READERS often write in with requests for recipes for special diets. Kathleen Teillet, who has family friends who are vegans, has suggested that Recipe Swappers might be interested in seeing some vegan options. With no animal products -- that means no eggs or dairy -- baking can be a challenge. It does take a little ingenuity: Kathleen mentioned a "sour cream" coffee cake that used pumpkin puree for moistness, for example. Helen Pitura sent in a recipe for a vegan version of date loaf, while Anita Miller offered a recipe for a vegan apple cake. She made it for a friend's daughter who has egg and dairy allergies.
In recipe requests this week, Arlene Elendiuk loves the florentines at the Piazza di Nardi but would like to make them at home. I also got a wonderful letter from Leona K. that lamented the modern proliferation of weird baking pan sizes. (With baking, even a small shift in pan size can change your results, and it can be hard to tinker with if you're not familiar with the recipe.) She described the frustration of wanting to make a recipe and then finding that it calls for mini-muffin pans or an odd-sized loaf or an 8-inch tart pan. In the spirit of that letter, how about a call out for some favourite recipes for a good old-fashioned standard loaf pan? (That's 9x5in, or 22x12.5cm.)
If you can help with a recipe request, have your own request, or a favourite recipe you'd like to share, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, fax it to 697-7412, or write to Recipe Swap, c/o Alison Gillmor, Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6. Please include your first and last name, address and telephone number.
Vegan apple cake
900 ml (4 cups) apples (about 4 medium-sized), peeled and sliced thin
250 ml (1 cup) white sugar
500 ml (2 cups) all-purpose flour
5 ml (1 tsp) cinnamon
2 ml (1/2 tsp) nutmeg
7 ml (1 1/2 tsp) baking soda
125 ml (1/2 cup) oil (canola or sunflower is good)
5 ml (1 tsp) vanilla
150 ml (2/3 cup) chopped nuts or 250 ml (1 cup) raisins
Preheat oven to 160C (325F). Spray a 22x33cm (9x13 in) baking pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine apples and sugar and let stand 20 minutes. In a small bowl whisk together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and baking soda. Add oil, vanilla and nuts or raisins and stir to combine. (Mixture will be thick.) Add to apple mixture, mix to combine and spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until browned and set in the middle. Cool on a rack and cut into squares.
Tester's notes: As with many vegan cake batters, this one doesn't look or handle like conventional cake batter. Not to worry, though: The baked results are very nice, with a mellow flavour and a good texture: the cake is moist but cuts well. I used nuts for some crunchy contrast.
Vegan date and nut bread
310 ml (1 1/4 cups) boiling water
500 ml (2 cups) chopped dates
45 ml (3 tbsp) vegan margarine
175 ml (3/4 cup) brown sugar
1 ml (1/4 tsp) salt
175 ml (3/4 cup) chopped nuts
500 ml (2 cups) all-purpose flour
2 ml (1/2 tsp) baking soda
2 ml (1/2 tsp) cinnamon
Preheat oven to 190C (375F). Grease a 22x12.5cm (9x5in) loaf pan. Place chopped dates in a large bowl, cover with boiling water and stir in margarine. Let cool to lukewarm, about 10 minutes, and then stir in brown sugar, salt and nuts. In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and cinnamon. Add to the date mixture and blend well. Spoon into prepared pan and bake for 45-55 minutes or until centre is set. Cool completely on rack, remove from pan, wrap with foil and let stand 24 hours before slicing.
Tester's notes: This rich, caramel-sweet loaf is a bit like a fruitcake. Do wrap and let sit for a day, as this helps bind it together. I used a block of dates, well chopped, and walnut pieces for the nuts.