Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Saucy Little Lemon's Gone Sweet


Lemons. Depending on what mood you're in at the time, when life throws you a big heap of lemons, you can do one of many things;

 sigh and daintily begin making lemonade to sip on whilst you ponder, 
declare how much you liked lemons anyway and stubbornly eat your way through the whole lot,
begin shouting loudly using lots of obscenities whilst biting the lemons, drinking tequila and licking salt,
or roll up your sleeves, grab your wooden spoon and begin grating and juicing and stocking your cupboards with spreads, jams and sauces...

...just to name a few.


Now, I'm a chocolate lover, a strawberry eater, a blackberry picker, a coffee drinker and a hazelnut cruncher. I am not known as a lemon muncher.
But hey, a girl can change.
My brother however, is a lemon lover. His favourite cake in the world is Lemon Drizzle. Lemon Drizzle?! 
In the past I have made him chocolate cakes, usually 6 layers tall and smothered in thick gooey ganache, with chocolate dripping from every surface and toasted almonds and hazelnuts scattered and strawberries nestled and even truffles on top....
But no. The simply little lemon cake still won.
So this year I decided to bake some cake that HE would actually love, not just me...


His actual birthday was in February but he's been away so we celebrated yesterday. I couldn't transport a big birthday cake so instead I baked Lemon and Raspberry Cupcakes. 
Now, unfortunately I didn't get chance to take any pictures before they were all gobbled up, bad blogger. 
BUT I do have this wonderful recipe for Lemon Sauce that I used to fill and drizzle over the cupcakes.

I was thinking about how I make lots of sauces that start off using coconut milk as a base. So I used the same sort of method; simmering coconut milk with sugar and arrowroot powder to thicken, and then just instead of adding chocolate or vanilla, I added lemony stuff. Winner. 
I think this could be made into lemon curd too, it would just need an ingredient that would set it, because this stays liquid.



Sweet Lemon Sauce

Ingredients

Makes just under a pint

1/4 Can of coconut milk - shake well so the cream and liquid are combined.
2 fl oz Water
2-3 oz Sugar - depending on how sweet/tart you like it
Juice of one large lemon
Zest of one large lemon
2 tbsp Arrowroot powder
Little pinch of turmeric - for the colour

All you need to do is....

Warm the coconut milk, water and arrowroot powder in a little pan, stirring until the powder is dissolved.
Now add the sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and turmeric and stir.
Simmer for around 2-3 minutes.
Now remove from the heat and using a whisk, beat the mixture hard, until it is smooth and glossy.
Now, pop it on the side and leave to cool a little bit, and yes you're probably wondering why when you dip your spoon into it it resembles weird, stretchy gunk.
Do not fear! It's the arrowroot that's doing that!
So, simply grab your hand held blender and blend blend blend for about 30 seconds.
And there you are! Pourable, drizzly yummy sweet lemon sauce.


Happy baking! x









Monday, 17 March 2014

Cardamon Spiced Plum&Chocolate Brownies


Be a doll and grab me a brownie...

It's Monday morning, most of the glitter from the weekend got washed from your skin in your rushed shower, some more shimmered down your coat and off your fingertips as you hurried to work and then the last of it fell to the ground when you glanced at the clock and it read 10 o clock.

Well, you need a brownie and you need one fast.
But don't just go and grab any old brownie! When you get home, bake these little lovelies...
Cardamon Spiced Plum&Chocolate Brownies
Why?
Because baking will soothe your soul and ease your stressed mind, the cardamon spice will warm your tired body, the plums will be juicy and sweet and remind you that Spring is on it's way, and the chocolate, well, it's chocolate isn't it? 


Brownies aren't something that have always been in my life. Shocking, I know.
They were just never around in my parents house when I was growing up. Sweet pies? Yes. crumbles? Oh most definitely. Cakes and cookies? Oui.
But brownies never seemed to make an appearance, in fact I think I was 18 before I had my first brownie! 
It was in Brighton, from a cafe near the seafront. I was with C and his sweet tooth was almost as bad as mine. We had already devoured popcorn at the cinema and candyfloss from the pier when we spotted the cute little cafe. We went in for coffee and came out with two brownies wrapped up in a napkin. They had looked so soft and gooey, just sat on the shelf behind the glass window.
C had asked if I wanted one and I had beamed back at him.
It had tasted glorious.
I made C promise to bring me back a stack of them when he next came home, but alas, the cafe changed their menu and never seemed to make them again.


