Raspberry Muffins with Streusel Topping. Dairy Free. Egg Free. Vegan

I love this time of year when the British hedgerows and allotments are laden with berries. Whenever I’m out on a run along the river and canal paths, I can never resist pausing to grab a handful of blackberries. If you see someone running round Bath with purple stained hands, that’ll be me!

In today’ post, I’m sharing a recipe that showcases another glorious summer fruit – the raspberry

Raspberries Continue reading “Raspberry Muffins with Streusel Topping. Dairy Free. Egg Free. Vegan”

Orange Spiced Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. Dairy Free. Vegan.

Orange Spiced Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Each month, I eagerly anticipate the delivery of The Vegan Kind subscription box. I love the diversity of products included in the boxes. There’s usually a sweet treat (this month we were spoilt with two high quality chocolate treats), a savoury snack, as well as a fab new vegan beauty, toiletry or cleaning product.

In addition to these goodies, I always get very excited when I see ingredients in a box. My brain immediately starts whizzing with new recipe ideas and I can’t wait to get in the kitchen and start creating.

TVK18

This month we received a package of Coconom ginger coconut sugar. I’ve mentioned in previous posts how much I love coconut sugar and though I use it all the time, I’d never tried this particular sugar before. It’s infused with real ginger and tastes amazing! My family are huge ginger fans so this product was spot on for us.

Coconom Coconut Sugar

As soon as I spied the sugar, a recipe sprung to mind that I knew it would be perfect for – Spiced Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. I often make these cookies as they’re a family favourite, but this week I decided to add an extra dimension of flavour by adding in some orange zest. Not only did they taste delicious, but they smelt wonderful too. As they baked, the kitchen was filled with the most beautiful orange aroma.

Orange Spiced Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

These cookies got a big thumbs up from the family and my Tuesday night study class. I’ve already baked four batches this week and I’ve still got plenty of ginger coconut sugar left for more recipe experimenting. Next up, I’ve got my eye on The Vegan Cookie Fairy’s Banana Ginger Butterscotch Muffin recipe (featured on the TVK recipe card). They sound really yummy!

Products used in this recipe
Tesco Organic Rapeseed Oil, Organic Oranges, Chapatti Flour
Coconom Coconut Sugar
Steenburgs Organic Fairtrade Vanilla Extract
Mornflake Superfast Oats
Crazy Jack Organic Raisins

Gluten-Free Trial
So far, I’ve had one attempt at a gluten-free version of this cookie. I subbed the wheat flour with oat flour and added 1/2 TBSP ground flaxseed to the wet ingredients. Sadly I found them a bit too dry and ‘claggy’, so I’ll need to try a different GF flour. Lil’ L and M didn’t mind them so much though. They scoffed the lot.

Orange Spiced Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Did you get this month’s TVK box? If so, I’d love to hear what you thought of it. What was your favourite product? Impossible for me to choose a favourite this month as I loved it all!

Pecan Topped Banana Bread (Dairy-free, Egg-free, Vegan)

Hi everyone! I hope you all had a great Easter. I’ve finally plugged back in after my extended break. It did me the world of good to have some time out but I missed you guys! Thank you so much to everyone that’s emailed or left me feedback on the blog about recipes you’ve tried these past few weeks. You guys have made me smile so much!

To kickstart my return, I thought I’d share one of my all-time favourite baked treats…

Pecan Topped Banana Bread

For banana bread, you want to use very ripe bananas – the blacker the better. So, if you’ve got some bananas languishing in the fruit bowl, this recipe is a great way to use them up.

Since banana bread can be a bit plain looking, I like to dress up our loaves by adding toppings or extra ingredients into the batter. In this loaf, I’ve sprinkled a handful of pecans on top which impart a delicious flavour and crunchiness when baked.

Pecan Topped Banana Bread

In the centre, I’ve added some chopped dates for a touch of caramel-like sweetness. If you wish, you could sub some of the dates for chopped nuts in the batter. Pecans or walnuts work especially well.

Pecan Topped Banana Bread

Since Lil’ L is currently at primary school (where nuts are banned), I tend to leave the nuts out of the banana bread batter so that he can take a slice in his lunchbox. I simply slice off the pecan top and he eats it when he gets home from school :o)

 

Have a lovely weekend everyone

Cranberry, Orange and Dark Chocolate Florentines. Dairy-free. Vegan

For this month’s Suma Blogger’s Network entry, I though I’d share one of my latest treat obsessions – Vegan Florentines

Vegan Florentines

I’ve been dreaming about Florentines ever since I saw them on display in the patisserie shops of Venice and Florence a few years ago. I’d never seen anything quite like them before. They looked so dainty yet totally decadent with their dark chocolate bottoms! I was pretty sure that they’d be full of dairy and off limits to me, but I was excited about the thought of creating a vegan version one day.

