Sunday, 3 November 2013

Chocolate Fudge Cake


Everybody loves cake & vegans are no exception!  The good news is, you don't have to miss out on sweet delicious baked goods just because you won't eat dairy or eggs.  So far, most of what I've learned about vegan baking has been from the uber-talented Ms Cupcake, my favourite recipes being her Victoria Sponge Cake & Chocolate Chip Cookies recipes.  Having had a little practice I decided to try my luck with my own recipe for a Chocolate Fudge Cake and with a stroke of luck, it turned out melt-in-the-mouth tasty first time!

Ingredients:
Cake:
260g self-raising flour
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
200g golden caster sugar
200g dairy-free spread (I use Pure Sunflower Spread)
200g plain, dairy-free chocolate (70% or more)
400ml sweetened soya milk (I used the blue Vive Soy as it has a beautiful vanilla flavour to it)
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

Ganache filling & topping: 
100g plain chocolate (70% or more)
100g icing sugar
160ml tin of coconut cream
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
1 tablespoon of dairy-free spread

Recipe 
For the cake:
  1. Pop the oven on to 180 degrees centrigrade
  2. Grease two 8 inch cake tins (I recommend you use springform tins if you can as these sponges have a delicate structure)
  3. Mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt together in one bowl and set to one side
  4. Melt the plain chocolate over a pan of warm water, and whisk together with the dairy-free spread, caster sugar, soya milk, & vanilla extract
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix with a metal spoon only until they are combined.  Warning - don't use an electric whisk and don't mix any longer than absolutely necessary - I really mean it when I say just enough to ensure the ingredients are combined.  Any lumps will work themselves out in the oven.  If you're new to egg-free baking then this may seem counter-intuitive but unlike traditional baking, you want to keep air out until the cakes are in the oven.
  6. Tap the bowl on the work surface to knock any air out of the mixture
  7. Spoon equally into each of the cake tins
  8. Tap each cake tin on the work surface to knock out any air you can
  9. Place the tins in the oven for 20-25 minutes depending on your oven 
  10. Remove from the oven & test with a knife to ensure fully cooked 
  11. Leave to cool as they are for 5-10 minutes then remove the sides of the tin & leave to cool entirely
  12. You should find that the sponges level off quite nicely so there'll be no need to slice off the top of one but if you need to, do so with care 
For the Ganache:
  1. Melt the chocolate, coconut cream, and dairy-free spread over a low heat
  2. Sift in the icing sugar and stir in gently until you have a smooth, glossy mixture
  3. Leave to cool enough to be firmer but not too firm so you can still pour over the top of the finished cake
  4. Spread some of the ganache onto the bottom sponge and gently place the second sponge on top
  5. Once the ganache has cooled enough, pour over the cake, using a knife to spread it evenly around the sides.  
  6. Garnish as you fancy, I did so with mixed berries as you can see!

Tip: Decorate the cake on a plate so that any excess ganache is caught.  You may find it helps to pop it in the fridge to firm up the ganache so you can go back over with a knife to improve the presentation on the sides.  If you're a real perfectionist when it comes to presentation (which I wasn't on this occassion), a knife warmed under the hot tap will help you to achieve a smooth & glossy finish when finishing off the sides).

Finally, slice & serve hot or cold either on its own or with some vegan ice-cream.  Yummy!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

No-Egg Scrambled Egg

Here's a great quick & simple vegan scrambled egg recipe that goes well with a cooked breakfast but can also be used in other recipes such as no-egg egg-fried rice.  It's great for vegans but also for people looking to reduce their dietary fat intake.  If you'd said to me five years ago that tofu would be one of my favourite foods I would have laughed at you but these days it's an essential in my kitchen.  Even so, I was rather hesitant to try it as a breakfast item at first, particularly with the turmeric, but it really is surprisingly very good both in texture and taste.


Ingredients

  • One pack of silken tofu 
  • 1-2 teaspoons of turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon kala namak himalayan black salt (optional)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
Recipe
  1. Empty the pack of tofu onto a plate lined with kitchen roll to soak up some of the moisture, the more moisture you remove now, the faster it'll cook.  
  2. Break up the tofu and spread it out, this will assist in removing more of the moisture.
  3. Transfer to a bowl & add the turmeric, salt, & pepper and if you're using it, the kala namak which will give the tofu an eggy flavour.  If it's your first time, maybe try 1 teaspoon of the turmeric at first - you can always add more to taste as you cook.  Tip to remember - cooking will bring the yellow colour right out so don't assume that it being fairly pale means you need to add a boatload more turmeric! 
  4. Place in a non-stick pan over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until all the moisture has evaporated.  How long exactly you cook for is down to personal taste.  If you like your scrambled eggs quite creamy, you'll probably want to cook it for less time than if you prefer it firmer in texture.  
  5. Serve with your breakfast which for me this morning was vegan sausages & baked beans. 

