Sunday, May 21, 2006

Careful with that Replegg!

Hello, I'm John Markos O'Neill, Amy's brother and a guest poster.

For my wife's first Mother's Day (we have an 11 month old), Amy (my sister) and my mother encouraged me to make a vegan version of the simple coffee cake from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. This version replaces the milk with soy milk and the egg with egg replacer. I told Amy that I think "egg replacer" is a pretty sad name for an egg substitute. They should use something snappier, like Replegg!

Sara (my wife) and John Haley (my son) went out for an afternoon hike on Saturday. This gave me the chance to make the cake.

So anyway, we had pretty much everything in the recipe in our cupboard except for pecans. I guess we already ate the pecans that Grandma Jean gave us for Christmas. I went down to Good Life, the local grocery, about six blocks away from our house. They had little bags of pecans for over ten dollars and at first I thought there was no alternative. Then I realized they had pecans in the tiny bulk section -- it's a small grocery. These were much less expensive, I think four dollars in total, for enough to make two cakes.

If you're using egg replacer, you should make sure that you use the correct ratio of Replegg to water. When I was making the cake, I mistakenly used tablespoons of Replegg instead of the teaspoons indicated by the egg replacer box. This made the cake's consistency a little funny. I didn't realize that I had goofed until after the cake had been baking for a while. Also, the recipe called for crushed pecans. However, I didn't do a very good job of distributing them evenly over the cake.

I called my mother and sister and asked them for help. At first I couldn't get my mother on the phone so I talked to my Dad instead. He convinced me to go for another try. Amy and I agreed that I had used the wrong ratio of Replegg to water. Also, my mother implied that I shouldn't just crush the pecans but rather that I should chop them as well. I quizzed her a little more on this. "So when you make this cake, you usually chop the pecans?" She said that yes, she did.

I had everything I needed except for brown sugar, which I bought at Chiotras grocery next door. This time I did everything correctly and the coffee cake came out nicely. Whereas the first (bad) cake was a little too doughy and flat and had a slight baking soda aftertaste, the second (good) cake was fluffy and springy and tasted like a coffee cake should.

Lesson: always remember that baking is a very precise activity, really a form of domestic chemistry. If you don't follow the directions to the letter, peril will ensue.

Anyway, Sara and John Haley got home a little earlier than I expected them to so they saw both versions of the cake. As it turns out, Sara really liked both of them! Amy told me later, "I forgot to tell you -- Sara really likes this cake." John Haley tasted a bit of it too -- I think it is the sweetest thing he's ever had. We took the "good" cake to a picnic on Sunday and it was a big hit with our friends.

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1 comment:

Mindy T. said...

John, you are a prince among men! What a great lesson on vegan baking, and I wish I'd been on hand to taste the results.

Keep on cookin'...