Yesterday afternoon, I was invited to a vegan bake-off. I eagerly accepted, as I like all excuses to bake and sample others' baked goods, but then I was stuck: what can I make that doesn't have eggs in it? The go-to website for dessert recipes, Orangette, was full of eggs and butter and more eggs. Google searches revealed hidden pockets of raw-foodists and vegans allergic to soy. They were no help. Back to trusty Orangette. One dessert revealed itself to need only butter, not eggs. And it seemed like I could make it in under two hours.
Now, butter is not vegan, of course, but I happened to have a box of Earth Balance Trans-Free Shortening in the fridge. I bought this one day at Trader Joe's, convinced that I was about to have a pie-baking frenzy. The frenzy never came, for good or bad, and I was left with tasteless looking blocks of fat in the refrigerator door. Make that vegan tasteless looking blocks of fat.
Nate obligingly picked up some bananas and flour (we were running low - quel horreur!) and I was ready to make Coco-Banana Bread. I made the bread, radically altering the recipe (subbed cognac for rum, shortening for butter, sweetened for unsweetened coconut, and more), and was less than pleased with the inital results.
I arrived at the bake-off location, and...no vegans! Not a single person participating in this debacle was a vegan. Some reformed vegans or vegetarians, one actual vegetarian, but no vegans. Confused by the rules of the contest in the absence of an obvious driving force, I was told that it was, as many things are, a long story. Involving vegan cupcakes. A gauntlet was laid down, and the bake-off was born. Not so long a story, I suppose.
Miracolo of miracolos, my bread came in second! It sunk in the middle while I cut it, becoming denser and sweeter, and the crust became crispier as it cooled. My strange shape-shifting bread lost to a peach-cherry cobbler. I happen to prefer a crisp, but the peaches were delicious. Hats off to the peach cobbler!