24 January 2019

Martha's Vegan Chocolate Cake

January might now be better known as Veganuary, (what a time to be alive) and while I failed the challenge just one week into the month, I'm still enjoying trying out loads of new recipes and foods. Having been veggie (kind of) for about a year now, there are two things I look for when testing a vegan recipe: 1. It doesn't have loads of weird ingredients 2. It tastes as good as its non-vegan alternative. This recipe for vegan chocolate cake by GBBO's Martha met both criteria and with my vegan-sceptic family going in for seconds I knew it was a winner. 

If you've never baked a cake before, let alone a vegan one, trust me on this, it's foolproof. It probably goes without saying but you can decorate it with whatever you like – raspberries and dark chocolate is one of my favourite combinations but curls of dark chocolate, desiccated coconut or crushed Oreos would be just as delicious.

Martha's Vegan Chocolate Cake

Ingredients for the sponge
350ml oat milk (or whatever non-dairy milk you have to hand)
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
250g caster sugar
150ml sunflower oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
225g white spelt flour (or plain flour)
75g cocoa powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Ingredients for the icing:
200g 70% dark chocolate (check the ingredients to make sure it doesn't contain milk) broken into small pieces
75ml oat milk
50g coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat your oven to 180°C/gas mark 4 and line two round, nonstick cake tins with baking parchment.
2. Whisk the oat milk in a jug with the apple cider vinegar, leave for two minutes to thicken then stir in the sugar, oil and vanilla.
3. Sieve the flour, cocoa powder, bicarb, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl and stir together with a fork or metal spoon. Make a well in the centre and gradually add the wet ingredients, whisking until a smooth batter forms. 
4. Quickly divide the batter between the two tins and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes (this will depend on your oven - mine took 23 in total). 
5. Allow the cakes to cool a little in the tins before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cool they are ready to be iced.
6. For the icing put the dark chocolate, oat milk, coconut oil and vanilla into a small saucepan. Heat gently and stir until the mixture is melted and smooth. Beat with a whisk then leave for 15 minutes before icing your cake.

Store in an airtight container and eat within three days – mine didn't last that long though!

The original recipe for this cake can be found here.


18 December 2018

26 Grains – Neal's Yard, London

It's been a little while! In a season when routine and self-care have never been more important to me, I don't know how I managed to let writing take a back seat. I guess I have been a little lazy, but all the intentions to document significant moments of my life have been there. 

Living and working at home again has been such a blessing. It feels like I have a lot more time these days, which was something I always wished for when I lived in Bristol, worked full time and had a busy social life. I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything now, though, which is funny because that was a big fear of mine for a long time. I still get to plan fun trips with friends who have stuck with me through this whirlwind of a year. One of those was a Christmas trip to London with Emily with the sole aim of spending the day eating. We had both wanted to go to 26 Grains for the longest time, so that's where we met and where I could have happily spent the whole day.

Porridge is no more a boring breakfast; it is my day-off indulgence. I love trying new flavours, textures and toppings and 26 Grains is the place for that. At £6 a bowl it's not cheap but since 'it's London' is an excuse widely accepted, I guess that's why. I had the hazelnut and salted butter porridge with added almond butter and it.was.divine. Loaded with hazelnuts, chopped apple and a pool of melted butter in the middle, this was ingredient pairing at its finest. The porridge itself had a perfect consistency (creamy, not too thick – delicious) with brown sugar seeping in through the top – so nice with an oat flat white.

Obviously, I wanted to eat everything on the menu but we had a table booked at Cafe Murano for lunch and, sadly, there are only so many meals one can eat in a day. For now, I'll hope someone's bought me the cookbook for Christmas... and I promise this is my last porridge-related post (of the year).


27 September 2018

Toasted Oats: Two Ways

A few weeks Emily came to Wales for the weekend and we spent Sunday doing all of our favourite things: getting up early, reading recipe books and packing a bag filled with Angel Bakery pastries and a flask of coffee to devour at the top of the Skirrid Fawr.

Emily is a friend I used to see all day, every day – I'm not exaggerating, we worked and (practically) lived together – so times like these are golden, as now we often spend weeks apart. Food is our main common interest, and that's an indicator of a lasting friendship, in my opinion. We had our pastries to look forward to at the top of the mountain but we needed fuel to get us there, so we decided to try Flora Shedden's toasted coconut oats.

Everyone knows porridge is a breakfast that will keep you going til lunch (or elevenses in our case), but adding coconut and toasting the mix elevates it to a whole new level. Why hadn't I thought of this?

Toasting oats is something I now do fairly regularly, but usually on my days off, when I have a little longer to spend on breakfast. A good hour or two is dedicated to setting myself up for the day – whatever it entails – and it is a brilliant form of self care. I recently tried Emily's suggestion: an almond variation of Flora's original recipe and it's just as good, if not better.

Now that autumn is officially here the mornings are only going to get colder, so we may as well embrace it. Fill your favourite mug with your morning drink of choice and enjoy these toasted oats one of two ways; coconut or almond, or both, if you can't decide. Perfect for warming your cockles when, you know, life calls and you have to get out of bed.

Toasted Coconut Oats (Vegan)
Adapted from Flora Shedden's Toasted Coconut Oats in Gatherings
Serves 2

1 tsp coconut oil
60g rolled oats
25g desiccated coconut
300ml coconut drink (I use Rude Health)
1 tbsp coconut sugar or maple syrup
Pinch sea salt

Melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan on a medium-low heat. Add the oats and coconut and toast until golden (about five minutes). Slowly add the coconut milk and stir until it absorbs completely – as if you are making a risotto. Add a pinch of sea salt and the coconut sugar or maple syrup. Serve in two of your favourite bowls with a handful of blueberries, desiccated coconut and peanut butter.

Toasted Almond Oats
Inspired by Emily from Delaterre Food Writing
Serves 2

1 tsp butter
60g rolled oats
25g ground almonds
300ml oat milk (I use Oatly organic oat drink)
1 tbsp coconut sugar or maple syrup

Melt the butter in a small saucepan on a medium-low heat. Add the oats and the ground almonds and toast until golden (about five minutes). Slowly add the oat milk and stir until it absorbs completely – as if you are making a risotto. Add a pinch of sea salt and the coconut sugar or maple syrup. Serve in two of your favourite bowls with fresh raspberries, almond butter and any other toppings you like.

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