Vegan Wedding Cake!

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My beautiful wedding cake, made by me, with cake stand made by my Dad, lavender flowers grown by my Sister and origami bouquet made by my very patient friend Becky!

Well I have been busy baking over the last few months to perfect one thing, maybe the most important cake I have ever made, my wedding cake!

Many different recipes were tried, many test bakes and test icings, even an attempt at nutfree marzipan! In the end since I knew that the cakes all had to be transported over 200miles in the back of our car to get to the wedding venue, I decide to make a variation on my mums amazingly tasty and (importantly!) robust carrot cake!

I choose to make all the layers the same, due mainly to the fact I had a very limited baking window in the run up to the wedding, plus I never really mastered a nutfree marzipan that I felt really worthy of a heavy fruit wedding cake. (It had to be nutfree since one of our closest friends has a sever nut allergy and thought of a trip to A&E on our wedding day wasn’t something I wanted to consider!!)

So cake flavor decided on I had to choose tin size, since I already own’d a round 7in and 9in tin all I had to do was get an 11in tin… far more difficult that one would at first think, but finally tins brought I was ready to re-work the recipe for 3 different tin sizes.

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Wedding cakes cooling…

My personal preference when baking cakes is to use two tins, with the mixture split between each equally, then sandwich together. Wither this is due to only cooking vegan cakes or preference/oven type I am not sure, I know my mum normally puts all the mixture into one tin then cuts in half to add any filling; however I find particularly on larger cakes the center never cooks quite as well. The upshot of this is that in order to make a 3 tier cake, I had to bake 6 individual cakes! (Baked two at a time)

It took all day and the house smelt amazing, so it was definitely worth it! Once cooked all the cakes had to be decorated, this is the first cake I have ever tried to decorate, so did several test runs, and watched several youtube videos to make sure I got the icing right! I decided to keep things simple, and just go for a plain ready to roll fondant icing, with a ribbon, topped with lavender and sugar paste “meples” (modeled on our favorite game Carcassonne!)

It was an amazing day and the cake was perfect, below I have detailed the recipe, it really is one of the most reliable and tasty cakes, and could be cooked for any occasion; although it is worth noting that the cake itself is not that sweet, so if you are not planning to cover it in icing then you might want to add more sugar to the cake, you could also add walnuts so long as none of your guests have allergy’s!

What you will need: (9in cake)

  • 2 cups White Flour
  • 2 cups Brown Flour
  • 2 cups Brown Sugar
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 2 tsp Bicarbonate Soda
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  •  3 cups Grated Carrot
  • 1 cup Raisins
  • 1 cup Sunflower oil
  • 2 cups Soya Milk

To Decorate:

  • Icing sugar
  • 1 orange
  • Margarine (Choose a very plain brand like Pure or Sainsburys Freefrom)
  • 500g Renshaw ready to roll icing
  • Ribbon!

How to bake it:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to around 180c and prep two 9in tins
  2. In a large mixing bowl add all your dry ingredients and mix together.
  3. Add your grated carrot and raisins and again mix together.
  4. Finally add your wet ingredients.
  5. You will have a fairly moist batter, split this evenly between the two tins and bake for approx 40mins.
  6. Once baked leave to cool completely before decorating.
First test decorate...

First test decorate…

To decorate:

  1. Level the cakes, I used a £3.50 cake leveler, and it was the best £3.50 I spent! (Though with the raisins it can be difficult to get the leveler though)
  2. Make a buttercream by creaming together the margarine and icing, adding orange juice and orange rind.
  3. Sandwich the cakes together with the buttercream and cover the top and sides.
  4. Roll out the icing then carefully cover the cakes completely, I am not the best person to advice on this, but honestly youtube, you can learn anything here!!
  5. Finish with a ribbon, stand by and enjoy!

I must also complement my Dad, on the wonderful cake stand that he make for me, the cake appeared to float like magic.

Cutting the cake!

Cutting the cake!

 

 

 

 

Sticky Toffee Ginger Cake!

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It is cold, I hear in some parts of the country it is snowing… here it is just cold, but a bitter cold, made colder by the fact that we have just moved house, and the house we have moved into doesn’t have a working boiler! In fact as I sit here next to my small portable radiator dreaming of ginger cake, I am in fact waiting for the boiler man to come around and offer to fit a new working boiler so that I may have heating…

So distract myself from the cold here is an amazingly warming, tasty and indulgent Sticky Toffee Ginger Cake!!

Dry Ingredients

  • 350g Plain Flour
  • 200g Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp backing powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
  • 2 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

Wet Ingredients

  • 225ml boiling water
  • 2 tbsp treacle – Tip, put metal tbsp into jug of boiling water, then into treacle jar(stops it being so sticky!)
  • 100ml Oil

Base

  • Large handful of crystallized ginger
  • Golden Syrup
  • Margarine for greasing

Method:

  1. Put your oven on to 180c
  2. Grease your baking tray… I would suggest a large Pyrex dish approx 8in x 8in
  3. Coat the bottom of the tray with Golden Syrup then sprinkle over your crystallized ginger
  4. Mix all the wet ingredients together in a jug or bowl.
  5. Mix together all the dry ingredients them combine wet with dry, then pour over the ginger and golden syrup in the tray.
  6. Put in oven for approx 35-45mins.
  7. Tip cake out onto a large plate or board, serve warm – with custard!! (If you don’t tip the cake out when warm, you will need to reheat before you do, because the ginger and toffee will set hard.)

Perfect for family gathers and cold winter nights, (also great reheated in the microwave with custard!)

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Vegan Christmas Pudding!!

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So it is that time of year again, in fact I have been sitting on this recipe now for almost a year, I had to make sure it worked before I post it, and since last years was such a success today I am making it again.

Christmas pudding is time consuming, but easy and makes the house smell great! So to kick of the holiday spirit here is my vegan Christmas pudding.

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What you will need: (this will make 2 xmas puddings, because 1 is never enough!)

  • Brandy & Port to taste for soaking the dried fruit!
  • 300g currents, raisins, sultanates
  • 100g chopped apricots
  • 100g chopped prunes
  • 200g vegan margarine
  • 2 tbsp black treacle
  • 100g breadcrumbs
  • 100g wholewheat flour
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp all spice
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 grated cooking apple
  • 1 grated carrot
  • Rind and juice of 1 lemon

Misc – Lots of tin foil, grease proof paper and string!

What you need to do…

  1. Soak your dried fruit overnight in the Port and Brandy.
  2. Decide how you are going to cook it, this year I am doing one in a slow cooker, and one in a pan on the hob, either way you want to put a couple of cm of water in the bottom of the pan, a piece of grease proof paper covering the bottom, with a jam jar lid or similar on top of the paper to raise the pudding bowl off the bottom of the pan (to stop the pan getting marked from the metal lid.)
  3. Prepare your pudding bowls, thoroughly grease the inside of the bowls, and put a small circle of grease proof paper at the bottom… also greased! This helps turn it out when cooked!
  4. To start cooking…cream the margarine and treacle together.
  5. Then mix in all the other ingredients until fully combined, the mixture will be “soft drop”.
  6. Divide the mixture between the two bowls, leave about 2cm at the top to leave room for raising.
  7. Now for the tricky bit… get a large square of tin foil and a place a slightly smaller square of grease proof paper on top if it, grease the paper, then create a 1-2cm fold in both sheets, (this gives room for the pudding to raise.) Place both sheets over the pudding bowl, tin foil up, and then tie string tightly around the outside to keep the lid in place. It is really important to make this as tight as possible, wrap the foil tightly around the bowl, and try to make sure that there is no paper showing, as much as possible you want to make sure no water can seep into the pudding. Before lowering the pudding into the pan, get a long sheet of tin foil, and fold in quarters to make a belt of foil, place this under the pudding bowl, you can use this to lower the bowl into the pan, and remove when hot! Lower onto the jam jar lid and cook…

image     8.  Cook for at least 6hr on the hob and 8hrs in the slow cooker, keep checking every             2hrs that there is still water in the pans, you want it to come about half way up the               side of the pudding bowl.

