Chocolate Orange Almond Cake (vegan, gluten free, kosher for pesach)

pesach cake

So… it’s been a while.

Quick life update and a brief explanation of where I’ve been. I’m currently just over halfway through my PGCE. It’s going ok but it’s super intense and I’ve not had much time to bake. Also my bunny Pip very sadly passed away in December after being unwell for about 5 months with a liver condition, and I’d posted about him a bit on here and I didn’t really want to come back and see those posts.

But I haven’t abandoned this blog! I’m back for now and I’m going to try and post semi-regularly, but I may not have all that much time to bake until the next school holidays so we’ll see!

On to the recipe. It’s Pesach/Passover currently, and while I personally don’t really keep Pesach my family do, so I wanted to try and bake something that they could eat as well. I found quite a healthy recipe for a cake that happened to be kosher for Pesach, and then basically changed the whole recipe to make it less healthy because, well, I wanted proper cake. This cake is very moist and rich, almost with the texture of a brownie, with the orange balancing out the richness a little. Mine did sink a tiny bit in the middle, probably because I opened the oven door to check on it about half an hour into baking, but I just covered it up with icing and it was fine.

 

Ingredients:

For the cake

300g ground almonds
150g caster sugar
50g cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
A good pinch a salt
1/2 cup almond milk (or soya/rice/any other milk if you’re not making it for Pesach!)
1/2 cup neutral-flavour oil (I used refined olive oil)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 medium (or 2 small) banana, mashed
Zest of an orange

For the icing

50g coconut oil (solid, not melted)
150g icing sugar
20g cocoa powder
2-3 tbsp almond milk
Zest of an orange

 

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Grease and line a 20cm/8 inch round springform cake tin.

Mix the ground almonds, sugar, cocoa powder (sifted), baking powder, and salt together in a large mixing bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the mashed banana, oil, milk, and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until combined, and then add the orange zest.

Transfer the mix to the cake tin and bake for 40 mins.

Once the cake is cool, beat together the coconut oil, icing sugar, and cocoa powder together with an electric whisk. Add the almond milk a tbsp at a time until it comes together into an icing. You might need slightly more/less almond milk, I never really measure it I just add it until it looks right! Stir in the orange zest and spread the icing on top of the cake.

 

I really like this cake. It’s rich and decadent and would make a great dessert with some (vegan!) ice-cream. Because the texture is closer to a brownie than a cake, it would probably work baked in a brownie pan and cut into squares.

Let me know if you have a go at making this! Hopefully it wont be 7 months before I have enough time to bake and write up a recipe again and I’ll be back soon.

update

Hi friends, just a quick update to say I’ve had to take this week off of both my bake off challenge and baking in general. My beautiful bunny Pip has been very unwell and might not get better so I haven’t had the time or been in the mood to bake. Recipes will resume at some point x

 

Biscuits and a Bad Week

gingerbread

I had such big plans for this week’s bake off blog. I was going to make a very elaborate gingerbread story of a scene from the video for Helena. A wonderful emo MCR themed gingerbread house. But then my bunny Pip got ill, and I ran out of time and energy and settled on making iced biscuits. Well, biscuits at least, the iced bit I somewhat lost momentum with when I realised it was 2am and gave up. I wasn’t going to blog these, but I didn’t want to completely fail at my own challenge in week 2, and regardless the biscuits tasted great even if I didn’t end up finishing icing them.

I’ll tell you what they were meant to look like though so you can visualise it. I bought food dye and piping bag nozzles and everything, they were going to be so pretty! They were going to be pastel pink unicorns with purple manes and tails and a gold glitter horn, and they were going to have little black stars on them. So just picture that in your heads and pretend thats what they look like instead of the mess they actually ended up.

The recipe itself is based on the gingerbread recipe in Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by Isa Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, and is also on the PPK. I converted the recipe from volume to metric, as usual, substituted some ingredients and the method, and changed around the spice mix to make them more pumpkin spice than gingerbread. If you’re going to make these cookies bear in mind that this recipe made about 50, so you might want to half it for a more reasonable number! Also I know unicorns look cute but please, please do yourself a favour and use literally any other shaped cookie cutter. There’s a reason gingerbread unicorns aren’t traditional, they’ve got far too many appendages to break off, and when they warp in the oven they end up looking like a 5 year olds drawing of a horse. They tasted good though, and really that’s all that matters.

Ingredients
makes about 50 cookies, depending on the size of cookie cutter

80ml (1/3 cup) sunflower (or other neutral-flavour) oil
150g sugar
60ml (1/4 cup, or 60g) treacle
60ml (1/4 cup) non-dairy milk (I used almond milk)
125g plain flour
125g wholemeal flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp each nutmeg, ginger, all spice

In a large bowl with an electric whisk, beat together the oil, sugar, treacle and milk until thick and smooth, it will take about 5 minutes but it will get there. Add in the flours, bicarb, baking powder and spices, and mix with a wooden spoon into a stiff dough. You may need to add a little more flour. Wrap in cling film and leave to chill in the fridge for about an hour.

Once the dough is chilled, preheat the oven to 180°C and line 2 baking trays (or more if you have more that will fit in your oven) with greaseproof paper or silicone mats. Roll out your dough quite thin, about 5mm, on a very well floured surface, and cut out your cookie shapes. Transfer the cookies to the baking trays and bake for about 9 minutes.

Leave to cool and a wire rack before decorating.

I don’t really have an icing recipe, I just mixed icing sugar and gel food colouring and water until it looked vaguely okay. I did want to try an aquafaba royal icing but by this point I didn’t want to go messing around with that and just wanted to eat the cookies. They do taste very good, the spices and treacle came through nicely to give that traditional gingerbread taste with a more cinnamon-y twist, and I think some black pepper would have been an interesting addition to the spice mid. They had a lovely crisp texture, with a slight chew in the middle while they were still warm, and would have been sturdy enough to decorate properly if they were any shape other than unicorns!

Oh and Pip is doing much better now!pip

Vegan Bake Off Challenge: Week 1 – Mirror Glaze Genoise Cake

Honey This Mirror Glaze Isn’t Big Enough For The Two Of Us

bake off 1

Today I started the Bake Off challenge that I’ve set for myself this year, a project to see if I can veganise one thing from Bake Off each week. To start with, I was just going to veganise the technical challenges, but after seeing that Jaffa cakes were the first technical I decided to mix it up a bit. There’s a very well known vegan recipe for Jaffa cakes in the Ms Cupcake book, and having made it before I decided it’d be more fun to try something different each week depending on what the bakes in the show are. I decided to try and make a Genoise mirror glaze cake, partly because I’d never made one before, and partly because I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to name a cake after a My Chemical Romance song. Also, just as a disclaimer, the things I’m posting in this challenge aren’t all going to be perfect bakes, I’m just documenting what I end up baking however it turns out!

The genoise cake itself is based on a recipe I found by Swedish Vegan on their Facebook page, which I then converted into weight rather than volume because, as I’ve said many times before, I really don’t like baking by volume. My first cake sunk a fair bit, and the only thing I did differently with the second one was to let it cool fully in the tin, so I would definitely recommend doing that. The mirror glaze was taken from Andrew from Bake Off’s recipe on the BBC Food website, with gelatine substituted for Sainsbury’s vegetarian gel sachets . I made the glaze twice, the first using 3/4 of a sachet (according to the packet the equivalent of gelatine in the original recipe) gelled far too much, and the second one, using the remaining 1/4 of the packet, didn’t quite gel enough, so I would say to use around about half the packet (1 tsp). This would vary for other gel powders, I just used that one because it was the cheapest and I’ve never used agar agar or anything like that before, but if anyone knows a better one to use please let me know! However, by far the biggest mistake I made was coating the cake in coconut cream before the mirror glaze. A lot of recipes I read recomended using a layer of whipped cream or icing before the mirror glaze, but mine melted as soon as I put the glaze on, so in future I would just skip that step all together.

All this said, the cake tasted really good and I was happy with it considering it was not only my first attempt at making this cake, but also my first time working with aquafaba and gelling agents. I was particularly pleased with the strawberry cream, which paired with the genoise cake made a nice, light contrast to the richness of the chocolate glaze. The genoise itself, as mentioned before, had some issues, but they tasted great and it’s definitely a style of cake I want to experiment with a bit more. I’m very glad I tried out making it, even if it would need work before actually appearing on Bake Off!

Recipe

Ingredients

for 2x 8 inch cakes

315 ml (1 1/3 cups) aquafaba (if you use the organic chickpeas in the cartons from Sainsbury’s this is exactly 2 cartons worth!)
300g caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
120ml oil (I used sunflower oil)
310g plain flour

for the strawberry cream

1x tin coconut cream (or full fat coconut milk), set in the fridge with the water drained away
8 small strawberries (or 6 medium), hulled and chopped quite small
1 tbsp icing sugar

for the mirror glaze

150ml coconut cream
55g cocoa powder
135g sugar
1 tsp (1/2 a sachet) of vegetarian gelatine

Preheat the oven to 180°C, grease and line two 8 inch springform cake tins.

