Pumpkin & Caramelized Onion Galette with a Whole Wheat Crust

I’ve been an avid coffee drinker for years and years. Reading that sentence, it sounds as though I think I’m an expert at life; ‘oh yes, deary, I was drinking coffee decades before you were born’. In reality, I am 22, and while I do have some life experience under my belt, there is still a lot of room to fill up with successes and failures and hopefully not too many embarrassing tales of wetting myself. I believe I started drinking coffee on an almost daily basis when I was a freshman in high school, although, in middle school I would go to Starbucks with friends before and after school some days, so my introduction to caffeine happened way back when; roughly speaking, I’ve been dependent on coffee/caffeine for 5-6 years. Only in the last couple of months have I noticed the frequency with which I think about drinking coffee when I don’t have a cup of it in my hand. I started to think about the tightness in my chest and it’s possible connection to my daily, usually 2-3 times a day, coffee habit. My anxiety had been relatively in check but it still played up everyday in subtle ways; perhaps cutting back on coffee would help tone down my worry and stress?

So, partly because of my dislike for unnecessary (and costly!!!) dependencies, and partly because of my curiosity, I have now reached day 14 without caffeinated coffee. Matt and I decided going the cold turkey route was not for us (a few days of migraine-ridden zombie life? No thanks), so we replaced coffee with matcha. Matcha is sorta like a Japanese variation of green tea; it’s a bit more caffeinated and very different in flavor than your average cup of brewed green tea, as the green tea leaves used for matcha, besides undergoing a unique growing process, are actually ground into a powder which is then whisked directly into water. Am I now matcha dependent? Maybe a little. We’ve cut back from two grams or two cups of matcha a day to one gram and, now, to half a gram. I have to mentally pinch myself sometimes; half a measly gram of matcha!!!? That’s so little caffeine compared to what I was used to! And yet, at this moment in time, it sounds like a trove of treasure.

I’m pretty amazed by how quickly the body can adapt to the circumstances you put/FORCE it in. I’m not really sure what the end goal with this little experiment is… rekindling my coffee dependency is out of the question, but maybe I’ll enjoy it once every couple of months or so when I find myself at a cafe with friends or family, maybe… or maybe I’ll find that it makes me feel sweaty and angsty and awful all over again and I’ll quit for good. I’m not really sure at this point. What I am sure of is that the term ‘addiction’ shouldn’t be reserved for the most extreme of drug addicts. We all have addictive tendencies, whether we are aware of them or not; and that, our possible lack of awareness about our own addictions/dependencies/negative habits/what have you, is what I find most unsettling. I used to drink coffee everyday or else feel bogged down by fatigue, listlessness, and annoyance. There are no doubt other blind spots in my life that I have yet to notice and work on clearing up, but little by little, right?

I had been day-dreaming about making a pie for weeks but upon receiving my baking utensils in the mail, it turned out that the pie tin I ordered online was actually a mini tart tin! If only there was a photo of my face upon unwrapping the tiny, two-inch wide tart tin. Mini tarts were for another day, today I wanted to eat a hearty, savory pie-like thing. I had been browsing a recently discovered food blog, Daisy and the Fox, when I came across a recipe for a galette. Having no idea what a galette was I clicked on the link and was unexpectedly surprised to find the pie-like thing I’d been dreaming of. No pie tin? No problem!! You can simply bake this galette on parchment paper! It’s as tasty as pie, sans the dirty dishes and dainty finger work.

Above^ is a ball of hardened coconut oil. I was in awe of it for a handful of seconds before realizing Tokyo’s notorious summer heat was emanating through the kitchen window directly above it. This may have been my first time making a galette/pie crust from scratch by myself (well, besides the unconventional oat & nut one I made for a vegan pumpkin pie), but I knew that too much diddle daddling + cascades of hot air + warm, palmy hands = melted, mess of a crust, so I stopped oggling the coconut ball and started cutting it up into the flour.

