Amaranth Veglaze — Ditch the eggs, this vegan glaze is glossy and won’t stick

veglaze

Okay…Posting new recipes publicly is a new thing for me that took me some time to warm up to…

You see, as a researcher and advocate, I’d usually be busy sharing with people how to  proactively help preventing cancer far beyond “just” good nutrition and exercise, that is by regular fasting + some nutrient supplementation + chemoprevention (though essentially plants).
Otherwise, I’d be busy educating on how to avoid the other third of unnecessary suffering and premature death – cardiovascular disease – by relying on low-fat whole-foods plant-only nutrition, with no oil/no sugar/no salt. In short, by eating what healthy cultures call “food” as explained in detail in the fascinating Forks over Knives.
I’d normally be busy working towards the abolition of animal exploitation, by engaging with people on the many issues tied with eating/using animals and typically pointing to documentaries Earthlings, Gary Yourovsky’s speechCowspiracy or Forks over Knives for people to transform by-default cluelessness into conscious, educated choices.

I became a scientist/researcher to help people. What is the point of more research, when best practice was already researched, found, documented, but then ignored and unused? So I’ve been spending less time with facts and figures, more time directly with people, communities, always around food.

Food is where many decisions are taken daily on the relationship we want to have on the process of Life; a destructive self-dooming one, or one of universal thriving.

So today, my first publicly-shared recipe is also one my favorites because it’s been a fun challenge. I found a new use for nature’s magic, and made a Veglaze.

It’s short for vegan glaze, a glazing agent or egg wash substitute that leaves animals alone, and calls only for whole-food ingredients. The happening and lovely Wellington (NZ) Vegans voted to call it Veglaze!

It’s a small, fun, little thing, yet, I love it!

Q: “Why don’t you just use eggs, I don’t get it?”.
A: Fair question. This is why. I cannot possibly explain it any better.

THE PROBLEM WITH GLAZING VEGAN FOODS

Ever found yourself making burger buns, or some sort of vegan bread and wanted the top to look super-shiny? Obviously the last thing you want to use is an egg, or anything based on sugar, other processed foods, or anything leading to sticky fingers?

So let me guess…

You went online and looked for the name of that stuff we use to make burger buns and brioche breads shiny…what is it called…Oh yeah, it’s called an “egg wash” or a “glaze”, “glazing”. You found pinterest pictures with a dozen different options that leave animals alone, using soy milk, aquafaba, cornstarch, olive oil…and you tried it on your buns. All you truthfully get is this: your buns are browner, but still obviously dry-looking and nothing even remotely close to shiny, glossy, glazy…

I know your frustration, I grew up with brioche breads and burger buns as shiny as my lovely dad’s balding head. The brioches used eggs, we didn’t know any better back then. Nonetheless, there’s something strange about food that makes it very appealing when it’s shiny. Well, this is not a browning agent, I like to call a spade a spade, or “a cat a cat” as the French say, and this is the deal folks! A true Veglaze!

I hope you will feel the same satisfaction as we did with the shiny Hot Cross Buns we baked.

Walking in the footsteps of the amazing Aquafaba project, this will be the Veglaze project group on Facebook, focusing exclusively on veglazing, to replace the glossy effect obtained by eggs washes in baking, or by unhealthy/processed foods undesirable in a whole food pantry (sugar, oil, processed flours…).  This is a place for people to posts their own attempts, new uses, findings, fails, etc…A Veglaze is a concept, what plant the Veglaze uses can vary and hopefully will expand.

HOW TO MAKE VEGLAZE

This is is about Amaranth seed veglaze

20160322_152856

Start with ½ (one half) cup of amaranth seed.
This will yield us about 1 ~ 1 ½ cups of Veglaze by volume, 200~350g by weight.
Egg white equivalent: Not sure at this point, but I veglazed 3 batches of 12 large hot cross buns with it. So relax, this will make more than enough if you’re veglazing less than the size of a standard oven tray.

20160322_153038Add 4 cups of room temperature water. And set on the stove on medium for 30 min. No lid on.

20160322_155419It will start to boil after about 10 min.

20160322_162109

This will be what it will look like after 30 minutes of cooking. See that glossiness?
Beautiful!

20160322_170412

Pour in a strainer.

20160322_170651

Squeeze it a bit *gently* if needed. You want to strain it, not press the grains through the sieve. The pictures shows a thicker experimental version. But with 4 cups of water as per this recipe, it should strain even more easily.

20160324_152147

This is what you get from a first pass of sieving. Lots of a glossy Veglaze in the making, but still with lots of amaranth seed germs in it.

20160324_152551

Sieve that one more time.

Picture 89

Et voilà! A uniform, transparent clean veglaze.

20160324_160120_2

Egg white replacement: If you want to use it as a transparent veglaze, use it as it is.
Full egg or yolk-containing replacement: If you want the Veglaze to also have a browning shine (like for brioche, pain au chocolat, challah, etc.)  add tamarind paste, or turmeric for color and maybe a plant milk for a creamy aspect. In all cases, share your successes and fails in the project. Here (as per the picture above) I experimentally added a bit of soy milk. Another previous time, I had successfully tried before with tamarind paste and turmeric powder.

Q: When to veglaze?
A: Either before baking and/or  5~10 minutes before the end of baking.

WHAT RESULTS TO EXPECT?

I’ll count on you guys to upload more “WITH vs. WITHOUT” photos, I was busy making ALL the buns veglazed whenever I could, only our car or my hair I haven’t used this Veglaze on…yet! 😀 But I did take some photos.

