Vegan Chocolate Celebration Cake (Dairy-Free / Egg-Free)

At the start of the Autumn half term school holidays, Lil’ L moved into double digits. I’m still dumbfounded as to how my boy grew up so fast. Seriously, where did all those years go?

His day kicked off with present & card opening. I love watching his facial expressions as he opens presents!Lil L 10th Bday Morning 2013

Another sign that he’s growing up is the lack of toys on his birthday wish list. Instead, he wanted new wheels for his scooter, a skater helmet and books (so glad he still enjoys reading!)

The birthday celebrations continued for the next few days (one of the perks of having a birthday in the school hols!) and included a Laser Quest party; a trip to Dorset to visit his Nan; walks in the forest; and bike rides with his Dad and cousin. What a lucky boy he is!

Lil L 10th Bday Activities 2013

As usual, he requested a vegan chocolate cake for his birthday. This year, I made a very simple chocolate victoria sponge sandwich cake, which worked out surprisingly well. It was moist, held together well when sliced, and wasn’t too rich or sickly sweet.

I was all set to use cashew cream frosting (which I prefer a million times over to regular frosting) … but then had a change of heart. This cake wasn’t for me, it was for Lil’ L and his friends. Rather than impose my preferences on them, I ditched the cashews and dug out an old box of icing sugar from the back of the cupboard. I even went to the shops and bought some sugar sprinkles.

Vegan Chocolate Victoria Sponge Sandwich Cake 400 copy

The cake got great feedback from the family (including my mum!) as well as Lil’ L’s friends. I was particularly surprised when Lil’ L’s best friend came up to me after the party to tell me how much he’d enjoyed the cake. This meant a lot as he isn’t normally a ‘cake person’ (you’re much more likely to seeing him diving into a fruit bowl or tucking into roasted nuts and seeds!)

Vegan Chocolate Cake 2 copy

The cake was super easy to make. Here’s how I did it:


Makes 1 x 9 inch sandwich cake    Serves: 12-16
Hands on time: 20 minutes    Ready in: 2 hours

480ml / 2 cups soya milk
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
200g / 1½ cups plain (all purpose) flour
200g / 1½ cups fine wholemeal (wholewheat) or chapatti flour (I use the latter)
60g / ½ cup cocoa powder
tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
140ml / ⅔ cup rapeseed (canola) oil (or other neutral-flavoured oil)
330g / 1⅔ cups unrefined cane sugar (e.g. golden caster sugar)
2 tsp vanilla extract

Decorating options:
– chocolate frosting (recipe below) and vegan-friendly sprinkles (e.g. Sainsbury’s or Morrisons Sugar Star sprinkles, Dr Oetker Sugar Stars and Sugar Strands)
– raspberry jam or fruit spread (e.g. St Dalfour) for filling and a dusting of icing (powdered) sugar on top

Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan) / 350F. Lightly oil 2 x 9 inch spring-form or loose-bottomed cake tins and line the bottoms with non-stick baking paper.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the milk and vinegar, then set to one side.

In a separate large bowl, add the dry ingredients (flours, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt) and stir through to combine.  

Add the oil, sugar and vanilla extract to the milk and vinegar, and whisk until fully combined. Sieve in a third of the dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Add another third and whisk to combine. Add the last third along with any remaining wheatgerm. Stir through to combine (but do not over stir).

Divide the batter equally between the prepared tins. Place on racks as close to the centre of the oven as possible. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until a skewer inserted through the middle comes out clean and the cakes are springy when lightly pressed. (In my oven, I find the cake on the higher rack is ready after 40 minutes, and the cake on the lower rack needs an extra 10 minutes). If both cakes are domed, decide which one will be the bottom tier, cover with a clean tea cloth and gently press down to level. 

Leave the cakes in their tins for at least an hour (they will firm up as they cool), then transfer to a wire rack. Once completely cooled, decorate and assemble the cake. Chill before serving.

Stored in an airtight container, this cake will keep for up to a week in the fridge. (I find the flavour and texture of the cake actually improves in the next day or two after baking). It also freezes well.

Chocolate Frosting
The quantities below are sufficient for frosting the centre and top of a 23cm/9 inch cake (as shown in the picture). 

