Vegan Hot Cross Buns

 

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Vegan Hot Cross Buns; moist with grated apple, warm with gentle spices, and sweet with dried cranberries, these are worth every minute of work. Get baking, there’s less than a month till Easter!

It just wouldn’t be Easter without Hot Cross Buns. Maybe this is something very specific to the UK but here you know Christmas is over when the mince pies are replaced with Hot Cross Buns even though Easter is still 3 months away! That being said, this is not a complaint as I love the ever changing seasons, and what better way to celebrate than with food that reminds you that warmer weather is on the way.

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This is my second Hot Cross Bun recipe on the blog. Without eggs, these are slightly lighter and more justifiably a breakfast food, and potentially slightly better for you! For me, this was all about making sure I still had a way to eat a tasty, delicious, and fresh Hot Cross Bun in time for Easter!

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My Hot Cross Buns are heavier with fruit than normal. As well as the traditional mixed peel and sultanas, I’ve added grated apple and dried cranberries for a nice sweet and sour hit. The apples tend to melt away here, but they keep the buns deliciously moist and sweet.

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These don’t need any topping apart from a light scraping of dairy free butter, and perhaps a smidge of honey or golden syrup if you eat these for elevenses. Personally, this is one of my breakfast treats, but that doesn’t mean I can’t eat them at 11, and again at 4, and again after dinner!

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Doughnuts, Take 2!

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Vegan doughnuts, so naughty and so good. Yes they involve a bit of deep frying, but, trust me, they are sooo worth the effort!

Who knew vegan doughnuts could be so good? Honestly, I’ll never go back to making them with eggs (even if I could eat them!) as it’s just not necessary! This is such a good recipe that’s quick to make, and if you can be brave to deep fry them, you’ll never go back to buying any sort of doughnut.

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I chose to fill my doughnuts with raspberry jam. It’s a classic for a reason, right? These are definitely my favourite was to finish off a doughnut… I don’t know what in life could be better than biting into a freshly made still warm doughnut, sticky and crunchy on the outside with an explosion of jam in the centre that just dribbles all over your fingers.

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These are definitely quite high up on the naughty scale… I know you can bake doughnuts…. but personally I sort of think if you’re going to eat one, do it properly and make it fried. The baked ones, although good, just miss the addictive texture of soft, fluffy dough in the middle with a crisp skin on the outside. These definitely hit the spot! And with quite a lot of sugar in them already, the extra bit of oil from frying really isn’t going to kill you!

I might do another post showing some other ways to finish off these doughnuts soon. I’m making it sound like that’s for your benefit…when really it just justifies me eating these again!

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Vegan Crepe Pancakes

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Fabulously simple, it’s hard to believe these are vegan. These are still as light and moreish as their eggy counterparts, just a teeny bit better for you.

I love pancakes, and every year I like to focus on bringing a new pancake recipe to the blog. This year, however, you’re being treated to two new recipes – both vegan! Although I’ve always been keen to experiment with more vegan recipes, I will admit that I have another personal reason for now giving it a wholehearted go (but that is a story for another time). Safe to say for now that finding a way to make great vegan pancakes has been a big part of my happiness in the last few months. The approaching Pancake Day (next Tuesday 28th Feb!!) is just a great excuse to share them!

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I will admit that I was very sceptical of vegan crepes working. I just couldn’t understand how they could hold together without an egg… let alone how they could be as light yet crispy as a ‘normal’ pancake. But these really are, and they honestly use the simplest of ingredients; flour, baking powder, non dairy milk and oil. That’s it. Unless you count the lemon and sugar toppings of course!

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I’ve said it before that I think baking powder is the secret to amazing vegan baking, and here it is no exception. The purpose of the baking powder here isn’t really to ‘rise’ the pancake, but to give it a light texture from all the air bubbles – much like an egg does. The only thing then that you’re missing is the fat. Ever so important in baking, this is such a key step to cracking vegan recipes. So don’t be put off by the oil content. It may sound a lot, but trust me when I say it’s needed to help bind the pancakes together, and to give them flavour.

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So here it is… my last pancake recipe for Pancake Day 2017. I personally don’t think these need anything other than a light sprinkle of sugar followed by a generous squeeze of lemon. But maybe that’s because I’m old school! Go mental with these and top them however you like – chocolate sauce and banana, ice cream and caramelised oranges… the combinations are delicious and endless!

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Vegan Banoffee Pancakes

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Fluffy American Banoffee pancakes, good for breakfast or dessert! And just in time for Pancake Day!

So, you might be seeing a lot more vegan recipes on here from now on! That story is for another post though, so here you’re just going to hear me marvel about how you can still make delicious, soft and chewy American pancakes with no dairy and no eggs!

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How, I hear you say?! Well, it seems that often the best results come from using no traditional egg replacers at all, but a simple bit of added baking powder. Perhaps the end result is slightly denser than an eggy-American pancake – but, with the added banana and caramel you are honestly not going to notice or care!

