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I've Got Wheels of Vegan Cake



March 2014



Cabbage Rolls with Mashed Potatoes and “Bacon” Sauce

cabbage rolls

This week has been wonderfully warm and sunny. I declare it’s spring. But tell that to the produce aisles in the supermarkets and grocery stores. They are still full of winter vegetables! So here’s one last winter recipe for you which features some very German but at the same time very international ingredients: cabbage and potatoes.

Cabbage rolls are a traditional German dish. If you look at ingredients and appearance it’s pretty clear what German cooking is about: Maximum meat and potatoes on a plate and please hide those vegetables! I think the cabbage is doing pretty good here in its pale camouflage costume, isn’t it? Let’s face it, traditional cabbage rolls are ugly. They will probably not pop up in one of those fancy lifestyle magazines or on our favourite pretty pink and clean Pinterest boards. And what a pain they are to prepare! How the heck do you deal with that whole head of cabbage and transform its leaves into neat wrappers for the filling? Well, all these concerns and complaints are totally valid. But cabbage rolls are also pretty damn delicious! Especially if you fill them with rice, tempeh, and peanuts and top them off with “bacon” sauce. And about that cabbage: it’s really easy to peel off the leaves and keep them perfectly intact if you just blanch the whole head in a large pot. And don’t worry about any leftover cabbage leaves! I have a solution for that, too!

Cabbage Rolls (makes 6 large rolls)

1 cup brown rice
2 cups vegetable broth or water
1 large head of cabbage
200 g (7 oz)* tempeh
1 tablespoon oil
1 large onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
80 ml (1/3 cup) vegetable broth
35 g (1/4 cup) roasted, salted peanuts
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons hot or mild paprika
more salt and pepper to taste
1 cup vegetable broth

* In Germany tempeh often comes in 7 oz packages. If you have an 8 oz package, you can use the whole thing.

Place the rice in a pot and add 2 cups of vegetable broth or water. Bring to a boil and simmer until done. Add some more water if necessary.

Add some water to a large pot with a steaming basket. Bring to a boil and add the cabbage head. Cover with a lid and steam for 5 minutes. Wear mitts to protect your hands and then cut off the two outer leaves. Use a fork to peel them off. This should be very easy. If not, steam the cabbage a bit longer and set them aside to cool. (I placed them in a large metal bowl.) Cut off 10 more leaves and set them aside. You should always steam the cabbage a bit more in between, so that the leaves are easier to peel off. I steamed it 2-3 minutes before peeling off another 2 leaves.


Store the leftover cabbage in a fridge. I’ll post a recipe for a cabbage stew in a day or two so you can use it up. You could also try this recipe for another cabbage stew that’s already up.

Place the tempeh in the pot and steam for 10 minutes, too. This should get rid of any bitterness. Set the tempeh aside to cool.

Add one tablespoon of oil to a large pan. Add onion and bell pepper and brown for 5-7 minutes. Crumble the tempeh into the pan, add thyme, salt and pepper and stir. Fry for 5 minutes. Place 1/3 cup broth and the peanuts in a blender. Add tempeh mixture and pulse. The mixture doesn’t have to be completely smooth, a few bits of peanuts and peppers are ok.
Add the cooked rice to a large bowl and mix with the contents of the blender. Add soy sauce, paprika, and season with salt and pepper again.

Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F). Have ready a baking dish that can accommodate 6 large cabbage rolls or use two smaller ones.

Place one cabbage leave on your working surface and place 1/6 of the filling in the centre. Fold over the edges and wrap up. (It’s like burrito wrapping!) Place the cabbage roll with the seam side down on a second leave and repeat. Place the roll on your prepared baking dish and repeat this with the remaining cabbage rolls. Pour the broth into the dish. (I used two dishes and divided the broth between the two.) Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake or broil for another 15 minutes or until the tops start to brown a bit.

While the rolls are baking prepare the mashed potatoes and the “bacon” sauce.

For the mashed potatoes:
750 g potatoes (26.5 oz) (waxy, not starchy!)
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt, pepper, and nutmeg, to taste

Peel the potatoes, quarter them and place in a large pot with enough salt water to cover them generously. Boil for 20-25 minutes or until soft. Drain them. Add soy milk and oil to the pot you just boiled the potatoes in. Heat the mixture. (It’s not necessary that it boils.) Add potatoes, mash with a fork or potato masher and make sure to incorporate the liquid well. A few small bits of unmashed potatoes are totally okay! I love my mashed potatoes that way.

For the “bacon” sauce (veganised and adapted from this recipe)
1 onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon oil
150 g (5.3 oz) smoked tofu, very finely cubed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon flour or starch
240 ml (1 cup) vegetable broth
2 tablespoons red wine
1/4 t dried marjoram
1/4 t dried thyme
1/4 t dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Add onion and oil to a small pan and caramelise the onion. When it’s nicely browned, add the tofu and fry until crispy. Add tomato paste, flour, vegetable broth, and red wine. Stir until the tomato paste is dissolved. Add herbs and cook for 5 minutes or until the sauce has thickened a bit.

Once your cabbage rolls are done, serve with mashed potatoes and sauce. The whole dish will serve four to six people.



March 2014



Vegan Marshmallow Bites

marshmallow bites

A while ago I saw a facebook update from my favourite store here in Dresden. They had vegan marshmallows in stock. I was very exited because vegan marshmallows are not available here unless you order them online. And I was exited although I don’t really care for marshmallows. In Germany they are sold as Mäusespeck (mouse bacon) and I guess kids eat them. But that’s all they ever do. There is no culture of roasting them at the fireplace or eating them with hot chocolate here. I never cared for them because on their own they are just too sweet and sticky for me. And still I was exited because it’s great that these can be veganised, too.


A couple of days later P. brought a box home and they have been sitting in the fridge for a couple of days until I was able to decide what to do with them. I found a recipe online for chocolate, coconut, and almond bars that looked exactly like what I was looking for and was easy to veganise. I toasted some almonds and coconut flakes in a pan and set them aside. I chopped up a chocolate bar. I figured out what to use in place of the cereal the recipe called for. And then my inexperience with marshmallows came in the way. The recipe said to melt the marshmallows in a microwave. Ok, but we don’t own a microwave. So I added a tablespoon of coconut oil to a pot and tried to melt the marshmallows in the pot. After a couple of minutes the marshmallows still hadn’t melted fully, but the mass was super sticky and really hard to handle. At the same time F. distracted me so I just dumped all the ingredients into the pot and started stirring to combine them. I transferred it to pan and started pressing it in there only to realise I had forgotten to add the cereal. Ah, well.

So this recipe didn’t turn out as intended but these chewy little chocolate coconut bites are delicious!


Vegan Marshmallow Bites (makes 15)

100 g (3.5 oz) vegan marshmallows
1 tablespoon refined coconut oil
80 g (3/4 cup plus 1 2/3 tablespoons) shredded coconut
50 g slivered almonds (1/2 cup)
60 g dark chocolate, chopped (2.1 oz)

Line a small baking dish with parchment paper. (20 x 13 cm) Add coconut and almonds to a pan and toast for a couple of minutes, or until the nuts are just about to brown a little bit. Stir often. Set aside.

Place coconut oil and marshmallows in a pan. Melt the marshmallows, stirring constantly. This will take a while and probably the marshmallows won’t melt super evenly. (Or melt them in a microwave, following the directions from the original recipe.) Once the marshmallows have melted, add the remaining ingredients and stir well. Press into the pan and let cool for about an hour. Cut into 15 squares.



February 2014



Butterkuchenmuffins {Yeasted Muffins with Roasted Almond Topping}

butterkuchen muffins

Of course there is no butter in these muffins. Not even vegan butter. Although many butterkuchen recipes call for vegan butter or margarine because you are supposed to put flakes of butter on the dough. Well, I decided to do things a little differently by a. not making a baking sheet of cake and b. by using roasted almond oil instead of the butter.

Butterkuchen. Every Northern German has childhood memories about butterkuchen. My memories are church and community related. Whenever we children had to attend parish events, there was butterkuchen. At every funeral there was butterkuchen. Everyone always seemed to serve us butterkuchen. Maybe I never ate anything else? I remember that in preparation for our first communion we had to attend some meetings, accompanied by our parents. We were led into a huge room in our community hall where some parish members had set up long tables with white tablecloths and huge plates of butterkuchen cut into stripes. I seriously don’t remember why we were there and what they told us. I think the main purpose for us to be there was, as always, to eat butterkuchen and drink red grape juice. Ew, how I hated red grape juice. I still hate it. I usually just gulped the glass down and then dedicated myself to the soft, sweet, and crunchy slice of butterkuchen. And then to another one.

