Being unwell at home has its advantages: boredom breeds big kitchen projects. Happily, I was well enough to mill about the kitchen, and we had a package of dry soybeans lying about.
I started off by making soymilk, for the first time ever. I had two recipes on hand: one from The Homemade Vegan Pantry and one from The Tofu Book. The former advocates boiling the beans for one minute and the latter instructs to soak them overnight. Since I wanted to go through the whole process from start to finish that day, I went with the former approach.
Making soymilk is a multi-step approach. It starts off with boiling a great quantity of water in a big pot. Then, the beans are added to the boiling water and boiled for one minute. The pot is then removed from the stove and left to cool for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, I drained the beans. I put some of them in my blender with fresh water and blended to the point of creating a thick slurry. I then poured the slurry into a nut milk bag over a big bowl, squeezing with all my might. The milk dripped into the bowl; okara, the by-product of soymilk, was left inside the bag. I repeated the process in batches, until all soybeans were blended and milked. I ended the process by simmering the milk for ten minutes without letting it boil. Contrary to the book’s promise, the soymilk retained much of its original, beany flavor, which some absolutely love. I’m not very fond of it, but it can be partially masked with some vanilla extract. I might make tofu out of the milk I have, but I don’t think I’ll make this process a habit. Next time, I’ll try the soaking method, but I suspect it’ll yield a similar outcome.
The silver lining of the entire enterprise was the okara; I was left with so much of it that I packaged and froze four cups. I was left with enough fresh okara for two feats: a dried fruit cake and Miyoko Schinner’s “fab cakes”, which were a resounding success.
The recipe for fab cakes is in The Homemade Vegan Pantry; it requires a lot of ingredients, but fortunately I happened to have odds and ends of everything at home. I encourage you to buy the book and try this recipe. It’s fantastic. The cake itself is made mainly of okara and silken tofu, so it’s rich in protein and fiber, and it also contains quite a bit of delicious nori. Having missed crab cakes quite a bit, I was delighted to have such a delicious substitute.
The recipe for dried fruit cake is my own, so I’m happy to share it:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup fresh okara
1 cup boiling water + 3 tbsp room temperature water
1 cup mixed dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, apricots, figs)
4 tbsp flax seeds
2 tbsp brown sugar (and I think this would come out fabulous even without sweetener)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp hawaiiej for coffee (but I think you can do without)
1 pinch salt
Heat oven to 350 Farhenheit.
Pour cup of boiling water over dried fruit and leave aside to plump a bit.
Grind one tbsp of the flax and mix with three tbsp water. Leave aside to become gelatinous.
In a big bowl, mix oil, sugar, and vanilla. Add flax and dried fruit (with the liquid) and mix some more. Then, add all dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Pour into pan–I used my trusty silicone bundt cake pan–and bake for about 40 minutes, or until a knife plunged into the middle comes out dry and clean.
I’ve done some more reading on okara. It seems that you can easily substitute about 1/2 of the flour in almost any baking recipe with okara, though some websites prefer the use of dried to fresh. Since I used fresh okara, I can attest that it doesn’t harm the final product; the cake came out marvelous, fluffy and moist, and makes a delightful breakfast treat. What with this and the fake crab cakes, I feel like I got a lot out of my soymilk-making adventure–including newfound appreciation for commercial unsweetened organic soymilk, which I plan to continue buying most of the time!
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