Sunday, 19 February 2017

Vegan Banana and Chocolate Chip Biscotti

Fear not all you carnivores, omnivores and any other vores that happen to be out there, I've not abandoned you. However at the moment I do find myself enjoying the challenge of making some of my favourite recipes more inclusive of those with special dietary requirements. I'm not sure why I've not tried a vegan biscotti recipe sooner to be honest, as with only a single egg it's a relatively easy one to tweak. Instead I've bound the dry ingredients with a mashed banana and just a dash of oat, soya or almond milk. The results are super delicious and very easy to prepare. The only consideration really is the time they take to make, so give yourself a couple of hours and then you won't have to rush.

Prep time: 10 Mins
Baking time: 30 Mins (Baking), 30 Mins (Drying)
125g Plain Flour
1tsp Baking Powder
100g Golden Caster Sugar
150g Dark Chocolate Chips
1tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Ripe Banana (Mashed)
0.5-1Tbsp Oat, Soya or Almond Milk

To the kitchen! Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line a large flat baking tray with baking paper. Add the flour, baking powder, sugar and chocolate chips to a large mixing bowl and give them a mix around to combine. Add the vanilla extract, mashed banana and half a tablespoon of milk to the mixture. Mix briefly, then get your hand in there and bring together to a firm dough. If the mixture is too dry then you can add a touch more milk but be careful not to overdo it! The amount you will need will really depend on how big your banana is (Yes I did giggle as I typed that sentence).

Using wet hands form the dough into a fat sausage, about 20cm long and place in the middle of your baking sheet. Bake in the centre of the oven for around 30 minutes, until the dough has spread slightly and is a lovely golden brown all over. When you are happy the dough is baked remove from the oven and leave to cool on the paper for around 15 mins.

Preheat the oven to 140C/275F/Gas 1. Carefully peel the baked dough from the baking paper and place on a chopping board. At the same time line your baking tray with a fresh sheet of baking paper. Using the sharpest large knife you have slice the dough into thin biscotti and place each on the baking paper (on their side). Take care here as the biscotti will be rather fragile until they have dried out. Bake in the centre of the oven for 15 minutes, then flip each onto the other side and bake for a further 15 minutes. This dries them out and gives them that amazingly dunkable texture. 

Once the biscotti have dried out on both sides remove from the oven and leave to cool on the baking tray. You could transfer the biscotti to a wire rack if you prefer, but I've had no issues leaving them on the tray and it's one less thing to wash up after. Once cool you are ready to serve them up, although if you can't restrain yourself they are also fantastic whilst still warm. ;-)

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Vegan Peanut Butter Hobnob Tiffin

Aside from the ever growing range of vegan ingredients now available, there are a surprising number of 'accidental' ones too, such as the hobnob biscuits I am using in this recipe! They form part of a delicious biscuit tiffin that I'm topping with slightly sweetened peanut butter and melted dark chocolate. Just a single word of caution however, double check the chocolate you choose is in fact vegan, as some are not!

Prep time: 20 Mins
Baking Chilling time: 3 Hours
300g Hobnobs
50g Cocoa Powder
135g Coconut Oil
100g Golden Syrup

300g Peanut Butter
75g Golden Caster Sugar (You can adjust this slightly to taste)

300g Dark Chocolate (Melted either over a bain-marie or in the microwave)

I love making tiffin, it's just so easy! You'll need a 21cm square cake tin for this, although if you don't have one a similar sized rectangular tin will do just fine. When you have your tin to hand, take a large sheet of baking paper and press it into the corners to line it, leaving a small amount overhanging over the edge.

In a large mixing bowl pulverise the biscuits to crumbs, then stir through the cocoa powder. Add the coconut oil and golden syrup to a saucepan and stir over a low heat until melted together. Pour the syrupy oil over your biscuit crumbs and mix through to combine. Tip into your prepared tin and press firmly to the edges. Chill in the fridge for 1 hour.

Once the bottom layer has chilled you can prepare the super indulgent toppings. Mix together the sugar and peanut butter, then spread over the top of the chilled base. Drizzle over the melted chocolate and return to the fridge for a further 2 hours.