Butterkuchen is a simple and humble cake. It’s just a yeast cake baked on large baking sheets and usually sold in long stripes cut from the sheet. The special thing about butterkuchen is that it has a topping made from butter, sugar, and sliced almonds. This topping is applied before baking so that the butter sinks in and makes the cake even softer. Together with the roasted almonds this makes the cake quite addictive.

I didn’t feel like making a whole sheet (no Norhtern Germans to feed.). And I think these muffins look nicer than a plain cake. Also, they are slighly different from a genuine butterkuchen. Not only because I didn’t use butter, but because of special purpose of the oil in this recipe. During baking the oil will sink into the slots between the dough and the tin and fry the muffin a little bit from all sides. Which makes it more like a doughnut that a butterkuchen. Which probably means that I should move to New York and start selling bukunuts. Or whatever fancy name we can find for this.

Butterkuchen Muffins (makes 8 muffins)

adapted from this recipe

For the yeasted muffins:
135 ml (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon) soy milk
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons coconut oil
210 g (1 3/4 cups) flour
10 g fresh yeast or 1 teaspoon instant dry yeast
1 /4 teaspoon salt
roasted almond oil for brushing (canola, peanut, or sunflower oil works, too.)

Combine soy milk, sugar, and coconut oil in a small pot. Warm gently over low heat until the oil has melted. Let cool until luke warm.

Add the flour to a large bowl. Make a well and add the yeast (even if it’s instant). Pour the liquid mixture into the well and let sit for 10 minutes. Add salt and knead the dough well. It’s enough to knead this dough for 2-3 minutes. It should still be sticky and the gluten will continue to develop while you let it rest and rise. So don’t worry about it being sticky. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.

Grease eight cups of a muffin tin with oil. Divide the dough into eight equally sized pieces. Shape into balls and press into the cups. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place for another 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Remove the towel and use your thumb to make a little well in the centre. Generously brush each muffin with roasted almond oil or whatever you have on hand.


For the topping

3 tablespoons sugar
40 g (1/3 cup) slivered almonds

Combine sugar and almonds in a bowl and mix well. Generously sprinkle on top of the muffins.

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Make sure that an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool until luke warm or cool and serve immediately. They will dry out fast, so eat them up!



February 2014



Bean and Sauerkraut Stew


I made this recipe last week when we were stuck at home with a cold. I wasn’t feeling super well, so I just looked into the pantry instead of heading out to the store. At first I thought I could make a simple chili. Then I saw the can of sauerkraut. Sauerkraut. A staple in many German households you might think. But around me people never got very creative with sauerkraut. It is often served with sausage or meat and potatoes. And that’s it. Super boring and not worth veganising.

I think this is unfair because there’s so much you can actually do with sauerkraut. I have made sauerkraut bread before and a very delicious sauerkraut casserole. I’ve seen sauerkraut fritters online and even a sauerkraut guglhupf. It’s also a very popular ingredient in goulash. So I thought, why not add sauerkraut to a chili? I was a bit sceptical at first and thought the sauerkraut would indeed make my chili stew “sour”, especially since I also added a can of tomatoes. But this wasn’t the case. This stew is very mild and the taste is quite well-balanced. I added mild paprika powder because spicy foods are a bit off-limits since we have a child who doesn’t tolerate heat very well. But this would be great with a generous dash of hot sauce! Speaking of children: F. refused to eat this until I blended everything and served her this “tomato and bean soup”. Then she went for two bowls.

Bean and Sauerkraut Stew (serves 4-6)

1 tablespoon oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium-sized red bell peppers, diced
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
2 cloves garlic, minced
200 g sauerkraut, drained and finely chopped
1 can (400g or 14 oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (400g or 14 oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cans (800g or 28 oz) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
720 ml (3 cups) vegetable broth or water
2 teaspoons paprika powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon agave nectar
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large pot. Add onion, pepper, and rosemary. Fry for 5-6 minutes. Add garlic, fry for one more minute then add remaining ingredients except for agave syrup. Cook covered over medium heat for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and cook uncovered for another 10 minutes to thicken the stew a bit. Stir in agave nectar, season with salt and pepper and serve.



