Anybody out there have food allergies?
I’ve actually started to get the hang of cooking for various food allergies as quite a number of people in our family suffer from some kind of food allergy. My husband Charlie is allergic to a few fruits (interestingly enough his cousins are allergic to the same fruits).
My youngest son Tristan is allergic to dairy; and I do mean allergic not lactose intolerant. I will refrain from describing his symptoms to you, trust me you don’t really want to know. Let me me just say a dairy allergy puts lactose intolerance to shame; and I’m fairly sure that lactose intolerance is no picnic to begin with.
My M-I-L suffers with a number of food allergies from the fairly common like gluten and nuts, to the fairly uncommon like black pepper and garlic. I know how do you cook without garlic and back pepper? The poor woman has enough food allergies that she often remarks that she is allergic to life.
My Mom has recently started developing allergies. She’s at that stage where she’s not 100% certain what she’s actually allergic to. The suspect list at this point includes: Gluten, dairy, chocolate, Sulfite preservatives (which are added to so many different types of foods it’s phenomenal), and shellfish. She also is turning out to be allergic to something in a huge number of toiletry/ beauty products. The suspects there are: dimethicone, topical vitamin E, fragrances, including masking fragrances. (Apparently masking fragrance is different from plain old fragrance, and producers can include masking fragrance in their products and still call the product fragrance free!)
She actually went to see an allergist who recommended patch testing for products, and an elimination diet for figuring out what foods she is allergic to. The problem with all this is that leaves you endlessly guessing what ingredient exactly you are allergic to in any given product/food. It’s amazing how many different things are in the foods we eat and the things we put on our bodies!
At this point she’s going to go back to the allergist for some testing, so hopefully she’ll narrow it down a bit. But, meanwhile she’s having a heck of a time modifying her diet and finding a shampoo /conditioner/ lotion/ soap she can use that she is not allergic to. (If you all have any suggestions please leave me a comment! I’ll pass along any info, and she would be so appreciative!)
Anyhow all this to say we definitely deal with allergies around our house. The one I work with on the most regular basis is my sons dairy allergy. He’s two now, so I’ve gotten pretty used to cooking with less dairy or in coming up with a dairy free version of whatever I’m making for him. It was hard at first! My husband and I both adore cheese and I used to cook with it a lot. And I’ve gotta say a lot of cheese substitutes out there taste super gross and don’t shred/melt.
Fairly recently I’ve actually found a pretty darn good mozzarella cheese substitute. It’s from Lisanatti Foods and it’s called The original almond mozzarella style. It shreds, it melts reasonably well, and most importantly actually tastes like a mild mozzarella cheese. I can now make pasta bakes, pizza, and plain ole cheese sandwiches for Tristan. He is currently obsessed with pizza and demands it all the time. Very cute.
The other place the dairy allergy can be difficult is in baking. Milk, butter, and cream are often added to baked goods. Sometimes you can substitute soy milk, and sometimes you can submitter oil or applesauce for butter, but sometimes you can’t. For example croissants, which of course rely very heavily on butter to create those beautiful flaky layers and wonderful buttery flavor. As you read in my Monday post I recently tried my hand at homemade croissants; and of course didn’t want to leave Tristan out. Clearly I needed to come up with a dairy free croissant recipe for him.
The thing about dairy free recipes is that sometimes they suck. It’s hard to make something that relies on butter or cream taste good without butter or cream. I figured croissants could be pretty tricky to produce since a huge part of what they are about is the butter.
You can reproduce a pretty decent butter like flavor with many non-dairy butter substitutes. I’m a big fan of Smart Balance (though beware not every type of smart balance is dairy free, read the labels carefully) and Earth’s Balance. But, these substitutes don’t necessarily behave the exact same way during baking that butter does. It’s great you get a reasonable flavor, but texture is a whole different issue.
Of course, it’s the layers of butter in croissants that makes for that gorgeous airy inside. I just wasn’t sure that a butter substitute could pull it off. Then it occurred to me, pie crust (which are usually flaky, light, flavorful) can be made with butter or shortening. The downside of shortening is of course that it does’t taste like butter.
But, put butter and all vegetable shortening together, and you might just have a mix to replace butter in the croissant.
Rejoice my dairy free friends. It totally works! More importantly it tastes good! Prefect, light, airy, buttery flavored (without the butter!) croissants. Vegans, you guys can do a little dance too. As long as you use all vegetable shortening, and omit the egg wash this recipe is totally vegan friendly as well. Now everybody can have fresh baked croissants for breakfast! Woohoo! Ok, we still need to work on a GF version, but I’ve gotta admit I’m a little stumped on that one right now. But meanwhile go DF!
Dairy Free Croissants / Vegan Croissants Yields 15 croissants. Adapted from Jeffrey Hamelman, Fine Cooking, Issue 97.
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 and 1/2 cups warm water
- 3 tablespoons Earth Balance Buttery Spread
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 cups all purpose flour +additional for rolling out
- 8 tablespoons Earth Balance Buttery Spread
- 6 tablespoons all vegetable shortening
- 1 egg /splash of water (Omit to make the recipe vegan, substitute two tablespoons of Earth Balance buttery spread, melted.)
Special tools: stand mixer, saran wrap or ziplock bag, parchment paper, rolling pin, sharp knife
DAY ONE- Dough
1. In the bowl of a large stand mixer add the yeast, sugar, and warm water. Mix gently and let stand for about 10 minutes until the yeast is foamy.