150g / 1 cup icing sugar
35g / ¼ cup 4
cocoa powder
50g / 4 TBSP dairy-free spread/vegan butter (e.g. Vitalite, Flora Dairy Free, Pure)
1 – 1½ TBSP water

Sieve the icing sugar and cocoa powder into a large bowl. Add the dairy-free spread/butter and 1 TBSP water. Stir with a metal spoon until it starts to combine, then beat with an electric whisk until light and fluffy. If the frosting looks a little dry, add another ½ TBSP water and keep beating. This frosting will keep for a week in the fridge. 


Products used in this recipe
Morrisons 23cm Non-Stick Springform Cake Tins – These are made in the UK, cost only £4 each and have a 5-year guarantee!
Salter Aquatronic Electronic Kitchen Scale – These scales are great as you can weigh everything directly into the same bowl. As an added bonus, they come with a 15 year guarantee!
Tesco Chapatti Flour – I use this flour in all my baked goods. It’s a very fine wholemeal flour and super cheap too!
– Dr Oetker Sugar Stars and Sugar Strands – Purchased from The Co-Op; also available from Tesco

Vegan Chocolate Cake 3 copy

For those of you that dislike the traditional Christmas fruit cake, I think this would make a great alternative. You could even add some festive sprinkles!














Vegan Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins & Our 2nd Mother’s Day Treat

I hope all the international mothers had a wonderful day of rest, relaxation and pampering last Sunday 🙂  Unlike the rest of the world, here in the UK we celebrate Mother’s Day in March rather than in May but, despite this, last Sunday did feel like Mother’s Day as we had lovely day out with my parents’ in law at Wisley Gardens.  We even had some Mother’s Day gifts for my mother-in-law as we didn’t get to her on the UK Mother’s Day.

Rhododendrons at Wisley in May

Funnily enough, M thought it was Mother’s Day last Sunday as the date was printed on his works calendar.  Shame I didn’t keep my mouth shut otherwise I could have been in for another treat 😉  He said he was going to remind Lil’ L to make me a card.   I didn’t need another card though as the one I received on our first Mother’s Day was perfect.  In fact, I still haven’t put it away as it makes me smile every time I re-read it.  Here’s what he wrote:

My Mothers Day Card 2013

How sweet is that?

He sure knows how to encourage me to keep baking him treats 😉

Since he loves lemon cake so much, I thought I’d treat him (and M) to some lemon poppy seed muffins this week.  I’m happy to report that they turned out really well and received great feedback from the family 🙂  Even though they’re made with wholegrain flour, they’re light, fluffy and moist.

Vegan Lemon Poppy Seed Muffin

This is what they look like inside:

Vegan Lemon Poppy Seed Muffin

They’re very easy to make.  Here’s how I did it:


Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins (Dairy free, Egg free, Vegan)

Makes: 12 muffins
Hands-on time: 10 minutes    Cooking time: 20-25 minutes

280g / 10 oz / 2 cups fine wholemeal (wholewheat pastry) or chapatti flour (I use the latter)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
¼ tsp sea salt
1½ tbsp poppy seeds
100 ml / 3½ fl oz / ½ cup rapeseed (canola) oil
120g / 4¼ oz / ½ packed cup & 1 TBSP unrefined caster sugar (add up to 4 TBSP more sugar if you prefer sweeter muffins)
3 tbsp agave syrup (or maple syrup)
65 ml / 2¼ fl oz / ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (roughly 2 lemons)
zest of 2 lemons, finely chopped
185 ml / 6½ fl oz / ¾ cup fortified sweetened soya milk (or other non dairy milk)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1½ tbsp unrefined demerara (turbinado) sugar

To make gluten-free muffins, use a gluten-free flour blend, like the ones produced by Doves Farm. You may need to add a little more liquid (see instructions on the packet)


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C / 355 F / Gas 4.  Line a muffin tray with paper liners (or use  silicon moulds)
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a large bowl.  (If the wheat flakes are too large to be sieved, grind them finer using a coffee grinder or mini chopper).  Stir in the poppy seeds.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, syrup, lemon juice, lemon zest, milk, vanilla extract and vinegar until completely combined.
  4. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, until just combined (do not over stir).
  5. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full.  Sprinkle a little demerera sugar on top of each muffin.
  6. Place in the pre-heated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.  Leave to rest for a few minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.  Once completely cool, store in an airtight container.  These muffins will last a week in the refrigerator and several weeks in the freezer.



