Friday, 10 January 2014

Carob Cherry Christmas Cake- vegan

You can simply top the cake with marzipan ad a ribbon, or add a layer of white icing for a more traditional finish.

I know Christmas is now a fast-fading memory, but we were asked to post our new Christmas cake recipe now rather than wait until next December (and who says fruit cake is only for Christmas anyway?) so here it is, ready to bring you a bit of midwinter cheer:

340g wholemeal flour
175g muscovado sugar
100g slivered/ flakes almonds
175g sultanas
175g mixed peel
200g glace cherries, halved
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 level tabs carob powder
3 tsps mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon or cassia
1 tsp ground ginger
150ml rosehip tea
250ml soya milk
75ml coconut/ cold- pressed sunflower oil

  • First, soak the sultanas in the rosehip tea.
  • While they are soaking, mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Put all the wet ingredients together and beat them into the dry ingredients.
  • Stir in the rosehip tea and sultanas.
  • Spread the mixture evenly into a prepared cake tin/ mould and bake in an oven preheated to 180C for about 45 minutes. Be sure to use the middle shelf of the oven so that the top of the cake does not overcook before the centre is done. (Another good way to avoid this happening is to use a wider shallower tin like we used - see photo.)
  • Cover with marzipan. We made our own- see here- or you could buy yours, but home made does have a much better flavour and texture. (I find that bought marzipan is often too sweet.) Just to make the cake look prettier, I coloured some of the marzipan red and green and made a sprig of holly for the top. A light dusting of icing sugar and a sparkly ribbon completes the festive look.
What would you like to see for next Christmas? A yeast-free vegan stollen is one idea...

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Apricot and Blueberry Pie- vegan, gluten free

Slice of pie, anyone?
This delectable pie is gluten free (careful where the oats come from though- many brands are milled on the same lines that handle wheat) and could also be sugar free of you use stevia, xylitol or coconut sugar for the custard. We had some apricots and blueberries from the market that needed using up quickly and pie was the obvious thing. You can use our crust recipe, which is based on nuts, or your own favourite. Ours does taste a little flapjack-y due to the oats in it and it does not bake hard, (we like it that way) so do substitute another crust if you like it crisp. This recipe makes 8 or 9 portions.

200g almonds
200g walnuts
200g porridge oats 
150ml coconut oil
250ml agave nectar
  • Grind the nuts and oats and mix with the oil and agave. 
  • Press firmly into an oiled baking dish and cook in a preheated oven at 180C for about 15 minutes. Check to make sure that it is not over-browned.
2 tabs Bird's custard powder (which is both vegan and gluten free)
2 tabs demerara/ soft light brown sugar
350 ml soya milk
  • Make up the custard as per the instructions on the tub: make a paste from the sugar, powder and a little of the soya milk and whisk in the rest of the milk, which has been brought to boiling point. Return to the pan briefly to thicken, whisking to avoid lumps forming.
  • When the crust is cooked and has cooled down a little, spread the custard onto it and leave to cool and set.
Fruit topping:
100g fresh blueberries
12 fresh apricots, stoned and halved
 a drizzle of agave
  • While the custard is cooling, place the fruit in the oven briefly, just to soften the apricots and loosen the skin to make the pie even more melt-in-the-mouth. You don't actually need to do this with the blueberries, although I added them for a few minutes.
  • When the fruit has cooled down, place the apricots cut side downwards on the custard and scatter the blueberries evenly in between.
For an even more decadent experience, try this pie with a dollop of coconut whipped cream!

Monday, 6 January 2014

Chocolate, date and walnut squares- vegan

Note our pretty new cake stand, a Christmas present
We were so sorry when our Christmas cake was all eaten up by New Year's Eve that I felt I
 just had to make something else to take it's place. (This year's Christmas cake- carob and cherry- proved our most popular ever, and rest assured I have photographed it and written the recipe down, but it seems a little late to post about it right now, so I'm thinking of leaving it until next December.) The cake I came up with was version #5, no less, of date and walnut; this time presented in squares and with dark chocolate on top. We think it's our best yet! As the chocolate is the only sugar, you could leave it out for a healthier cake. I made 12 portions from this recipe.

300g wholemeal flour100g millet flour (bajri)
4 tsps baking powder
150ml cold-pressed sunflower oil
400ml strong redbush tea, (made with 4 teabags)
200ml agave nectar
150g chopped dates
100g chopped walnuts
100g sultanas
1 heaped tsp ground cinnamon or cassia
200g vegan dark chocolate
  • First make the tea and soak the sultanas in it. (And chop the nuts and dates of you haven't already done so.)
  • Mix the dry ingredients together (flours, baking powder, cinnamon, dates and walnuts).
  • Mix the tea with sultanas, the oil and the agave in another bowl.
  • Beat the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and spoon into a prepared square tin/ mould.
  • Bake at 170C for about 20-25 minutes (use the skewer test- if it comes out clean the cake is done.)
  • While the cake is still hot, break the chocolate into squares and spread on top. As it melts, you can spread it evenly over the cake.

Would you still like me to post our Christmas cake or should I wait? Let us know...