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I often make these for breakfast (without the caramel, but I will admit I add a light drizzle of maple syrup at the end!) but with Pancake Day fast approaching (28th of February people, get that date in your diaries!!) I thought I would add a special sweet pancake to my blog’s collection.

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I love caramel, and as I alluded to in my Sticky Toffee Pudding recipe, and have become slightly obsessed. It just goes with everything, and at least with some banana and cinnamon in here you can *almost* trick yourself into thinking these are healthy! They are delicious though, and perfect topped with ice-cream and lashings of the caramel sauce. These would make a fantastic Pancake Day dessert!

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Sticky Toffee Pudding

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A traditional British classic; sticky toffee pudding is the perfect accompaniment to a Sunday roast. Moist, sweet, and served with ice cream, there are few people in the world who could turn down this delight!

So I have to admit that before making this, I had never eaten sticky toffee pudding before. The Fiancé was appalled! However, with my Mum coming from Belgium, we didn’t tend to eat a lot of classic British meals or puds – and I have to admit that it always sounded a little too sweet for my tastes.

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Now I have to admit that I’ve done a complete 180. Yes, it is undeniably sweet, but this recipe is not overpoweringly so. With dates and plenty of spices for depth of flavour, it’s really hard to say no to a second piece! I would say that this pudding needs to be served with ice cream or cream (dairy free of course!) to break through the sweetness of the caramel sauce, which of course is a great shame!

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This recipe should come with a warning; once you’ve tasted the caramel sauce, you will start to find lots of things to eat it with… I’m talking about spooned onto ice cream, or layered between biscuits from the cupboard, or perhaps just spread onto toast (although I still need to try this last one!!)… It’s delicious and so easy that it could even be a recipe in it’s own right!

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As the never ending winter continues, I couldn’t think of a dessert I’d rather eat to celebrate the cold weather; the perfect cure to feeling the chill after a bitterly chilly walk.

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Pistachio, Almond and Chocolate Éclairs

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Indulgent éclairs, filled with a pistachio and almond crème pâtissière and topped with a sweet chocolate icing. Not as impossible as they seem, these éclairs would make the perfect special treat.

Whoops. You know that feeling when you think, ‘when was the last time I….‘… well that’s rather how I’ve been feeling about blogging recently! Life has been more than a little hectic, and the end of 2016 seemed to flash by like big and exciting blur. Whilst the rest of the world seems to be (understandably) lamenting the going ons in 2016, I actually had a great year. I took a big leap forwards in life and now when I introduce myself to people, I can say I am a full time baker! So, with a wedding to plan and a new business to grow, the end of 2016 flew by.

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I’m back with a triumphant recipe with these delightfully indulgent éclairs. I don’t know if there is anything as pleasing as making something that belongs in a French Pâtisserie (in taste, not in looks – these definitely don’t have quite the finesse of professional pastry makers) at home. It’s something to do with debunking the myth that they’re impossible to make and only a demigod can succeed! I talked before in my recipe for Profiteroles that Choux pastry is not nearly as complicated as it seems, and then we’re just making a simple Crème Pâttissière (or thickened custard if we want to be less fancy about it!) to fill it.

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Now, I wouldn’t be me if I just made normal chocolate and vanilla éclairs, would I? So, of course, these come pumped with extra flavour from pistachios and almonds in the crème pâttisière. I’ve really grown to love pistachios in the last few years, and they work beautifully together with the chocolate topping and sweet almond flavoured cream. To get the hit of pistachio flavour, this recipe calls for you to make a pistachio paste. It really is quite simple to do, just a bit of a faff. The paste should be a vibrant, inviting green colour. But to get this, you need to rub the skins off the pistachios before roasting. As we don’t need much paste it doesn’t take too much time – but this is your warning! If you decide to skip this step (which you can!) just be prepared for your paste to come out more brown than green…

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As with all filled choux pastry recipes, these are best eaten as soon as possible after filling. If you don’t want to eat them all in one go (then you deserve a medal!) cooked choux pastry buns freeze well. Just defrost at room temperature, and pop back in a hot oven for a few minutes to get crisp again before filling.

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Dairy Free Digestive Biscuits

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Delicious dairy free imitations of the British classic – the chocolate digestive biscuit! Crumbly, sweet biscuit, generously topped with chocolate makes it the perfect dunker in a  cup of tea.

I will admit that although I generally don’t struggle with being dairy free anymore, I do miss the ease of being able to pick up a packet of something in a shop, and devouring it without giving consideration to the ingredients. I have several things I really miss like this, with Twixs topping the list, and milk chocolate digestives following in a close second. I ate an unreasonable amount of digestives whilst at uni…. they used to be my treat for studying (1 biscuit every time I turned the page… it was an excellent encouragement!).

