Monday, May 5, 2014

Pepper Crusted (Vegan) Maple Bacon

I know there are a lot of vegan bacon recipes floating around the internet, but I'll admit that they just don't do it for me. Things like bacon mushrooms or bacon coconut flakes are salty and smoky but they don't have the visual reference I'm looking for in my "B"LT or nestled up next to a breakfast scramble. My childhood definition of bacon is a particular brand of frozen vegetarian bacon that has an adorably exaggerated Bacon Appearance. It's like a cartoon version of bacon, perfectly rectangular with bright red and creamy white coloring. You'd never mistake it for actual pork, yet it is my gold standard of bacon-y-ness. What can I say, I was raised by a vegetarian.

This recipe is actually a bit more realistic looking than my nostalgic veggie bacon. Encrusting it in black pepper elevates it to Grown Up Bacon and its thick slices make it completely sandwich worthy. It's just a little more advanced than your standard homemade seitan recipe because it does require mixing up two different colors of dough. But the extra steps aren't difficult, they're just a little time consuming. As long as you've made seitan at least once before this should be a breeze. You bake it all together in one loaf then slice it into strips and fry to your heart's content. It stores well in the freezer, so I like to keep a batch stashed away for breakfasts or split pea soup or sprinkling over a baked potato.

Red dough

Adapted just a tiny bit from

Red Seitan Ingredients
1 cup wheat gluten
1/4 cup chickpea flour
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2/3 cup water
3 tablespoons tamari
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons liquid smoke
2 tablespoons oil

White Seitan Ingredients
1/2 cup wheat gluten
2 tablespoons chickpea flour
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon oil

lots of freshly cracked black pepper

The first step is to separately mix together a red dough and a white dough. We'll start with the red one. In a medium mixing bowl combine the wheat gluten, chickpea flour, nutritional yeast, and spices. In a separate container, like a liquid measuring cup, stir together the water, tamari, maple syrup, tomato paste, liquid smoke and oil. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until well combined. It should form a ball and turn a nice red color due to all the paprika and the tomato paste.

White dough

Next, do the same thing with the ingredients for the white dough. Mix together the dry ingredients and the wet, then combine them and stir. It should look a little like the picture above. Sorry to be confusing and use a white bowl for the red seitan and a red bowl for the white, I was shooting for contrast!

Now you are going to divide up the dough and start assembling the layers of bacon. Separate the red dough into three equal pieces and the white dough into two, then shape them into balls. Use a rolling pin or your hands to flatten a red ball into a rectangle, roughly 4 by 6 inches. You don't need to be precise, in fact being less exact will give you more natural looking results. Flatten out a ball of white dough into a slab and place it on top of the red one, as pictured below. Repeat this process alternating between the red and white dough and stacking them on top of each other. You should start and end with a slab of red dough.

Assembling the bacon

Carefully transfer the dough to a piece of foil that is large enough to wrap the dough in. Don't wrap it yet, just place it in the middle of the foil. Cover the stacked seitan with a piece of plastic wrap and rest a large book on top of it. Let the dough rest under the pressure of the book for about 10 or 15 minutes. While it rests, preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.

Pressing the stacked dough

Remove the book and plastic wrap and generously sprinkle the top of the dough with black pepper. Wrap the dough up in the foil, place on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes.

Pressed and peppered

When the seitan is finished baking, let it rest in the foil to cool. The seitan will be a little soft and slightly under cooked, which is good because it will slice better and then be completely cooked after frying.
When it's cooled to room temperature just slice, fry and eat! You can slice and freeze the bacon to fry later too.

Slab o' bacon after baking. Ready to slice up and fry!