9.  Once cooked leave to cool completely then redo the grease proof paper and foil lid.             It is important you replace this before you store it. In theory you can store for up to             a year… but I haven’t tried that yet!!

10.  Cook again for at least 2hr before serving, then tip out onto a plate, carefully heat up           some brandy over a gas hob in a metal soup ladle or similar and once on fire pour               over your pudding!!! (Its traditional to play with fire isn’t it?!)

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Choc Chip and Banana Muffins

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Recently I have been too busy to bake, let alone blog, but here are some rather wonderful and easy to bake vegan muffins… a great way to use up old bananas!

What you will need:

  • 260g plain flour
  • 100g sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 100g vegan margarine (I like to use Pure when baking since it has little flavor)
  •  Egg replacer (3 tsp egg replacer mixed with 4 tbsp warm water)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 3 mashed bananas (extra ripe!)
  • 80g Cooking chocolate (either chips or a broken up bar!)

What to do…

  1. Preheat your oven to around 180c and get your muffin tin ready, this mix should make around 12 medium sized muffins (i.e English not American style!)
  2. Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl
  3. Mash your bananas in a separate bowl with a fork until smooth(ish!)
  4. Melt your margarine then combine it with the banana then add the vanilla extract and egg replacer.
  5. Now combine wet and dry ingredients and finally add your chocolate!
  6. Once fully combined evenly distribute your mix into the ready prepared muffin tin, the mixture will be quite thick.
  7. Bake for around 20mins… the melted chocolate does make it hard to test with a wooden skewer, but it is worth testing them this way just to be sure there is no uncooked mixture. You can also tell they are done if they spring back into shape when lightly poked.
  8. Leave to cool… if you eat straight from the oven the chocolate will go everywhere!!!

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Vegan Pizza

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So after 4 months without internet we are finally connected again… I have loads of things to catch up on, but here is one of my favorite meals… Pizza!

Pizza has to be one of the meals that so people assume that vegans cant eat… it is simply not true, pizzas are great, wither made at home or out in a restaurant, leave off the cheese and you can have a traditional Italian pizza, none of this over fatty, greasy American style pizza, but proper traditional Italian pizza (Italian restaurants are great!)

Now of course if you are short on time you can buy pizza bases and tomato source from the supermarket and there is nothing wrong with this, but if you have time then nothing can beat a fully home made pizza!

Pizza Base – What you will need (2 pizza bases)

  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 160ml warm water
  • 250g Strong white flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Tomato Topping:

  • 1 tin tomato
  • 6 sun dried tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • Handful fresh Basil & Marjoram  (if possible)
  • Dried mixed herbs to taste

Pizza Topping:

  • 4 – 6  Mushrooms
  • 1 Pepper
  • 1 Avocado
  • 1 small tin sweetcorn
  • Handful olives

How to bake?

First you need to make your dough, this will take at least 1 hour to prove, but since the rest of the meal wont take long, and cooking time is only 12-15mins the overall cook time is only about an hour an a half.

  1. In a large mixing bowl add your yeast to the warm water, and leave for around 10mins until it starts to froth.
  2. Add the flour
  3. Add the salt (make sure the flour is between the yeast and the salt, otherwise the yeast will stop working properly)
  4. Add the oil.
  5. Mix well, then knead the dough for around 5 mins. The dough should be quite soft and smooth.
  6. Put dough back into bowl with a drizzle of oil and leave to raise for around 1hr.
  7. Start on the tomato source….
  8. Separate the tomatoes from the tomato juice in your tin of tomatoes.
  9. Put the tomatoes into a blender, add the sun dried tomatoes, and herbs. Blend until smooth.
  10. Transfer the blended tomato mix into a small pan, and simmer the tomato source on a medium heat for about 15mins,  add the tomato puree and dried mix herbs to taste. Once reduced  take off the heat and leave to cool down.
  11. Prep all your veg!
  12. Once your dough is ready its time to have fun… But first turn your oven on, it needs to be at least 200c Pizzas cook hot and quick!
  13. Half your dough and knead and stretch your dough into shape. Lay out on two trays. 
  14. Once your dough is in the required shape (this can take a while, the dough will stretch and move around, and if your trying to be fancy and twirl it, well it might take a long time!) But once happy, cover in the tomato source and then top will all veg.
  15. When the pizza is ready, I tend to sprinkle a few more dried mixed herbs on top, and then spritz with a little oil, since there is no cheese to cover or protect the veg.
  16. Put into oven and cook for around 12-15mins
  17. Remove and enjoy!

