It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Apparently, the first week of work was rather more overwhelming than I expected, because while I felt totally fine at work, I was remarkably disinclined to cook when I got home each night this week. This is particularly sad, because I’m yet to even make something for my own Vegetarian Lunchbox Challenge (fortunately, lots of other people have, so the page is very much worth a visit).
Anyway, I’ve been invited to a Vegan pot-luck for Chinese New Year this evening by Steph (Edited to add: and it was awesome!), which requires suitable baking. My initial plan was to make crysanthemum biscuits with red bean paste, but I was unable to find red bean paste, so I tried to make my own, and that turned out to be a big mistake, so I finally decided that instead of doing something that might be authentically Chinese (difficult, since I never cook Chinese food at all), I might as well go with the red and gold and Year of the Snake as my themes. And how better to achieve gold than with the gorgeousness that is saffron?
I actually have several recipes for saffron bread. Mostly, they are full of eggs and butter and milk, because this is the sort of bread people make for festivals, and nothing says ‘festive’ like enriched bread dough. But eggs and butter and milk are not notably vegan, which is OK, because I also have a book of vegan and gluten-free breads with a saffron bread recipe in it. The trouble with *that* is that it calls for a variety of gluten-free flours that I have not yet been able to find (largely because I was so tired after my first week back at work that I slept until midday and thus missed the various little shops that are only open on Saturday mornings).
So I decided to cross the recipes. This bread is enriched with almond milk and olive oil, with chia seeds standing in for the eggs in some weird way that I do not fully comprehend but am willing to take on faith for now. I’ve replaced the currants that are traditional to Saint Lucia buns with cranberries, which are much more red, and instead of the classic braided loaf, this bread is shaped into a rather fat serpent shape.
It tastes like honey, and has a texture like a moister, softer version of pannetone – very soft and tearable and delightful. I thought at first it would need butter or honey, but it really doesn’t – it’s perfect just as it is, gorgeous and golden and vegan and full of happiness. What more could you ask of bread?
Your Shopping List1 1/3 cups almond milk 1 tsp saffron 2 tbsp chia seeds (white is better, aesthetically speaking, for this bread) 2 tsp dry yeast 1/2 cup maple syrup 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 cup olive oil 4 cups of bread flour 3/4 cup cranberries, preferably unsweetened, or barberries A couple of tablespoons of almond milk and a couple of raw sugar, optional