February 2014



Spelt Bread with Nuts and Seeds

spelt bread

Many people tell me they don’t make their own bread because it is so time-consuming. I always told them this wasn’t true. It’s funny how people chance their opinion. I loved to bake my own bread when I worked from home and was able to look after a rising dough or a baking bread from time to time. Now I don’t work from home and when I am home, I have to watch a toddler. So I told myself that watching a yeast dough and a toddler was way too much for me. Which is not true because I cook and bake other things while F. is around. While she is “helping” me by cleaning out the kitchen cabinets, peeling an onion on the floor, or “assorting” the regular and the whole wheat spaghetti by putting them all in the same jar.

To be honest, I don’t like cooking when I am distracted like that. For me cooking is a way to relax. When I have the time to watch my bread rise it helps me to come back down after a stressful day. Looking at the dough turning into bread is like meditation to me. But when there’s a toddler around trying to pick an old cookie out of the rubbish bin, I am not relaxed. And that is the main reason why I don’t bake much bread any longer. But still, this is an excuse, isn’t it? Because I am not the only person in this house who looks after F. and I can use the kitchen without having F. running around my feet. It’s not her fault that I have become so lazy when it comes to bread baking.

When I started to knead the dough for this loaf, I immediately remembered why bread baking is so rewarding. You can use your favourite ingredients. You know your ingredients. You can watch the whole process and then, when the loaf is in the oven and it starts to rise perfectly and you know you did everything right, something so simple as a homemade bread can make your day.

spelt bread

Those slashes are perfect and I am proud of them. I tried so man things to get them right and no knife and no method would work. Now I am using a very sharp carbon steel paring knife and finally my slashes come out beautifully.

Instead of making one large loaf I decided to make four smaller ones. I have a fancy baguette pan that I never use, so I just put the breads in there. Don’t worry if you don’t own  such a pan.The shape of these loaves is totally up to you! (You can also see that I shaped them very sloppily and still the result was perfect.)

Light spelt flour and roasted nuts and seeds were my choice for these loaves which also freeze well. The dough is made with a lot of water and might be a bit difficult to work with. My experience with spelt flour is that it needs a lot of moisture otherwise the bread will dry up fast. One trick to store this moisture is by adding soaked seeds to the dough. The result is a heavy but not dense bread. It has the kind of weight that makes you realise that this is a good quality bread. It will keep fresh longer than your average store bought baguette. (Which is fresh for how long? Five minutes? So this is easy to beat.)

spelt bread

Spelt Bread with Hazelnuts and Seeds

90 g (2/3 cup) hazelnuts
4 tablespoons sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2 tablespoons flax seeds
3 tablespoons water
500 g (4 cups plus 2 tablespoons) light spelt flour
350 ml ( 1 1/3 cups plus 2 tablespoons) lukewarm water
1 teaspoon instant yeast
10 g ( 1 2/3 teaspoons) salt

Add the hazelnuts to a small pan and roast for five minutes, stirring from time to time to prevent the nuts from burning. Add remaining seeds except for the flax and roast for another 2-3 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Combine flax and 3 tablespoons water and let sit.

Add the flour to a large bowl and make a well. Add water and instant yeast and let sit for five minutes. (Technically you don’t have to do this with instant yeast. But I feel that when I do this the yeast does a better job.) Add salt and knead the dough for 5-7 minutes or until smooth. Let rise at room temperature until doubled in size. This may take up to two hours, depending on the room temperature. Slowly is better, so don’t place the dough in your oven with the lights on.

Add roasted nuts, seeds, and flax and knead the dough until everything is incorporated. At this point the dough will probably be a bit sticky again, but that is normal. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and resist the urge to knead in too much flour. Divide the dough into four equal pieces and shape into small baguettes or batards and place on a greased baguette pan or on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Dust with flour and cover with a damp kitchen towel. Let rise for 45 to 60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 250°C (480°F). Place a rimmed baking sheet or a large baking dish (metal not glass!) on the bottom of the oven. (You are going to fill this with a cup of hot water as soon as the bread is in the oven.)

As soon as you are ready to put the bread into the oven, boil one cup of water. Put on some kitchen mitts and place the bread in the oven. Immediately pour the hot water into the prepared baking sheet on the bottom. Be very careful and make sure your hands are properly covered so you don’t burn yourself. Close the door and decrease the heat to 200°C (400°F). Bake for 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the breads sound hollow when tapped. Let cool completely before serving.

spelt bread