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I can’t swear that these are an exact replica of the elusive chocolate digestive, but what I can promise is that these are a delicious substitute. Unfortunately, they do require you spend some time baking them as even McVities dark chocolate digestives contain milk (McVities, if you’re reading this – we would all appreciate if that changed!!), but they are worth the effort if you’re looking for a great, dunk-able, chocolate biscuit recipe.

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The other great thing about making these yourself is that you can control the sugar in them. This is not about a health kick! Simply making the biscuits fit to different tastes… although I’m a great lover of dark chocolate, and (despite starting up a baking business!) don’t have a huge sweet-tooth myself, I do acknowledge that some people do. So, if this sounds like you, don’t be afraid to add another 15g of sugar.

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Top these however you like; personally, I loved them plain, just topped with dark chocolate. However, go as fussy as you like! I also topped some with finely chopped hazelnuts, but you could try dried fruit, other nuts, or a mix of different types of dairy free chocolate if you preferred.

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Amaretti & Nectarine Muffins

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An unusual, but deliciously flavoured muffin; packed with fresh nectarine and amaretti biscuits, with a generous grown up twist of Disaronno, these muffins sure do make a tasty treat!

Ok, so I’ll admit by saying these muffins were much, much, much more delicious that they look! Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I should have considered leaving some of the delicious fresh nectarine and amaretti biscuits just for the topping… I just got a bit over-keen as it all smelt so good, and before I knew it, I’d run out and it was all in the muffin mix…. you live and learn – and, remember, never judge a book by it’s cover!

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So, personal complaint about the look of the muffins being over, lets get on to the good stuff. These muffins were delicious. I adapted a muffin that was suggested for a not-so-wholesome breakfast, and turned it into a good old fashioned tea time treat. I kept a lot of the goodness in there, namely, that they’re relatively low in sugar (for a muffin – there’s a still a lot of sugar in these!) as they get a lot of sweetness from the fresh nectarine, and use yoghurt in the batter, adding a good dose of protein.

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Then, what better pairing than fresh fruit and almond? I struggle to think of a fruit I wouldn’t want to add almonds to! Nectarines, peaches, plums and berries are, however, some of my favourite fruits to combine with almonds, and the combination in these muffins is perfect. To ramp up the almond flavour, I’ve used almond flavoured non dairy yoghurt, amaretti biscuits (they also add a delightful, sweet crunch to the soft and tender crumb of the muffin) and of course a healthy dose of Disaronno liqueur.

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Passionfruit Bars

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Delicious passionfruit curd topped shortbread bites, perfect for a posh afternoon tea or after dinner bite with coffee. Deceptively simple to make, I can’t wait to try these with a variety of flavours!

 I saw a version of these somewhere in a magazine, and thought they looked so pretty and dainty. I definitely wouldn’t describe my style of baking as dainty… as much as I’d love to try and conquer the grand macaron, I’m just not sure I have the patience.

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And that was how I went into making these… let’s try and succeed something dainty. And it seemed that actually, the only thing that’s dainty about these is the size you cut them into! It really is nothing more tricky than a tray bake, cut into delicious teeny-tiny pieces.

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And what a treat is contained in these little bites… sweet, crumbly shortbread, topped with a sweet and sour passionfruit curd, then dusted generously with icing sugar. The passionfruit curd makes a delicious change from lemon; it’s subtly sweeter, and this curd recipe gives it a good strong passionfruit flavour. This recipe uses fresh passionfruit which allows you to decide how many of the seeds to keep in – by keeping half, it gave a lovely crunch to these otherwise quite soft bites.

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Black Forest Naked Cake

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A decadent, rich, and indulgent naked cake. Featuring all the best loved flavours of the old school Black Forest gateau, this cake is ideal for a crowd on a special occasion.

There are many things I love about this blog, but giving me life direction surely has to be one of them! I started this blog when I really wasn’t enjoying adult life, and slowly it has helped me piece together what I want to do. Bravely, in about 6 months time, I will become a full time baker, specialising in allergy friendly bakes. I’m so excited about this, but also slightly nervous – cue getting in as much practice as possible of big, grand cakes!

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To celebrate a weekend bash at ours with some of our closest friends, and to use the best of the seasonal flavours (hello, fresh cherries!!), this cake came to life. My fiancee loves all things chocolate, so Black Forest flavours seemed perfect to combine the best of both.

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Black Forest gateau, for those of you not in the know, is a traditional German dessert made with light chocolate sponges, doused in the cherry liqueur Kirsch, filled and topped with whipped cream and black cherries. It is both rich and light at the same time, and these days slightly reminiscent of the 80’s!

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This cake takes all the best flavours of the gateau, and brings it into 2016 in the form of a naked cake. Between the three layers of chocolate sponge is a rich buttercream, dusted with cocoa, and then topped with a sour Morello cherry jam. The top of the cake is piled high with woodland fruits, before having a cherry compote and chocolate sauce drizzled over it.

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Although this cake would be perfect with a coffee at tea time, it screams to be eaten as a dessert. This cake is wonderfully rich and filling, so add a side of more fresh cherries and berries for contrast.

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