Category Archives: cakes

Vegan Chocolate Walnut Banana Loaf

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Moist, delicious chocolate and nut banana loaf. A play on the usual banana bread by adding chocolate, this has turned something a little over-done into something a little magical.

Sometimes the best recipes are the spontaneous ones. Although for those of you who know me well, you will know that spontaneity is not one of my top qualities! So it really says something to me when a recipe is quickly pulled together, only to be a roaring success. So much so that in the last 4 weeks, I’ve made this recipe three times! And no, there are still only two of us at home, and, yes, we ate it all each time…

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I do love a banana bread cake, but recently I’ve been trying to improve my diet a little (being at home now with all these cakes is definitely starting to take it’s toll on my waist line…Safe to say my jeans are feeling a little more snug than they used to!). So when I fancied a sweet treat, that was only a little bit naughty, I saw I had two lone and blackening bananas. Well, at that point it was obvious what I fancied, but I also was really wanting something chocolatey. So out of the oven 45 minutes later came this amazing Chocolate Walnut Banana Loaf!

This is a fabulous Vegan recipe, that it doesn’t matter if you’re vegan or not – you’ll love it. It’s sweet, but not too sweet with the bitter walnuts. It’s chocolatey, but not so much that you can’t taste the banana. And it’s banana-y without being overbearing. In my book, it’s just perfect with a cup of tea for a mid-afternoon pick me up.

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If you can leave the walnuts in, do. If you can’t (or would prefer to remove them), add in 10g less of sugar. The walnuts give lovely texture to the otherwise quite soft and moist loaf; but crucially they also take away some of the sweetness with their lovely bitter flavour.

This is a quick mix in two goes recipe. The most involved part is smashing up the bananas which you can put as much or as little effort as you like into. Or, why not get some small hands involved? This would be a great recipe to make with little children with a little bit of adult supervision.

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Filed under Bread, breakfast, cakes, Chocolate, Fruit, Sweet treats, vegan

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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Oreo Cupcakes

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Rich chocolate cupcakes topped with vanilla buttercream, stuffed with Oreo cookies throughout. From a hidden cookie at the bottom of the cake, right through to crushed Oreos in the buttercream, it seems that the only thing to make a chocolate cake even better is a cookie!

Yes… I’ve jumped on the bandwagon and continued this trend. I was too intrigued not to try! What’s not to like about the idea of combining cookies and cake?!

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I still remember when I found out Oreos were dairy free. It was like the light at the end of the tunnel smacked me in the face! Because not only did it mean I could actually eat Oreos… but I also started checking other biscuit types to see what they were made of. And lo and behold, quite a lot of surprising biscuits are dairy free! Take the classic, chocolate bourbon biscuit. Most of them are dairy free! So if you ever want to butter me up (not literally of course), a sneaky dairy free Oreo or bourbon biscuit is the way to do it.

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However, getting back to the point of these cakes – I really was intrigued by the idea of combining biscuits and cakes. Like a good mash-up song, it seemed like something that should really work, and great news – it did! The cakes are typically moreish, and with a soft, vanilla flavoured buttercream, it would have been hard to go wrong. But then add in a crunchy, surprise oreo hidden at the bottom of the cupcake. And add some crushed oreos to the cake and buttercream for little, crispy nuggets of flavour and you are on to an absolute winner!

 

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I can by no means claim to be the genius who first came up with this idea… however, it has left me with a lot of thoughts of what else could we make a hybrid out of…. watch this space!

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Filed under Biscuits & Cookies, cakes, Chocolate, cupcakes

Salted Caramel Ginger Cake

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A devilishly dark and sticky cake, made all the better with a considerable amount of crystallised ginger for a bit of fiery kick. It’s even better the day after baking, if you can hold off eating it all at once!

I love ginger. It’s one of those things that appear on our shopping list each week without fail. We cook a lot of asian inspired food, and it’s a quick and guaranteed way of packing a punch quickly. However, despite having it around, I’d never really thought before about using it as a baking ingredient. Having researched ways to use ginger, I found a recipe for a caramel and ginger cake. It sounded too good not to try, and despite being a little bit dubious, I’m so glad I did! It was just delicious.

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This cake is simple to make, with an amazing quick caramel sauce used as both an ingredient in the sponge and a topping. I will definitely be using this caramel sauce again! It gave the sponge a real depth of flavour that can be hard to achieve in quite a plainly flavoured sponge, and the extra wet ingredients kept the it perfectly moist. Then the ginger – crystallised ginger in this case – is roughly chopped and just folded into the cake batter. It is the ginger flavour that benefits from being left an extra day. It wasn’t necessarily stronger, just more consistent across the cake, and the ginger chunks in the sponge had almost melted away.

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Although you could definitely tell this was no diet cake, it’s a treat I can’t wait to have again. For a simple recipe, it packs quite the flavour-filled punch!

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Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

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A surprise success, you wouldn’t know these chocolate cupcakes have no eggs or dairy in them! If you need a reliable vegan chocolate cupcake recipe, look no further.