This week I finally got round to a little Florentine experimentation in the kitchen.

Cranberry Pieces

After a quick internet search, I discovered that Florentines are typically made with cane sugar, honey, butter, candied cherries, candied citrus peel and almonds. Since I’m not a fan of the first 4 ingredients, and I know a lot of my readers aren’t keen on candied peel, I ended up subbing 5 of the 6 ingredients. The almonds stayed 😉

The cane sugar and honey was swapped for coconut sugar and maple syrup, which gave the Florentines a wonderful golden hue and caramel-like sweetness. Instead of candied cherries and citrus peel, I used dried cranberries and orange zest. This gave the Florentines a fresh, citrussy flavour which I absolutely loved. The butter was exchanged for non dairy spread or organic aroma-free coconut butter.

Vegan Florentines

I’ve done 6 trials so far this week, playing around with different ingredient ratios and combos. All have tasted delicious, but I was striving to bake a Florentine that was super thin with the traditional ‘lacey’ texture on the underside. By the 4th trial, I’d cracked it.

Vegan Florentines

Once cooled, I then added the classic Florentine wavy chocolate bottom.

Vegan Florentines

These Florentines are my new treat obsession. I absolutely love their texture – crisp on the outside, chewy in the centre with a melt-in-your-mouth chocolate bottom. Plus the flavour combination is so lush. The citrus zest gives them a wonderful lift while the dark chocolate makes them feel decadent.

Another great thing about this biscuit is that each one only contains 1 tsp of mixture which, in my eyes, makes it totally acceptable to go back for a second or third 🙂

‘M’ and Lil’ L seem to love them as much as me. I’ve made 72 so far this week, and there are very few left in the biscuit tin! I also took along a sample to my Tuesday night study class and they were a big hit!

Vegan Florentines

Unwaxed Citrus Fruits
Unwaxed lemons are widely available, but unwaxed oranges are a little harder to come by. In the UK, they are currently available in Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Tesco. If you’re only able to find waxed oranges, you’ll find tips online on how to remove the wax. The wax on citrus fruits often contains shellac (from the lac beetle) or beeswax, making them unsuitable for vegans. Organic citrus fruits are unwaxed, which makes them vegan friendly 🙂

You’ll find Suma products available to purchase in UK independent health food shops. You can also bulk buy many of their products from Amazon.

Suma-Bloggers-Network-Logo 300

Gingerbread Men (Dairy-free / Vegan)

The recipes I most often share are firm family favourites that I’ve been refining over a number of years. So when I get inspired to create a new recipe that I want to blog now rather than in 5 years time, I end up obsessively testing it again and again over the course of a week or so to play catch up with the tweaks and refinements.

This week, the obsession has been these little guys…

Gingerbread Men

When Amy mentioned gingerbread under my waffles post, it reminded me that I hadn’t made gingerbread men in years. I decided it was high time I dusted off my old recipe notes and gave them another whirl.

So far this week, I’ve made 72 gingerbread men! Family and friends have kindly been helping me out with the testing. Lil’ L’s taken them to school, Mark’s taken them to work, and I’ve shared them with friends over coffee (not the classiest of cookies but hey it made them smile).

Making Gingerbread

All the batches got great feedback, but Mark thought they could be a bit ‘gingerier’ so the next batch had an extra ½ tsp of ginger. I’ve tested different thicknesses (the thicker men were the winners), different sugars and different oils/butters. All worked fine, so I’m guessing the recipe is pretty adaptable. I also tested different cooking times and I personally preferred the longer time as it made them firmer and crunchier round the edges.

Readers have also had great success using gluten-free flour to make these gingerbread men. Check out the Comments section below to see their feedback.

Gingerbread Men

Even though I’ve eaten a ridiculous amount of gingerbread men this week, I’m still totally in love them and will be happily munching my way through more this weekend. Fortunately, as cookies go, these are pretty healthy as they’re wholegrain, plus they’ve got an extra boost of iron from the molasses. As well as coffee, they’re delicious with a cup of ginger tea. This has got to be the ultimate winter warmer. I can literally feel myself warming up from the inside out as I sip a cup

Gingerbread Men

 

If you try the recipe and make any adjustments, do let me know. I always love to hear your feedback!

love

Christmas Pudding Cakes

When Vegan Life launched in September, I don’t know if anyone anticipated just how well the magazine would be received. It was such a hit that it won this year’s VegfestUK Awards for best publication, and that accolade was purely based on the first issue!

