Tag Archives: dairy free baking

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

Lemon Shortbreads, Coconut Milk Whipped Cream and Berries

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Crumbly, buttery lemon shortbread cups filled with whipped coconut cream and raspberry curd, and topped with fresh raspberries. A delightfully simple dessert perfect for summertime.

You know those beautifully presented, tiny patisserie-type desserts? The ones that look just so appealing, delicate, and perfect? Yeah? Well, these were an attempt! Perhaps the presentation was slightly amiss, but they definitely delivered on taste. I also loved being able to use my Raspberry Curd in these, as usually it is reserved for cakes and ice cream toppings – but it just worked so perfectly with these flavours.

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These desserts look complicated and fiddly, like you’ve spent a lot of time and effort on them – but as with lots of my baking, I can assure you that is not the case! The only real effort required for these cups are the biscuits themselves, and they are as simple as you can get; they just look more fancy (and, therefore, more effort) than a normal biscuit because of it’s shape, which just comes from baking it in a cupcake tin.

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Once the shortbread cups are baked and cooled, the only other effort is whipping the coconut cream, which one could hardly call any effort at all! They are finished off by dolloping in a teaspoon of curd and the cream, and finally by popping a fresh raspberry on top. If you haven’t already made some raspberry curd (and don’t fancy the effort), a thickened raspberry puree would work just as well. These would make an elegant ending to a dinner party, or a lighter alternative to cake at tea time.

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Chocolate, Almond and Orange Biscotti

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Classic Italian Biscotti recipe flavoured with chocolate, almonds and orange, perfect for a treat anytime of the day. Ideal for dipping in a hot drink or a cold, sweet glass of wine if you prefer! 

Biscotti are something I’ve always been curious about making- and not something I’ve eaten very often. I tend to think of them as something reserved for Christmas, or posh restaurants where they are served alongside your after-dinner coffee. However, I stumbled across a recipe from Paul Hollywood’s ‘Bread’ on the internet and thought they just sounded too tasty not to give them a try. Paul makes a trio of biscotti, and I just couldn’t resist the sound of chocolate, almond and orange.

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Biscotti come in lots of different flavours, but are very recognisable from their traditional shape and texture – always an elongated half moon shape with a very dry and crunchy texture. They are also surprisingly sweet, and so my favourite way to eat them is dipped in steaming black coffee. The bitter coffee and sweet biscuit compliment each other perfectly, whilst the almond provides more crunch and the orange zest really brings out the flavour of the coffee, chocolate and almond.

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The name ‘biscotti’ originates from Latin and means twice baked. Confusingly, biscotti in Italian simply means biscuit; this could lead to a great disappointment if you were hoping for the twice baked variety (in Italy twice baked biscuits are called ‘cantuccini’)! However, despite their fancy name, they’re very simple to make. By shaping the dough into logs for the first bake, and then cutting them into fingers for the second bake there is no need to be precise or pretty about it – which makes a nice change from the things I usually bake!

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Victoria Sponge Cake

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A perfectly classic Victoria Sponge cake; soft, fluffy sponge cakes sandwiched together with vanilla buttercream and fruit jam.

A Victoria Sponge is such a British classic, and in my opinion every good baker should be able to nail a perfect version of it. The reason why I say this is often people think a Victoria Sponge is one of the more simple cakes you can make; and whilst this is true in terms of techniques, it is also difficult in the sense there is no where to hide! With just simple flavours and a dusting of icing sugar on top, the flavours shine and so does your perfect taste and texture.

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One thing I love about this cake is it’s universal appeal. Perfect for children and adults alike it works for birthdays, special occasions or even just when you fancy a bit of cake. You can also play with the flavours to suit your tastes, the occasion or the season. Whilst this is made with half raspberry and half strawberry jam which is ideal for summer, you could also make this with blackberries or apples in autumn, or with rhubarb or oranges in winter.

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A perfect Victoria Sponge consists of two sponge cakes with a light and soft texture, and they should be ever so slightly crumbly when fresh. I’ve substituted the traditional whipped cream filling for a light, not too sweet vanilla buttercream – not only do I personally think this is preferable to cream but it will also keep fresh longer. Also, if you find yourself surrounded by a glut of fresh fruit, you could use this instead of jam for a change.

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Triple Chocolate Muffins

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A moist, squidgey, and seriously chocolatey muffin perfect for any chocoholic – even a dairy free one!

These chocolate muffins are another one of those ‘I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to post it!’ recipes. I think I will forever remember asking my mum to make these one last time before I trialled giving up dairy (who knew that it would quickly become permanent!) – because I couldn’t possibly imagine never eating them again! These were the one thing I really wanted one last time because these muffins are seriously good, and seriously chocolatey. There’s no endless list of fancy flavours in these – it’s just chocolate, chocolate and, you guessed it, more chocolate!

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This recipe is for triple chocolate muffins – meaning a combination of milk, white and dark chocolate is used. The original recipe uses equal amounts of all three chocolates; I’ve increased the amount of dark chocolate, and really reduced the amount of dairy free milk chocolate. I find dairy free chocolate alternatives (particularly milk and white chocolate) can distinctly lack a chocolatey flavour – so by ramping up the amount of dark you keep the intense chocolate effect, but you keep it light and sweet enough with the addition of the white and milk chocolate. Dairy free white chocolate can be a bit hit and miss; I would encourage everyone to try different varieties from different shops to find one that tastes good and melts properly. I’m still searching for the perfect replacement but the best one I’ve found in the UK is Tesco’s own brand dairy free white chocolate buttons.

