Blood Orange and Ginger Almond Cake

I havent seemed to be around here at all since the new year. I’ve been spending my days wrapped up in home yoga, enjoying a more savoury side of cooking and trying to cram in as much time with family and friends as I can. As much as I’ve missed my blogging internet self, It was some much-needed time to re-ground myself and remember whats important to me in preparation for a great year to follow.

I havent set any fancy new years resolutions this year, just one. To welcome the coming year with an open heart and open mind (and also looking after my self as a number one priority, but this should just be a given!)

Yes ok, cake isn’t exactly nourishing food but it is nourishment for the soul. Life would be pure hell without the little pleasures.

Blood oranges are a charming fruit to grab while they’re still around. I love how unsuspecting they look from the outside. As soon as you cut through that ordinary peel, you’re hit with a citrus sweet fragrance and an eyeful of juicy burnt orange flesh. Every time I cut into one I’m amazed at the colour.

I decided to make this cake using mostly ground almonds as it gives a great texture contrast to the squidgey orange pieces. Adding in a dash of ground ginger really brings the blood oranges and the sponge together. We’re finally coming out of the depths of winter and gearing up for all of the gleaming fruits and vegetables to come this spring. Cooking delicious food becomes an easy task when nature does all the work for you.

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Parsnip, Hazelnut and Stem Ginger Loaf Cake

Every week, me and my friend/colleague are tasked with coming up with three different desserts to put onto the Du Jour menu at work. This is by far, the best part of my job. It’s something I’ve had to earn; no more monotonous cookie dough rolling, cutting and baking for me! My role is so much more creative now; my imagination is let loose like an artist on a blank untouched canvas. The kitchen is my playground.

Yes, at times its stressful and draining having to constantly be conjuring up diverse ideas whilst trying to choose dishes that motivate and inspire me. I don’t want to just keep repeating the same ideas with different flavours. I need to choose things that aren’t only appealing and delicious for the customer, but also choose tasks that enable me to learn new techniques.

Last week, my friend and I decided to put carrot cake on the menu – fruity carrot cake with creme fraiche, crisp sweet carrot chips, coconut sorbet and caramelised roasted pineapple. Bright, bouncy dishes are back in along with breezy spring evenings.

While discussing this specific dish, my friend told me she’d recently made a parsnip loaf. As soon as she said ‘parsnip’ and ‘cake’; I was instantly intrigued. I had made carrot, courgette and even beetroot cake; but parsnip had never landed in my mixing bowl.

As soon as my days off came around, I was in the supermarket spying out my parsnips.

Don’t think that this parsnip cake is going to be anything like carrot cake. It’s not. Carrot cake has a fruity sweetness that emits from the vegetable whereas parsnips, though still sweet, are slightly more savoury. This is what has made this cake so great to me.

A slice of this loaf cake is versatile in both texture and flavour. The soft moist crumb is occasionally interrupted by crunchy roasted hazelnuts and luscious cream cheese. The crumb isn’t obviously sweet, however the topping and little hidden morsels of stem ginger make up for this.

An easy, quick cake that you cake whip up in an hour when unexpected guests arrive, or just for a mid-week treat to get you through to the weekend.IMG_0965 IMG_0990 IMG_1024IMG_1012

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Lemon & Blueberry Drizzle Cake with Summer Berries

I made this cake about a month ago. I know, I should’ve shared it sooner. Especially since it was such a crowd pleaser with my family. However, work and life got in the way and before I knew it a month had passed. So has the beautiful summer weather it seems. If anyone feels like reminding England that its July and supposed to be sunny, that would be great.

As much as I love this cake; its simplicity, its humble inviting nature and its glorious taste. It didn’t come without its trial and tribulations. This photoed (and thankfully last) cake was actually attempt number three. After two attempts the previous day (my heart breaks at the amount of wasted lemons) I decided to give it one last shot on the morning of my sisters birthday meet up. THANK GOD it worked or I would’ve probably begun to question my ability as a pastry chef.

I have a big weak spot for a simple slice of cake. Add some fresh seasonal fruit and honestly, I’m yours. There’s something about a simple fresh sponge that just makes my heart sing. This beautiful loaf is light but packed with lemon flavour (three lemons worth!) In every slice you’ll find beautiful blueberry jewels, a generous amount of lemon syrup and sticky lemon icing.

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Vegan Rye Cinnamon Pecan Rolls

I really REALLY wish there was somewhere near me that sold vegan cinnamon buns. Because I would be there every single frickin day. I need more baked goods in my life; its making me mentally unstable. Alas, the only place that has a baked good that’s close to a ‘normal’ pastry is Crosstown Doughnuts who have started doing Vegan Doughnuts every Fri, Sat & Sun. All other vegan places near me are very health focused and their baked goods are either in fact raw, or are made with buckwheat flour and there’s no dough in site.

I have yet to venture to Crosstown to try the Vegan doughnuts but the dough (via instagram) looks so bloody tasty, I need to get there ASAP.  (You’ll be seeing an update on that very soon via my instagram.) If anyone knows of any good bakeries in central London near the Victoria/Westminster/Mayfair area, PLEASE let me in on it.

I made these cinnamon rolls with the intention to freeze them in order to sustain me during the week ahead, but they never made it even close to the freezer. I shouldnt be surprised as that’s typical me, but you can’t blame a girl for trying.

