Honeybunch of
Onion Tops
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16 / 12 / 2021

What a classic! Military-like layers of retro precision, that texturally compliment & fulfill the universal love for kids-party food (that I have at least), hm! These are such a joy to make, and look so swish you'll be mighty proud of yourself tucking into a slice witha lil' fancy cake fork (or a spoon!).

You'll need to track down some red vegan jelly (or gently re-melt some set stuff you can locate) - or Jel Dessert - as they're often called. But I've seen them popping up (check ingredients for brands) everywhere in little supermarkets & health food stores (and online as always) so maybe save this recipe for when you next see some.

Makes 9-12 slices (depending on size)

Ingredients

Method

  1. Get your cashews soaking and line a 20cm/8inch square tin (or similar) with baking paper with generous overhang - so that you can easily pull the slice out of the tin by make-shift baking paper 'handles'.
  2. Blitz the biscuits in a food processor (or alternatively bash in a plastic bag with a rolling pin) until they resemble course sand. Add the vegan butter and blitz until incorporated and the mixture resembles wet sand. Pour the crumbs into the lined tin and press down firmly with wet finger tips or the bottom of a cup - to achieve a compact flat layer. Pop in the fridge.
  3. Drain and rinse the soaked & hydrated cashews, then add to a high-powdered blender along with the cream cheese, coconut oil, lemon juice, vanilla, maple syrup and salt. Blend until smooth. Pour over the biscuit base and smooth out to the edges. Tap the base of the tin on the bench a couple of times to bring any air bubbles to the surface, before popping the tin into the fridge to set for at least 30 mins.
  4. When the cream cheese layer is set - aka you can tip the tin on a 45 degree angle and everything stays put - boil the kettle and prepare the vegan jelly acording to packet instructions. Using a large spoon or measuring cup, very gently dribble the jelly onto the cream cheese layer, minimising the height you "pour" from every time. Add it to different areas of the slice each time to minimise meltage of the layer below. Once all of the jelly mixture has been added to the top of the slice, return to the fridge once more to set completely (at least 2 hours to be safe).
  5. Remove the slice from the tin by running a knife around the edges of the tin, using the baking paper overhang to carefully lift it out (it's okay if it bends a bit!), then slice with a sharp knife and serve. Store in the fridge when not eating. Lasts 5 days.

16 / 12 / 2021

These were a very happy accident! Coming about from one of those use-up-bits-and-bobs-in-the-fridge crusades, while simultaneously taking inspiration from a Herb Dumpling Ottolenghi recipe in Shelf Love: Test Kitchen. I don't quite understand how these remain so light and spring-appropriate, yet also creamy, hearty & filling. They're just divine! Crispy on the outside, soft and almost egg-like in the middle. Gently spiced, gloriously savoury - and perfect the next day for breakfast (or I suppose a picnic), cold from the fridge.

a note on the herbs: feel free (and I encourage you) to use whatever herbs you have access too/on hand/growing in your garden! the measurments below are a rough guide. obviously we're talking soft (not woody) herbs, but otherwise the recipe welcomes rough quantities and endless customisation!

Makes approx. 12 cakes / depending on their size - serves 3-4

Ingredients

Method

  1. In a medium fry-pan, add a drizzle of garlic oil (or regular olive oil) along with the spring onion and chopped herbs. Saute over low heat, until the greens have wilted down. Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add your squeezed-dry tofu. Using your finger tips or a pastry cutter (which makes easy work of things) crumble the tofu into a mince like consistency. Add the nut cheese to the tofu and mash/mix until combined.
  3. Add the cumin seeds, lemon, wilted herbs and amble salt & pepper to the bowl and mix to combine - breaking up any clumps of herbs so they are evenly dispersed in the mixture.
  4. Heat a glug of light-flavoured vegetable oil in a non-stick pan and while that's heating up shape your patties by taking (as much as you desire, although I worked with) 1/4 cup of the mixture in your hands, squeezing it tightly between your palms to compact it (and whereby sticking it together), and shaping it into a neat little pattie shape before popping into the hot pan. Don't crowd the pan when cooking these, and don't fuss over them. They will hold together fine if you just flip them gently, once.
  5. Cook over medium heat until golden brown on each side (approx. 5 minutes), adding additional oil to the pan as required. Set the cooked patties aside on a plate lined with paper towel & repeat with the remaining mixture. Eat immediately or  within 3 days.

