Sunday, 26 February 2017

Maple Pudding Cake

Christmas may seem but a distant memory and summer so far away, but that doesn't mean you should let your pudding tin gather dust in the kitchen cupboard. This maple pudding cake in soft and sweet and lovely served either warm with custard, or cold with a cup of tea. Perfect for the grey and damp days that seem so frequent at this time of year. ;-)

Prep time: 15 Mins
Baking time: 50-55 Mins
60g Plain Flour
1tsp Baking Powder
100g Ground Almonds
50g Light Muscovado Sugar
135ml Vegetable Oil
2 Large Eggs (Beaten)
100g Maple Syrup (Plus extra for drizzling)
1tsp Vanilla Extract
200g Soaked Mixed Fruit (You can pick up pre-soaked dried fruit easily in most supermarkets)
The Zest of 1 Unwaxed Lemon

This is such a quick and easy one to make, so let's get started. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4, grease a medium sized (16cm in diameter) pudding tin and line the base with a little disc of baking paper. Add the flour, baking powder, almonds and sugar to a large mixing bowl and mix briefly to combine. Make a well in the centre and add the oil, beaten eggs, maple syrup and vanilla extract. Mix well until evenly combined, then fold through the mixed fruit and lemon zest. 

Drizzle a little maple syrup into the base of your tin. Pour the cake mixture into your prepared tin and 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 cake. When you are happy the cake is baked remove from the oven and leave in the tin for 15 minutes.

Run a flat bladed knife around the edge of the cake to release it, then upturn onto a heatproof plate or dish. Carefully peel off the disc of paper, finish with a final drizzle of maple syrup and the pudding cake is ready! Huzzah!

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!