free from

Banana, Rum & Raisin Cake with Coconut Icing (Vegan/ DF)

This is my first successful foray into the vegan cake world. It’s a space I’ve steered clear of for quite some time, half because I’m not vegan and have had a bit of an ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ attitude to baking, and half because I’ve tasted some very cardboard-esque vegan bakes in the past that have put me off.

This cake, however, contains aquafaba (that starchy water you get in a tin of chickpeas) and it’s a real game changer; just whisk it up in a stand mixer and it thickens like egg whites, bringing a great lightness to sponges. It’s worked particularly well in conjunction with banana in this recipe and the resulting sponge is moist, light and delicious- helped along with a few rum soaked raisins and a generous swirl of coconut icing for good measure. As a complete experiment this has worked really well and I hope some of you try it out over the next few weeks, vegan or not.

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 150g mixed raisins and sultanas
  • 4tbsp dark rum
  • 350g self-raising flour
  • 1/2tsp baking powder
  • 2tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp mixed spice
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g soft light brown sugar
  • 75g pecans, roughly chopped
  • 125ml aquafaba (i.e. the drained starchy water from a can of chickpeas)
  • 250ml olive oil
  • 4 ripe bananas, mashed with a fork

For the icing

  • 3-4 tins coconut cream (I used 160ml tins but if you are buying different sizes just make sure you’ve got roughly 600ml overall)
  • 2-3tbsp icing sugar
  • juice 1/2 lemon

Method

  1. Grease and line two 8 inch cake tins. Preheat the oven to 180c. Put the raisins, sultanas and rum in a bowl and let them soak for 10 minutes (stir occasionally to make sure they’re all plump and well flavoured).
  2. In a large mixing bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, mixed spice, both sugars and chopped pecans. Tip the aquafaba into the clean bowl of a stand mixer (alternatively use a handheld electric whisk) and whisk until frothy (about 5-10 minutes). Set aside.
  3. In a large jug mix together the olive oil and mashed banana then add in the thickened aquafaba. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add in the wet. Carefully fold the ingredients together until you have a batter free of flour lumps then stir in the soaked raisins and sultanas along with the rum.
  4. Split the batter evenly between the two prepared cake tins and bake for 30-40 minutes until a skewer comes out clean when inserted. At this point pop the coconut cream tins in the freezer (trust me, it makes the cream much easier to separate from the water and makes for a thicker icing).
  5. Once the cakes are baked leave them to cool completely in the tins and move onto the icing. Retrieve the coconut tins from the freezer and scoop out the hardened cream from the tops. Place this in a stand mixer along with 3tbsp coconut liquid (from the bottom of the tin). Whisk with the icing sugar and lemon juice until smooth, thick and lump free (add another tbsp of liquid to loosen if necessary but you shouldn’t need it) then place in the fridge to firm up a little.
  6. Once the cakes are completely cool and the coconut cream has firmed up slightly you’re ready to assemble. To do this just even off the cakes if necessary then spread a generous layer of icing over the first, sandwich on the second and repeat, creating a swirl design on top, if you like.
  7. Garnish with pumpkin seeds, pecans, banana chips and cinnamon.
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Fudgy Chocolate & Beetroot Cake (Gluten Free)

This dense, fudgy cake topped with a generous sweep of thick milk chocolate ganache is best enjoyed on the sofa with a good film, strong coffee and warm blanket (I’m fantasising about this right now as the fluke sunny day we enjoyed last week is a distant memory and it’s currently blowing a gale). Don’t be put off by the beetroot- the earthy flavour mellows through baking and brings moisture and richness to the cake.

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 325g dark chocolate (melted)
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 275g grated raw beetroot
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 125g ground almonds
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • pinch salt

For the ganache:

  • 250g milk chocolate
  • 150ml double cream

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170c. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin.
  2. Place the melted dark chocolate, egg yolks, grated beetroot, caster sugar, ground almonds, baking powder and cocoa powder in a large mixing bowl. Stir together until combined.
  3. Put the egg whites in another bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer) and whisk, together with the salt, until they have formed stiff (but not dry) peaks. Add a large spoonful of the whites into the beetroot mixture and stir in to loosen.
  4. Add the remaining whites and carefully fold with a large metal spoon, ensuring you keep as much of the air in as possible. Once the mix is combined, carefully tip into the prepared cake tin (not from a height or you will lose some of the air you’ve worked in!).
  5. Level out the mixture then bake for 45-55 minutes, until well risen and a skewer comes out clean when inserted.
  6. Set the cake aside and make the ganache. To do this simply chop up the chocolate and transfer to a bowl, then heat the cream to just below boiling and pour directly onto the chocolate. Leave to melt for a couple of minutes then stir together until smooth and glossy. Leave to cool.
  7. Once everything is cool, cover the cake in the ganache and decorate as desired. I used some purple violas, handmade beetroot crisps, herbs and chocolate shards.

Enjoy!

Blueberry, Squash and Spice Muffins (GF/ R.Sugar Free)

Yep, I’ve jumped on the detox January bandwagon, and here’s the first of my healthier bakes; butternut squash, date, blueberry and cinnamon muffins. A quick scroll through my blog and it won’t come as a shock that I’m a bit clueless when it comes to ‘free from’ baking, but I’ve actually surprised myself with what can be done without the conventional sugars and flours I’m used to. The fruit in these muffins add sweetness and the almonds create a moist and soft texture making them a great (and still tasty) alternative to the sugar packed treats I’m sure we’ve all indulged in over Christmas. Give them a try!

muffin-1

Ingredients (makes 12):

  • 200g finely grated butternut squash
  • 100g melted butter
  • 100g chopped dates (softened in a little boiling water)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 2tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp mixed spice
  • 60g ground almonds
  • 175g buckwheat flour (or self raising if you don’t need a GF option)
  • 200g fresh blueberries

muffin3

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Line a muffin tray with paper cases.
  2. Place the squash in a bowl along with the melted butter, dates, date water and eggs. Mix together thoroughly.
  3. Add the baking powder, spices, ground almonds, flour and blueberries. Stir gently into the wet ingredients until just combined then distribute evenly between the muffin cases.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes until risen and golden brown.

muffin2