2. Add the 3 tablespoons Earth Balance, salt, and four cups of flour. Mix on low speed for about 3 minutes until well combined and a coarse dough begins to form. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary. Increase the speed to medium and mix for an additional 3 minutes until a smooth dough is formed. Shape into a thick square and wrap well with saran wrap, or place in a ziplock bag with all air removed. Refrigerate overnight, or for a minimum of two hours and move on to DAY TWO’s steps.
DAY TWO- Laminating /Shaping
1. Cut the Earth Balance stick of butter in half lengthwise and arrange in a square on a sheet of parchment paper. Distribute the twelve tablespoons of shortening evenly on top of the Earth Balance. Place a second sheet of parchment paper on top of the Earth Balance/shortening. Use a rolling pin to gently pound the Earth Balance/shortening until a fairly uniform close to flat square is formed, the square should be about 7X7 inches. Place in the refrigerator to chill for the minimum of an hour; if the shortening has not firmed up (flexible but firm) chill for an additional 30 minutes.
2. When the Earth Balance/shortening square has chilled for at least an hour and is flexible but firm, remove the dough from the refrigerator. Allow the Earth Balance/shortening square to remain in the fridge while rolling out the dough. Lightly flour the counter and place the square of dough in the center. Lightly flour the top of the dough. Use the rolling pin to roll out a square about 10×10 inches.
3. Remove the Earth Balance/shortening square from the fridge. Remove the top sheet of parchment paper and place the Earth Balance/shortening square face down in the center of the square of dough, with points of the butter square are centered along the sides of the dough. (If you are looking at the dough straight on, the dough will look like a square, and the Earth Balance/shortening will look like a diamond.) Remove the second sheet of parchment paper. One at a time fold corners of the dough up over the square of Earth Balance/shortening. Press gently to seal the Earth Balance/shortening inside the dough.
4. Flour the top of the dough square. Use the rolling pin to roll out an aprox. 8X24 inch rectangle. Brush off the excess four then fold the bottom third of the rectangle up over the center third of the dough. Then fold the top third of the dough down. Place the dough on a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with saran wrap, or return the dough to it’s ziplock and refrigerate for thirty minutes.
5. Remove the dough from the fridge. Again lightly flour the work surface and top of the dough. Orient the dough so that the open ends of the dough are facing your body. Rolling in the direction of the open ends of the dough make a aprox. 8X24 inch rectangle. Brushing off any excess flour and fold the dough into thirds again. If any stray edges come out during rolling tuck them in before folding in thirds. Place the dough on a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with saran wrap, or return the dough to it’s ziplock and refrigerate for thirty minutes.
6. Repeat step five, and refrigerate an hour.
7. Lightly flour the work surface. Orient the dough so that the open ends of the dough are facing your body. Rolling in the direction of the open ends of the dough make a aprox. 8X44 inch rectangle. Sprinkle additional flour as needed to prevent sticking.
8. Use a sharp knife to make a small mark about every five inches along the top side of the dough (on the long side). Along the bottom side of the dough make a mark every 2 and 1/2 inches. Use the ruler to diagonally connect one of the marks on the top and one of the marks on the bottom. Cut. Connect the same bottom mark you have just cut to, to the next top mark. Cut. You will have cut out a triangle. Repeat until 15 triangles have been cut out.
9. Starting on the wider side of one of the triangles roll the dough up towards the pointed end of the triangle. Secure the pointed end by pressing gently. Gently bend the two sides together to form the crescent shape. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with the other 14 triangles, spacing the croissants out at least 2 inches from each other on the baking sheet. (This will require two baking sheets.) Cover with saran wrap and refrigerate over night if desired or move on to DAY THREE’s steps.
DAY THREE- Proof/ Bake
1. Make the egg wash by whisking together the egg with a splash (about 1 teaspoon) of water. To make the recipe vegan omit the egg wash and substitute three tablespoons of melted Earth Balance. Brush the tops of the croissants with the egg wash or Earth Balance. Refrigerate the rest of the egg wash or Earth Balance. Cover the croissants loosely with saran wrap and place in a warm location (but not so warm the butter melts!) to proof. Allow the croissants to proof for 2 hours. They will puff up noticeably, but not double.
2. Preheat the oven to 425*with the racks in the two center positions. Brush the croissants with the egg wash or Earth Balance a second time. If using Earth Balance, you may need to re-melt before applying.
3. When the oven has preheated transfer the croissants on the baking sheets to the oven. Immediately reduce the temperature to 400.* After 10 minutes rotate the two trays to prevent burning on the bottoms of the croissants. Bake for an additional 8-10 minutes until the croissants are a deep golden brown. You may notice a fair bit of oil on the baking sheet as the croissants cook, this is to be expected. Cool on baking sheets.
Notes: If you don’t want to bake all of the croissants at once they can be frozen after DAY TWO’s steps. Place the croissants flat in the freezer on the parchment paper lined baking sheet. Freeze until totally frozen through, about two hours. Then wrap each croissant individually in saran wrap. Place all saran wrapped croissants in a ziplock bag with the air removed and return to the freezer. To bake: transfer to the fridge to defrost overnight the day before you want to bake them. Then follow DAY THREE’s instructions as normal.
* The croissants in the pictures are minis. I needed to be able to keep track of which croissants at my house were dairy free and which were the classic. If you also want to make mini half the size of the triangles when cutting. The baking time will need to be reduced. I would recommend checking in at 10 and 15 minutes to prevent burning.