I’m no stranger to the challenges and frustrations associated with gluten-free vegan baking! The perils of baking without dairy, eggs or gluten are real my friend and I feel your pain.
What you see here is a weekend of failure. Three bakes, none of which worked and one that I made three times!
Ok, let’s back up a bit . . . I’m a self-taught cook, and while I spent many years working in professional kitchens, I mostly learned to cook in my kitchen at home. I love to peer into an empty fridge, raid a sparse pantry and magic a meal into existence. Between me and my stovetop, I’ve learnt a lot about cooking in the last 10 years but my first venture into the kitchen started with baking.
I baked a lot as a teenager. I even spent a year at pastry school straight out of high school. But since then I’ve barely baked at all and the truth is I’m pretty rusty.
All things considered, you might think my desire to learn to bake without gluten, eggs and dairy a little bold. Well, I would agree. The road to a fudgy, gluten-free, vegan brownies is hardly paved with an empty pantry!
The reality of a perfect GF vegan bake is the accumulation of countless trial bakes, recipe adjustments, troubleshooting and many, many trips to the supermarket.
In the first image I present to you my leaning tower of pastries – failed pastries!
The cinnamon scrolls had so much yeast in them they taste fermented but came out of the oven stale. The banana bread barely rose and had a streak of dense dough along the bottom, which could mean any number of things! Too much liquid, too much sugar, too much fat, too much banana, not enough leavening agent, the bake time was too short, the oven temperature was too high, or the oven temperature was too low. That’s enough variables to mean I could test this recipe every day for a month and still not get it right. And lastly, we have brownies that completely fell to crumbs at the sight of a knife.
If you’re troubleshooting your own, maddening, GF vegan bakes, I’m afraid I don’t have much advice for you (UPDATE: 2021 Kylie does check out 11 Gluten-free Vegan Baking Mistakes and How To Fix Them).
What I can say is the process of learning to ‘free from’ bake reminds me of learning to ‘free from’ cook. When I started cooking plant-based food, I quickly learnt that I’d never be able to exactly replicate the texture of chicken or the glory of a cheese pull. I was making something new, a meal that was just as tasty and texturally appealing as its Omni counterpart, but one that was also distinctly different. As they say in the world of eyebrows; not twins, sisters.
Cashews are never going to be cheddar and with a reluctant sigh, I recognise that gluten-free baking is the same. And for the final yawn-inducing lesson; it takes practice.
I’ve been cooking plant-based food for a decade. I show up in my kitchen every evening to make a meal. Even though a decade of crumbly, under proved, densely streaked bakes seems like a truly tiresome forecast . . . I’d do just about anything to be the one who cracks gluten-free croissants!
Update: this blog post was written, exactly a year ago from today (the 5th of February 2021).
Since writing this post, I’ve learnt an extraordinary amount about gluten-free vegan baking. As tempting as it is for me to delete this blog entry I think it serves as a good reminder of how valuable consistency is when you’re learning a new skill or have decided to take on a new venture!
I’m still working on my cinnamon scrolls but I have a great gluten-free, vegan recipe for brownies and a post that will help you troubleshoot any of the gluten-free, vegan baking roadblocks you may come to.