Archive for Vegan

My Mom’s Date Squares

About a year ago, I came into possession of my mom’s recipe box. Now, I lost my mom to cancer 12 years ago, so this is somewhat of a treasure to me.

Not just because these are recipes I remember her making (and me loving), but also because many of them are in her handwriting. The cards are frayed and stained and obviously well-used.

I previously shared an accidentally vegan recipe I found in this box of my mom’s recipes called Wacky Cake, but today I want to share another one.

My mom had a few favourite desserts. She loved rice pudding, and classic cookies like peanut butter and chocolate chip. But she also made killer date squares.

Date Squares

She didn’t call them date squares, though, she called them Matrimony or Matrimono Bars.

Nobody seems to quite know the exact origins or history of this recipe, except that it probably originated in Canada, quite possibly Newfoundland, and is maybe Scottish in its heritage (because of the oats?). Today everyone just calls them Date Squares. But I’m curious about where the “matrimony” connection comes in? Were they served at weddings? Do the layers have some kind of symbolic significance of two people coming together to be one? No idea, though the name seems to be regional in its origin and my mom was born on, and grew up in, the Prairies.

But here is the card in my mom’s writing….errrr typing? One thing you’ll notice is there are no directions. This is pretty typical of most of her recipes. She made these so many times, she didn’t need to be reminded of how to make them, just the quantities of ingredients. I have included the directions below.

Mom's date squares recipe card

You’ll notice that this recipe is also accidentally vegan.

By the way, when I made these and distributed them amongst my neighbours for taste-testing, they were pronounced the best date squares they’d ever had, so… thanks, mom.

My Mom’s Date Squares

Ingredients

  • 1 cup margarine/vegan butter/regular butter (if you’re not vegan)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups oats
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups pitted dates
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water

Method

  1. Grease a square 8″ or 9″ cake pan well, or line with parchment, and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the oats, flour, brown sugar and 1 teaspoon each of salt and baking soda.
  3. Melt the butter and pour it over the dry ingredients. Toss just until combined. Dump about half of the mixture into the pan and press it down to make an even layer.
  4. In a medium sized saucepan over medium high heat, place the dates, water, and remaining baking soda and salt and bring up to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the dates are softened. Mash them up a bunch with the back of a spoon to make them a bit smoother. Pour this date mixture overtop of your base layer in the pan.
  5. Sprinkle the remaining oat mixture over the date layer and press it down lightly.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, until golden brown on top.

Vegan Cinnamon Braid

Well, hello there, October.

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one, but this year feels like it has been both the longest and the shortest of all time.

Like when we were in quarantine? So slow. But things feel a bit more normal now, but also, has it really been six months since the pandemic began? Time feels like it has ceased to have meaning.

But life goes on, even during a global pandemic, and that means seasons changing, leaves falling, and I can start baking again, because it’s not so hot. (though TBH I used my Breville Smart Oven Air all summer for baking and it was 6 kinds of awesome).

Vegan Cinnamon Braid

So it’s fall. October. Let’s break out the warming spices.

Cinnamon.

Nutmeg

Cloves

Cardamom

Ginger

I’m doing some fun experiments with a couple of my other pastry-loving friends (more later), but I’ve had brioche on the brain. And I started to wonder if I could do a vegan brioche? Turns out you can!

If you wanted to make your life simpler/easier, you could just make this Vegan Cinnamon Braid as straight-up cinnamon rolls. Or if you wanted to make your life easier still, you could omit the rolling all together and just make it as a loaf of bread.

Brioche is what’s referred to as enriched bread. “Enriched” usually means the addition of milk and/or egg yolks. The final result is soft and rich.

Want more Aquafaba recipes? Check out my new cookbook: Aquafabulous!: 100+ Egg-Free Vegan Recipes Using Aquafaba (Bean Water)

Obviously in a vegan version there is no milk and no eggs, but Aquafaba makes a pretty good substitute.

The fancy braiding part of the Vegan Cinnamon Braid looks complicated, but I have faith you can do it. It’s actually not really that hard.

Cinnamon Braid Vegan Aquafaba

Vegan Cinnamon Braid

ingredients

  • 1/2 cup oatmilk
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • ½ cup aquafaba
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast (or one packet)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)

Method:

  1. In a heat-proof container, whisk together the oat milk, olive oil, sugar, and aquafaba. Place it in the microwave for about 30 seconds. You want it to be warm, but not hot, just a little over room temperature, like between 80-90 degrees.
  2. Place the warmed mixture into the bowl of your stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast over it. Leave for 5-10 minutes to bloom.
  3. Add the flour and salt, and, using the dough hook attachment, begin to mix. Leave it to mix for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth.
  4. Form into a ball, drizzle a little extra olive oil over and rub it all over the ball. Place the ball back in the bowl, cover, and allow to rise somewhere warm for about an hour.
  5. After the first rise is complete, punch it down and then place in the fridge to do a second, cold rise. This should go for four hours, or overnight.
  6. Remove the dough from the fridge and place on your work surface. Divide in half and then divide each half into 3 to make 6 dough balls. Work with 2 at a time.
  7. Roll the balls out into rectangles, as thin as you can get them. Then brush each rectangle with melted vegan butter, and sprinkle over an even, thin layer of cinnamon, brown sugar and cardamom. Starting at the long edge, roll it up into a roll as tightly as you can and pinch the seam shut. Now using a sharp knife, cut down through the middle of the roll lengthwise. You want to try to get all the way through the outer layers to the centre of the roll. “Butterfly” it flat open. Now take both split rolls and attach them together at the top. Weave one over the other to create the “braid,” then pinch together again at the bottom to fasten. Place in a greased loaf pan and cover and allow to rise one last time, about an hour or two.
  8. When you’re almost ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375°F, and bake for about 25 minutes, until golden.
  9. Sprinkle with powdered sugar to serve.
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