Pineapple-Glazed Baked Seitan

Mark and I visited the parental homestead, that is, my parents’ house, this weekend. While I was there I photographed a bunch of recipes from my mother’s little-used recipe box, with hopes of veganizing a few old favorites. My mother doesn’t cook, so this isn’t a very big undertaking.* Many of the recipes I grabbed are things I’m sure my mother never actually made, either. Anyway, one of my favorite meals as a kid was baked ham, which my mother and my grandmother used to make topped with pineapples. I reinvented this as baked seitan today. It turned out fairly well, although the seitan – the UnHam from Simply Heavenly! – wasn’t very “hammy” and I plan to play around with the seitan in the future. I’ll give you the recipe I used tonight in the meantime, though.

First, here is the original version of the Pineapple-Glazed Baked Ham. I talked to my mother about this recipe and she’s not sure where it originally came from and doesn’t specifically remember it being my grandmother’s, however, I am quite sure my grandmother made ham like this. My mother actually uses this recipe as well, on those extremely rare instances she takes it upon herself to bake a ham. She says the recipe may be hers, but I’ve never known my mother to invent a recipe on her own. But maybe she did!

1 8-10 lb pre-cooked ham
1 T. butter
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
whole cloves
4-6 slices pineapple
1 scant cup vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 cup catsup
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground mixed spices

Remove rind from ham; rub with butter. Rub ham with 1/4 cup brown sugar. Score fat surface in squares and place whole clove in each square. Place ham, fat side up, on rack in roaster which has been lined with enough aluminum foil to completely enclose the ham. Place pineapple over top. Boil remaining ingredients including remaining brown sugar for 5 minutes. Pour sauce over ham. Close aluminum foil over top. Bake at 300 degree oven for 2 hours, 45 minutes to 3 hours. Occasionally baste ham with sauce. Thirty minutes before end of baking time, open foil and return to oven to brown. (Heat until 130 degrees F.)

And now my version:

Pineapple-Glazed Baked Seitan

2 pounds ham-flavored seitan (a recipe follows)
1 tsp vegan margarine
1/3 cup brown sugar, divided
whole cloves
3 slices pineapple
scant 1/4 cup vinegar
2 Tbsp water
1/4 cup catsup
pinch ground cloves
pinch allspice

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove 1 Tbsp of the brown sugar and set aside. Place catsup, vinegar, water, ground cloves, allspice, and remaining brown sugar into a small, heavy saucepan and heat over medium heat until bubbly, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, rub one teaspoon of margarine over seitan …

… then rub with the reserved tablespoon of brown sugar.

Score the seitan perpendicularly into diagonals, then stick a whole clove in the middle of each diamond.

Place the seitan onto a piece of aluminum foil that is large enough to completely cover it, and place the pineapple rings on top of the seitan.

Place the seitan-filled foil into a loaf pan …

… then pour the sauce over the seitan …

… and close the foil up.

Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove and open the foil up, then continue baking another 30 minutes.

Remove and reserve the pineapple rings.

Remove the cloves.

Slice the seitan as you would ham.
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Serve, topping with the leftover basting sauce if desired, with pineapple rings on the side.

(Recipe for the green bean dish – also from my mother’s collection – in the background coming up tomorrow!)

The verdict on this was somewhat mixed. As a “baked seitan”, it was successful, however, as “ham”, a bit less so. It tasted like seitan, not ham. I’m not sure how much I really want to mimic the flavor of ham – very real-tasting fake meat freaks me out – but I think I can come up with something more hammy than this. That said, all of the “un-meat” seitan recipes I’ve made from Simply Heavenly! are good and this was no exception. Mark said he really liked “the presentation”, and since this was my favorite meal when I was young, I liked it very much myself. Therefore I plan to make the “ham” taste a little more authentic in the future. If you go in having no hopes of ham, the following recipe is great!

(lightly adapted from Simply Heavenly!)

(Tigger of course was right on the nutritional yeast. Also, check out the new salt pig my mom gave me – I love it!)