I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Issue 2, and was especially excited that it would be the Christmas edition. When it arrived, I was hoping to savour it over a few days but alas, once I got started I couldn’t put it down.

Vegan Life Issue 2 300

Just like the first issue, this one is packed with articles that I found both inspiring and thought-provoking. One feature in particular that caught my eye was the debate on whether vegans should feed pets meat. This is one issue that I’ve been struggling to get my head round. The Vegan Life article prompted a lively debate amongst my Twitter friends. I think I’ve finally decided my stance, but it’s a very tricky issue, and definitely one that people need to decide for themselves ;o)

I’m looking forward to trying all the recipes in Issue 2, but the one that immediately grabbed my attention was the Christmas Pudding Cakes by Harriet Emily. I love Christmas Pudding and Christmas Cake, but I’ve never had a Christmas Pudding Cake before! I was intrigued to see how it would turn out. I had a quick scan down the recipe and it didn’t look too tricky at all.

Vegan Life Issue 2 - Christmas Pudding Cakes

The recipe is gluten free, cane sugar free, dairy free, egg free and soy free, so it ticks lots of allergy friendly boxes. It does include almonds, but I’m sure these could be subbed to make it nut free too.

The recipe uses two of my favourite ingredients – coconut sugar and coconut butter. I tend to buy these online as they’re not always available in my local health food shop. If you’re not so fussed about making these cakes super healthy, then I’m pretty confident you could sub them with cane sugar and non dairy spread. The recipe also calls for millet flour which I couldn’t find locally, so I used buckwheat flour instead. It worked absolutely fine. I’m sure you could use regular whole wheat flour too if you didn’t need to make it gluten free.

And the verdict?
I was so happy with the way the cakes turned out. They were moist and flavourful, plus they made the house smell amazing while they baked! They were a huge hit with the family. Hubbie has already requested another batch, and Lil’ L said they were absolutely delicious (and this is someone that usually avoids dried fruits!)

Hubbie preferred his pudding cake straight up with no toppings, while Lil’ L and I enjoyed it drizzled in salted caramel. We used the Considerit Special Edition Salted Caramel from November’s The Vegan Kind Box, but Harriet Emily also shared a recipe for home-made salted caramel, which looks super easy to make.

Christmas Pudding Cake

The treats certainly live up to their name. I really can’t decide whether they are a cake or a pudding. Definitely somewhere in between. They’re baked in ramekins, so you could serve them straight out of the oven, more like a pudding …

Christmas Pudding Cake

Or you could pop them out of the ramekins and serve them like cake. I did find that the portions were a little on the large side. While hubbie easily devoured a whole cake, I couldn’t manage a whole one by myself (and believe me I tried). Next time I make them, I’ll try baking six instead of five and see how the size compares.

Christmas Pudding Cake

I did make a few tweaks to the recipe. I subbed a couple of ingredients that I didn’t have on hand, and adjusted the spice quantities (I used ¼ tsp nutmeg instead of 1 tsp as I find the flavour of nutmeg really strong, plus I omitted the allspice as I didn’t have any). I also reduced the baking temperature from 200C to 180C and the baking time from 40 to 30 minutes. They came out perfect, so I’m guessing the recipe is pretty flexible.

Big thank you to Harriet Emily for sharing her fab recipe If you’re interested in vegan, sugar free and gluten free cooking, definitely go check out her blog. I can’t wait to try her Chocolate Caramel Tarts. They look amazing!


Products used in this recipe (UK sources)

Biona Organic Coconut Sugar
Tiana Organic Coconut Butter (Aroma Free)
Clarks Original Maple Syrup
Doves Farm Wholemeal Buckwheat Flour (this does contain traces of gluten so use Doves Gluten Free Buckwheat Flour or Millet Flour for a 100% GF option)

In Vegan Life, Harriet Emily also shares a recipe for Caramel Sauce, which uses coconut sugar as its base. I’ll update this post once I’ve had a chance to try it (sadly I’ve run out of coconut sugar, but it’s on order).

I also have two caramel recipes by The Vegan 8 bookmarked, both of which I’d love to try with these Christmas pudding cakes. The first one – Caramel Sauce – has melted coconut butter as its base, and the second one – Salted Caramel – is made with sweet potato and coconut milk! It sounds weird but it’s received rave reviews so I’m excited to try it!

Did you get Vegan Life Issue 2? If so I’d love to know what you thought of it. Have you tried any of the recipes yet?