done groceries in two weeks. I ran around like a crazy person and visited 3 grocery stores today because I am a big cheapo who didn't want to pay 2x the price to shop at Metro when there's a No Frills just a 20 minute walk away!

When I was finally done running around, it was 1pm and I hadn't eaten lunch yet, so I decided that the best way to feed my rumbling tummy was to make some long, labour-intensive food!

This lasagna was like an explosion of new things for me. I have actually never made lasagna before. My mom used to make it sometimes when I was younger; I always used to "help" in the kitchen, and I remember that making lasagna was one of my favourite jobs. The best part (at the time) was rolling up a bit of cheese in an extra noodle and scarfing it down. Times have changed, and this lasagna is of course cheese free; instead, it has tofu ricotta. I have also never made my own marinara, but I did it for this lasagna, too. It was so simple and super delicious that I will DEFINITELY do it again in the future; no more canned sauces for me! And I have ALSO never bought olives before, but I am really trying to learn to like new things, and I have to say that the olives in this marinara were super delicious. Also also, I bought and used kale today for the first time because I kind of neglected to buy enough spinach at store #1, and somehow store #3 had no spinach at all. Kale not only makes you a true vegan, but it is also pretty darn tasty in a broco-spinach-y kind of way. Mmm.

All of these new things somehow came together into one amazing dish. I am incapable of serving lasagna neatly so here's a picture of it straight out of the oven. I devoured it in one sitting.

Haha, just kidding. It will definitely last me a week. And my new place has a fridge with a big freezer, so I can save some for later! Score!

As if that wasn't enough delayed gratification for deliciousness, I baked two loaves of French bread because making two loaves takes basically the same amount of time as one and, hey, freezer space abounds these days. I also learned that my tiny oven is approximately 2 mm too small to accomidate my beautiful stoneware pan properly, so I had to jam it in as if it was a shelf. Whop. Despite this setback, I still managed to produce two misshapen bread-like objects. They are as delicious as they look. If you've never baked your own bread, you really should. It is easier than pie, even if you are like me and you don't have a stand mixer / food processor / bread maker, and even though the entire process takes about 4 hours to complete, you spend the majority of that time loafing around and organizing / backing up the files on your computer if you are me.

Franglais Bread

4 cups AP flour*
~2 cups warm water
1 tsp yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar

* yes, bread flour is better to use than AP flour, I just don't have any kickin' around. No, don't use pastry flour unless you feel like adding in a bit of gluten. Yes, you can sub in whole wheat flours but don't ever use 100% whole wheat flour for the whole thing or else you will end up with a huge hockey puck.

Dissolve the sugar in the water, then sprinkle the yeast overtop. Give it about 10 minutes to make sure it's alive and well. When 10 minutes have passed, add about half of the flour and stir together with a wooden spoon. Add in the remaining flour in small portions, mixing with your hands when the dough begins to form a ball around the spoon. Add in only enough flour to form a nice, non-sticky dough. Knead for about 15 minutes on a floured surface.

When you're done kneading, grease a clean glass bowl, put the dough ball inside and cover with a damp tea towel. Allow the dough to rise until it has approximately doubled in size (approximately one hour). This step works well on the counter on a warm summer day, but when your apartment is <20 C, you might want to pop the bread into the oven on the absolute lowest possible heat setting humanly possible. Like, turn on the oven, allow it to become warm, then turn it off. Don't let it bake at this point! And don't set your tea towel on fire.

After the first hour, punch down the bread. Form it into the shape you ultimately want (I went for "blob"), place it on the tray it's going to be baked on, and allow it to rise for about another hour, until it has again doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to about 350F. Slash the top of your bread three times with a sharp blade. Right before putting the bread in the oven, spray the inside of your oven with water. This helps your bread to form a nice crust. Put the bread in the oven and bake unitl the crust is light brown and the loaf sounds hollow when you tap on it (about 40ish minutes). You can spray the inside of the oven with water periodically while you bake.

When the bread is done, allow it to rest for about an hour before you cut into it; the heat trapped inside helps to complete the baking process.


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