1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
4 tsp Kitchen Bouquet
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp rubbed sage
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp oregano
2 tsp garlic powder
2 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
2 tsp canola oil
2 tsp salt
4 cups water
1 box (about 2 1/4 cups) vital wheat gluten
1 cup chopped onion

Whisk together all ingredients except the vital wheat gluten and the chopped onions in a pressure cooker.

Place the vital wheat gluten into a medium bowl.


Remove 2 cups of the liquid from the pressure cooker and mix with the vital wheat gluten,. I just use my hands.

Add the onions and an additional 4 cups of water to the pressure cooker and set over medium high heat on the stove.

Meanwhile, form the seitan into a log shape and wrap tightly in cheesecloth.

I didn’t have any kitchen twine, so I ripped two long, thin lengths of muslin and used those to tie the ends like a Tootsie roll.

Place the wrapped “log” into the broth in the pressure cooker.

I didn’t even realize what Tigger was doing until after snapping this picture.

He is so bad!

Don’t let your cats do this.

Put the lid on the pressure cooker and bring up to pressure, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 35 minutes. Run under cold water to bring pressure down quickly.

Remove seitan from cooker and allow to cool a little bit, then unwrap.

For lunch tomorrow, I intend to make a sandwich using several slices and some hot sauce my friend made using brown sugar that I think will go very well with the “unham”.

And finally, I’m sorry but I absolutely can not resist posting this picture.

But since you are subjected to a million pictures of Tigger “helping” me cook, here’s a glimpse at what goes on with the good cat while Tiggs and I slave away in the kitchen:

(Brachtune is also sitting on my lap as I work on this post; she helps with the reading and the computer work instead of the food.)

* By the statement that my mother does not cook, I do not mean to imply that we didn’t have a hot meal for dinner every night when I was growing up, because we did, and it was very rarely take-out from the sub shop, nor did we go to restaurants. It even regularly involved what I would term “cooking”.


  1. Destiny Said,

    October 13, 2008 @ 12:02 am

    That is SO COOL! I love how you scored the ham into diagonals and everything. Amazing post!

  2. Mom Said,

    October 13, 2008 @ 7:54 am

    OK, what is the word for what I do in the kitchen at dinner time on most nights if it isn’t cooking? Whatever that word is, I don’t like to do it either, but I do.

    I didn’t mean that I may have invented the ham recipe on my own. I do have cookbooks, and sometimes got recipes from the newspaper. My mother threw out all of my recipes that I collected and used when I was young, apparently because I was too messy in the kitchen. So I don’t have any recipes for stuff that I actually enjoyed making back then.

  3. renae Said,

    October 13, 2008 @ 9:19 am

    Mom, I think maybe the word you are looking for is “heating things up”. Actually, I don’t know what you do in the kitchen these nights since I don’t live there! It sounds like your mother is responsible for your hating to cook though. That’s too bad; maybe you would have liked it.

    Destiny, thank you!

  4. Lisa Said,

    October 13, 2008 @ 11:24 am

    I love your picture-packed-posts! This looks really good… I need to pick up some kitchen bouquet.

    One of our cats adores nooch. One thinks it is ‘eh”. The third wants nothing to do with it.

  5. Jennifer Said,

    October 13, 2008 @ 2:46 pm

    I also get freaked out by faux meats that taste a little too much like the real thing. Plus, my hubby gets all suspicious like I’m trying to slip in some of the real stuff. Who knows what my motive for that would be!

    I think you did an awesome job veganizin this ham recipe. Your seitan log is incredible, too. I haven’t tried making my own seitan, but I have doubts that any seitan I made would turn out as nicely as yours did!

  6. renae Said,

    October 14, 2008 @ 9:15 pm

    Lisa, my other cat isn’t interested in nooch either. Which may be why she spends considerably less time jumping up on the kitchen counters…

    Jennifer, my husband is the same way! Whenever I make a meal involving fake meat or cheese, he’s always asking me if it’s real…as if today was the day, after 20 years of being vegetarian, that I randomly decide out of nowhere, oh yeah, I think killing cows is cool!

