This tart (using ‘tart’ as a loose term for this- there’s no pastry or baking involved) is so easy to put together but makes for a really delicious plant based dessert. The crunchy base is laced with tahini and sesame seeds so the earthy flavour really comes through, and the filling has a savoury note thanks to miso paste, and is super smooth and creamy courtesy of my favourite plant based brand- Oatly.
- 100g dark chocolate
- 75g tahini
- 1tbsp maple syrup
- large pinch sea salt
- 100g sesame seeds
- 50g finely chopped mixed nuts (I used cashews and pistachios)
- 225g dark chocolate
- 30g vegan butter (I used Stork)
- 300ml Oatly cream alternative
- 3tbsp maple syrup
- large pinch sea salt
- 3tbsp white miso paste
- 75g sesame seeds
- 100g caster sugar
- Grease and line an 8 inch cake tin. For the base, place the chocolate, tahini, maple and salt in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (don’t allow the base of the bowl to touch the water or the chocolate may burn). Gently melt all the ingredients together then stir through the sesame seeds and chopped nuts. Scrape this mixture into the lined cake tin and spread out into one even layer. Place this in the fridge to set for at least 30 minutes.
- For the filling, roughly chop the chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl along with the vegan butter. Set aside. Put the Oatly cream, maple, salt and miso paste in a saucepan and, stirring often, heat to just below boiling point. Pour this mixture over the chocolate and butter and allow it to sit for a moment before stirring together to form a smooth glossy ganache. Let this cool then pour it over the chilled base. Transfer to the fridge again and chill for another hour or until set.
- While the tart is chilling, make the sesame shards. Before you start, place a piece of greaseproof paper on a large baking tray. Now put the sugar in a small saucepan. Allow the sugar to melt, swirling the pan occasionally, then, once the caramel is golden take off the heat, stir in the sesame seeds and spread into an even layer on the greaseproof paper. Leave to cool and harden, then break into shards.
- Slice up the tart and serve with shards of sesame caramel and a sprinkling of sea salt.
Although I enjoy experimenting with different flavour combinations and ingredients, a wedge of proper classic chocolate fudge cake is always a winner. With that in mind and in the spirit of hashtag Veganuary I thought I should probably develop a plant based alternative. The resulting cake is made up of moist well risen sponges (with espresso and salt used to bring out the chocolate flavour), salted bitter chocolate ganache and sweet cocoa buttercream. I defy anyone to do anything but ask for another slice.
- 120ml aquafaba (the starchy water from a can of chickpeas- one 400g tin supplies around 120ml)
- 375g plain flour
- 275g caster sugar
- 85g cocoa powder
- 2tsp baking powder
- 2tsp bicarbonate of soda
- large pinch sea salt, plus extra for the top
- 40g ground flaxseed mixed with 60ml water
- 325ml oat milk
- 175ml vegetable oil
- 3 heaped tsp instant coffee dissolved into 300ml boiled water
- 100g dark chocolate, melted and cooled
For the ganache
- 200g dark chocolate
- 200ml vegan cream (I used Oatly)
- 1tbsp caster sugar
- pinch sea salt
For the buttercream
- 200g vegan butter (I used STORK)
- 300g icing sugar
- 4 heaped tbsp cocoa powder
- pinch sea salt
- 3-4tbsp oat milk
- Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line two 8 inch cake tins.
- You’ll need two bowls and some electric beaters (or, even better, a stand mixer with whisk attachment). Place the aquafaba in one bowl (or the bowl of the stand mixer) and whisk until stiff peaks form (about 10 minutes). In the other bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda.
- Once the aquafaba has reached stiff peaks, whisk in the soaked flaxseed. Make a well in the dry ingredients bowl and add the oat milk and vegetable oil. Mix together using a balloon whisk until just combined, then very slowly mix in the boiling water and coffee, followed by the melted chocolate. The mix will look very loose but that’s fine.
- Finally, fold in the aquafaba mixture. Distribute the batter between the two prepared tins and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted. Leave the cakes to cool completely in the tins.
- While the sponges are cooling, roughly chop the dark chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl. Pour the cream into a small saucepan along with the salt and caster sugar and heat to scalding point to dissolve the sugar. Pour the cream over the dark chocolate and leave to sit for a couple of minutes before stirring together to form a smooth glossy ganache. Set aside to cool completely.
- For the buttercream, simply place the vegan butter in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment) and beat until fluffy. Add the icing sugar, cocoa powder and salt and cover the bowl with a clean tea towel, then beat until well combined (this will avoid a sugar cloud- if you’re using electric beaters, just mix in most of the icing sugar with a wooden spoon before whisking at a high speed to avoid a face full of icing sugar!). Add in the milk and beat again until very light and fluffy.
- Once all the components are cool, slice the sponges in half horizontally, leaving you with four even layers. Top the first layer with 1/3 of the buttercream, followed by the next sponge. Repeat until you’ve used up the sponges, then cover the whole cake in the ganache (which will have thickened as it cooled). Finish with sea salt or nut brittle, if you like.
