Monday, 14 April 2014

Iced Gingerbread Cake

There's not too much to say about this cake. It just made me feel good!

This cake is a mildly spicy version of gingerbread in cake form. I really love this icing - a thin, crisp layer of extra sweetness. 

Perfect with a cup of tea with rice milk!

Iced Gingerbread Cake (adapted from The Wholefood Lunch Box by Janet Hunt)

1 1/2 cups wholemeal flour
1/2 cup plain flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup vegan margarine (I used Nuttelex)
1 tbsp molasses
1 tbsp ground flaxseed whisked with 3 tbsp water
non-dairy milk to mix (I used oat milk)

1/2-3/4 cup icing sugar
2-3 tbsp coconut milk/cream
few dashes of cinnamon
Dash of vanilla

Preheat oven to 180C.

Whisk together the flaxseed and water and put aside.

Mix together all dry ingredients. 

Melt the margarine and molasses together on low heat until melted.

Stir the margarine mixture and the flaxseed mixture into the dry ingredients. Add as much milk as necessary to make a thick batter.

Line a square cake tin with baking paper and pour in the cake mixture. 

Bake the cake for 15 minutes at 180C and for further 45 minutes at 170C, or until cooked.

To prepare icing, simply stir all ingredients together until smooth. Let it cool completely before icing. You can eat it immediately or wait until the icing hardens (or a bit of both!). 

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Using Stuff Up

My partner hates wasting food. He will scan the fridge, collect everything near expiration and basically put it on a sandwich. Needless to say, we don't ask him to prepare much in the kitchen!

I don't go that far, but it feels terrible to throw food away and I do get a lot of satisfaction from using up stuff before it spoils. 

Lately I'm trying to cook more with what I have available at home, as opposed to getting a crazy idea to make some obscure dish (which I've usually seen online along with a drool-worthy photo) for dinner/dessert that requires another trip to the shops and two hours/days preparation!

Here are a few of my recent efforts: 

We always have opened jars of tomato sauce and paste in the fridge needing to be used up. This simple pasta and beans concoction turned out beautifully. I fried some garlic and onion in olive oil, added rosemary, tomato paste and pasta sauce and stock, and added the cooked beans and pasta. 

We often have leftover tofu stored in water in the fridge. Sometimes I just fry the tofu with some tamari and the kids really like it. This pad thai style dish and popcorn tofu are also good ways to use it up. 

This is my favourite quinoa salad - a great way to use leftover cooked quinoa. Lexie likes it too, so I tend to make it quite a bit. I've also made Johanna's delicious muffins a few times, which contain cooked quinoa.  

This chocolate and banana pudding from Vegan Lunch Box was a fun way to use up chocolate almond milk. It had slices of banana at the bottom. 

I used up some fresh basil and parsley in this sauce and poured it over baked sweet potatoes. It was so good! The sauce was based on the Green Goddess dressing from Appetite for Reduction

Apple sauce and coconut yoghurt - this was a pretty desperate attempt to save an open jar of apple sauce. It was quite nice though, and Lexie liked it. I've made this apple brown rice breakfast a few times which is a very simple and yummy way to use up apple sauce. Kari's carrot cake pikelets also put apple sauce to great use - a lovely, warming and wholesome breakfast or snack!

Monday, 7 April 2014

Baking for Preschool Lunches

I take any excuse to bake. Any. Friends coming over, trying out a new recipe, using up food, to cheer me/someone else up, waking up in the morning... 

Now, I have a legitimate weekly reason to bake - to include wholesome nut-free things in Sylvia's preschool lunches. And of course the rest of us in the household (and anyone I meet in the street) get to sample them too! 

Her favourite are these chocolate chip cookies from Live. Learn. Love. Eat sweetened with maple syrup and made with wholemeal flour:

This banana bread (without walnuts) from the same blog was also successful:

We have enjoyed all the recipes from this blog, especially the peanut butter and jam thumbprint cookies and the cookie dough balls (which both unfortunately contain nuts so can't go in the lunch box). 

I love Angela's recipes! Pretty much everything I've made from her blog has been amazing, especially this quiche. I can't wait to get my hands on her new cookbook!  

Sylvia likes the results of most of my healthy baking binges, but all the cakes, muffins and biscuits/cookies are losing their "treat" status due to the sheer volume I make! Ah well, a kid (and a mum) could have worse problems... 

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Simple Apple Dumplings

I love this kind of simple food. Few ingredients, rustic and comforting. A bit like my golden syrup dumplings.

These apple dumplings were a desperate dinner after a tough few weeks filled with backaches and illness. I knew everyone would love these. 

Sylvia was surprised and delighted to be having "dessert" for dinner. And you know, mini apple pies for dinner really do something powerfully good for the soul!

They are basically chunks of apple wrapped in a light flaky pastry with a bit of brown sugar, margarine and cinnamon, then baked. The pineapple juice gives a nice tang to the pastry.

Next time we might try them with vegan custard, cream or ice cream. 

Simple Apple Dumplings  (makes 8 dumplings) (slightly adapted from Sinfully Vegan by Lois Dieterly)

1 1/4 cups plain flour

1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1/4 tsp salt
1 large granny smith apple
1 tsp cinnamon
1-2 tbsp evaporated cane juice or brown sugar
1-2 tbsp vegan margarine

Preheat oven to 200C.

Mix flour and salt in a bowl. Add the oil and combine with your fingers until the mixture is like small crumbs. Add the juice and knead it into a ball. Put the dough in the fridge while you prepare your apple. (Note: the dough will seem a bit moist and oily, but it really does turn out perfectly!)

