So, I've made a carrot cake before, which I brought to the interview.
Then most recently, as the cafe gets closer and closer to opening day, the staff got together and myself and another baker brought some other items to the table to try.
I made lemon tart (failed), dark chocolate brownies with cocoa nibs (semi-failed), and bread pudding (success!).
Lemon Tart - adapted from Ripe for Dessert/David Lebovitz
5Tbsp Butter (I used Earth Balance Butter - it was salted, so I left out the salt in the recipe)
4Tbsp Iced Water
Mix together Sugar and Flour. Add butter. Crumble together with your hands until it resembles "corn kernels". Add Iced Water and mix dough together. Roll out onto a lightly floured surface to work it all together, then shape into a disk. Wrap in plastic and let chill in the fridge for at least 30 min.
Roll out dough, fit into your tart pan. Blind bake/poke holes so it doesn't puff up in the oven - 350 for 10 minutes-ish. I just watched until the mini tarts turned golden brown. (But it ended up being little crispy suckers... so something wasn't quite right.)
Lemon Tart Filling
0.5C Lemon Juice (3-4 Lemons, depending on size)
1/3 + 1/4C Sugar
4 Egg Replacer "eggs"
6Tbsp Butter, cut into pieces (same thing here with leaving out the salt given the already salted butter)
Grated Zest of 2 Lemons
Cornstarch Slurry (Mix cornstarch and lemon juice/water) - to help thicken filling to a light sour cream consistency on the stove
Mix all together, less the Slurry, on stove. As it seems to somewhat thicken (but not really), add in the Slurry - cook until you reach the light sour cream consistency (or runny mayonnaise.) Pour through a strainer.
Once both filling and tart "shells" are cooled - fill shells, then bake in oven at 350 until set. (Which it never did - so poopoo.)
Next up, Dark Chocolate Vegan Brownies with Cocoa Nibs:
adapted from "The Ultimate Vegan Brownie" recipe from Guilty Kitchen
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp espresso powder
0.5C hot water
1.25 cups turbinado sugar
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
0.75Cup dutch process cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp ground flax seeds
6 Tbsp hot water
0.25C Cocoa Nibs (I just decided to throw these in to see what it would turn out to be - the verdict? Not a fan.)
Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler. Combine espresso with the hot water.
Mix chocolate mixture, vanilla and espresso mix all together. Mix in sugar.
Mix together ground flax seeds and hot water. Set aside.
Combine the dry ingredients. Then add to chocolate mixture. The add in flax seed mixture. Then fold in cocoa nibs.
Pour (or in my case, dump) the mixture into a prepared 8x8 pan. Spread evenly. Bake at 350 30-40minutes, or until toothpick comes out with a few crumbs. (I should have split the batter into two pans, or 1 larger one - oops.)
The brownie came out nice - DENSE, and somewhat crumbly, as mentioned in the originating post. But still good/edible. The top was dull - missing the sheen as in "regular" brownies. The cocoa nibs add a chewy, seedy texture that I don't like.
And last but not least, Bread Pudding!
1/2 Loaf Challah (recipe below)
2C Soy Milk
1C Soy Creamer
3 Egg Replacer "eggs"
1/4t ground cinnamon
zest from 1/2 Orange (this absolutely brings out the flavors!)
1T vanilla extract
Combine all wet ingredients. Tear up bread and mix. Mix in raisins.
Pour into buttered pan. (9in round or loaf pan)
Bake at 325 for 1 hour. To test, press center of bread pudding - if there is liquid, keep baking.
1/2C Warm Water
1T dry yeast
1/2C Vegetable oil
1/2C Warm Water
2 Egg Replacer "eggs"
3 to 4 Cups Flour
Dissolve sugar in warm water. Add yeast. Stir to dissolve. Add oil, other 1/2C warm water, sugar, salt, "eggs", and half the flour. Beat well. Stir in a cup or so more of flour. (Dough will be sticky.) Cover and let rest for 10 min. Then turn out of bowl and knead dough - adding more flour as needed. (Challah is a relatively dry dough, meaning it is a bit tacky to the touch, but NOT sticky.)
Put dough into a lightly oiled ziplock. Let rise until doubled.
Gently shape dough - divide into three sections and "braid", fasten ends securely.
Put on pan - let rise again.
Bake at 350 for 35-40 min.
The bread pudding came out wonderfully! I had a warm piece for breakfast the next day. And it was a hit at the "meeting" with both vegan and non-vegan staffers.
Vegan baking isn't as hard or "out there" as some may think. It's really all about making the right substitutions and choices. Of course, trial and error doesn't hurt either.
The lesson with this particular "baking adventure" - try not to make three completely different things, all from scratch, in one night. You will get little sleep, hit your head with the microwave door the next morning, be cranky at all drivers on the road, and have a "minor" breakdown an hour prior to the meeting. Just sayin'.
But it was well worth it... the bread pudding has made the cut for the menu! (Sorry brownies, you didn't pass this one... And the lemon tarts are no longer worth mentioning.)