This vegan banana bread is perfect if you’re after maximum taste pay off in exchange for minimal effort; the method calls for just a mixing bowl and hand whisk and you’ll have it in the oven in less than 10 minutes. I add chunks of dark chocolate and a shot of espresso to my banana bread as it adds a great depth of flavour and slight bittersweet finish, but feel free to omit these (if you’re weird and don’t like my two favourite things).
- 125ml vegetable oil
- 100ml dairy free yoghurt (I used Alpro plain)
- 100ml nut milk (I used almond)
- 3 very ripe bananas (roughly mashed) plus 1 extra banana (halved down the middle)
- 2tbsp instant coffee granules dissolved in 2tbsp boiling water
- 75g light brown soft sugar
- 75g caster sugar
- 225g plain flour
- 1tsp baking power
- 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
- generous pinch of salt
- 150g 70% dark chocolate
- Preheat the oven to 180c. Line a large loaf tin with greaseproof paper.
- Place the oil, yoghurt, milk, mashed banana, both sugars and coffee in a bowl and whisk together. Now add in the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt and whisk again until you have a smooth batter. Roughly chop 100g of the dark chocolate and stir that in, reserving the rest. Scrape the batter into the prepared tin and arrange the banana halves on top.
- Bake for 50-55 minutes or until well risen, springy and golden. Once baked, leave to cool in the tin, then melt the remaining dark chocolate and drizzle over the top.
In the spirit of Veganuary, I thought I’d keep my recipes plant based this month. I’m not vegan myself, but am completely on board with reducing my consumption of animal products, so should probably reflect this in my baking. This week I tackled a home baking classic: the chocolate chip cookie. I’m pretty smug about the result; you would never guess they contained neither eggs nor dairy as the texture is buttery and chewy and the flavour rich, nutty and indulgent. Definitely give them a try, I’ve had great feedback from my (very willing) testers!
- 150g coconut oil
- 150g smooth almond butter
- 75ml almond milk
- 175g light brown soft sugar
- 150g caster sugar
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- 150g rye flour
- 200g plain flour
- 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1/2tsp baking powder
- 300g 70% dark chocolate, roughly chopped
- 75g almonds, roughly chopped
- Sea salt
- Place the coconut oil, almond butter, almond milk, both sugars and vanilla in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (ensuring that the water does not touch the base of the bowl). Heat, stirring occasionally, until all the ingredients have melted to form a smooth mixture. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together the rye flour, plain flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and a pinch of salt. Add in the wet ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until a soft dough has formed. Now evenly distribute 3/4 of the chocolate chunks and all the almonds through the dough. Chill for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 170c. Line 2 or 3 large baking trays with greaseproof paper. Using an ice cream scoop shape even balls of dough and arrange on the trays, allowing space for spreading ( I put up to 6 cookies on each tray). Take a couple of your reserved chocolate chunks and press into the top of each ball of dough, then sprinkle with some sea salt.
- Bake for 10 minutes, then carefully take the trays out and bang them sharply on a worktop. Pop them back in the oven for 3 minutes then repeat the bang technique before returning them to the oven for the final 3 minutes of baking. Once their time is up, bang once more and leave to cool. This technique is favoured by lots of bakers as it stops the cookies from puffing up too much and creates that wrinkly finish (you’ll probably need to bake the cookies in batches as this recipe will make 20-24).
- Leave the cookies to cool on the trays for at least half an hour before serving (unless you want a particularly warm and gooey cookie!).
This granola is super easy to make and can be adapted with your choice of nuts and seeds; I particularly like this variety as the cacao nibs add a hint of chocolate which pairs really well with the coconut flavour. If you want to keep it vegan serve this with seasonal fresh fruit, nut butter and coconut yoghurt or enjoy as a sprinkling on top of an Acai bowl.
- 400g whole oats
- 75g pumpkin seeds (or sunflower seeds)
- 75g chia seeds (or poppy seeds)
- 75g hemp seeds (or flax seeds/ sesame seeds)
- 100g cacao nibs
- 100g pecans (or brazil nuts/walnuts/hazelnuts)
- 1tsp cinnamon
- 1tsp mixed spice
- 175g coconut oil
- 250g coconut nectar (or agave syrup/honey)
- 100g coconut shavings
- Line a large high sided baking tray with greaseproof paper and preheat the oven to 160c.
- Place the oats, nuts, seeds, cacao nibs and spices in a large bowl and stir to combine. Put a saucepan over a medium heat and add the coconut nectar and coconut oil- melt these together and once you have a lump-free liquid remove from the heat.
- Pour the melted liquid into the dry ingredients and stir together until everything is evenly coated. Tip this into the prepared tray and spread out then bake for about 30-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to make sure the edges don’t catch.
- When the granola is almost ready add the coconut shavings and bake for a further 10 minutes- it’s important you add these near the end as they don’t need too long to colour.
- Once the granola is golden and has dried out a little, set aside to crisp up and cool then tip into jars and use as required.
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.
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
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- Garnish with pumpkin seeds, pecans, banana chips and cinnamon.