So I forgot all about them.
And it was a few years until I ate another.

It wasn't until recently that I decided to bake some, I'm not sure why I hadn't tried it before. I think I just assumed that without the egg in the mixture they just wouldn't have the right texture. But boy was I wrong!
And now that I know the secret to wonderfully gooey brownies, I believe they'll become a regular in my kitchen.

So here it is folks!

Cardamon Spiced Plum&Chocolate Brownies

Ingredients

1 Can of black beans - drained and rinsed
1 oz Almonds - toasted and ground
1 oz Hazelnuts - toasted and ground
2 oz Date caramel
2 oz Apple sauce
2 oz Agave syrup
3 tbsp Cocoa powder
2 tbsp Flax seed - mixed with 4 tbsp water
1 1/2 tsp Baking powder
Splash of vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 tsp Ground cardamon
2 Plums
Zest of half a lemon
Coconut oil - for greasing the tin
Dark chocolate - optional, for chocoholics to drizzle 


First of all, lay the hazelnuts and almonds on a baking tray and toast them in the oven, about 200 c for a few minutes, until the skins have come off the hazelnuts and the almonds are golden inside.
Now grind them up to fine crumbs and set aside.
Drain the can of beans, rinse them and then pop them in your favourite mixing bowl. Use a hand blender to blend them until they're smooth.
Now stir in the cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. The mixture will be quite thick, don't panic!
Now add the apple sauce, date caramel, flax seed, vanilla extract and agave syrup. Give it a good stir, the mixture should loosen up now.
Stir in the ground cardamon and lemon zest and then the ground nuts. Mix it up well so that everything is combined into a chocolatey, gooey batter.
Use a little coconut oil to grease a deep muffin pan, I then dusted it with cocoa powder to make sure they didn't stick.

Slice the plums in half and remove the stone. I then sliced them again so that I had 8 slices from 2 plums. If you wanted you could use 4 plums and use a whole half for each brownie, if you like it extra plum-y!
Fill each muffin whole to just over half way with the brownie mixture, and then a piece of plum into the batter.

Bake them in the oven at 175 c for about 50 minutes - 1 hour. Test them with a cake tester around the sides, but don't worry if the bit beneath the plum is still a bit gooey, because that'll firm up as they cool. 



Leave them to cool completely before taking them out of the pan.



Once cooled, I melted some dark chocolate and drizzled it over the brownies, for extra chocolatey goodness.







These brownies are so soft and the juicy plums make them so good you'll want to eat them all! It's something about fruit and chocolate that just works, the plums make these brownies refreshing and you don't get that I-ate-too-much-chocolate-now-I-feel-a-bit-sick feeling after eating the whole batch.


Enjoy with a cuppa chamomile tea.
Happy baking! x
































Thursday, 13 March 2014

Love Me Forever Chocolate&Blackberry Cake


I love blackberries. There, I said it. I love their sweet, slightly gritty taste and the smell of them baking can send me into a happy, contented daydream. My love for blackberries comes from my childhood summers, those long weeks that seemed to stretch on and on. When there was no school to contain us wild beasts we could roam free, with parents busy it was easy to escape from under their watchful eye and sneak off.


Me and my younger brother would run to the top of the garden and struggle through the nettles to get behind the old barn. We would climb over the fence and jump down into the huge field that ran alongside our garden. If we looked to our left, it spanned all the way to the farm in the distance, and if we ran straight ahead the ground dipped and sank down, down, down to the little stream at the bottom, before reaching up, up, up again to the horizon.
It was alongside the stream, in a dense, knotted wood that we would find the most juiciest of blackberries. They were hard to spot though, and difficult to retrieve. 


The best blackberries are always surrounded by brambles and nettles, at the very top of the hedgerow, almost impossible to get to. And that of course is why they're the best; because nobody and nothing can get to them. They have been sat there, growing and swelling under the sun, bursting with the sweetest juice. One simply can not walk past and just leave them there for Jack Frost to spit on.
So you need a good stick, preferably one that has a hooked end. And if there's two of you the one can lift the other, or at least push back the brambles so the other can get close enough to pull the blackberries within grabbing distance.