Here’s another of our favourite muffin recipes: Mama Pea’s Blueberry Streusel Muffin

Mama Pea Blueberry Streusel Muffin

And if you like lemon cakes, how about a slice of Vegan Lemon Drizzle Cake?

Lemon Drizzle Cake

I don’t know about you, but I find that muffins are a bit too big for me to eat in one go.  I often slice them and save half in the fridge for another day.  It’s my birthday next month and on my wish list is one of these mini muffin trays.  They look so cute and this muffin size would be perfect for me.  They’ll also be great for lunchboxes (and waistlines) too!

What’s your favourite muffin flavour?  The next two flavours I’d like to try baking are raspberry & coconut, and maple syrup with maple glazed walnuts.  I just need to wait until I have a bit of space in the freezer then I can get recipe testing 🙂


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Lanzarote 2013 & Three Ingredient Pineapple Cake

Hi everyone!

I’m back at long last!  Sorry I’ve been away so much longer than expected.  I hope you all had a wonderful Spring break.  While I’ve really valued my ‘unplugged’ time, I’ve been looking forward to my return to blogging world.  I’ve missed you guys!

So what have I been up to?  Well, over Easter, M, Lil’ L and I were very fortunate to escape the freezing cold weather in the UK and head to the Canary Island of Lanzarote.  It was wonderful to spend some quality time with my boys, without all the distractions and ‘busyness’ of life back home.

We enjoyed chilling out on the beach and at cafes, chatting, reading, playing card games and sketching (cartoon drawing was particularly popular this holiday!)

We’re huge fans of Cesar Manrique, and we loved spending time at the sites he designed, including Los Jameos del Agua, Jardin de Cactus and his own house (now a charitable foundation) which is situated in a lava field!

Lanzarote - Jardin de Cactus
Jardin de Cactus, Lanzarote

During the holiday, we also got to spend some quality time by ourselves.  M really enjoyed biking in the volcanic national park…

Biking in Lanzarote - 500

while I loved my daily runs along the coast path and meditation by the sea.

Meditating in Lanzarote 1 - 500

Lil’ L loved playing on the beach, rock climbing…

Playing on the Rocks in Lanzarote - 500

Lil' L at Los Jameos del Agua Lanzarote 2 - 500

and leaping!

Lil L at Los Jameos del Agua 2 Lanzarote - 500

However, in contrast to all this boisterous activity, sometimes you’d walk round the corner and find him meditating!

Lil' L Meditating in Lanzarote - 500

He also spent a lot of time reading.  He got through about seven books! (‘Big Nate’ was a popular read this holiday).

Beach Reading in Lanzarote - 500

We did some great walks along the coast and in the volcanic national park.  Away from the resorts and towns, you could easily start to feel like you were on another planet!

Lanzarote Volcanic National Park 2 - 500

To be honest, when I saw the newspaper headlines about the freezing temperatures and chilling winds in the UK, I wasn’t particularly looking forward to our return.  However, we seem to have brought the good weather back with us.  Perhaps Spring has finally arrived for sure (fingers crossed!)  I’m loving the lighter mornings and evenings too

Inspired by the sunshine and warm weather, I chose to make a pineapple cake for my study class this week.  It was no ordinary cake though… it was fat free, dairy free and egg free!  A friend gave me the recipe a few years ago.  She’d spotted it in a newspaper, but I believe it was originally published by Kim and Rachael of the 4 Ingredients phenomenon.

Fat Free Pineapple Cake - 500 copy

Since it has no fat, its texture is different to other cakes, but it’s delicious none the less.  It’s one of my all-time favourite cakes and I’m happy to report that it got the thumbs up from my study group friends too 😀

Here’s how to make it…


Three Ingredient Pineapple Cake

Serves: 12

250g / 9 oz / 1¾ cups self raising flour*
200g / 7 oz / 1 cup unrefined caster sugar
1 x 432g / 15 oz tin of crushed pineapple

* alternatively use plain (all purpose) or wholemeal (wholewheat) flour and 2 tsp baking powder.  I use chapatti atta flour, which is a very fine wholemeal flour, available in the UK from the world food aisles of Tesco and Asda.