12596151_10153642445302950_1784675785_n(1)

Above is WITHOUT VEGLAZE picture, where you can see the dull dry surface. Anything shiny? Oh hold on…
DSCF9015-copy_CROP
Ah okay…now we’re talking. WITH VEGLAZE.

Why do I love this stuff so much?

  • it leaves animals alone
  • it works, shines, and makes relevant foods look beautiful
  • it’s easy to make
  • tasteless, it won’t interfere with wonderful taste of the vegan whole-food treats you veglaze with it
  • stores in the fridge for days. Leftover can be used like vegetable stock or water
  • inexpensive: a small amount veglazes large surfaces
  • prevents madness: leaves clean fingers, doesn’t stick to fingers nor have a greasy feel.
  • suits whole-food kitchens as it does not include oil, sugar, or other processed products in order to live long happy healthy lives
  • can be made year-round
  • safe: no risk of food-poisoning typical to eggs
  • nothing goes to waste: the amounts of cooked amaranth grain it makes are very realistically sustainably edible.

WHAT’S THE SCIENCE BEHIND THIS?

The Aquafaba project might provide part of the answer. The glossy aspect here adds to the open mystery. I’m guessing proteins and saccharides have a lot to do with the shine and viscosity of the mucilage.
All I know from practice, is that the dry-food to water ratio to get separate grains of amaranth is close to 1:10 which is enormous. In fact pretty close to the dry to wet ratio of many seaweeds, which are excellent water binders. That is a rather high water binding capacity. This suggests that amaranth seed mucilage (or “glamAranth” like a friend calls it because it makes foods look glamourous) could likely be a highly-efficient egg-substitute not just for veglazing but all sorts of uses previously relying on eggs, and the many problems that inevitably come with using eggs.

HOW WAS VEGLAZE “DISCOVERED”?

How I found that amaranth could be used to make Veglaze is one of those little fun little quests I love to play with and try to solve.

I was making a first big step towards whole-foods, looking into buying/eating whole grains instead of the processed grains we were having as staple: pasta, polished white rice, couscous, etc. Amaranth was one of many whole grains in this book. Its small size fascinated me, so I bought it out of curiosity along with 20~30 other whole grains, seeds, pea and beans. With amaranth, the aim was to have something like couscous, separate grains, just “nano-sized”. Like everyone I cooked it, using a ratio I am comfortable with, that of brown rice to water (~1:2 ratio by volume).  And like everyone cooking amaranth for the first time, I got a sticky mess so impossible to sieve that I broke my sieve trying to get the gooeyness out! The tiny bits of gel I managed to squeeze out was very much reminding of egg whites. I took note of that but remained focused on the grains more than the Veglaze.

So I added a lot of water, enough to make the grains separate and I sieved that.
Wonderful, nano-sized couscous!
Now I was left with quite a lot of thick water and set on reducing that to see if it could glaze like eggs do. I put some of that thick water in an hollow oven tray for some time to dehydrate it. Put it in the warm oven, turned it off before going to sleep, then completely forgot about it! The days pass and I see the word “amaranth” somewhere and remember “Oh snap! The amaranth gel has been in the oven for days!!!” Ready to encounter a moldy stinky mess,  I rushed to the oven, held my breath and opened slowly in apprehension…But what I saw was quite different from the doom I had imagined!

The water had completely dried out. What was left behind was a blessing of serendipity!

The oven tray was clean and spotless, in fact so shiny I could see my ecstatic face in it! The water had dried, and that was a ~1 mm dry thick layer of shiny varnish. At that point, I definitely knew amaranth would make an excellent glazing for baking (and maybe other things). That mistake had conveniently saved me a few experimental steps.

Soon enough, I found excuses to bake various breads and cakes (100% whole-meal and whole-foods of course) and played around for a bit. Although it shined, it still needed more tries to find the right thickness or amaranth/water ratio. On the first attempts the gel was so thick, that the veglaze once cooked looked like those transparent slug trails in the garden…Not quite as appealing as I was aiming for!

So I kept playing with ratios and mixes and got to something pretty good now. I am still fine-tuning the ratios and making the recipe as easy and simple as possible. I’m sharing it already though so anyone can benefit from this as it is now. You can take on from here with your own uses, experiments, attempts. Whether they’re brilliant glows (successes) or whether you slip down some slippery slopes (opportunities to learn) share it anyways!

Join the Veglaze group on Facebook and share your experiments, trials, errors….

=> Facebook Veglaze Project – A community project with open discussion and sharing, trial and error etc. If you knew aquafaba, you will feel like at home!
Warning: The group *does* encourage healthful whole-food pantries. Remember to Read the pinned post.

Comments? => on the veglaze project group above 😉

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

5 thoughts on “Amaranth Veglaze — Ditch the eggs, this vegan glaze is glossy and won’t stick

  1. SO COOL!!! Do you think this could be frozen and then thawed and still work the same? I feel like I won’t need to use much and having some on hand, I’m much more likely to actually use it again in the future.

  2. Hi Monique. Thank you for the patience, I did not see your comment until now. I made this a long time ago, and vaguely remember having frozen it and that it ruined it (spongy texture, water separated from solid part, something like what in chemistry is called “precipitation”). I now suspect boiling it again might solve that issue but haven’t tried yet. Have you made a this amaranth glaze yet?

  3. this looks interesting, but I wonder how the remainig “hard parts” of amarant seeds could be used if I don’t want to discard them. Any tips?

  4. Hi. I make porridge out of it. I add a little plant milk, some cut dried figs, maybe dices apples, cinnamon and good to go I’ve never discarded the amaranth. IN fact I prefer it after removing the gooey slime, it’s a lot more palatable.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *