Monday, April 5, 2010

Seitan Braciole and Coconut Cake

Growing up, braciole was a typical Sunday/holiday meal in our house. My mom used to make it by rolling an egg filling in pounded flank steaks, browning off the rolls in olive oil and then braising them in a tomato-based sauce. She made the filling with raw egg, parmigiano cheese, garlic, parsley, and black pepper, and I think possibly some bread crumbs-- the egg would cook up with the braciole and make a cheesy/slightly omelette-like filling. I haven't eaten my mom's version in well over 20 years, but this past weekend, I decided to give my own vegan version a try.

Here's my version; it looks much like what I remember from my childhood (in a vegan way):

For the filling, I used lemon pignoli "ricotta" ( the recipe for which can be found by scrolling down on this page). I added garlic and parsley to it, so the filling ended up being  pine nuts, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. For the seitan, I used my old standby: easy baked seitan, and added some ketchup and vegan worcestershire in an attempt to make it somewhat beef-like.

I rolled several pieces of seitan out  to about 1/4 - 1/2-inch thickness and spread the pine nut filling across them....not knowing what to expect, I went sparingly on the time I'll use more. Then, I rolled up the seitan much like you would roll up loaves of  bread. I used kabob sticks to "weave" them closed, but in retrospect, I'm convinced that the rolls would have stayed together without them.

I used Vegan Epicurean's method of steam-baking the seitan...I find this method works great for cooking seitan. Thanks Alicia!

I baked the rolls for about an hour or so, pouring water on to the baking sheet as it evaporated and turning the rolls periodically so they browned evenly on all sides. They browned nicely and stayed much more moist than if they had been dry-baked in tin foil. About a half an hour before serving, I added the rolls to a pot of tomato sauce that had been cooking for many hours and let the rolls heat through and absorb some of the sauce:

The braciole went nicely on a plate of pasta with herb-roasted tomatoes. (Note the cute bunny in the background.):

Final verdict...the filling is "garlicky" and pine-nutty...very good, can't say it mimics mom's egg filling exactly...but it provided a similar rich dimension. My mom thought it was good, though did not go into detail by way of comparisons...

The seitan itself was tender and tasty...any seitan of choice would be good. I'm thinking of future versions  with chicken-style seitan and a sun-dried tomato many possibilities, so little time.

Now for the cake part: there were a good few people slated for our Easter gathering, so I volunteered to make a coconut cake. I used a recipe for coconut-lime cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. I've made many of the recipes from this book and have always been happy with the result.

I quadrupled the recipe to make two, 9-inch round cakes. It's been so long since I've baked any goodies, I had forgotten how much fun it is.

Here's the final cake:

I topped it with thick coconut flake (some toasted). We ate it with the Dark Chocolate flavor of Coconut Bliss. (Incidentally--and I'm not a sweet tooth by any stretch of the imagination--the Pineapple-Coconut flavor of this same brand is pure ambrosia.)

Apparently, I lied when I said no photos were taken of the cake served out...I just found this one on my camera that someone must have snapped unbeknownst to me...or maybe I did unbeknownst to myself:


When I eat cake, it often make me think of Alice and her looking-glass cake:

"I'm sure I don't know," the Lion growled out as he lay down again. "There was too much dust to see anything. What a time the Monster is cutting up that cake!"

    Alice had seated herself on the bank of a little brook, with the great dish on her knees, and was sawing away diligently with the knife. "It's very provoking!" she said, in reply to the Lion (she was getting quite used to being called "the Monster"). "I've cut several slices already, but they always join on again!"

    "You don't know how to manage Looking-glass cakes," the Unicorn remarked. "Hand it round first, and cut it afterward."

(From Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland  and Through the Looking Glass.)

Original illustration by John Tenniel


  1. I'm so impressed by the braciole! That looks like a wonderful way to prepare seitan.

    The cake looks awesome too! I still haven't tried the coconut lime cupcake recipe, for some reason.

  2. that cake is magnificent!! i couldnt cut into it!!!!what did people say about it?

  3. Bonnie,

    The seitan was good and so much easier than I thought it would be...

    My personal fav from Vegan Cupcakes TOTW are Toasted Coconut cupcakes w/ Coffee Frosting...cocoa, coconut, coffee...YUM! I'd love to hear your favs!

    Hi DirtyDuck,

    The cake did look good in turned out tasty, but not what you'd expect as a light and fluffy coconut cake...the texture was on the heavy side. I think this was because the main fat and binding agent is coconut oil, which makes things pretty solid.

    I honestly think that cupcakes, being smaller, would be the preferred form for this particular recipe, but the flavor was good nonetheless.

    People liked it in general...but did I mention that I was holding them as cake hostages? LOL

  4. Rose,

    The braciole looks great! I am so glad it turned out well.

    The cake is making me hungry. Coconut is one of my favorites. It looked gorgeous!