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The original recipe comes from BBC Good Food’s ‘Chocolate’ mini magazine from their April 2005 edition (that just proves how well loved this recipe is in my family – 10 years and still going strong!) and apart from substituting the butter and chocolate for dairy free alternatives, the only other change I’ve made is to use yoghurt and vinegar instead of soured cream. This is a great way to substitute soured cream in a recipe where it doesn’t matter than the consistency is a little thinner – and it works perfectly here.

When my mum used to make these it would be lucky if there was one left 20 minutes after they’d been baked. If, somehow, you’ve managed to resist scoffing them all immediately, warm them up in the microwave for 15 – 20 seconds to take them back to that perfectly freshly baked gooey mess they should be.

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Pavlova – Dairy Free!

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A sumptuous dessert, sure to amaze anyone – dairy free or not. A crisp, light, and yet chewy meringue, filled with billows of coconut milk cream and crowned with a mass of delicious seasonal fruit. The perfect dessert to wow a crowd.

Pavlova brings back a lot of childhood memories for me… warm summer evenings, surrounded by family and friends, everyone full to the brim after a delicious meal. Then, out comes the Pavlova… the crowning centre piece. So light, crisp and sweet, with a pile of pillow-y soft cream, and then a towering mass of sweet fruit. And of course everyone devours it!

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Pavlova is something I’ve really missed – It’s something where cream is a very main and important ingredient, and you can’t hide the flavour. Soya cream doesn’t whip very well (or at least no variety I’ve ever found does!), and has a discernible soya aftertaste – not great if you’re serving it up to dairy eaters who will definitely think it is below standard. Over the last few months, I’ve been doing a lot of research into dairy free alternatives and time and time again I saw whipped coconut milk as a replacement for whipped cream. Really, I thought? Does that really work? What’s the texture like? I also worried about everything having to go with coconut… as much as I love it, it doesn’t always go with everything in the same way that cream does!

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However I have to say I am a complete convert! Just by refrigerating the coconut milk, it whips perfectly and the texture and appearance is exactly like whipped cream – soft, billowy mounds of it would make a great side to lots of desserts to replace normal cream – and although the coconut flavour is not overwhelming in the slightest, you could soften the flavour by folding in a few tablespoons of dairy free yoghurt, which also loosens the texture slightly.

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Pavlova is great dessert to have up your sleeve, especially as the end result is spectacular and it really is very easy. You can even make the meringue part a day or two before which is always useful. Pavlova is a basic meringue recipe with two key ingredients – white wine vinegar and cornflour. It is the addition of these two ingredients which gives Pavlova it’s famous chewy texture in the middle, which just keeps you coming back for more.

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Chocolate Viennese Whirls

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Sweet, buttery, melt in the mouth Viennese Whirl biscuits sandwiched together with a chocolate truffle filling; these are perfect for a special occasion and would be a great alternative to cake. You’d never guess how simple these are to bake just by looking at them! 

Sometimes, I just don’t fancy cake. There, I said it! Sometimes something a little more sophisticated, a little less sweet does the trick. And just like there is a cake for every occasion, the same can be said for the humble biscuit… right the way from a rough and ready chocolate chip cookie to these splendid Viennese Whirls. They look so impressive, so time consuming, so “did you really make these at home?!“, but they are so so simple! IMG_1359 In texture, these biscuits are like an extremely short shortbread. A very buttery texture, they drift away in the mouth (because to even suggest melt would make them sound too heavy!) leaving behind a sweet buttery taste – yes, even without real butter!

These are Chocolate Viennese Whirls; unlike their familiar counterparts which are usually filled with jam and buttercream, they are less sweet, slightly more rich, and far more decadent. The chocolate filling is simply melted chocolate, then mixed with butter and caster sugar. I was surprised at the addition of caster sugar, but the texture of it really works and compliments the smooth biscuits with the smallest amount of pleasant crunch. And if you have some filling left over, you can roll it into balls and coat in cocoa powder for a quick and easy chocolate truffle! IMG_1370 I found this recipe a long long time ago in You magazine, and had it hoarded away in a pile marked ‘to try’. I’m so glad I did. The recipe was perfect and the only tweak I made was to the cooking time – I found mine needed a little longer in the oven to completely dry out, which is important as this is what gives them their lighter than light texture. IMG_1381 The trick to the shape of these fancy biscuits is a piping bag and nozzle. This might make you shy away in horror – but trust me, this is not a recipe where you need to have piping skills! The nozzle does all the work for you; pipe any shape you want and with a slightly damp finger, smooth over any edges you want to hide. If this really does fill you with fear, pipe some practice shapes onto a plate until you’re happy, then scoop the dough back into the piping bag to make your final biscuits.

If you don’t want to go as far as making the filling you can simply melt the chocolate and dip the biscuits in, as I did with some of mine – or, even easier, use a dairy free chocolate spread thickened with a little cocoa powder or icing sugar to sandwich them together! IMG_1393 Continue reading

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