Once fully chilled remove from the fridge and using the edges of the baking paper, carefully lift the tiffin from the tin. Using a very sharp knife slice into bars or squares. Peel each carefully from the paper and you are ready to serve. You can either present these to your greedy guests full chilled or at room temperature. Either way, they will go down a storm. :-)

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Gnarly Cakes (Gluten, Dairy and Sugar Free)

These little beasties may look all gnarly and haggard but are still very yummy and (bonus!) are gluten, dairy AND sugar free. This doesn't quite mean you can nom down as many as you want, but they are slightly more virtuous than normal (well, normal for me anyway). I liven mine up with ground hazelnuts, mixed spice and fragrant extracts but there is plenty of room for experimentation if you want to try other combinations. How about a coffee version with chocolate chips for instance? Or if you used only ground almonds you could make them heady with lemon or orange zest. The possibilities are, well not quite endless, but numerous at the very least!

Prep time: 20 Mins
Baking time: 20-25 Mins
100g Ground Almonds
100g Ground Hazelnuts
1tsp Baking Powder
50g Gluten Free Plain Flour
25g Desiccated Coconut
1tsp Mixed Spice
75g Coconut Oil (Melted on a low heat or microwave if in solid form)
125g Natural Fruit Based Sweetener Syrup
3 Large Eggs (Beaten)
1/2tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2tsp Lemon Extract
1/2tsp Almond Extract
1 Apple (Cored, but grated with skin on)

Line a twelve cup muffin tin with paper cases and preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Add the hazelnuts, almonds, baking powder, flour, coconut and mixed spice to a large mixing bowl and mix together to combine. Make a well in the middle and pour in the oil, sweetener, eggs and extracts, then mix together until evenly combined. I'd like to say there were lots of fancy techniques involved in making these, but honestly you could get away with just throwing all the ingredients in a bowl and a giving it a good thrashing with a wooden spoon!

Once the mixture is combined fold through the grated apple, before pouring equally into each paper case. Bake in the centre of the oven for 20-25 minutes, until a sharp knife comes out clean when inserted into the middle of each little cake. When you are happy the cakes are baked remove from the oven, leave in the tin for 30 minutes, then carefully remove each one, leaving to cool completely on a wire rack. Oooosh, all done!

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Vegan Powerjacks

I often turn to these when I need a naughty treat after the gym, as they are packed with good things to help my creaking body refuel and regenerate! They are also practically sugar free and vegan, although I stopped short of calling them gluten-free, as although oats don't technically contain gluten, the protein within them (called avenin) is similar. I've used dates and coconut in my version but you can freestyle at will if you want to throw in anything else. You're the head chef in your own kitchen after all. ;-)

Prep time: 20 Mins
Baking time: 20 Mins
300g Jumbo Oats
50g Quinoa Flour (You get this from most speciality shops and even supermarkets these days)
50g Desiccated Coconut
80g Vegetable Oil
200g Smooth Cashew Nut Butter (Or you could use a Natural Smooth Peanut Butter)
190g Fruit Based Natural Sweetener (I use Sweet Freedom Light)
165g Pitted Dates (Chopped)
1tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Banana (Well mashed)

For this you'll need a large saucepan, a large mixing bowl and a medium sized rectangular baking tin. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line the baking tin with baking paper. Add the oats, flour and coconut to the mixing bowl and mix together to combine. Add the oil, nut butter, sweetener and chopped dates to the saucepan and place on a low heat. Let it all melt together, stirring occasionally, then add the banana and vanilla extract. You don't want this to boil as the sweetener has a low burning temperature, so once it's all nice and loose remove the pan from the heat.

Add in the dry ingredients and mix together until evenly combined. Tip the lot into your prepared tin, press to the edges, then bake in the centre of the oven for around 20 minutes, until lovely and golden on top. When you are happy the jacks are baked remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for an hour.

Once cooled all you need to do is carefully remove from the tin and  then slice into squares. I'll leave how big you make each square to your discretion. They should be soft and just slightly chewy, which is just how I like my jacks. Ooooh I want one right now!

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Coconut Pudding Cake with Lemon Curd

THIS CAKE IS DELISH. MAKE IT IMMEDIATELY!

Prep time: 15 Mins
Baking time: 50-55 Mins
175g Unsalted Butter
200g Golden Caster Sugar
3 Large Eggs
1tsp Vanilla Extract
200g Coconut Cream
100g Ground Almonds
125g Plain Flour
1tsp Baking Powder
200-225g Lemon Curd
1-2 Handfuls of Dessicated Coconut

Cake time! Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and grease a medium sized rectangular baking dish. In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the eggs one at a time along with the vanilla extract. Mix through the coconut cream, then add the ground almonds and do the same. Sift in the flour and baking powder then mix vigorously until you are a left with a lovely, consistent batter. 