I’ll be honest – I was very sceptical of these. How can you have a cake with no eggs? Eggs are an absolute staple in baking, they underpin the structure of everything (deep, I know!) and you’re often taught not to play around with egg quantities and temperatures in concern of a recipe failing. So how on earth can you have a cake without eggs?

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Well, it turns out you can quite easily and without any funky, hard-to-track-down ingredients. I can’t really explain how the below ingredients make up for the lack of eggs, but they do and these cakes still come out delicious, light and fluffy. It’s magic!

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If you, like me, are new to the world of vegan cakes, I will warn you about two things. 1 Vegan cake batter is wetter than a usual cake batter. Don’t be afraid and think you’ve done something wrong! 2 Because of this, you need to make sure the cupcakes are properly baked. Something I would rarely advise, but err on the side of caution and bake them for another minute if you’re not sure if they are ready. As delightful as they are when they are fully baked, when under-baked they can get a little bit pasty. Imagine the texture of a very under-baked cookie… you know how it can have a bit of a mushy texture, and it hangs around in your mouth a little too long? That’s what can happen to these. So – you have been warned. Now… BAKE!

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Orange Polenta Cake

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A delicious, no-comprise allergy friendly bake free from dairy, gluten and wheat. This different texture cake is made with polenta and ground almonds, which really does make an impressive replacement to wheat flour, with the added benefit of tones of flavour. Full of orange zest and topped with crushed pistachios, this is a wonderful light cake perfect for the welcoming the warmer weather.

So, custard season is over! I hear a bit of a sigh of relief all around 🙂 This week, we’re onto something far less risky, although something people will equally question. This is a fantastic, very different, cake recipe, that just happens to be dairy, gluten and wheat free. The texture is incredible; slightly crunchy from the polenta, lighter than you would expect given that it is full of ground almonds, and of course it is packed full of zesty orange flavour.

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This cake would be perfect served for afternoon tea or as a dessert (tell you the truth… we ate it for both!). If I’m honest, I would really have liked a little dollop of creme fresh on the side… but ok… you can’t have everything! If you are not dairy free though, I really would give that a try – it complements both the flavour and the texture perfectly. If you are dairy free, do like me and have a small scoop of ice cream. Sounds weird, but trust me it works.

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I also thought this cake was perfect for this season, for some reason it made me feel so summery – perhaps because of all the pretty bright colours on top – but also the zesty orange hit really made me feel like I was on holiday.

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This cake is incredibly simple to make; pretty much a one bowl mix, pour and bake recipe. I’ve added some chopped pistachios and extra zest on top – it is definitely worth the extra minute of effort. The pistachios are a lovely little pop of nutty sweetness and cut through some of the zest-iness of the cake flavour.

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Hazelnut Meringue Cake

 

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What on earth is a meringue cake?! Keeping all the best features of meringue, but add in a dark, sticky,  hazelnut-y chewiness, lightened by a sweet creme patissiere filling, with refreshing thin orange slices scattered through the middle, and you sort of get the jist… As an added bonus, this dessert is gluten, wheat and dairy free!

This is not a pretty dessert. Despite its fluffy and delicate appearance, it deserves to be smashed to pieces with a fork and gobbled up in seconds. Or at least – that was how we did it! The few lucky ones who got to taste test this recipe quoted it was their favourite bake of mine ever – and coming from them, that’s something! This is especially surprising as this recipe really came about in a funny way; driven by the desire to use up 4 egg whites and half a carton of hazelnut milk, I began really having to search hard for a recipe. Turns out that recipes do not often combine egg whites and milk, but then the wonders of the hazelnut meringue cake came back to me.

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I think this was something I first saw on bake off – and I loved the idea of turning a meringue into something other than a sweet, crispy treat. Although this still retains those things we love about a good meringue, it is also darker, slightly heavier and more chewy – and therefore ever so slightly more like a cake- because it is packed full of very finely chopped hazelnut pieces.

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I have filled the meringue cake with creme patissiere – which is a fancy name for a custard thickened with cornflour. So, as we’ve been practising our custard over the last few weeks, it will be an absolute doddle (which I can promise it will be…as it’s actually easier and much harder to get wrong than custard – the cornflour stops the eggs curdling, so unless you burn it, you’ll be hard pressed to ruin it!)!

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Lastly, buy the best oranges you can and very very thinly slice the segments. By layering these onto the creme pat, before sandwiching the second meringue on top, you’ve created a light, refreshing, fruity cleanser that balances the sweetness of the rest of the dessert. It’s this secret which will keep you coming back for more until it’s all gone in one sitting!

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Filed under cakes, dessert, Fruit, Gluten Free, Meringue

Steamed Chocolate Pudding

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A delicious, retro classic. Perfect for feeding a crowd after a meal, this chocolate sponge pudding is sure to delight with it’s rich, chocolate flavour. Serve with hazelnut custard or ice cream.

I often find myself day dreaming about food. I used to think everyone did this (but apparently not?!), and it was during a particularly chocolate filled thought that this recipe came to mind. When I was a child, Cadbury’s steamed chocolate pudding used to be a real treat. Not because they were anything special, but it felt like a treat as they were one of the few puddings we ate that were not homemade.