  5. Thanks Alicia,

    Your method for cooking seitan has become my favorite, and i think it made all the difference with these...I was thinking of browning the rolls and just dropping them in the sauce to cook, but I think the texture was better this way.

    I love coconut too, but honestly, the cake wasn't all that...too heavy as I mentioned...but I had an easy crowd, and coconut is good as you say.

  6. Rose,

    I was happy to see you made smaller braciole. I can definitely tell you that making one enormous one was a major pain. Yours look so good I may make some more later this week before it is too hot here to make them again for months.

    I am glad you like the cooking method for the seitan. It seems to be fairly foolproof, or I should say 'Aliciaproof".

    The cake was gorgeous, too bad it was dense. Vegan cake does tend to be more dense, in my experience. It is hard to replicate the lift cakes get from egg whites.


  7. I too am over-awed. The cake looks like it's from the fanciest bakery.

  8. The cake is incredibly beautiful, sorry it didn't quite do it for you. And the braciole! Amazing!

  9. Impressive dishes, wow, especially the bracioli. I can hardly wait to try that!

  10. The braciole seems like the perfect main course for a special meal. And your cake is beautiful! My hubby adores coconut, so I may just have to give this a try.

  11. Everything looks expertly done, and so delicious. I'm always impressed when someone creates such a jaw-dropping cake! It looks gorgeous.

  12. Rose, I don't have much to add to everyone else's comments! Your whole post is gorgeous, mouth-watering, impressive and festive! (The wee bunny is precious, btw!)

    Between Alicia and now you, I'm convinced I must make my own seitan. And maybe my own braciole (something I've never eaten, vegan or otherwise). Your photos and "it's so easy" descriptions have seduced me. :-)

    Sounds like you enjoyed a wonderful holiday, thanks for sharing your exquisite photos with us!

  13. Everyone: you guys are really too nice; thank you for all your kind words and encouragement.


    I have to say that your way of doing the seitan is great...I would have used your recipe for the beefy seitan, but since I wasn't sure how it would turn out, I wanted to stick with a version of seitan that I had made a lot and was confident in working with.


    Thanks, you are really too kind.


    The cake was good on flavor, but a bit lacking in texture...thanks for your kind words.


    If you try the braciole, do post about it...I'd love to see your version...I'm always drooling over the okara seitan you make.


    Thanks for your nice comments, this cake is definitely a coconut-lovers cake...I'm sure you'd make a simply wonderful version of it.


    Thanks, you really are too kind.


    I think you should try your hand at really is fun because you can adjust the flavors to make all sorts of different versions.

  14. Something just happened to my screaming, happy comment here! I don't know what! Anyhow, what I was screaming about was the amazing looking food you made. I stressed it by using multiple letters in my words like thiiiiis. Anyhow, I am not kidding you, that seitan roll (I know you called it something fancy, again) and your coconut cake look incredibly amazing. I was just looking at a recipe for a coconut cake about a month ago b/c I want one so bad. I have got to master the seitan you and Alicia are always making. One big YUM.

  15. BlessedMama,

    You're too sweet, thanks for the seriously kind words. Do you have the Vegan Cupcake book? I recommend it...and I know you have lots of would-be vegan cupcake eaters over there.

    YOu should defiinitely go for the seitan thing...I"m convinced that wheat gluten will cook no matter what you it's really a matter of getting the flavors and texture the way you like them.

  16. The braciole looks amazing, in fact the whole meal looks amazing!!

  17. Janet,

    Thanks for your kind words...I was surprised that the seitan roll worked...I wasn't sure what to expect.

  18. Yes, Rose, I have the cupcake cookbook, and many of its pages have already been stained by the love of cooking and little fingers. I have tried to make homemade seitan before, but we didn't like the chewy texture. However, I'm re-inspired to try again b/c of you and Alicia. During summer break, I'm-a gonna go for it!

  19. Sounds like a good plan Blessed Mama :)

  20. Vital wheat gluten is very hard to come by here, so I have not had a chance to taste seitan. This looks absolutely fabulous. Thank you for introducing me to it.

    PS Please come over tomorrow to ‘get’ your A2K Happy Family card for the 555th blog post giveaway. It’s make more sense tomorrow, promise.

  21. Mangocheeks,

    Thanks for the heads up, sounds like fun; I'll stop by tomorrow. :)

  22. looks real good.
    what great presentation of the cake

  23. Hi, I am so excited to find this recipe, as I haven't eaten or thought making braciole in decades. I'm going to surprise my partner for her birthday dinner!

  24. William

    Thanks for stopping by...since I made this, I learned a new tip for really tender seitan, if you like that way: add 3 tablespoons of urad flour (or chickpea flour if you can't get urad) and 1 tablespoon rice flour to the wheat gluten. Also it would work fine to saute to the seitan after you've steambake it if you want, before putting it in the sauce.

    I hope you like it! Sounds like a great birthday surprise.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...