We would try our best not to gobble them all on the walk back and if we had had a good haul, mum would bake blackberry and apple crumble that we would eat for dinner.
Since my cravings for blackberries appear to have started early this year and the end of summer is a long wait, I channeled my inner city girl and ran out to the shops.
Naughty I know, but oh, oh once you taste this cake you'll see why I just had to have the blackberries now.

This cake, truly is a Love Me Forever Cake. It's Chocolate and Blackberry With Toasted Almonds and Coconut cream....

It's got a salty date caramel swirled through it that creates a gooeyness that melts on your tongue.

It's fudgey on the inside and slightly firmer on the outside, like the perfect brownie.

Oh and did I mention it's vegan and grain free? And had beans in it? And has no refined sugar? 
Well there you go! I don't like calling cakes 'healthy' because for me, that takes all the fun out of eating the cake. I want to be naughty! If I can't get my naughty fix by eating cake who knows what I'll turn to?! I might even start walking on grass when a sign clearly states not too...and you wouldn't want that now would you?

So here it is folks, The Naughty Little Blackberry...


Chocolate&Blackberry Cake With Toasted Almonds

Ingredients

1 oz Ground almonds - toasted
1 Can black beans - drained and rinsed
2 oz Date caramel - see below for recipe
2 oz Agave syrup
3 Heaped tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp Coconut oil
2 tbsp Ground flax seed - mixed with 4 tbsp water
1 1/2 tsp Baking powder
1 Shot of espresso
A good splash of vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

4 oz Frozen blackberries
1-2 tsp Agave syrup
1 tsp Arrowroot powder
Splash of vanilla

Small handful of toasted flaked almonds
1 oz Dark chocolate - chopped into chunks

Lets get baking!

First things first, blend up 1 oz of almonds until they're like fine breadcrumbs, spread them out on a baking tray and lightly toast them in the oven on 200 c until they're golden. Set them aside.
If you haven't bought any ready made flaked toasted almonds, then just do what I do! Simply lay a small handful of whole almonds on a baking tray, toast them in the oven on 200 c for a few minutes - they should be golden on the inside and smelling delicious! - then take them out and using a sharp knife, carefully split them in half. Don't worry if a few crumble, they'll still look pretty!

You could also combine your flax and water right about now, to give it time to gel together.

Now....

Drain the black beans and rinse them, and put them in your favourite large mixing bowl.
Add the coconut oil, cocoa powder and baking powder and use a hand held blender to blend until it's all combined and smooth - the mixture will be quick thick and sticky at this point.
Scrape off any mixture on the blender - don't waste any my dear!

Now add the shot of espresso, yes that's right into the bowl not your mouth! Give it a good stir, the mixture should loosen up and look more like runny batter.

Now stir in the ground flax mixture, vanilla, salt, date caramel and agave syrup and mix well so it all combines - it should thicken up slightly now, more like a regular batter.
Lovely.


Now you can stir in the ground almonds.

Use coconut oil and cocoa powder to lightly grease and dust a 6" deep cake tin. I use the make Silverwood because I think they're amazing. Not only do they look really nice; simple, elegant and slightly vintage, but because they're made from anodized aluminium they conduct heat amazingly. Meaning no hot spots due to even heat distribution and not to mention they're really hard wearing.
But anyway, enough of my love affair, we've got baking to do!


Once you've poured the batter into your cake tin, chop some dark chocolate and sprinkle it over the top. If you want the chocolate to be inside the cake rather than on top, then simply use a cocktail stick (or your finger!) to poke the chocolate into the batter.

Now stick it in the oven to bake at 175 c for 45 minutes - 1 hour. I wanted my cake quite firm so I left it in for almost the whole hour, but if you wanted a cake slightly gooey in the middle then 40-45 minutes should do it.

Now good looking, whilst that's a cooking...

Make your Blackberry Glaze

Pop the frozen blackberries into a pan on the stove, a little milk pan will do, and warm them through gently for a few minuets. 
Now add the agave syrup and stir. Turn the heat up slightly so that it starts to bubble and let it simmer so that the blackberries become soft and the juices run out. You can add more syrup depending on how sweet you like it. I only added about 2 little tsp so that I didn't override the delicate blackberry flavour.
After about 5 minutes add in the vanilla and arrowroot powder and stir until combined. Cook for a further few minutes just to let it thicken. 
Remove it from the heat and set aside for later.




