Dreamy Pecan Brioche Braid

Let’s just say that the last few weeks have been a bit crazy.  A few days ago, I was finally able to pull the plug and just relax – no more 10 people talking to me at once, no homework, no events to run around to, just pure 100% unadulterated relaxation.  And, finally the time I often crave to concentrate on what I love doing – creating with food.

A few weeks ago I got my hands on a vegan raspberry yeast bread recipe that got my gears turning.  It was missing something – it was too airy and missing some sweetness.  And, as the story often goes, once I have have nagging feeling of how I could tweak a recipe to make it better, it doesn’t leave me alone until I am satisfied.

So, my husband and I rolled up our sleeves and whipped together this caramely, yeasty, soft, chewy, fluffy, delicious vegan pecan brioche.  When it came out of the oven we were both grinning.  We managed to let it cool for 5 minutes before slowly cutting it open and taking the first bites.  However, after sitting on the counter overnight, it developed a wonderful crumb like that found in a German Hefezopf, and every day it sat, the more the flavors developed.

Today we gobbled up the last bits, and my thoughts have turned to a chocolate version of this recipe….the gears are turning.

This is a great recipe for any time of the year, just tweak the flavor of the filling.  Add up to 3 teaspoons of cinnamon and it will taste cinnamon bun-y, add ground ginger and cloves to the cinnamon and it will take a turn for Christmas, add a guava paste filling and take a turn into the tropics.  The possibilities are endless!

Pecan Brioche Braid, vegan

Makes 1 Loaf with 24 slices / Prep Time 35 min / Total Time 2 hours

Ingredients:

Dough:
300mL Water
1 cube (42g) fresh Yeast or 14g dry Yeast
50g Alsan (Coconut Margarine), melted
600g Spelt Flour
150g Sugar
2t Salt

Filling:
150g Brown Sugar
30g Flour
1 pinch Vanilla Salt (or regular Salt)
1t Cinnamon
100g Alsan, room temperature
2C finely chopped Pecans

Brushing:
1/4C Almond Milk
1T Agave Syrup

Directions:
For the dough, pour warm water, yeast,
and a pinch of sugar into an electric mixing bowl. Stir shortly,
and allow to sit and foam for 10 minutes. Stir in melted Alsan.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt.
Combine all ingredients in your electric mixer fitted with a
dough hook until well combined.

Remove from mixer, cover bowl with a damp cloth, and allow to rise
for 45 minutes in a warm spot until doubled in size.

In the mean time, prepare the filling by combining all ingredients by
hand and massaging them together. Set aside.

Mix together brushing ingredients, and set aside.

Preheat oven to 180°C, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Once dough is ready, dust a large surface with flour and scrape out
dough – also dust with flour. Roll out into a large rectangle with
a rolling pin.

Using an angled cake spatula, spread filling from end to end of the
dough, leaving a 1″ lip at the top. Brush this lip with the brushing
mixture. Roll dough together tightly and seal. Roll dough onto
a baking sheet.

Using a sharp knife, cut the dough from end to end along the length of
the dough, leaving 2″ on one end attached. Separate the dough halves
and braid over each other, making the filling visible. Tuck ends in
to prevent them from burning, and push the braid together by hand to
make it “fatter”. Brush entire loaf with brushing mixture.

Bake for 30 minutes, then remove from oven and allow to cool slightly
before cutting.

Store at room temperature, uncovered, for up to 5 days (should it last
that long!).

Homemade Vegan Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie is a very special part of our Thanksgiving traditions.  If we could only pick one dish to prepare that represents this sacred family event for us, Pumpkin Pie would win.

It’s so very special to us that we start making it in late summer by harvesting Red Kuri Squash (Hokkaidokürbis) at the end of September and processing them into pumpkin purée that we make our filling with.


Pumpkin Purée

Makes 450g / Prep Time 20 min / Total Time 45 min

600g Red Kuri Squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped
Water to cover
1 teaspoon Sunflower Oil

Directions:
Place squash in a large pot and cover with water.  Add oil.
Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer on medium-low
heat for 15-20 minutes, or until pumpkin is soft.
Drain off liquid, purée, and let cool.  It can either be used right away,
or frozen in portions for future use.

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Vegan Pumpkin Pie:

Serves 8 – 12 / Prep Time 15 min / Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes

1 Pie Dough Round
1T Flax Seed Flour
110mL Water
150g Sugar
1/2t Salt
1t Cinnamon
1/2t ground Ginger
1/4t ground Cloves
450g Pumpkin Purée
340g Almond Milk

Directions:
Preheat oven to 218°C.
Prepare your pie dough in a pie dish and place in the refrigerator.

In a tall measuring cup, purée flax seed flour and water with a wand mixer
until smooth. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.

In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin purée and flax seed mixture.
Whisk in sugar mixture and then almond milk until smooth.

Pour into prepared pie shell, cover dough edges with a pie crust shield,
and bake for 15 minutes.
Reduce temperature to 177°C, and continue to bake for 70 minutes,
or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Remove from oven, and allow to cool for 12 hours before serving.