 

Ingredients~
Makes one small galette, roughly 6 inches in diameter 

Filling:
1/2 cup chopped pumpkin, tightly packed
1-2 tbsps plain yogurt (soy/coconut if dairy free)
1 medium onion
1 tsp neutral oil
Scant 1/4 tsp table salt
Ground black pepper to taste
Dash of cinnamon (optional)

Crust:
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
Scant 1/4 cup coconut oil, hardened/scoopable
1-3 tbsps ice cold water
1 egg yolk for wash (optional, gives the crust a shinier appearance)

Instructions~

For the crust:
1. Add flour to a large bowl. If your coconut oil is scoopable, toss it into the flour and begin cutting it up (I use a fork) into the flour. If your oil is solid and straight from the fridge like mine was, transfer it to a cutting board and chop it up into chunks with a knife, then add it to the flour. The resulting mixture should resemble grainy sand. Cover the mixture and set it in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.
2. Once the flour-oil combo has chilled, stir in a tbsp of icy cold water. Add up to 3 tbsps if needed, but don’t over add. Using your hands, quickly shape the mixture into a ball, it should just barely hold together. Transfer it to a sheet of lightly flour-dusted parchment paper and begin rolling it out, sprinkling flour on the surface if the rollin pin is sticking. Roll, rotate the paper, roll, rotate the paper, to achieve a relatively circular shape. If you are going to add your filling and bake the galette right away, begin doing so, but if not, wrap it in plastic wrap and set it in the fridge until baking time. It can also be stored in the freezer, to be defrosted an hour or so before use. Also, if the dough is clearly oozing oil and too wet to handle, set it in the fridge to chill before continuing to roll!

For the filling: 
1. Begin by caramelizing the onion; slice a medium onion and add it to a saucepan with 1 tsp oil. Cook on low-medium heat for at least 30 minutes to an hour, stirring every 5-10 minutes, until gooey and sweet in flavor. Stir in a tbsp of water if the onions begin to stick and burn. Set aside for later.
2. Preheat oven to 180 C/356 F. Chop and boil pumpkin. Once cooked, mash/puree it until smooth. Add 1-2 tbsps of yogurt to achieve a creamier texture. Stir in the salt, pepper, and cinnamon if using.
3. Spread the pumpkin filling in the center of the sheet of dough, leaving at least 1 inch of untouched dough around the border. Top with the onions and gently fold the crust over the filling, pleating it as you go along to evenly fit the crust. Lightly brush the crust with egg yolk and bake for 35-45 minutes (mine baked for 42 minutes) or until the crust is golden. Enjoy fresh out of the oven or cold from the fridge- it works quite like a quiche!

Important note: this post was inspired by Daisy and the Fox’s Apple & Blueberry Galette and the crust is based off of YayYay’s Kitchen’s Flaky Whole Wheat Crust!

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White Chocolate Chunk Matcha Cookies

Ingredients~
Makes about 6 cookies

1/2 cup white whole wheat flour or regular whole wheat
1/4 cup traditional rolled oats
1/2 medium spotty banana (not too ripe/black)
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsps soft coconut oil
1/3 tsp lemon juice (alternatively, use vanilla extract)
1/2-3/4 tsp good quality matcha powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
Tiny pinch of salt
A small handful or about 30 grams of white chocolate chunks/chips (dairy free if vegan)

Instructions~

1. In a large bowl, mash the banana until creamy and stir in the maple syrup, coconut oil, and lemon juice. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, oats, matcha, baking powder and soda, and salt. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and stir until well combined (and a deep shade of green!!).
2. Chop chocolate chunks if you haven’t already done so and stir them into the batter. Cover the batter and let it rest in the fridge for at least 20 minutes to harden up. In this time, preheat the oven to 176 C/350 F.
3. Dollop the dough onto a pan lined with parchment paper and lightly flatten the cookies, leaving at least half an inch in between them. Bake for anywhere between 9-11 minutes; mine took 10 minutes but the size of your cookies and your oven’s strength will affect how they bake. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before enjoying!!

Important note: this recipe was inspired by Oh She Glow’s maple syrup sweetened Jumbo Chocolate Chunk Cookies.

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Whole Wheat Vegan Banana Bread

This morning I woke up with a tension headache, it’s claws buried deep into my neck and shoulders. I had been eagerly anticipating today, it was the day my haul of baking equipment was due to arrive, so I did my best not to let the headache sour my giddiness. Long story short: it’s almost impossible and very expensive if possible, to find baking supplies in Tokyo (by ‘supplies’ I mean: flour other than highly refined white and pancake mix, a good brand of instant yeast, vanilla extract, bread/cake/muffin tins, and so on…). Baking isn’t as popularized of a pastime as it is in Australia or America; however, despite this, and as is the case in Taiwan, bakeries are everywhere! In fact, I would have to say I unintentionally come across more bakeries in Taipei and Tokyo than I did in Melbourne or NYC. I’m not sure what lies at the heart of this fascinating situation, but I’d like to find out. Perhaps the more recent introduction of bread and pastries to Asia means people don’t have recipes and techniques passed down from generation to generation? Perhaps Japanese people are less likely to bake a loaf of bread at home than, say, an American, due to the simple lack of conventionally western ovens in most homes. The oven in my Tokyo apartment is actually a multipurpose microwave; it has an oven feature that can reach 250 C and a grill feature as well, pretty neat, huh!?