Optional glaze
1-2 tbsp pineapple or tropical juice
2 tbsp granulated sugar


  1. Grease a 22cm / 8½ inch cake tin and line the bottom with non stick baking paper.  Preheat the oven to 180c / 350F.
  2. Sift the flour (and baking powder) into a mixing bowl.  Stir in the sugar.  Add the pineapple (entire contents of the tin, including the juice).  Mix until just combined.  Bake in the pre-heated oven for 40 minutes.
  3. Optional glaze:  As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, prick it all over with a cocktail stick. Brush with juice and sprinkle on some granulated sugar.
  4. Allow the cake to cool completely before removing it from the tin.  Transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge (or slice and freeze).


Fat Free Pineapple Cake 2 - 500 copy

I wonder if this cake will work with crushed mangoes too? I’m definitely going to have to give it a try 😉

Have a wonderful weekend everyone.  I hope the sun is shining wherever you are xx

Link of the day: Orange and Almond Cake

Orange & Almond Cake 2


Vegan Lemon Drizzle Cake (Dairy-free / Egg-free)

What colour do you associate with Spring?

For me, it has got to be yellow ♥ 

Everywhere I look at the moment, I’m seeing this beautiful, fresh colour.

In my garden the yellow primroses are in bloom…

Crocuses & Primroses

as are the sweet little narcissus.


It won’t be long before the daffodils are in full bloom too 🙂


As well as being the colour of spring, yellow also happens to be my mum’s favourite colour

Here in the UK, it’s Mother’s Day on Sunday.  I haven’t seen my mum since Christmas so I’m really looking forward to spending the day with her.  Inspired by her favourite colour, I’ve chosen to bake a Lemon Drizzle Cake to give her on Sunday as a little home-made treat.

With its light texture, zingy citrus flavour and flecks of bright yellow zest, I think this is the perfect cake for this season.

Vegan Lemon Drizzle Cake (Dairy Free / Egg Free)

Since I’m giving this cake as a gift, I haven’t ‘healthified’ it to the extreme (I’m sure my mum will appreciate that 😉 ).  However, it is free from dairy and eggs, so will be suitable for anyone with those allergies.

To make the cake super zingy and moist, once it was cooked I pierced it all over with a toothpick and drizzled over the juice from a freshly squeezed lemon mixed in with a couple of tablespoons of granulated sugar (which gives the top of the cake a great, crunchy texture).

Vegan Lemon Drizzle Cake (Dairy Free / Egg Free)

Just in case you fancied trying it for yourself, here’s how I made it:


Serves 8 -10
Hand on time: 15 minutes    Ready in: 2 hours

200g / ¾ cup + 3 tbsp unrefined cane sugar (e.g. golden caster sugar)
2 TBSP maple syrup (or maple blend. I use Clarks Original).
70ml / ⅓ cup organic rapeseed (canola) oil (or other neutral-flavoured oil, like sunflower oil)
240ml / 1 cup soya milk
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
30ml / 2 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice
zest of 2 unwaxed/organic lemons
250g / 1¾ cups plain (all purpose) flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt

2 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 TBSP Demerara (or turbinado) sugar


1. Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin with non-stick baking paper (or use a non-stick loaf liner).  Preheat the oven to 190c (170C fan) / 375F.

2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, syrup, oil, milk, vinegar and lemon juice using a balloon whisk until fully combined. Stir in the lemon zest.

3. Sift one third of the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt) into the bowl and whisk by hand to combine. Repeat with the remaining two thirds, whisking each time.

4. Tip the mixture into the prepared tin.  Place on the middle shelf in the oven and bake for 50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

5. Meanwhile, place 2 TBSP juice from a freshly squeezed lemon in a small bowl with the Demerara sugar.  Stir to combine.

6. When the cake is baked, remove from oven and pierce all over with a toothpick or skewer.  Spoon the lemon drizzle evenly over the top of the cake.  Allow to cool in the tin for at least an hour (it will firm up as it cools) then transfer to a wire wrack.

7. Once completely cooled, slice and serve or transfer to an airtight container. The cake will keep up to a week in the  refrigerator.  It also freezes well.