Spoon into your prepared tin and gently even to the edges. Bake in the centre of the oven for around 50-55 mins, until a metal skewer or knife comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake. When you are happy the cake is baked remove from the oven and pierce the top all over with a sharp knife. Slather the top with half of the lemon curd and leave for 1 hour. Slather again (ooh I love the word slather!) with the rest of the lemon curd and sprinkle over the dessicated coconut. Leave for another hour until just warm and you are ready to serve. Yummmmmmmmmmmmm YUM!

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Quick and Easy Trifle

It really does vex me when people deem 'easy' recipes as somehow less worthy than their more complicated counterparts. Sometimes the easiest things can be the most satisfying and what is more satisfying than a dirty great trifle? I've made this one child friendly, but you can always add a little sherry if you'd like to make things more grown up. And as far as the sprinkles go? You can have whatever you want, WHATEVER YOU WANT!

Prep time: 15 Mins
Baking time: About 10 Mins for the fruit and then a few hours to chill
800g-1kg of Frozen Summer Fruits
160g (8) Trifle Sponges
800g Yellow Custard (It has to be yellow doesn't it!)
600ml Double Cream
The Sticky Seeds from a Vanilla Pod
75g Caster Sugar
Sprinkles (Be it Hundreds and Thousands, Toasted Nuts, or whatever you fancy!)

You'll only need your hob for this first bit, so grab a large saucepan and tip in the frozen fruit. Leave on a medium heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until some of the fruit has burst to release its delicious juice. You don't want it to boil but get to just beyond warm. Once the fruit is all juicy, remove from the heat and leave to cool to room temperature.

Take each trifle sponge, dip one side in the fruit to soak up some juice and lay in the base of a good sized trifle dish. Ladle over the fruit (and remaining juice) to cover entirely. Top with the custard and spread carefully to cover. 

In a large mixing bowl add the cream, vanilla seeds and sugar. If you want to make use of the pod itself later, then just pop it into an airtight container and cover with more sugar. You'll then have lovely vanilla sugar for whenever you need it. Whisk the flavoured cream until soft peaks form, then spoon over the custard. Again carefully spread to the edges and finish with a generous helping of sprinkles. 

Pop in the fridge, covered if you can for a few hours, ideally overnight. You're then ready for the fun to begin!

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Apricot and Amaretti Biscuit Upside Down Cake

Now, I know it's January and we're trying to be virtuous after a period of such indulgence, but I'm sure you can justify a little treat. If not how about trying out some of the excuses, ahem, sorry reasons that I have used in the last week or so...


  • I walked to work today
  • I went extra hard in the gym
  • That meeting was especially boring
  • It's Tuesday
So if you can rationalise it in your mind then why not try this one out? I'm sure you won't have to try too hard to make peace with your decision!

Prep time: 20 Mins
Baking time: 60-70 Mins
200g Unsalted Butter (Softened)
200g Golden Caster Sugar
3 Large Eggs
1tsp Vanilla Extract
200g Plain Flour
1tsp Baking Powder
11-12 Hard Amaretti Biscuits (Crushed)
5 Ripe Apricots (Halved and stoned)
2tbsp Apricot Jam (Warmed through until just syrupy)

To the kitchen once more! Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4, grease a 20cm deep baking tin and line with baking paper. In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the eggs one at a time along with the vanilla extract.

Sift in the flour and baking powder, Then sprinkle in the crushed grounds from six of the biscuits. Fold through until you are left with a consistent batter.

Sprinkle over the crushed grounds from four more amaretti biscuits over the base of you tin and top with the halved apricots. Spoon over the cake mixture and even gently to the edges. Bake in the centre of the oven for around 60-70 minutes, until a metal skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake. When you are happy the cake is baked remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 60 minutes. 

Carefully remove the cake from the tin, upturning onto a wire rack so the base is now on the top. Brush with apricot jam and finish with a final sprinkle of crushed biscuits. Done!

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Dairy Free Baked Orange and Almond Pudding Cake

So here's my other alternative Christmas pudding recipe. This one is dairy free too which is somewhat of a bonus and as with it's companion recipe (see here for that one) it can be created as required in a relatively short space of time. You could try clementines if you wanted to be really festive, however I find them rather a pain to zest. So first time around stick with oranges, then you'll have the excuse to make another to compare. Not that one ever needs an excuse! ;-)

Prep time: 15 Mins
Baking time: 60 Mins
1 Orange
4 Medium Eggs
125g Golden Caster Sugar
100g Ground Almonds
75g Plain Flour
1/2tsp Baking Powder
1-2tbsp Golden or Maple Syrup

I'm going to plagiarise myself here and reuse the beginning of my last recipe!