In a large bowl with an electric whisk, whip the aquafaba with the sugar until foamy and quite thick, but not yet meringue. Add the vanilla and incorporate with the electric whisk, before gently folding in the oil and the flour using a metal spoon. Split evenly between the two tins and bake for 40-45mins. Once baked, leave to cool in the tins on a wire rack.

While the cake is cooling, mix together the coconut cream, chopped strawberries, and icing sugar, and leave to chill in the fridge until needed.

Once the cake is cool, sandwich the strawberry cream between the two layers and leave in the fridge while preparing the mirror glaze.

Put all the mirror glaze ingredients in a saucepan, bring to a boil and cook for one minute, stirring so it doesn’t burn to the pan. Sieve the glaze to make sure it is smooth, and then let it cool until barely warm before transferring the cake to a wire rack over a baking tray and pouring the glaze over the cake.

Decorate however you like, I threw glitter at mine because the cream layer made the glaze a bit of a mess, and if in doubt about anything throwing glitter at it is probably going to make it better.

bake off 2

P.S. Sorry for the awful photos, you’d never guess I have a photography degree. It was dark by the time I finished baking and I’ve misplaced my camera charger, so badly lit phone photos it is for now! Also it didn’t help that I was too impatient to wait for the glaze to set before I cut into the cake to try it.


 

 

Black Forest Cake

black forest cake copy

To celebrate the return of The Great British Bake Off I had a couple of friends round for drinks and cake to watch the first episode. We made Key Lime Pie cocktails (vodka, lime juice and cream soda), and I made this cake, which went perfectly with the new vintage glass cake stand I’d got while on a weekend away in Rye, East Sussex. Black Forest gateau has always been one of my favourite cakes, not least because of the goth sounding name, but I’d never thought to veganise it until now.

The chocolate cake itself is based on my favourite chocolate cake recipe from the Post Punk Kitchen, slightly adapted into a smaller size tin so it would fit on the cake stand, and doubled up to make the layer cake. This recipe works just fine in either a 7 or 8 inch tin, so just use whatever you have. The only thing that is important to look out for in this recipe is to make sure you have the right sort of coconut cream. I’ve tried the cartons of coconut cream from Sainsbury’s and they have some sort of emulsifier in them that doesn’t allow the water and cream to separate, so it doesn’t work for this (but does, as discovered after a near cake disaster, work very well for Piña Coladas). I recommend the little cans of coconut cream from Waitrose, chilled in the fridge for at least an hour, but I think full fat coconut milk, also chilled the same way, would work just as well as long as its the kind that separates. Please don’t be impatient like I was and not chill them, the cream melts very fast, especially considering there’s a heatwave going on, so my cake nearly got ruined because I didn’t want to wait!

Ingredients
for 2x 8inch cakes

470ml (2 cups) almond or soya milk
2 tsp cider vinegar
300g sugar
160ml (2/3 cup) neutral-flavour oil (sunflower, vegetable, rapeseed etc)
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp chocolate extract (or more vanilla, but I really recommend using chocolate extract if you can find it)
250g plain flour
80g cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
a good pinch of salt

for the cherry kirsch jam

375g frozen cherries (or fresh if you want, but frozen is cheaper and easier!)
18g chia seeds
30g sugar
50ml kirsch (can be swapped for water or cherry juice to make alcohol free!)

to finish

4 cans coconut cream (or 2-3 of full fat coconut milk), set in the fridge for at least an hour so the cream separates from the water
a couple of squares of chocolate to shave for decoration
glacé or maraschino cherries

Grease two 8-inch springform cake tins and line the base with greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Combine the almond/soya milk with the vinegar in a large bowl and leave for a minute to curdle. Add in the sugar, oil and extracts, and mix with a balloon whisk to combine. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, bicarb, baking powder and salt, and fold in until just incorporated. A few small lumps are fine and will bake out, so be careful not to over-mix.

Split the cake mix evenly between the two prepared tins and bake for about 32 minutes. Once baked, remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tins on a wire rack.

While the cakes are in the oven, make the jam by combining all the jam ingredients in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat for about 15mins until thick and jam-like, breaking up the cherries a bit as they cook. Bear in mind that it will thicken more as it cools, so if its thickening too fast add another splash of kirsch. Allow the jam to cool slightly at room temperature before putting in the fridge to cool completely.

