First, I need to apologise with all of you, it took me so long to prepare this post. I have a good reason, though. I attended the bonfire night and as good as it was, I got incredibly ill Sunday, Monday, I was incapable of getting out of bed, my body was hurting a lot, I had fever, headache, tummy ache, I could not eat and I felt like freezing; still a bit weak today. However, I feel way stronger so I decided to share with you all this recipe.
In my last post, I shared the meaning of the “day of the dead” for me and, as I mentioned, one of the things that we do religiously this day is sharing a piece of bread with the family and eat it with some hot chocolate or coffee (we are not big tea drinkers I am afraid). But, this is not just any type of bread, it is a special recipe that we developed through many years and it is well known all around the country. I might sound bias but it is OUTSTANDING, DELICIOUS AND JUST PRICELESS. As I moved out, I was unable to eat it last year; You know we usually buy it at our traditional and local bakeries, it is fresh and delicious, so last year I could not be bothered to bake one myself, this year was different, I was craving for one and I wanted to have one with a special twist on it.
Vegan bread of the dead! I must be honest, I tried to bake a bread of the dead two or three years ago, with my best friend in Mexico, we two decided that we wanted to try it out so we grabbed all the ingredients, follow the instructions and… it was not edible, it was a complete mess. We used the traditional recipe but somehow we screwed it. So, I was a bit nervous this year because using replacements for eggs and dairy might lead me to the same results or even worst. Nevertheless, I needed to give it a try, I was craving for it and I also wanted to see if it was possible to have the same consistency, flavour and texture with a vegan version of it, so I did it and guess what? It was great! The flavour was delicious, as good as a traditional one, spongy centre, a bit crunchy on the outside, lots of orange flavour combined with vanilla (I added some cinnamon too, which is not part of the traditional recipe but I just love cinnamon). I was so amused that I have not ruined it, it was just perfect, Angelo (My husband) never tried bread of the dead before, but apparently sweet bread is not a common thing in the UK. Here, they have pastries, which are sweet baked pieces but no, it is completely different to our ‘pan dulce’ (sweet bread if that makes any sense) so he was over the moon with my dish. I left him alone as I went to Lewes to see the bonfire and when I came back the whole bread was almost gone. You can eat this bread with a nice cuppa, hot chocolate, coffee; I think even some people in Mexico eat with a glass of coke, but unless you have a sweet tooth, I do not recommend the last one, particularly because even though the bread is sweet, the sweetness is not as strong as the coke flavour and you might miss the real taste of it.
So, this recipe is traditional for the celebration of the day of the dead, it is shaped in a circle with pieces of the same dough shaped in bones crossing throughout the big ball, symbolising the dead people and right in the middle a little ball at the top represents the tears of the people who love them and miss them.
Regarding the vegan part, I did some research and the main concern that I had was about the eggs; milk can be easily replaced by any vegan milk and it will taste exactly the same (or even better, because some of them have lovely flavours) so I found out that eggs have two main purposes in baking: one is for leavening, this means that eggs are used as a leavening agent (or raising the bread/dish) this can be noticed in the recipe easily, if there is no baking powder, baking soda or yeast that means the eggs are there for leavening.
The second one is: as a binder or ‘glue’ (which at least in the majority of my recipes there are used for binding) this means that eggs are there to bind or ‘keep the ingredients together’. In the case of my bread eggs were needed as binder agents. As I have been baking vegan desserts for the last six months I decided to use apple sauce (or apple puree) to replace eggs, I will post an image that will help you to find what egg replacements you might have at home.
½ kilogram of flour (I used all-purpose flour, DO NOT USE self-raising one)
14 tablespoons of sugar (I used brown sugar, but any sugar you have will do)
½ of tablespoon of salt
11 grams of quick yeast
¾ cup of warm dairy-free milk (I used almond milk as it was the one I had at home, buy any will do)
90 grams of dairy free butter, room temperature (in Spanish we call it ‘margarina’)
2 tablespoons of apple sauce, room temperature (this is in replacing 2 large eggs)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
½ teaspoon of orange flavour if it is artificial (I used 1 teaspoon of fresh orange juice and another teaspoon of orange zest)
OPTIONAL: half of teaspoon of cinnamon (this is not part of the traditional recipe, but as I said, I love cinnamon and it gave to the bread a very nice taste)
FOR DECORATION: melted dairy-free butter (1 to 2 tablespoons)
As much sugar as you want to add.
In a glass, pour the dairy free milk (it needs to be a little bit warm, not too hot, but warm, I would say that when you touch the glass it feels ‘cosy’) ONE tablespoon of sugar and the yeast, mix it and leave it in a warm place to make the yeast react for about five to ten minutes (this is what is going to give your bread the fluffiness)
In a bowl, combine all the rest of the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, and salt. Stir them until they are well combined and leave it there until the yeast mix is ready (you will notice it because it will start to create bubbles at the top and the consistency will be thicker).
Make a whole in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour the yeast mix on it, then start to mix it with your hands (you can do it with a Mixer if it has the bread dough option) when it starts to look combined, add the butter, apple sauce, vanilla extract and orange extract. Then just keep mixing until the dough is not sticky.
Then, cover the bowl with some plastic film or a tea towel and leave it in a warm place (inside of the oven or microwave) until it has doubled its size (between 40 to 60 minutes) keep an eye on it, when you see it has raised it time to shape your bread!
I am going to leave a picture to give you an idea of how it should look like (in the traditional way)
So, you need to split the whole dough in three different parts: the first one which is going to be the biggest ball is the core part of the bread, I would say ¾ of your dough; then take the most of the ¼ of the rest of the dough and knead it in two or three thick lines, large enough to go across the core ball and then make it thicker in each quarter of it along its length, making sure it looks like a bone, then place them across the core ball making it look like a cross and now with the rest of the dough make a little ball and place it on the top of the bread.
Once your bread is shaped, cover it with a tea towel and leave it in a warm place until its size increase again (it is supposed to increase double but mine just increased a quarter of its size). Between 60 to 90 minutes.
Before placing it in the oven, preheat it to 190°C, when you see that your bread has increased its size put it in the oven and bake it during 15 minutes to 190°C, afterwards decrease the temperature to 170°C and leave it there for another 30 minutes.
Take it out of the oven and cover it with the melted butter whilst it is still warm, cover it with sugar (as much as you want, but the more the better) and leave it to cool down (the heat of the bread will make that the sugar stick to the surface of your bread).
Now your bread is ready! Enjoy it!
I hope if some of you try this recipe, let me know in the comments! And send me photos on Instagram!
And here is the table of substitutions for eggs in your baking recipes FOR BINDING