Now comes the fun part....

When your cake is done (use a cake tester/cocktail stick and poke it through the middle of your cake, it should come out almost clean) leave it to cool on a wire rack, preferably near an open window to make passers by jealous.


Scoop your blackberry glaze onto the cake, pouring the juices all over it.

The smell is like nothing on earth. It is like Heaven, like a piece of cloud from Heaven has floated down and your head is in the cloud and you can smell it.

The warm, nutty chocolate simmers perfectly with the tangy, sweet blackberries all brought together by that classic vanilla baking smell.

Groan.


Liberally scatter the flaked, toasted almonds over the top and then try to see how long you can last before eating a piece.


I scoffed mine with whipped coconut cream
All you need to do is....

Let a can of coconut milk chill in the fridge for a while, until all the 'cream' gathers on top, separated from the coconut water.
Scoop the 'cream' out, add a splash of vanilla and a tsp of agave syrup and using a whisk, whip it up so it's fluffy.


This cake made me feel like a little kid again, little enough to sit on a chair and swing my legs because they were too short to touch the floor, a purple stain over my face from eating too many blackberries and a full, happy tummy.



I'm thinking about doing a full post on a recipe for Date Caramel, but here's a little quite recipe to keep you going...

To make Date Caramel

Ingredients

3 oz Dates
3 fl oz Water

Pinch salt
1 tsp Vanilla extract
Lemon juice - a good squeeze
2-4 tbsp Coconut milk - adjust for the right consistency 

Simply simmer the dates in the water until they'e soft and mushy.
Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla, salt and lemon juice. Blend it all together.
Now add the coconut milk until your get the consistency you want.


Happy baking! x























Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Roasted With Salt


When I haven't been outside for a while, because of the cold air and the need to write, I often find myself standing in front of the open cupboards, wondering what I can eat for lunch. I sternly tell myself and whatever the weather is doing tomorrow, I must go and buy food. Today is a good day, I'm off for a wander to the top of Gloucester Road in Bristol, full of life and colour, even on this grey, misty morning. Why am I leaving our warm, cosy nest and walking 40 minutes in the fog? Because there is a wonderful little shop that sells the brand of coconut milk and coconut oil that we like.
And if I don't get it then I won't be able to bake the wonderful cake that I'm planning on baking for T. And then T would be sad.
But anyway, yesterday I had not been food shopping and therefore was prowling round the kitchen, searching and thinking of something to brighten up a rather forlorn little salad.


And then I remembered my jar, hidden away behind the other jars of lentils and pasta and rice. A jar that contained a great mix of nuts and seeds, perfect for sprinkling on porridge, soups, stir fry's and yes, salads.

To spice them up I...

Coated them in coconut oil
Lay them out on a baking tray
Sprinkled them with rock salt
A tiny dash of cayenne pepper
Roasted them in the oven on 200c for a few minutes - you'll hear the seeds start to pop and the almonds will smell wonderful!


They made my salad damn crunchy and very tasty. 
So what about you? A fan of nuts? What's your favourite flavour combinations?

Happy Wednesday everyone! x




Sunday, 9 March 2014

Roasted Red Bread


Bread, in my humble opinion, has to be home baked. The sad little loaves that line the supermarket shelves, all pale, thin and squished can never compare to the crusty, plump and wholesome loaves that come from your own oven. The warm, nutty smell that drifts from the kitchen and turns your house into a bakery.


The perfect hollow sound that makes your spirits soar as you take it from the oven and tap against the sturdy crust.
That first bite, without any spreads or butters or jams, without any onion or chutneys, just the fresh bread, still warm from the oven making you sigh a happy sigh.




This bread is wonderfully moist, the peppers, onions and tomatoes lend a softness to the dough, making it slightly addictive if eaten fresh from the oven (!), but also lovely to toast the next day.
I used Spelt flour, which is made from an old English wheat and is gentler on sensitive stomachs. The roughness of this flour works really well with this bread, combined with the roasted vegetables it creates a very earthy, rustic and delicious loaf.



Here's the recipe! This makes a small loaf, the recipe can be doubled for a larger, usual sized loaf.