12 / 12 / 2021

It's taken me a while to feel like any v/gf baking recipe I've made is completely fool-proof - in that it stands up to the original (or is more delicious in it's own right) and will reap the same results time and time again. Gluten-free baking is just so fickle...and slippery! Just when you think you've hit some gf-socery it reminds you that it's a fussy little thing and will respond differently to the tiniest changes in ingredients - brands of ingredients - hidden gums in plant milks etc. etc.

I've spent a considerable amount of time this year trying to learn everything I can about it. I hope I'm well and truly on the other side of Mt.Overwhelm, but I still find it to be a bamboozling field. Every effort still requires a little pep-talk or medative moment - repeating the mantra it's simplier than you think replaying in my head. Generally that helps - because it's when thinking adding this ingredient...oh and then this ingredient that the finished result looses it's appeal.

Vegan & gf baking can be simple and I hope this recipe marks a change in my v/gf sweet-er recipes. In that are they are all the more reliable, spectacular and alluringly straightforward with the knowledge I have gleaned and ever-improving handle I have on this nichy cross-over.

a note about gums: white a little xanthum gum helps hold your cake together, ensuring you have a realistic crumb that isn't crumbly (we don't want to perpetuate that crumbly-gf stereotype!) - when it comes to gums, a little does go a long way. Too much and your cake will be - well, gummy! So to prevent any issues follow these tips.

the gf flour blend i've used: I'm still trialing the million different gf flour mixes that exist out there. For cakes and other light & fluffy-themed things I've found Bob's 1:1 Baking Flour to lead the pack (read...so far!). If - like for me - it's expensive where you are, then I recommend making this copy-cat recipe which I have done in this recipe. It's far cheaper to do so anyway, and you can make cookies, pancakes, cakes, donut holes, cinnamon buns - essentially all things with it, reaping very decent results.

Serves 8-12

Ingredients

Icing

Method

  1. Add the non-dairy milk to a small saucepan along with 4 chai tea-bags (tags removed). Bring to the bubble over medium heat then set aside, leaving the tea-bags to steap for 10 minutes (or longer if you're prepared).
  2. Grease and line the bottoms of 2 x 22cm/8.5 inch round cake tins. Pre-heat your oven to 160C/320F.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, sugar, raising agents, flax, salt, spices, the dried tea from 1 chai tea bag, walnut and carrot (I find it easiest to add these bulkier ingredinets here). Whisk to combine.
  4. Remove the tea-bags from the plant-milk (ringing them dry of all their goodness beforehand!) and add the apple sauce, oil and vanilla to the pot. Whisk to combine.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and gently whisk to combine. Add the boiling water and gently whisk to incorporate - not over mixing. Divide the batter between the two pans, smoothing over the top - then bake in the pre-heated oven for 30-40 minutes, or until they're firm to touch and a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  6. Leave to cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then flip out onto a cooling rack (peel off the baking paper right away) to come to room temperature.
  7. Meanwhile, make the icing by gently melting the butter (or softening - you don't want it to bubble, as then it will split) and whisking in the lemon zest. Whisk to combine then pop in the fridge/freezer to set and the flavours to blend together. (Skip this step if you don't have time, and just add the zest to the icing as is).
  8. Once firm, add the tofutti, vanilla and squirt of lemon juice to the lemon butter. Whisk until combined (by hand or with a electric beaters). Add the icing sugar in 1/2 cup increments until fully combined and smooth.
  9. Ice the cooled cakes with icing. It will seem like there isn't enogh icing, but there is just enough to sandwhich them together and cover all sides. Watch my video to see how I do it if hesitant. A small stainless-steal spatula makes easy work of it - but isn't essential. Decorate as desired.
  10. Can be stored in the fridge or at room temperature. Lasts 3 days.


29 / 10 / 2021

The other day I saw that Arnott's had brought out a range of their classic biscuits made gluten-free! Chocolate ripples - finally! Tiny Teddies, how fun.  Hooray, I thought - even more biscuit-centred dessert adventures (yes they're more delicious than they sound) to be had. However, a quick look at their ingredients put me in a mini-huff as I saw they're full of the usual cheap GF-fixes -whey, egg, milk powder etc. Big boo-hoo, I know. I soon got over it and made myself some Custard Creams to help mitigate the FOMO feelings.