Once the cakes are completely cool, remove from the tins and construct the cake. Take the coconut cream from the fridge, remove the water, and lightly whip the cream. Put one layer of cake down and top with a generous amount of jam and cream, before adding the top layer and topping with more cream. Decorate with chocolate shavings and glacé or maraschino cherries. If it is warm out, put in the fridge until ready to serve as the coconut cream can melt!

I was very happy with how this cake turned out. All the flavours are a classic combination and work well together as would be expected. The chia seeds give a lovely light jam, full of cherry flavour without overwhelming sweetness. The chocolate cake is rich and moist, and for more of a kick a drizzle of kirsch could be added to the top of the cakes as soon as they come out of the oven. The coconut cream works great here as the coconut flavour doesn’t come through at all, making it more similar to the classic, non-vegan version. Just do make sure you set it in the fridge and keep the cake in the fridge, mine melted into a landslide a few moments after I took the photograph because it’s about 30° here at the moment, but I fixed it and put it in the fridge and it set up and still tasted great.

Also, now is as good a time as any to announce my new baking project! This season of Bake Off I’m going to be veganising one challenge from the show each week and blogging about it, starting this week with a Genoise mirror glaze cake, so expect to see that (or Jaffa Cakes if that cake goes too terribly wrong!) up on the blog sometime soon!

Banana and Strawberry Muffins

banana muffin1

The other week I had some friends stay over and decided to make some muffins for us to all have for breakfast. Looking through my books, I found a lot of muffins that wanted buckwheat and wheat berries and all other sorts of other, presumably healthy things that have never been inside of my kitchen cupboards. I stumbled across this recipe in Ms Cupcake: The Naughtiest Vegan Cakes In Town, and it looked perfect. No added health, just cake with a bit of fruit so it becomes acceptable to eat for breakfast!

These photos aren’t actually of the muffins I made that day as they got eaten before I remembered to photograph them, but they were so popular and I wanted to share this recipe so much I made them again.  The first time I made them I made the same quantity of mix as in the original recipe, which makes 12 very big muffins in tulip cases. I was out of tulip cases, and as I only have one muffin tray decided to just half the recipe and make 12 regular cupcake-sized muffins instead.

Ingredients
makes 12 cupcake-sized muffins (double for large tulip cases)

280g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
125g sugar
1 small banana (very ripe), mashed
175ml non-dairy milk (I used Alpro Simply Mild soya milk)
160ml neutral-flavour oil (sunflower, rapeseed, vegetable etc)
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 medium strawberries, roughly chopped

for the glaze

120g icing sugar
2 tbsp non-dairy milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a muffin tray with cases.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, bicarb, baking powder and sugar. In a separate bowl whisk together the mashed banana, oil, milk and vanilla extract until combined with a balloon whisk. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour the banana mixture into it. Very quickly stir to combine, before folding in the strawberries, being careful not to over-mix.

Put into the cases and bake for 20mins, or 25mins if doubling the recipe to make large tulip case muffins. Remove from the oven and place the whole tray on a cooling rack.

When the muffins are just out of the oven, make the glaze by mixing together the icing sugar, non-dairy milk and vanilla extract.

While the muffins are still warm, spoon the glaze over the top of them. Remove from the muffin tray and leave to cool on a cooling rack.
What really surprised me about these muffins is how strong the banana flavour is, considering there is only one small banana in the recipe. Having made banana bread with 3-4 bananas for around the same quantity of flour in the past, I was expecting only a very subtle hint of banana, but they are in fact very well-flavoured. The strawberries go with the banana fantastically as one would expect from such a classic flavour pair, giving a little burst of fruitiness to the cake. I think that some vegan white chocolate chips, if you can find them, would make a wonderful addition, but they are also lovely just as they are.

Razz Berry Poké Ball Pie

pokeball pie

Well, coconut lemon and raspberry pie to be exact. In the shape of a Poké Ball, because I, like everyone else in the world, have been playing a lot of Pokémon Go lately so I wanted to bake something Pokémon themed, and because I have limited skill when it comes to decorating bakes so this seemed like something achievable that would still look cool.

The pie crust itself is a variation on the Post Punk Kitchen recipe for olive oil pie crust, but go ahead and use ready made pastry if you’re that way inclined, or even a cookie crust would work just fine. The filling is a coconut-lemon set custard, topped with an easy raspberry coulis and some desiccated coconut. It does take a little  bit of time to make because the first layer needs to set in the fridge preferably overnight, but as far as active cooking time goes it doesn’t take long at all!