Spiced Up Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soda Bread

Ingredients

8 1/2 oz (250g) Spelt wholegrain flour
1 tsp Bicarbonate soda
1  tsp Basil
Large pinch of salt
Large pinch of black pepper

7 fl oz (200ml) Coconut milk - half a can
A good splash of cider vinegar

4 Cherry/baby plum tomatoes - sliced in half
Big handful toasted pumpkin seeds
1 Red pepper - sliced very thinly
1 Small red onion (about 2 oz/60g) - sliced very thinly
1 Small chopped chili
1 tbsp Coconut oil
Large pinch of salt 
Large pinch black pepper
4 Cloves of garlic - leave the skins on and crush them slightly


Come on, lets go get spicy in the kitchen...


  • First things first, you'll need to chop up your onion and pepper, really nice and thin. Now pop them on a baking tray and add your cloves of garlic. Now take the tbsp of coconut oil and rub it between your hands to melt it a bit and then use your hands to rub the oil all over the veg.
  • When the pepper, onion and garlic is completely coated, sprinkle on the salt, pepper and chili. Mix it all around and then bake at 200c for about 15-20 minutes, until the garlic and veg is soft and starting to caramelize.
  • Take them out and pop them into a bowl and set aside.
  • Now sprinkle the pumpkin seeds onto the baking tray - don't wash it, let the oils from the veg roast the pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds don't take long, only a few minutes so watch they don't burn! When you hear them popping you know they're done.
  • Whilst they're roasting, pour the coconut milk into a jug and add a splash of cider vinegar, set it aside to curdle slightly.
  • Now you can make the dough! Sift the flour, bicarbonate soda, salt, pepper and basil together in your favourite mixing bowl.
  • Now add the coconut milk and vinegar, bit by bit and mix with your hands until the dough comes together. This dough will be very wet, but pleeease don't be tempted to add lots more flour!
  • LIGHTLY flour your surface and your hands, and kneed the dough for a few minutes.
  • Take the roasted garlic (it should be soft and sweet) remove the skin and chop it roughly.
  • Now you can add the roasted pepper, onion, chili, garlic and pumpkin seeds to the dough and kneed away!
  • Once combined, flour the dough slightly, just to stop it sticking and place it on a baking tray. You can shape it how you like it, I formed it into an oval and flattened it a bit.
  • Now take your sliced tomatoes and poke them into the dough's surface, I dotted mine all over.
  • Bake in the oven at 200c for about 30-40 minutes, until the crust is hard and when you knock against the bottom, it sounds hollow.
  • Leave to cool slightly before cutting.



How to eat this glorious bread?
....

Drizzled with olive oil
Hummus and olives
Toasted with nut butter

Or....Have it my way...


Chip butty!
Cut two slices of bread, add a layer of home made rock salt and black pepper chips and a dollop of home made tomato ketchup!


Damn that's tasty!

Happy baking! x











Thursday, 6 March 2014

What To Do With Almond Pulp Dahling?


So, you've made your almond milk and it tastes damn fine. You're sat there feeling pretty pleased with yourself, when suddenly your eyes drift towards the little pile of almond mush left on the side. Well, you didn't want to just throw it away did you? Seemed like too much of a waste.
Surely SOMETHING can be made from the pulpy mess?
So aha! You have an idea of making it into almond butter....only all the oils are gone and it won't turn into the melt-y buttery stuff.
Hmm, you sit back down and think harder.


That is exactly what I was doing; sat at the kitchen table, staring at the sad little ball of almond pulp, determined not to waste it. I looked online and saw that it could be dried out and used as almond flour.
Well, I thought as I'm drying it out anyway, surely I can add some extra flavour and then mould it somehow?


So that's what I did. I stirred in....

Some salt, a good large pinch of it
Some pepper, a good old grind
Some flax seeds
A large sprinkling of rosemary
A tbsp of coconut flour

Then I just pressed it down onto the baking tray, quite thin, and left it to sit overnight. Then in the morning I popped it in the oven on a very low heat, about 100c for a few hours, until it had dried out completely and browned slightly.


I munched on mine with some homemade salsa. They're very dry crackers, so you'll need some kind of dip, hummus would work well or a simple drizzling of olive oil and vinegar.


I hope this helps with any left-over-pulp-problems you may be having! You can add any spices or herbs to the pulp you like, and if crackers don't float your boat, why not keep the mixture loose as you dry it out and then crumble it onto breakfast cereal? 

Happy baking! x