Seitan Bacon Attempt #1


Unlike my first try at seitan, which went really, really badly, this went surprisingly well and I am ecstatic about it. The doughs came together instantly and I had no issues when it came to making this recipe. Not all hope is lost!

I used this recipe because it had been recommended to me After I followed the recipe to the very last letter, yes, to the very last letter! I wrapped it in the foil and threw it in the oven at 160 degrees Celsius for 90 minutes. I waited impatiently, fretting about the possibility of it burning into a brick because 90 minutes seemed like an awfully long time to bake such a small thing! I refrained from taking it out of the oven halfway through, and I wish I had taken it out about 15 minutes sooner, because it formed a dark outside, while the inside was lighter.

I cut off a little chunk to give it a little taste.

It tastes like mum's meatballs.

I have no idea if I should feel happy or sad about this. On the one hand, I finally a great meatball recipe that can go in my spaghetti bolognaise, but on the other hand, I EXPECTED BACON, DAMN IT! My idea of bacon is something that's salty, smoky and crispy so this didn't tick all of the boxes. This one was tangy and tomato-y hence why it reminded me distinctly of meatballs.

I fried up a few slices in some butter and it began to taste more like bacon but it still had that meatball taste. I think that the next time I make this, I will be omitting the Worcestershire sauce, reducing the amount of tomato sauce and possibly eliminating the sugar. I think this will produce the desired bacon flavour that I like best, and lighten the colour of the dough at the same time, because I found it too dark to look bacon-like.

Ingredients for Dough 1
1 cup vital wheat gluten
2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
2 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper (I used black pepper)
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp dark brown sugar or real maple syrup
2 tbsp tamari, soy sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos
2 tbsp liquid smoke
1 tbsp red miso paste or tomato paste
1 tbsp vegan Worchestershire sauce
1 tbsp olive oil

Ingredients for Dough 2
1/3 cup vital wheat gluten
1 tbsp garbanzo bean flour (also known as besan or chickpea flour)
1 tsp garlic powder
1/3 cup water
1/2 tsp fine sea salt or kosher salt (or be like me and use table salt - they all taste the same)
1 tbsp olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius and whisk together the dry ingredients for Dough 1 in a large bowl. In a separate bowl or a measuring jug, mix together the wet ingredients for Dough 1 ensuring the miso/tomato paste and brown sugar/maple syrup has dissolved. 
2. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients for Dough 1 and mix until incorporated. Divide into three pieces and set aside.
3. In a small bowl whisk together the dry ingredients for Dough 2, and mix the wet ingredients for Dough 2 in a separate bowl or jug, dissolving the salt. 
4. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well with a spoon. Divide the dough into two portions and set aside

5. Lay a large sheet of aluminium foil on your work surface, and take one portion from Dough 1. Flatten the dough out to about 1cm thick, and take a piece from the second dough, layering it on top. It doesn't need to be perfect as it's meant to be streaky and uneven.
6. Layer the doughs in alternating colours until you have a total of five layers like the picture below. Shape the dough with your hands into a rectangular shape.

7. Wrap the foil around the dough like you would a present and fold the sides. Turn the foil packet upside down so that the seam is facing down and tuck the side flaps underneath.

8. Place the foil packet seam-side down on a baking tray and put it on the middle shelf in the oven. Bake for 90 minutes.
9. When the seitan is ready, remove the tray from the oven and let the dough cool down enough for you to touch it. Remove it from the tray and slice it with a sharp knife. Slice thinly if you want a crispy bacon, or slice it twice as thick for a chewier texture.

The seitan bacon can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to ten days, or three months in the freezer. If freezing, for easier extraction, layer the slices with a sheet of baking paper between each later. This stops the slices from sticking together and makes quick work of frying up some bacon for a sandwich or a full breakfast.

When I took a few slices out of the freezer to fry it for an egg and bacon sandwich, instead of waiting for the bacon to defrost, I added it to the pan, set it on low heat and popped the lid on to trap the heat. It was done in mere minutes without burning and it was crispy enough even though the slices are a bit thicker than I would have liked them. I tried to cut it more thinly but because it had been cooked for 90 minutes (I think 75 minutes, give or take, would have sufficed) the perimeter of the dough was tougher than the inside.

The next time I make this, I'll definitely be altering the original recipe (the credit goes to the author of The Gentle Chef Cookbook) to suit my tastes and reducing the cooking time to about 75 minutes instead. If I could find a way to make the dough more red without the use of tomato paste, I could probably fool the omnivore in my life into believing it's real bacon heh heh... In the meantime I shall be buying a digital copy of 'Seitan and Beyond'.


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