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Sadly, but expectedly, Cadbury’s steamed chocolate puddings contain rather a lot of dairy goodness, and so it has been a really, really long time since I’ve had one. But I knew that steamed sponge puddings were not meant to be that hard to make… so I thought I really should give it a go. I’m so glad I did; not only was the recipe an absolute triumph, it also inspired the Hazelnut Custard recipe which I posted two weeks ago, which has become a real favourite in our house.

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The hardest thing about this pudding, honestly, was tying up the handle on the pudding basin. If you haven’t got a pudding basin, you can use any heat proof dish – the reason it’s good to use a basin is they have a lip round the top, which is ideal for tying the string round it. My handle turned into some engineered feat of brilliance (read: a lot of unnecessary knots caused by string cut too short!) but worked none the less, and made getting the pudding out of the pot a lot easier!

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If you can handle making the handle, you’re sorted. This is a mix it and go recipe, where all the ingredients get put into a bowl and whizzed together. It would be perfect to make for pudding after a roast or other big family meal. It has universal appeal (who doesn’t love a bit of chocolate?!) and can calmly cook away as you get on with other things.

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And for such a simple recipe, the results are tremendous. Rich and dense chocolate sponge, with a decadent and thick chocolate sauce dripping over the top – an ever so slightly more grown up version of the Cadbury’s favourite. The pudding is perfect served with this hazelnut custard, but would work just as well with ice cream. Along with the custard, this is sure to be a repeated recipe in our house!

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Coconut and Rum Cake

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For grown ups only! This dark caramel cake is soaked in black, spiced rum making it wholly inappropriate for children and very appropriately delicious. Offset with a sweet caramel and coconut buttercream icing, this cake really is a naughty treat, perfect for curing those winter blues.

This cake just takes me back to Australia. One of the highlights of our holiday was sailing around the Whitsunday Islands on a small sailing boat – it was strictly BOYB (a common phenomenon in Australia that I really wish they’d start over here!) so we casually brought onboard a bottle of Kracken black spiced Rum. I mean… we were on a boat. What else were we going to drink?!

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We still had a bit of rum left in the bottle a few weeks ago, and I just knew this cake would blow these wintery cobwebs away. Full of tropical flavours and spices, it brought the sunshine back in every mouthful.

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The sponge is a slightly denser than normal; when you drizzle the rum on after baking only some evaporates leaving you with a very moist and soft sponge. To go with the heavy scents of the spiced rum, I’ve used light brown sugar rather than white caster. It gives a much deeper flavour to the sponge, bringing out the caramel notes in the rum.

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The coconut comes in many forms in this cake – using desiccated, milk, and coconut caramel – but the flavour is not overwhelming. The caramel is something I found on a recent venture round Marks and Spencers – it’s one of those places I like to casually peruse for unusual dairy free finds. This was one of them, and it’s an absolute triumph. As an aside, the caramel is perfect used as a topping – think ice cream or pancakes – but use it sparingly. Like every good caramel, it is certainly sweet, which makes it the perfect base for the icing!

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Chocolate & Amaretti Cake. Dairy, Wheat & Gluten Free!

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A dense chocolate cake, filled with amaretti biscuits and lots and lots of chocolate! This is a perfect dessert cake for a special occasion; rich, decadent, and chocolatey in every mouthful!

This dessert was stumbled upon by accident, and I’m so glad I did! In search of something to give a chocolate fix, I came across this recipe on the Food Network. Full of ground almonds, amaretti biscuits and orange zest it just sounded too good not to try. I’m now a real convert to using chocolate and almond as a combination ever since these delicious Raspberry & Amaretti Brownies, and it never disappoints.

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Not only do the ground almonds and amaretti biscuits provide a lot of flavour, they also replace any flour you would normally need in a cake. That means not only is this cake dairy free, it is also gluten and wheat free too! You really wouldn’t know it though – the cake slices beautifully and has a dense cake-like texture.

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Now although this is a cake, and you could, of course, eat it at tea time – I think this cake really deserves to be eaten as a dessert. As rich and decadent as it is, it just cries out for a light drizzle of chocolate sauce on top, and is delightful with a small scoop of ice cream. It’s not heavy as such, but a small slice will go a long way after a big meal!

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I’m making this cake to take to my brother’s house for Christmas as the chocolate dessert – so one of the absolute best things about it is that it genuinely tastes better a day or two after baking. The amaretti flavour seemed to come out a lot more, and you could taste more of the orange zest. I’m a firm believer that everyone needs a repertoire of recipes from the quick and instant to the make in advance; and this recipe would fit that second category perfectly.

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As a side note, if you’re making this for an adults only group, I would highly recommend adding a small amount of Disaronno. The amaretti-flavoured liqueur gives a slight alcoholic heat to the chocolate sauce, and really helps the almond flavours stand out. Trust me – once you’ve tried this sauce, you’ll start to think of the many other things it would go with….

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Filed under cakes, Chocolate, dessert, Gluten Free