Vegan butter

13 August 2014

Giving up butter was a major hurdle for me in going vegan. Let's face it, Nuttlex tastes rather like the solidified grease it is, and while I know of one other brand of vegan margarine in Australia, I'm not prepared to go to a health food store to buy my butter alternative, nor am I prepared to pay health food store prices. In fact, I've never even tried Melrose. So Nuttlex it was, and it did the job in some contexts, even while it failed miserable on hot fresh bread or on pancakes.


So when I came across a recipe for homemade vegan butter that claimed to taste just like the real thing, it caught my attention. It took me a while to track down all the ingredients, but it was definitely worth it. I've made it a number of times now, and while there's still some Nuttlex sitting in my fridge, it's been abandoned - I haven't had to replace it since I discovered this recipe. While I don't think it tastes exactly like dairy butter (it has a faint coconut aroma for a start, though that could be the oil that I'm using), it's an excellent alternative, not just a lacklustre replacement.


The only problem is that I always want to make a tipple batch (to fill my giant ice cube tray), and the original recipe is awkward to multiply out. This is further complicated by the fact that Australian cups and tablespoons are slightly different to US ones, something that I usually ignore, but in this case, I find it important to measure as accurately as possible. As such, I've reproduced Mattie's genius recipe below, with measurements converted to Australian units and tripled. I've also modified the steps slightly to incorporate some things I found helpful. However, I highly recommend you also read his spiel about how and why it all works. If you like this one, you might want to try some of his other vegan butter recipes. So far, I've also made the garlic butter, which was amazing, though not quite as versatile.

Vegan Butter

Makes: 6 x 100g (approx) blocks
Tripled and updated for Australians, with permission, from veganbaking.net

Notes
  • Making smooth Vegan Butter is dependent on the mixture solidifying as quickly as possible after it's mixed. So when melting your coconut oil, be careful to just barely melt it. I find that a few floating lumps are dealt with just fine by my blender. If you're doing this on a hot day, you may actually need to cool your oil in the fridge before you start.
  • Mattie recommends using this ice cube tray, and I also find that it does the job very nicely. However, any small container will do the trick.
  • I know weird, hard to pronounce ingredients like lecithin and xanthan gum are scary to a lot of people. However, I know where they come from, what purpose they're serving, and I consume them only in moderation - probably a lot less than the average person since I rarely consume packaged foods. Don't tell me about health risks, I'm not interested. If you're concerned, just don't make this recipe.
  • I wanted to avoid using multiple teaspoon increments on all these measurements, but unfortunately, without using non-standard kitchen measuring tools, it's not possible to be accurate enough going by weight for such small quantities, and I don't have anything to measure small quantities of liquid by volume. Sorry.
  • Some advice on chasing down ingredients:
    • Lecithin granules can be found in the health food section of Coles or Woolworths. I believe that liquid lecithin would give a better result and I intend to track some down, but the granules are fine for a first try.
    • Coconut vinegar can be hard to find. My local Asian Grocer didn't stock it, but I found it at the Asian Grocer at the Prahran Market, and it was dirt cheap. If you're not in Melbourne, you're on your own as far as finding it goes, but if you can't find it, just use all apple cider vinegar.
    • I found xanthan gum in a health food store. You may also be able to find it in Coles or Woolworths in the health food aisle. It's a common additive for gluten free baking.
    • I haven't yet found a good bulk source of refined coconut oil. Currently, I'm using this coconut oil, but as it's purified and deodorised rather than refined, it leaves a faint though not unpleasant coconut flavour. If you know of another source, please let me know in the comments.

Ingredients
  • 200mL soy milk
  • 1 ½ teaspoons apple cider vinegar 
  • 1 ½ teaspoons coconut vinegar
  • 1 + ⅛ teaspoons salt
  • 390g refined coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon canola oil, light olive oil or rice bran oil
  • 3 teaspoons liquid soy lecithin or liquid sunflower lecithin OR 1 tablespoon + 2 ¾ teaspoons soy lecithin granules
  • ¾ teaspoon xanthan gum or 1 ⅞ teaspoons psyllium husk powder

Method
  1. Measure out soy milk in a small measuring jug, and add vinegar(s) and salt. If using lecithin granules, add now to give them time to soften. Whisk together with a fork, and let stand for about 10 minutes, until it curdles and thickens.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the coconut oil in the microwave so it's barely melted.
  3. Add the coconut oil, soy milk mixture, canola oil, lecithin (if not already added), and xanthan gum to a food processor or blender.
  4. Blend/process for about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides halfway through if necessary. If using lecithin granules, you may need to process for slightly longer.
  5. Pour the mixture into a mould and immediately place it in the freezer to solidify. Depending on how cold your freezer is set, it should be ready in 1-3 hours.
  6. Store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 month or wrapped in plastic wrap or in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 1 year.


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