Peel your apple and cut the apple into 8 chunks.

After about 10 minutes, get your dough out of the fridge and divide in half. Roll out one half quite thin between two pieces of baking paper. Use a knife to cut the rolled out dough into quarters.

Place a chunk of apple in the middle of each piece, some cinnamon, sugar and a bit of margarine and gather the sides of the dough and press closed so the apple is completely sealed in the dough. The dough is quite thin so try not to pull it too hard or it will rip. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

Bake for about 20 minutes on a lined baking tray until the bottoms are starting to brown. Don't worry if a bit of juice leaks out of some of them, they're still delicious!

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Rainbow Birthday Cake + Party Food

We hadn't really planned on having a party for Sylvia's 4th birthday. Except that in the months leading up to her birthday, she talked non-stop about what cake she would have, what would be in the party bags and what other food we would make.

So, as Sylvia is the "boss of this house", we had a small party at a nearby park! 

Most importantly, here is the rainbow cake:

Firstly Sylvia asked for a fairy cake. I was relieved when she changed her mind to a rainbow cake, it seemed much more manageable! I googled some images and this one seemed fairly simple. 

I used this wonderful birthday cake recipe. I made one round cake, which I then cut in half and sandwiched together to form the rainbow. I also made twelve cupcakes, which were the clouds. 

I decided to make a strawberry cream cheese filling for the cloud cupcakes and the main cake. I used the cream cheese icing recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and added some fresh blended strawberries. 

I used basic vegan buttercream icing for the rest - icing sugar, vanilla, vegan margarine, a splash of milk and colouring. 

This cake definitely contained the most sugar I've ever used in one cake! Sylvia loved it, and it tasted brilliant. It did take a bit of time, but none of it was very difficult. I love how all-consuming (!) baking is. A world war could have broken out while I was making and decorating this cake and I'd be none the wiser. 

Sylvia chose all the food. We had fairy bread and chocolate bread (bread with vegan chocolate spread), fruit skewers with vegan marshmallows and vegan sausage rolls. And the rainbow cake, of course. I think she chose very well!

Now it's dawning on me just how many novelty birthday cakes lie ahead of me, for both Sylvia and Lexie. Um, a lot! Their requests are sure to increase in difficulty as they get older! I just need to make sure that I don't run out of steam...

Other birthday cakes I've blogged about:
Easy Car Cake
Tiger Cake
Rabbit Cake

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Vegan Walnut Plum Cake

For someone who makes and eats so many desserts, it's surprising that I haven't made up a cake completely from scratch before. 

Well, here it is!

After a challenging day, and with about 10 minutes to spare before bath and bedtime for Sylvia and Lexie, I was determined to create a comforting cake to finish the day on a high note. 

My mum had given us a load of sugar plums. It triggered a memory of a cake she makes sometimes with walnuts and plums or apricots. I asked her how she makes it, but my mum is an instinctive cook and never measures anything so I just had to fly blind.  

The kitchen was in quite a state by the time the cake was in the oven, but it was worth it!

It's just a humble cake, but a delicious one and I'm proud of it! Everyone in the household loved it, which is always an unexpected joy with the variance in ages and preferences!

The walnut and cinnamon go so well with the soft baked plums, and I think the coconut yoghurt gives the cake a lovely texture. I actually had intended to use a bit of oil, but in my flurry totally forgot! In the end, it definitely wasn't missed. 

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Vegan Walnut Plum Cake

1 tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 3 tbsp water
1 cup white spelt flour
1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 cup ground walnuts
1/2 cup evaporated cane juice or brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda 
1 tsp baking powder
1/2-1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/4 cup coconut yoghurt
3/4 cup non-dairy milk (I used coconut rice milk)
About 10 plums (I used little sugar plums), sliced or halved
bit of extra cinnamon and sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 180C and oil a square cake tin. 

Firstly, whisk together the flaxseed and water and set aside.

Mix together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, pinch of salt, sugar, cinnamon and walnuts in a large bowl.

Add the yoghurt, milk and flaxseed mixture and stir until just mixed.  

Put the batter into the cake tin and place the plums on the top. Sprinkle a bit of cinnamon and sugar on the top if desired.

Bake for about 35 minutes or until lightly browned and firm in the middle.  

Monday, 17 February 2014

Peanut Butter Chocolate Dough Balls

I love all manner of raw bliss ball type snacks, but these are my absolute favourite. 

There's just something about peanut butter and chocolate, and the soft doughy feel of these. Once refrigerated, they have a firmer, cakey texture which is also quite addictive.  

And just four ingredients!

I used to make a version of these years ago with soy powder. I remember arriving home from work needing something rich, sweet and fast to make and they always did the trick. 

However, soy powder is not usually something I have in my cupboard. I decided to recreate a healthier version of these dough balls using coconut flour. Also, I have quite a bit of coconut flour to use up! The coconut flour is perfect in texture for these balls and doesn't have an overwhelmingly coconutty flavour. 

Ah, first my obsession with besan flour, now coconut flour! I've tried baking with coconut flour a bit, but I prefer it in raw recipes. 

Janet at the Taste Space has some fantastic vegan coconut flour recipes I am looking forward to trying. 

What are your favourite recipes using coconut flour?

Peanut Butter Chocolate Dough Balls

1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup coconut flour
2 heaped tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 cup rice malt syrup

Combine all ingredients and roll into balls! 

They are softer at room temperature and firmer once refrigerated.