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4, grease a pudding tin (the one I use is around 16cm in diameter) and line the base with a little round disc of baking paper. Doing this makes it much easier to release the baked pudding from the tin later.

Zest the orange into a large mixing bowl then add the eggs and sugar. Whisk briskly, then add the ground almonds, flour and baking powder. Whisk to a smooth batter.

From the fattest part of the orange slice off three slices, each no thicker than a one pound coin. Place one onto the base of the tin, then cut the other two in half an arrange around the side of the base slice. Squeeze a tablespoon of juice from one of the orange ends and add to your cake batter. Whisk through gently to combine, then pour over the orange slices into the tin.

Bake in the centre of the oven for around 60 mins, until a metal skewer comes out cleanly from the middle of the cake. When you are happy the cake is baked remove from oven and leave to cool in the tin for 20 mins.

If your cake has risen to a dome on the top/bottom then carefully slice the dome off with a sharp knife, so you have a flat base. Ooooh and there's a chef's treat for yourself! Run a flat bladed knife around the side of the cake and turn onto your serving place. Drizzle with golden or maple syrup and you are ready to serve. I actually prefer ice cream with this one, but the choice is yours. Merry Christmas. X

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Baked Apple Pudding

I LOVE Christmas pudding, but if it's not your cup of leaf tea then how about this cheeky pudding as an alternative? Sitting somewhere between an apple cake and treacle sponge it is beautiful both hot and cold and works so very well with all the familiar accompaniments. It's also very simple to prepare and can be made ready for the table in just over an hour. So if you're looking for a crowd pleasing recipe that's just a little different than the usual festive fayre, then why not have a little go at this one. 

Prep time: 20 Mins
Baking time: 50-55 Mins
125g Unsalted Butter (Softened)
125g Light Muscovado Sugar
2 Large Eggs
125g Plain Flour
1/2tsp Baking Powder
1/2tsp Ground Cinnamon (Or more if you like it spicy)
125g Fat Raisins
1 Large Apple (Peeled)
2-3tbsp Golden Syrup

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4, grease a pudding tin (the one I use is around 16cm in diameter) and line the base with a little round disc of baking paper. Doing this makes it much easier to release the baked pudding from the tin later.

In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Sift in the flour, baking powder and cinnamon, then mix to a smooth and consistent batter. Fold through the big fat raisins, then chop around 3/4 of the large apple into small cubes and again fold through. That's the pudding mixture made. So easy!

Drizzle the golden syrup into the base of the tin until covered, then thinly slice the remaining 1/4 of apple. Arrange in a pretty pattern on top of the syrup then cover with the pudding batter. Level the surface, then bake in the centre of the oven for around 50-55 minutes, until a metal skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the pudding. When you are happy the pudding is baked remove from the oven and leave in the tin for 10 minutes.

Run a flat bladed knife around the edge of the pudding, then turn out onto a heat-proof plate or dish. Drizzle with the remaining syrup and your work is done. :-)

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Mincemeat and Marzipan Strudel

Who wants a fancy Christmas recipe, that is deceptively easy to make AND impressive to serve AND a clever twist on a festive favourite? This strudel is an magnificent beast to present to your loved ones and inside lurks a wonderful mixture of flavours and textures. I'll let you decide whether to serve with cream, custard or brandy sauce. ;-)

Prep time: 30 Mins
Baking time: 45 Mins
12 Sheets of Filo Pastry
75g Unsalted Butter (Melted)
6 Hard Amaretti Biscuits (Crushed)
600g Mature Mincemeat
1 Large Apple
50g Flaked Almonds
150g Marzipan
A sprinkling of Light Brown Sugar

Let us begin. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Take a clean, dry tea towel and lay out on your kitchen surface. Lay out 6 sheets of filo, overlapping in a large rectangle on top, then brush all over with melted butter. Scatter over the crush biscuits and repeat for the rest of the filo. Brush again with butter. Spread a layer of mincemeat over the surface of the filo (leaving a gap around the edge), then grate the apple evenly over. I don't even bother peeling it! Scatter with 40g of the flaked almonds, then roll the marzipan into a cylinder shape and place against one of the shorter edges. Roll the filo tightly over the marzipan then continue rolling up into a fat sausage, lifting the tea towel as you go (to help you roll). 

Carefully transfer to a baking tray and brush with the remaining butter. Pinch each end together tightly to secure and sprinkle with brown sugar. Scatter over the last few almonds for decoration then bake in the centre of the oven for around 40-45 minutes. 

Once golden brown the strudel is ready, so remove from the oven and leave to cool for 20-30 minutes. Serve warm with whatever you fancy!