Anyone who has perused bakeries in America and European countries will be able to notice the glaring differences between the baked goods on sale; the discrepancies between English and French bread and pastry are innumerable!! Bread is bread is bread, but Parisian French bread is not Taiwanese bakery french bread and Japanese croissants are undoubtedly a distant, twice removed cousin of French croissants.

Having had the privilege of being to Paris and now, Tokyo, I can say that both types of croissant surpass tolerable, but the Parisian one exists on a far more unique plane than the Japanese one, at least in my mind. Maybe it’s because a French croissant is the most perfectly flaky, buttery pastry to exist? One cannot simply whip up a batch of croissants, it takes days and lots of rolling and turning and rolling and turning, and having enough knowledge and luck to keep microscopic layers of butter (and there are many, many layers!!) from even slightly melting into layers of dough (the former mishap is what kept my first ever batch of croissants from achieving flaky galore). The croissants I’ve had in Tokyo, so far at least, are noticeably more bready and sweet; and while that’s not to say they aren’t pleasant to taste, it is the case that they share more genes with sweet bread than the O.G. croissant.

With my new whole wheat flour and bread tin in hand I was ready as ever to put something with a sweet-smelling finale into the oven. As you may have already guessed, I opted for my all time favorite homemade good: a hearty banana bread loaf. This recipe only calls for body and brain nourishing ingredients, but if you decide to swap out the maple syrup for honey or rice syrup, or use a chicken egg rather than a chia egg, that won’t negatively affect the final product. Also, I decided to give my new cocoa powder a try and ended up loading up this banana loaf with a thick layer of chocolate, so if that’s not for you, half or third the chocolate sauce ingredients and swirl it into the batter for a pretty marble effect, or simply omit it. And now for the goodies~~

While the dark chocolate topping paired well with the sweeter banana bread, it fell a little short in the looks department. From another, more imaginative perspective (i.e. the other voice in my head), it does kinda resemble volcanic rock, which is pretty cool and not something you see everyday on your cake plate. On the other hand, it is a little not-so-pretty. Ah well, I’ve come away from this baking experience with a knew item to add to my ‘To Master’ list: chocolate sauce/drizzle. I’m guessing I ought to be more specific than that, as chocolate sauce that’s swirled into a bread should be different from the chocolate sauce that’s drizzled over profiteroles or a freshly iced cake, no? Perhaps there is no difference, if one is after the most basic, stripped to the essentials, dark cocoa drizzle, as I usually am. I suppose I should do some research.


Ingredients~
Makes one small loaf or 9-10 half inch thick pieces

1/2 cup white whole wheat flour or regular whole wheat flour
1/2 cup traditional rolled oats
1 1/2 medium bananas, very spotty and ripe
1 chia egg (1 tbsp chia seeds mixed with 2 tbsps water)
3 tbsps maple syrup
1/2 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/3 tsp baking powder
1/3 tsp baking soda
Scant 1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt

Chocolate sauce:
2 tbsps cocoa powder
1 tbsp coconut oil
3 tbsps soy/nut milk

Instructions~

Preheat oven to 176 C/350 F
1. If making the chocolate sauce, simply combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until the clumps of cocoa powder dissolve and the consistency is smooth. Set aside to cool.
2. Next, mash the bananas in a large bowl until creamy and only tiny chunks of banana remain. Add the coconut oil, maple syrup, lemon juice, chia egg, and milk, stirring until well combined.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, and salt. Pour the dry ingredients into the bowl of wet ingredients, whisking until a slightly lumpy batter forms. Stir in chopped nuts, dried fruit, or, better yet, dark chocolate covered fruit (I opted for cranberries!)
4. Line a bread tin with parchment paper and pour in the batter, smoothing out the top to make an even loaf. Dollop the chocolate sauce on top and use a chopstick or knife to spread it out or swirl it into the batter (if you want a marble design start by adding one spoonful of chocolate; adding all of it will result in a thick layer like mine). Bake for 40-50 minutes, covering the top with aluminum foil about 1/3 of the way through to ensure the chocolate doesn’t burn (depending on how thick your layer is). Enjoy with a generous spread of plant based butter or nut butter!!

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