Cookies, muffins and cakes, oh my! The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes by Kris Holechek (2009)

November 17th, 2010 12:15 pm by Kelly Garbato

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Book cover, The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes: Amazing Cookies, Cakes, Muffins, Pies, Brownies and Breads by Kris Holechek (2009)
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Earlier in the year, I happened upon a giveaway of The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes; publisher Ulysses Press was offering up a few copies of the recently-released book for review. Since I was already a fan of author Kris Holechek through her NOM! NOM! NOM! BLOG (and, perhaps more to the point, am unable to pass up a vegan freebie!), I jumped at the chance. Six+ months later, and I think I’ve finally tried enough of the recipes to offer up a review.

The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes features recipes for a variety of baked goods, grouped into the following categories: cookies; bars; muffins; quick breads; cakes; pies and tarts; pastries; yeasted treats; frostings, icings and toppings; and children’s recipes (“Kids in the Kitchen”). The recipes include some standards (Shorbread; Best Banana Bread; Basic Pie Crust; Rosemary Focacia; Going, Going, Gone! Gingerbread) as well as a number of more creative concoctions (Strawberry Lemonade Cheespie; Gas Station Pie; Garden Muffins; Mocha-damia Bars; Blackest Forest Cake). Each recipe is rated for difficulty and prep time, with one “whisk” being the simplest and five “whisks,” the most challenging.

In addition to ten sections listed above, Holechek begins the book with a handy introductory chapter. Particularly useful for novices such as myself, this “vegan baking 101” guide covers the fundamentals, such as the ups and downs and when-to’s of various egg replacers, sugars and sweeteners, and leaveners; the best way to melt chocolate; essential ingredients; and must-have kitchen utensils and gadgets. (Whereas I’d been resistant to buying cooling racks for quite some time, Holecheck – with no small help from Shane! – finally convinced me of the need.)

Over time, I tried a number of recipes, including….

The Lemon Almond Bling Muffins (page 66), which are flavored with almond extract and topped off with a delicious mix of lemon, sugar and raw almonds:

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The Choco-Chai Coffee Cake (page 89), which wasn’t as strongly flavored as I’d hoped (the chai flavoring comes from chai tea; in future attempts, I think I’ll double the number of teabags used from 5 to 10), but yummy nonetheless:

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The Best Banana Bread (page 70), which was good, though not the best I’ve ever tasted (that distinction goes to Shane’s Super-Awesome Super Vegan Bananer Bread, which is – hello! – super awesome!):

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The Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Muffins (page 62), whose infusion of raspberry preserves is lovely:

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The Raspberry Lime Muffins (page 68), reinvented here as Lemon Blueberry Muffins (hey, I had neither frozen raspberries nor lime zest at the time, but I was able to find frozen blueberries and lemon zest; a hungry vegan’s gotta do what a hungry vegan’s gotta do!):

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The Best Boston Cream Pie (page 91), lovingly baked for me by my husband on my birthday…

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…though not without a hitch, as you can see in this next photo. For some unknown reason, he had trouble getting the cream to thicken up, resulting in a bit of a gooey mess, cream leaking out on all sides of the cake. Even so, it tasted amazing.

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Last but not least are the Better-than Breadsticks (page 128), which are a DIY version of “a certain Italian chain restaurant[‘s]” soft, garlicky, buttery breadsticks. (Perhaps?…Could it be?…The Olive Garden, maybe?) Though I was a bit skeptical of the recipe’s one-whisk rating, I was especially looking forward to trying it out, as I too happen to be hooked on this unnamed Italian chain’s bottomless baskets of dough-based crack.

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Unfortunately, my skepticism was well-deserved; the breadsticks came out…okay. Just…okay. I don’t know if we made a mistake with the dough, or baked them a little too long, or whatever, but they were on the dry side. Kind of boring and unimpressive. Needless to say, nowhere near as addictive as the original.

To be fair, I think it likely that the Mr. and I just weren’t up to this particular challenge. Going in, we suspected that it would be a tricky recipe – those professionally made breadsticks are just so. damn. good! – and all things considered, they actually came out better than I thought they would. (They were edible, mkay.) Probably this recipe calls for a higher skill rating, methinks.

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Peedee sez, “wuman, I wants sum kahlua cakes, n I wants em now!
or else I be bringen my poo pies in teh house, u gets me?”
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All in all, The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes is 150+ pages of pure deliciousness.

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(An abridged version of this review was also posted on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads.)

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2 Responses to “Cookies, muffins and cakes, oh my! The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes by Kris Holechek (2009)”

  1. Maria Says:

    Hi. I hope you could help me. I bought an ebook version of this book (The best 100 vegan baking recipes) but the recipes ingredients has this boxes right next to each measurements such as example: (box) teaspoon of salt or (box) cup of margarine. I don’t know how to measure it. I don’t know what the box stand for. Maybe you can help me on how to understand and use the recipes so I could measure it properly. Or maybe you can tell me what the box stands for? Thanks.

  2. Kelly Garbato Says:

    Hey Maria – If I had to guess, I’d say it’s a formatting issue – like maybe the ingredients list is meant to be set apart in its own box, but the formatting didn’t quite translate to the ebook. Probably you could just ignore the (box) and proceed as normal? If you want to send me the ingredients lists for one or two recipes, I’d be happy to double-check them against the book, just to be sure.

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