This recipe is actually really similar to your average cinnamon roll recipe, and it was really easy to create a vegan version. I gave one of my non-vegan friends one and she soon sent through a lovely text about how amazing they were and how you would have no idea they were vegan. Those kind of words make me so happy; to know that living a vegan lifestyle you don’t need to miss out.

So here you are; a cinnamon roll that both you and your non-vegan friends and family will love. Ssh don’t tell them its vegan and I 100% guarantee they wont even know.

 

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Raw Peanut Butter & Banana ‘Cheesecake’ (Raw/Vegan/GlutenFree)

IMG_6122I love the idea of raw food. The idea that I’m eating my food closest to its natural form as possible and taking in those nutrients with minimal processing. I have done a lot of blending here but I’d much rather eat bananas, peanuts, dates and coffee in ‘cheesecake’ form rather than eating them on their own. This is much more appealing.

I love eating raw but right now, it’s not an option for me to do full-time. I love my hot food too much. England being generally chilly most of the year, hot food is a comfort and warmth I crave and need. If I lived in a hotter climate with an abundance of ripe, seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables, I think it would be a bigger possibility.

So I’ll stick with a few raw dishes here and there for now.

This recipe comes adapted from a book my mum gifted to me recently. Its called ‘Raw Cake’ by The Hardihood. It’s a great book full of smoothie/juice recipes, raw cheesecakes, tarts and desserts. A really interesting read in terms of ingredients, some I’ve never even heard of. Collagen powder? Camu Camu powder? This does put me off a few recipes as the ingredients would take more effort to source, but if I really like the look of something I’ll go searching for it.

I chose this recipe because, first of all, I’m obsessed with peanut butter and bananas. Second, it was one of the more simple recipes in the book and included ingredients I already have. As I was tinkering away in the kitchen I decided to add coffee into the base (because one can never have enough coffee) and played around with the liquid consistency in both the base and filling. The filling seemed quite stodgy so I added a good helping of nut milk to thin it out a little as well as adding in a layer of thick sliced banana to give a banoffee pie vibe. Because… BANANAS!

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Vegan Dark Chocolate, Pecan and Almond Butter Oat Cookies (Gluten free)

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Please don’t be put off by the notion of vegan cookies. Trust me, I was a skeptic too. However, in light of recent events (which you’ll hear more about soon), this recipe testing was needed. Vegan cookies were needed.

I’m 100% sure that if someone gave me one of these cookies and didnt tell me they were vegan, I would think they were just normal butter-laden cookies. But guys, theres no butter in sight here! Its been replaced by those heart healthy friends, coconut oil and almond butter. Now I’m not at all saying these are healthy, seen as they’re still packed with sugar and chocolate. Its progress in the right direction though right?

On the other hand however, these babies are full of oats, almonds and pecans. All good for you and all filling. A few of these are a perfect snack pick me up to get you through to dinner time and if you’re anything like me, your need for a sweet treat throughout the day is covered. These can also be made gluten free with gluten free oats.

They’re basically the jesus of all cookies.

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Peanut Butter, Date and Fig Granola (Vegan/GF)

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Breakfast is by far my favourite meal. It’s maybe the only thing I’ll get up early for in the morning. Theres not a better prospect going to bed at night, than knowing that there’s a beautiful planned breakfast awaiting you in the morning. However, on a week day working 60 plus hours, something I’m short on (as many of you probably are), is time.

I simply don’t have time to stir porridge on a stove top or whip up a batch of pancakes. Especially on only a few hours sleep after staying up late in bed scrolling through the internet (I’m sure we can all relate.)

Something I really love to make is Granola. Make a large batch to last you the week on your days off and you have one less worry for the week ahead. Weekday breakfasts needs to be quick, filling and satisfying. Bland, sugary, box cereal simply doesn’t cut it anymore.

So venture into your store cupboard, follow my recipe or pick out what you love and make it your own. Change the peanut butter for almond butter or switch out the dried cranberries and add in some cocao nibs for some chocolatey crunch. Now I’ve typed that, that sounds damn good! Definitely going to throw some of those in my next batch.

Heres to easy fulfilling breakfasts which hit the spot on a monday morning.

P.s my recipe and video use honey as part of the ingredients, but for a totally vegan granola, change the honey to another sweetener (agave syrup/coconut nectar/maple syrup.)

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Vegan Gooey Mocha Brownie Pudding

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When the days are growing darker and the sun seems to be retreating behind the clouds more everyday day, this is what I crave. I know for a lot of you summer is still in full swing. I mean, its August. But here in the UK however, it feels like October most of the days. The rain showers for hours on end although we still have those occasional summery moments but they are few and far between.

Who am I kidding anyway, it could be 30 degrees outside and I’d still want this. Its part of my DNA. Rarely does a day go by that I don’t reach for some chocolate. Lets be real.

So I bring you something that I loved to eat before becoming vegan and as always, anything can be made just as tasty vegan! I went a little crazy and added dark and white chocolate for added indulgence. I also popped in a hit of my favourite organic coffee because coffee always brings out the flavour in chocolate and seems to make it taste richer.

I love that all these ingredients are already in my cupboards and its so quick to make. Perfect when you’re in need of a quick chocolate fix. Just please don’t overbake this loveliness. Keep that centre gooey and a little underbaked. Keep that sponge dense and rich. Keep your belly, mind and taste buds chipper.

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