Tofu Brain was too tofu-mushy. The Brain of Seitan was pretty damn good, albeit a little salty, but that’s easy to fix. I’ve had my eye on Bryanna Grogan’s soy and seitan turkey since this time last year, but was saving up the experiment for Thanksgiving. I wish I had hopped on this recipe earlier. (Update: here's the recipe with step-by-step instructions.)
I will tell you about my experience, and things I would (and did) do differently. The first time I made the recipe was sort of a disaster. Mid-crisis, I ran to the faux-meat-friendly Post Punk Kitchen forums to see if any one else was having the same problems. Many people had success, with only a few not so lucky. I soldiered on. The end product was fabulous, despite my crisis.Clockwise from to left: Tofu smoothie (a.k.a. wet ingredients), very wet dough, dough covered with broth, dough before being covered with broth.
- The recipe calls for 12 ounces of firm tofu. Every package I pick up is 15 ounces. I’m not tossing 3 ounces, so included it. This may have lead to my problem?
- My dough was very wet. I added more gluten, chickpea flour, and nutritional yeast. It was still wet. Afraid I’d make a heavy dough bomb, I quit adding more dry ingredients, and carried on.
- Bryanna’s directions give options for kneading the dough. She feels that kneading the dough is difficult, so suggests a mixer or a bread machine. I tried the bread machine since I had one. It works, but you have to clean it afterward!
- Poured the broth over the loaves and covered with foil. Stuck them in the oven at 200° (preheated first to 350° like her directions say) for three hours. Two hours into the baking, I take a peek. It looks just like the wet loaves covered in liquid that I put in two hours ago. No! This is not going to work.
- Poured off the liquid (saved it), left the loaves uncovered, and cranked the oven to 350°. Baked for about an hour, flipping a few times to get all sides brown (parchment paper really helps in flipping), and basting when the loaf dried out a bit.
- Turned out great despite the gooey, wet-loaf crisis. So good, in fact, I did it again.
- Still used all 15 ounces of tofu.
- Used ¼ cup less water in tofu smoothie.
- Dry and wet ingredients actually formed a dough, and not a wet mass.
- Kneaded by hand. I’m no wimp, and neither are you.
- Baked uncovered at 350° for 1 hour 15 minutes. Then flipped a few times over the next 30 minutes to get the surfaces brown. (Total cooking time 1 hour 45 minutes)
- Turned out great, and took less baking time!
The lesson here is that no matter how wet your loaf is, just bake it dry. The proportion of gluten, flour, nutritional yeast, tofu, and seasonings makes a perfect loaf. The water content may vary (tofu drained or not, more or less water), but you can bake that off.
I eat a ton (about two packages a week!) of Tofurkey deli slices on sandwiches and rolled up for snacks. Tofurkey is my favorite deli slice, and I think that Bryanna’s loaf is just as good - that's why I made it a second time, and I'll make it again!
I love the texture of this loaf – firmer than tofu, but not as chewy and heavy as baked seitan. The flavor is turkey-like, and certainly open to experimentation and personalization. Bryanna's loaf does slice up thinly (not as thin as Tofurkey slices, but maybe if you had a deli slicer), and is perfect for sandwiches. Thanksgiving, too! Put some gravy on it.
Seitan (and this tofu seitan turkey) really is better the next day after it has firmed up. Make this loaf at least a day before Thanksgiving so it can set, and reheat in the oven before serving. Making ahead also allows you to not completely freak out if you have doubts about the end results like I did the first time.