January gets a bad press. More so this year in the UK when our hopes for seeing the back of the pandemic with the end of 2020 were destroyed with the government announcement of a new lockdown. Just a few days into the new year that had promised so much, most of the ‘Dry Januaryers’ were polishing their gin glasses and dusting off their corkscrews. And let’s face it, not a lost of dust gathers in four days.
Personally, I think lockdown is the optimum time for swearing off alcohol. There are no dinners with friends, after work drinks, impromptu parties or picnics where you can feel left out, hard done by or enticed by friends. On the downside, there is never the opportunity to drive to reduce the temptation to drink too much, and getting to, and coping with, work with a hangover has, for the majority, been made significantly less challenging. Negotiating bed to desk is far quicker and simpler than previous commuting routes for most, and it’s much easier to deal with a hangover in the comfort of your own home and virtually, than face to face with colleagues in an office.
As January is traditionally the month of abstinence after the excesses of the holiday season, in recent years it has been rebranded as Veganuary: an opportunity to give up animal products for the month. I haven’t pledged to a full month of vegan eating but I am far more mindful of reducing the amount of animal products in my diet.
Vegan doesn’t mean boring, tasteless or worthy. It just means using alternative products for some ingredients or changing your attitude to what a meal needs to include. There are so many amazing vegan recipes out there: even most of the mainstream celebrity chefs have numerous options these days. You’ll find a couple of vegan cake recipes on this blog, and for main meals and savoury snacks try Rebel Recipes, a blog I’ve been following for years, full of food that tastes as good as it looks.
Baking throws in a few extra challenges for vegans, particularly when replacing eggs, so make sure you follow a tried and tested recipe. For most other ingredients there is a simple switch. Non-dairy fats and milks instead of ‘normal’ butter and milk are so easy to come by these days there’s really no excuse!
So, if, like me, you are finding this lockdown much harder than the previous ones, if you are struggling with dry January, or if you just want your diet to include fewer animal products, why not try these vegan cinnamon and pecan buns? They are ideal with a cup of coffee for a typical cold, dark January weekend after your daily outdoor exercise. I’d love to hear what you think, so please get in touch!
500g strong white flour
45g coconut sugar
100g dairy-free margarine, softened
2 teaspoons dried yeast / 15g fresh yeast
1 and a half teaspoons salt
275g non-dairy milk
50g pecans, chopped
50g dairy-free margarine, softened
50g coconut sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
60g coconut sugar
Make the dough: put the flour, sugar, softened dairy-free margarine, yeast and salt into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a freestanding mixer.
Add the non-dairy milk and mix with a knife, or using a dough hook.
If kneading by hand, tip out onto a clean, dry surface (there is no need to add any extra flour even though the mixture may be quite wet) and knead for around 5-10 minutes, until the dough is soft and silky.
If using a mixer and dough hook this will not take as long.
Put the dough into an oiled bowl and cover with oiled clingfilm or a tea towel.
Leave for around an hour or until doubled in size: the amount of time required will depend on the yeast and the surrounding temperature.
Make the filling: mix the chopped pecans, softened dairy-free margarine, sugar and cinnamon together to form a spreadable paste.
When the dough is ready, set the oven to 180°C and grease or line a large baking tray with baking parchment or a reusable non-stick liner.
Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it briefly. Roll out into a rectangle roughly 40cm x 30cm.
Cover loosely with oiled clingfilm or a tea towel and leave for around 20 minutes so that they increase in size again.
Bake for around 18-20 minutes, until firm and well browned.
While they are baking, make the glaze.
Make the glaze: put the water and coconut sugar into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Allow to boil for a couple of minutes and then take off the heat.
Glaze the buns with a pastry brush while the glaze and the buns are both still hot.