Ingredients:
Makes 1 24cm pie

for the pie crust
80ml (1/3 cup) refined olive oil/other neutral flavour oil, set in the freezer for about 1 hour
155g plain flour
2 tbsp caster sugar
pinch of salt
2 tbsp cold water
a drop of cider vinegar

for the coconut lemon filling
480ml (2 cups) coconut milk
juice of 1 lemon
3 heaped tbsp cornflour
150g sugar
1 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

for the raspberry coulis
140g raspberries
3 tbsp icing sugar

To finish
80g icing sugar
4 tsp cocoa powder
1-2 tbsp water

1/3 cup sweetened desiccated coconut

You will also need a 24cm pie tin, and baking beans or dried chickpeas/rice

Before making the pastry, set the oil in the freezer in a thin plastic container for 1 hour

Preheat the oven to 180°C

This pastry works especially well in the food processor, but can also be made by hand. To make the pastry in a food processor add the flour, sugar and salt to the processor bowl and pulse a couple of times to make sure there are no clumps. Add in the partially frozen oil 1/3 at a time, pulsing between additions until the pastry starts to come together. Mix the vinegar with the water and add in a tbsp at a time until the pastry is formed.

Alternatively, to make by hand, combine the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl, and run in the oil until incorporated. Add the water 1 tbsp at a time until the pastry is formed. It helps to keep everything chilled if making by hand, so chilling the flour and using a metal bowl that has been in the fridge for about 15 mins makes a big difference.

Once your pastry is made, roll it out between 2 sheets of greaseproof paper until it is large enough to fit the tin. Peel off one half of the greaseproof and transfer it to the pie tin, and then trim off the overhang. Don’t worry too much if it cracks a bit, just patchwork it together and it will be just fine. Prick the base of the pastry with a fork and lay over another sheet of greaseproof paper, cut to size, and the fill with baking beans or dried legumes/rice. Bake for 15 mins, then remove the paper and the baking beans and bake for another 5 mins.

Let the crust cool in the tin on a wire rack. When it is nearly cool start making the filling.

To make the coconut-lemon filling, put 60ml (1/4 cup) of the coconut milk into a medium saucepan along with the cornflour, salt and sugar. Using a balloon whisk, mix to combine over a medium heat until the sugar is dissolved before adding the rest of the coconut milk and the lemon juice. Continue cooking over a medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens (about 3-5 mins). Once the filling is thick, remove from the heat and mix in the coconut oil and vanilla extract. Pour into the pie crust and press a layer of clingfilm right down against the filling so a skin doesn’t form on top. Cool to near-room temperature before transferring to the fridge for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.

Once the pie is set, make the raspberry coulis by blending up the raspberries with the icing sugar. You can adjust the sugar depending on how sweet the raspberries are. Feel free to strain the seeds out of the coulis if you want to but I think they’re fine left in. Then set aside until needed.

Sift together the icing sugar and cocoa powder, and then add the water in a bit at a time until it forms a thick paste. This will make a fair bit more then needed but any smaller is too hard to work with, so save what you don’t use and eat with strawberries, or with the pie! Put the icing into either a piping bag with a small nozzle or a small plastic bag with a small hole at the end snipped off.  Use a cookie cutter or an upturned glass to indent where the centre ring should be on the pie, and then pipe around the indented circle and then extend a line from each side across the diameter. Spread the raspberry coulis over the top half and sprinkle the other half with the desiccated coconut. If the chocolate line gets a bit covered up just go over the whole thing in another layer of the icing. Leave at room temperature until ready to serve.
So, of course the main thing about this pie is that it looks like a Poké Ball, but there’s no point in making something that looks cool if it doesn’t also taste good! The coconut and lemon filling is quite sharp, which is rounded out well by the richness of the coconut. I think the filling would also work very well with lime juice, although it may turn the pie slightly green tinged! The raspberries add a lovely sweetness to the smooth and sharp filling. I would recommend making a little extra of the coulis to serve with the non-raspberry topped slices as it really does add a lot to the flavour. The pastry is thin, crisp and flaky, and while you can make this pie with any pastry you like, I very much recommend this one. It’s a very easy dough to work with, even more so than non-vegan shortcrust pastry, and it can be easily patchworked if anything goes wrong. I hope you give this pie a go!

P.S. Go team instinct ✨✨✨