It was my youngest child’s birthday today. See if you can guess how old he was? Ha ha.
I tried this chocolate banana cake recipe from Madhuram’s eggless cooking, and it worked out really well. The cake was moist and tasted great. For the icing I tried cooked chocolate frosting from Let Them Eat Vegan. I was really happy with the icing: it held together, had a lovely shiny look on the cake and tasted delicious. I applied the icing straight after I’d made it: the recipe says that if you chill the icing in the freezer, then whisk it up again, it becomes lighter and fluffier. I’ll try that another time, but it’s certainly good to use straight away.
To complete the decoration I applied vegan sprinkles that I bought from the Cruelty Free Shop. The kids at the party enjoyed the cake, and so did the parents who accepted a slice!
Earlier this year, I received a bundt cake mould for my birthday. Today I realised that I still hadn’t used it. So I made this soft molasses gingerbread cake from Veganissimo! by my sister, Leigh Drew.
Instead of blackstrap molasses I used treacle (are they the same thing?… very dark liquid sugary stuff, anyway). I didn’t have any flaxseed meal, which is there to bind the cake together. So I tried to grind up some white chia seeds, which should be able to play the same role. But the chia seeds didn’t seem to want to grind up! so I just gave up and added them to the cake looking almost whole. They seemed to do the necessary, because this cake has a lovely soft texture and a very warm flavour from all the spices.
I admit that I did not include any crystalised ginger because (a) I don’t really like it, (b) I didn’t think my kids would like it, (c) I didn’t have any in the house or (d) all of the above. [Answer: (d)]
I decided to make the (optional) lemon icing, but my icing was a little too runny so it doesn’t look quite as artistic as the photo in the cookbook, which you can see on this blog post from veganopoulous.com. It doesn’t matter at all, because the cake really is the star attraction. My eldest child said “It’s really yum”, and that seems to sum it up.
Just about every week I make a batch of fruity seedy biscuits, to use up almond pulp from homemade almond milk. I posted a recipe last year, but thought I’d give you an updated recipe to show you the variation which has become my favourite: the short version is that it involves cocoa powder, dates and some cranberries. With no added sugar, these biscuits are tasty little slow-release energy bombs to power me through busy afternoons at work.
These go into the food processor:
- pulp from 1 cup of almonds (leftover from making almond milk)
- 1/2 cup self-raising flour
- 1/2 cup dried fruit: I like medjool dates with a couple of tablespoons of cranberries
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- about 3 tablespoons raw cacoa powder (or cocoa powder)
- pinch of salt
These are mixed in later:
- 1/4 cup rolled oats,
- 1/4 cup mixed seeds (I use pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds),
- 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil or canola oil,
- 1 tablespoon of apple sauce (or more if the mixture needs help sticking together)
Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Place the almond pulp, flour, baking powder, cacao/coca powder and salt in a food processor. If the dates are soft they can go straight into the processor: otherwise, soak them and the cranberries in some warm water for a couple of minutes to soften, then drain and add to the processor.
Process the mixture until the fruit is broken up and the mixture starts to clump together. The mixture should be moist and hold together if you press it.
Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Mix well: I usually use my hands, to work the moisture through the mixture evenly. Form the mixture into a big ball.
From the ball of mixture, rip off biscuit-sized pieces and roll into balls, squish down a bit, and put on the baking tray. Bake for about 8 – 10 minutes or so, until they are starting to brown on top. Leave to cool on the tray for a couple of minutes, then transfer onto a cooling rack.
This pie was inspired by my sister Leigh’s Cherry Pie recipe in her first cookbook, Vegan Indulgence. I had a jar of morello cherries in the cupboard, but the recipe requires two jars… so I substituted four apples for the second jar. I peeled and slices the apples, put them in a saucepan with some cherry juice, and stewed them gently for 5 minutes to soften them. Then I followed the rest of Leigh’s very easy recipe for the cherry filling, which you can read on Google books. (Have a look on the next page too: my husband took the photos!)
I really did intend to make the pastry from scratch, honest, but then I realised that I didn’t have enough vegan margarine: “Ah well”, I thought, “it will just have to be store-bought pastry” (phew!). I blind-baked the base for about 10 minutes so it wouldn’t end up soggy, then completely cooled the base and the filling. When cool, I scooped the filling into the pie (I didn’t use all the liquid but kept some to use as topping on ice-cream). Before putting the second sheet of pastry on for the lid, I brushed some soy milk around the edges of the base to encourage the base and lid to stick together (I pressed around the edge of the lid with a fork as well). Finally, I brushed the whole lid with soy milk so it would brown. Don’t forget to cut a circle out of the middle of the lid so that the steam has somewhere to escape.
I was very happy with how this pie turned out: look at the gorgeous red colour! It’s a loose filling which spilled out when I cut it, but that doesn’t bother me. The kids and I greatly enjoyed this pie.
It’s been cold in Sydney lately: really cold! So I decided to use up lots of leftover veggies from the fridge and make a veggie soup. This soup had sweet potato, cauliflower, carrot, cabbage, celery, a little homegrown kale and parsley, and some brown rice. It was a very thick soup, even after blending with a stick blender. I quite like using white pepper instead of black pepper in soup sometimes, for a change.
I even got fancy and made a rosemary foccacia from Vegonomicon. I’ve made it before, but this one turned out really well: you can see it in the background. I was really happy with the texture, and it tasted great, with lots and lots of homegrown rosemary.
I take my hat off to you, Dreena Burton. This chocolate cake from Plant-Powered Families is absolutely lush. Even better, the recipe is available online. The name of the recipe gives away the secret ingredient: sweet potato! The cake has no oil, but is rich and moist and delicious. There’s even sweet potato in the icing!
I cooked the sweet potato as Dreena suggests at the start of the book: by baking it whole, skin-on. You just scrub the sweet potato, put it on a tray and stick it in the oven for 40 – 60 minutes. Don’t pierce the skin at the start: those fork marks you can see are from me testing whether the sweet potato was cooked. The skin becomes loose and can be easily peeled away from the cooked sweet potato, which was slightly caramelised.
Just give this recipe a try, I predict that you will love it. My kids and I ate the left-over icing with a spoon, it’s almost a chocolate mousse. Gorgeous.