Have a wonderful weekend everyone



You might also like… Orange Drizzle Cake with Poppy Seeds 🍊


Delicious Orange & Almond Cake (Dairy-free & Vegan)

Inspired by the yummy orange and almond cake that I had at the Holburne Museum Garden Cafe last week, I thought I’d attempt to bake an orange and almond cake myself.

And guess what?  …

It wasn’t a flop!

Look, it’s even cake shape (unlike last week’s brownie gloop which I had to turn into a chocolate ‘pudding’).

This cake is beautifully moist and has the most delicious almond flavour with a hint of orange.

AND, it’s got lots of lovely goodness in it, including B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E and a few minerals to boot. The cake’s also low GI, so it gives us slow release energy rather than those horrible refined sugar energy spikes.

AND it’s easy to make.  Even for me!  (and if I can bake it, you definitely will be able to!)

One of my study group friends said it’s the best cake I’ve ever made.  (To be fair, I haven’t set the bar very high with my attempts at baking, but it’s wonderful to hear that I’ve actually made something that’s more than edible).

M and Lil’ L absolutely loved it.  In fact, Lil’ L said it was one of the best cakes in the world!  For this reason alone, I think this cake deserves its own blog post.  So here it is.

Unlike regular cakes which are full of ’empty’ calories, this cake is packed full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, protein and fibre. It also provides slow release energy thanks to the wholegrain flour and almonds. I would class this cake as a healthier ‘eat any time’ kind of cake, though some of my readers have served it at parties and told me that it went down a treat. It can easily be prepared in advance. In fact, we find it tastes even better a day or two after baking.

140g / 1 cup fine wholemeal (whole wheat pastry) flour or chapatti flour
140g / 1 cup plain (all purpose) flour
1½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
½ tsp salt
100g / 1 cup ground almonds (almond meal)
100ml / ½ cup organic rapeseed (canola) oil or other neutral-flavoured oil
150ml / ½ cup + 2 TBSP soya or almond milk
200ml / ⅔ cup maple syrup
½ TBSP zest from an unwaxed/organic orange
60ml / ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tsp orange extract
½ tsp almond extract

Decorating options:
Orange Cashew Cream Frosting (see below) or apricot fruit spread (e.g. St Dalfour)
3 TBSP toasted flaked almonds, crushed


1  Preheat the oven to 180C (160 fan) / 350F.  Grease the sides of a 20cm / 8 inch loose-bottomed cake tin with oil and line the bottom with non-stick baking paper.

2  Sift the flours, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a large bowl. Tip any remaining wheat germ into the bowl. Add the ground almonds and stir through to combine.

3  In a separate bowl, use a fork to whisk together the oil, milk, syrup, orange zest, orange juice, orange extract and almond extract until fully combined.

4  Make a well in the dry ingredients, pour in the wet ingredients and stir to combine (but do not over mix).  Pour the batter into the prepared tin.

5  Bake for 45 minutes, or until the cake is lightly browned and springs back when lightly pressed. Leave the cake to cool in its tin until completely cooled (it will firm up as it cools).

6  Decorate with frosting or apricot fruit spread and sprinkle toasted flaked almonds on top. Lightly press down on the almonds so that they stick. Chill in the refrigerator before serving.

7  Stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, this cake will keep for up to 5 days. It also freezes well.



Orange Cashew Cream Frosting

Yield: about 240g / ¾ cup
Hand on time: 10 minutes    Ready in: 70 minutes

110g / ¾ cup raw cashews
55 ml / 3 TBSP maple syrup
½ TBSP zest from an unwaxed/organic orange
30ml/ 2 TBSP freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tsp orange extract
½ tsp vanilla extract
45g / 3 TBSP virgin coconut oil, melted

1  To soften the cashews,  boil them in a pan of water for 15 minutes or soak in freshly boiled water for 30 minutes. Rinse in cold water and thoroughly drain. 

2  Place the cashews in a food processor along with the syrup, zest, orange juice, orange extract and vanilla extract. Process until the cashews are ground into a creamy mixture. Stop now and then to scrape down the bowl. Add the melted coconut oil and continue blending for a few minutes until the mixture is completely smooth. Taste test for smoothness.

3  Scoop the frosting into a bowl and chill for one hour, or until firm enough to spread. The frosting will keep for 5 days in the refrigerator. It is also freezable


Have a wonderful weekend everyone! I hope the sun shines wherever you are!