  7. Tina Said,

    October 15, 2008 @ 4:07 pm

    Hi:) I’ve just made your baked seitan, it’s simply delicious (and all gone by now…) but I’ve got one doubt involving the vinegar. Which type of vinegar did you use? Since you haven’t mentioned any specific, I used what is “normal vinegar” for me -10% white vinegar. The sauce had really strong smell of it, so I figured out it was too strong for the recipe. Can you tell me what type do you use? In the end the sauce was yummy and I’m gonna make it very often, but it’s just that before baking you couldn’t even taste it, so stinky it was…

  8. renae Said,

    October 15, 2008 @ 5:06 pm

    Hi Tina! I used apple cider vinegar, both because I had plenty of it and because in other recipes that I have gotten from my mother, she’s noted that is the type of vinegar she used. Apple cider vinegar is probably almost as strong as white vinegar, in fact, I thought it was too strong myself when I put all of sauce ingredients together! I managed to taste it and thought it was too much, but actually, once it boiled for 5 minutes and the sugar dissolved, the vinegar had tamed down and it tasted fine (and smelled much better),and of course, by the time it’s baked, it doesn’t smell (or taste) like vinegar at all. So really if you can get past the smell, white vinegar is probably fine. I think apple cider vinegar smells better than white vinegar, but honestly it’s going to smell pretty strongly too. I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe other than the stinkiness!

  9. Barbara Said,

    October 15, 2008 @ 5:34 pm


    I was wondering, how would I make this without a pressure cooker as I do not own one! Finally a year after going vegetarian I can finally tolerate the taste of fake meats and really want to try this out.

  10. renae Said,

    October 15, 2008 @ 6:07 pm

    Ah, Barbara, now I feel bad because when I was writing up the post, I was thinking I really needed to include non-pressure cooker instructions because I know it’s not necessarily standard kitchen equipment, but the post was already so long that I skipped it! There are three methods for cooking seitan in Simply Heavenly!, from whence I got the recipe, but the pressure cooker method is stressed to be far superior than the others. The other two involve a 12-hour bake in a 200-degree oven, which I deemed far too time-consuming, and cooking on the stove, the details of which I don’t remember off the top of my head but which are probably similar to the pressure cooker method, just with a longer cook time.

    I have had very good success using the currently-popular steaming method, such as VeganDad describes in his veggie lunch meat post. (You can also see photos of Mark making Vegan Dad’s lunch meat here.) This method would actually work very well for the baked “ham”. From the list of ingredients, omit the onion, reduce the water to 1 3/4 cups, and halve the amounts of all of the other ingredients (except vital wheat gluten). Mix the wet and the dry ingredients separately, then pour wet into dry and knead until it all comes together. Instead of wrapping in cheesecloth, I’d wrap it up in aluminum foil, steam it for an hour, then transfer to a baking pan, open up the foil, add the cloves, pineapples, and sauce, then close the foil back up and bake for an hour.

    I think next time I make seitan, I’ll skip the pressure cooker to be fair to those who don’t have one. Thanks for speaking up so I know there’s a demand for me to do a post that way!

  11. Melisser Said,

    October 16, 2008 @ 6:03 am

    I love the ingredient photos. This sounds really good!

  12. Tina Said,

    October 16, 2008 @ 7:29 pm

    Renae, thank you for the answer; I must admit that the leftover sauce smells much better and keeps all the great taste 🙂 Are you serious about those 12 hours in the oven? I baked my dish in the microwave 😀 I locked it in a box and baked for 10 minutes in 600w, then opened the box and baked next 15 minutes, pouring the sauce on seitan from time to time.

  13. Barbara Said,

    October 20, 2008 @ 1:16 pm

    Thank You!!
    I think I will try to make this sometime this week. I just made the vegan dad sausages and we really enjoyed them.

  14. Natalie Said,

    July 15, 2010 @ 1:44 pm

    I’m dying to try this however I don’t have a pressure cooker, and I may swap the pineapple recipe for one out of my mother’s Julia Child French cookbook. Is it possible for me to make it without a pressure cooker?

  15. renae Said,

    July 18, 2010 @ 8:09 pm

    Hi Natalie, you can cook it without a pressure cooker, it will just take longer (a couple of hours).

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