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Warming Minestrone


I know, soup again!  I was going to do something else first but I have such a cold so I needed something comforting and what better than a hearty bowl of soup? I like my soups spicy so I've added some chillies but you don't have to.  Don't worry if you don't have the exact ingredients, this recipe is pretty versatile so don't be afraid to substitute the herbs & veg for whatever you happen to prefer/already have in.

Ingredients for 4-6 people
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2-4 chopped up chillies (you can leave these out if you don't like spice)
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 2 courgettes, diced
  • 1/2 of a squash, diced 
  • 1 tin of chickpeas (alternatively, any kind of beans/a handful of lentils/pre-soaked yellow split peas will do I just fancied chickpeas today!)
  • Approx 75g/a large handful of pasta (I used rigatoni but any other pasta shapes will do nicely)
  • 500g of passata (you can use a tin of chopped tomatoes if you prefer)
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato puree
  • 400-500ml of veg stock 
  • 1 tablespoon of mixed herbs (I used basil, oregano, and thyme - sage, rosemary, and/or, bay leaves would go just as nicely)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of agave nectar or 1 teaspoon of sugar to taste
  • 1-2 tsp of olive oil 
  • Salt & pepper to taste
Recipe
  1. Saute off the onions and chillies in the olive oil
  2. Once the onions begin to go clear, add the garlic & saute further
  3. If the pan begins to brown, splash a small amount of the veg stock to keep it moist
  4. Throw in the chopped veg and brown off a little
  5. Add the passata (or chopped tomatoes) and half of the veg stock
  6. Add the chickpeas/beans
  7. Add the herbs then bring to the boil before allowing to simmer
  8. Have a taste and add more herbs, salt, and pepper as you see fit - best do this a little at a time as you can always add more but you can't take away!
  9. Allow to simmer for a little longer, adding more stock if needed
  10. Have another taste, add the agave or sugar if you think it needs it 
  11. At this point, before you add the pasta, the soup should still seem a little watery (the pasta is going to thicken it for you).  If it's not, add a little more stock and bring back to the boil
  12. Add the pasta and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the pasta and veg is all cooked 
  13. Serve with crusty bread (or the pictured homemade focaccia mmmmm)
  14. Get it in your mouth! 

Monday, 1 July 2013

Spicy roasted butternut squash soup

Well here it is, my first recipe post.  I hope you like it, I certainly enjoyed making (and eating!) it!


Soup Ingredients
  • Half a squash 
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • Ginger (About 1/2 inch, grated)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp of curry powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • Olive oil 
  • 350ml vegetable stock
  • Salt, black pepper, & agave nectar to taste


To Garnish
  • Soya cream
  • Sprig of fresh coriander
  • Black pepper

Recipe
  1. Scoop out the seeds from the squash then place in a hot oven flesh side-down in a dish drizzled with olive oil. 
  2. Gently fry off the onions in some olive oil, once they start to go clear, add the ginger and garlic, followed by the spices.
  3. Keep gently frying the onions, garlic, ginger, & spices so they go slightly caramel in colour.  The trick here is to do it slowly and to add a splash of water to deglaze the pan if things look like they're sticking. Once the mixture is softened enough, turn off the heat & leave to one side. 
  4. After about 30 minutes check the squash to see if it's soft enough, if it is great take it out, if not, give it another 10-15 minutes!
  5. Scoop out the flesh of the squash into your blender (you can scoop it into your pan if you only have a stick blender).
  6. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, & spice mixture into the blender.
  7. Add half the vegetable stock & blend.
  8. Poor the blended mixture back into the pan and add a squeeze of agave and a sprinkle of salt.  
  9. Give the soup a good stir then decide whether it needs additional spice, salt, vegetable stock, or if you'd like to add some of the soya cream you've got for the garnish.  There are no hard and fast rules, it depends on your personal taste, however I generally add more chilli powder and curry powder here and possibly a touch more agave.  
  10. Garnish with a teaspoon of soya cream, a sprig of fresh coriander, and a sprinkle of black pepper then serve with homemade crusty bread (recipe to follow) and enjoy!