Other great tried and tested toppings….

  • Tinned Pineapple
  • Fresh spinach
  • Red Onion
  • Fresh Tomato
  • Sun dried Tomato
  • Courgette
  • Vegan cheese

 

Easter Simnel Cake Vegan & Gluten Free

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So before the Easter brake is totally over here is an amazingly rich Gluten Free, Vegan celebration cake. Known as a Simnel cake it has something to do with the 11 true disciples of Christ. (I am hazy on the religion but the cake is too good to ignore!)

I actually got the recipe from the Doves Farm website, they have some great ideas, partially for Gluten Free baking. These cake comes complete with homemade Marzipan, I had no idea it would be so easy to make!! This really is a true celebration cake, so rich and sticky, you would never know it was Gluten Free or Vegan!!

Link to Simnel Cake Recipe: Gluten Free Simnel Cake

A quick note on the recipe, in point 1. It means add the icing sugar and in point 2. It means the brown sugar!!! Also when making the marzipan you might need to add a little more water in your lemons are small, you want a firm dough you can roll and mold.

I cooked mine in a bigger tin, because I didn’t have an 8in, so I cooked it for about 1 and a half hours at about 120c

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Veggie Curry & Naan

 

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Gosh it has been a while since I last managed to find time to post anything on here… life has been crazy, I got a new job, moved out of the cabin and now am in a lovely little flat… with a very small kitchen and no internet! It has made life interesting! It is a rented flat as well, with a dodgy cooker which is slowly driving me mad… the temp keeps changing, some days it cooks hot other days not so much!

One of my all time fave dinners is Nicks veggie curry, and to make it extra special because I had a day off last week I made vegan naan bread! So here you go, fantastic veggie curry and naan.(I am afraid the naan is not g/f but the curry is!)

What you will need:

  • Lentils about 150g
  • 1 small cauliflower
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 pepper
  • 1 small Cabbage
  • Spinach (fresh or frozen)
  • Onion (optional – I cant eat them but I know most people do!)
  • Mild curry power
  • Garam Masala
  • Coconut milk
  • Veggie Stock
  • ——–
  •  1 tsp. active dry yeast (1/2 package)
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. soy milk
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 3/4-2 cups bread flour
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil

What you need to do:

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If you want to make the naan you might need to make them the day before, or start early! It will take at least 2hrs to make them. The curry will take about 45mins!

  1. To make the naan follow this recipe: Vegan Naan
  2. Start your curry…Wash your lentils, the cover with water and simmer until they start to go pale, almost translucent, (about 20mins)
  3. Peal and chop the carrots and cauliflower, pepper, cabbage (and onion if your using it!)
  4. Fry all the veg together in a large frying pan or wok. Once all veg is tender, drain then add the cooked lentils, coconut milk, and stock.
  5. Now add the spice to taste, this really is a taste thing because different brands will make a huge difference when it comes with mixed spices!
  6. Let the curry simmer and reduce down for about 10mins. Now add the spinach – If you are doing from this frozen it will brake up quite quickly, if it is from fresh be amazed at how small it becomes once it has wilted!!
  7. Check on your naan bread, if you made them earlier you might want to toast them to warm them up again🙂
  8. Now enjoy!! For variations you might want add chickpeas or other seasonal veggies try with and without the coconut milk (you might need to add a little soya milk)

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