It was a chance to finally try out the genius technique Nadia mentions in her series Nadia Bakes (2020) - which is putting custard powder in buttercream icing. Holey heckos is it a neat trick. It adds an instant hit of malty vanillery-ness which so happens to be the glorious focal point of these classic biscuits.

I admit I made these the rough way - no piping of biscuit batter or icing, whoopsi-daisy, so apologies they're all a little...individual lol. Although I can not verify that whatever level of effort you decide to infuse these with - will prove mega delishi all the same.

Hope your friends, neighbours, your gran and yourself enjoy these ones!

Makes 14 biscuits.

Ingredients

Biscuit

Icing

Method

  1. In a large mixing bowl, add the almond meal, flour, icing sugar and salt. Whisk to combine and using your finger-tips to break up any almond flour lumps. Add the vanilla and butter to the bowl, then using your finger-tips or a pastry cutter disperse the butter into the flour mixture. Using your hands or a wooden spoon, bring the (very buttery) mixture together into a smooth, soft 'dough'.
  2. Manipulate the dough into the biscuit-shapes of your choice by either piping it, rolling it between wet palms or with a rolling pin coated with plenty of flour - then cutting out shapes with a knife. The dough spreads considerably, so I would urge you to keep your biscuits modest in size. Lay the pieces on two lined baking trays (I had approx. 30 pieces), then refrigerate for 20 minutes while you preheat your oven to 180C/360F.
  3. While the biscuits chill, make the icing by beating the butter, custard powder and vanilla together until smooth. Gradually beat in the icing sugar until smooth, adding 1 tsp+ of plant-milk if it’s too thick to spread. Set aside.
  4. Bake your biscuits in the pre-heated oven for 10 minutes, or until puffed up & bearing the slighted ray of golden brown. Let the biscuits cool on the trays for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling racks to cool completely.
  5. Sandwich the room-temperature biscuits together with the prepared icing (either by piping it on or by spreading it on with a knife/spatula). You should end up with approx. 14 custard creams. Store in an air-tight container for 2 days.

06 / 06 / 2021

This is peak nostalgia! The simplicity of this dessert is captured in this version - with the ever-satisfying method of assembly (sandwiching biscuits together with fluffy cream) working just as well. This recipe is a joy. One of my new favourite puddings, no question <3

*Start preparations at least 4 hours in advance.

**This recipe showcases The Vegan Dairy's Dutch Chocolate Crème - however similar thick chocolate crème products would also work.

Serves 4-8 (depending on desired serving size)

Ingredients

To Decorate: chopped/shaved vegan dark chocolate

Method

  1. In a large bowl, beat the COYO with electric beaters/whisk until thick. Add the Dutch Chocolate Crème and beat again to thoroughly incorporate. Add the cocoa powder, maple syrup and salt, beating once again to combine.
  2. Comprehensively line a loaf tin (or any oblong vessel) with plastic wrap (baking paper would also work), so that there is plenty of overhang.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the black coffee with the Kalúa.
  4. To start building your log take one of the biscuits, briefly submerge it in the coffee/liquor mixture, then dollop a heaped tablespoon of chocolate cream onto one side of the biscuit. Stand it on it’s side against the short side of your tin/container, then repeat with the remaining biscuits. Refer to the photographs for reference. Refrigerate the leftover chocolate cream – you will need it later to coat the log.
  5. Gather up the overhanging sides of the plastic wrap (including the short ends) and peg together to secure the shape of the log (refer to the photographs). Refrigerate your log for a minimum of 4 hours (ideally 6, or overnight).
  6. At least 30 minutes before serving, gently unwrap your log and transfer to a serving plate. Spread the remaining chocolate cream over the log & sprinkle with chopped/shaved dark chocolate. Refrigerate for 30 minutes (minimum) to ‘set’ before slicing & serving. Slice on the diagonal for that ripple cake ‘look’.

*You must use Natural COYO for this recipe to work. Other coconut yoghurts do not thicken when whipped.

'Ripple' cake assembly.

Log wrapped up securely with plastic wrap.

'Ripple' cake cut diagonally for optimal presentation.