Amazing Vegan Pavlova. This is not a drill…

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Do you have a sweet tooth ? Crave a bit of pavlova every now and then ? Well do I have the recipe for you. This delicious mess of aquafaba meringue, creaminess and tart fruits is sure to have you swooning.

This pavlova is vegan and tastes amazing. Not just ‘that’s good for a vegan pav kind of amazing’ but truly delicious.  It’s got all the necessary elements – crunchy meringue, your choice of creamy goodness ( I used a soy based whipped cream) and tart yummy berries and passionfruit.

A quick search told me that the average egg meringue and dairy cream based pavlova has whopping 50 grams  (10 teaspoons) of sugar per small serve. This generously sized version has less than 10 grams of sugar and that includes the meringue, the fructose in the fruit and the small amount in the cream. This is one pavlova you can actually have and not feel like you’re heading for an insulin spike or a sugar induced coma.

The meringue is from a previous post and is super easy to make (especially when you have a new Kitchenmaid mixer woohoo).

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This recipe made enough for about 30 palm sized meringues and a tray of about 50 small meringue kisses which store well in an airtight container for at least a couple of weeks. Recipe link here …Aquafaba Meringue Recipe

I used Soyatoo Soy Whip because it’s quick and easy and and I didn’t have a tin of coconut cream in the fridge to make coconut whipped cream. This stuff is great when you are in a hurry and has the added benefit of having a lot less fat content than cream and less wastage than great big bowls of whipped coconut cream.

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To assemble I put a meringue nest on a plate, topped it with some soy cream,added a handful of berries and some passionfruit. I also mashed some raspberries to make a kind of coulis to drizzle over the top. That’s it ! Nothing to it. Once you have the meringues on hand the whole thing comes together in minutes.

I got my husband to take one for a test drive and it was gone in record time with a second serving  following close behind. My vegan daughters are pretty darn excited too. I think this could become a family favourite.

If you are liking these recipes or are interested in vegan, gluten free, allergy friendly baking head on over to my Quirky Cake Facebook page and have a look around.

 

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Vegan Meringues…. weird chickpea magic

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Before you freak out at the thought of using chickpea cooking liquid to make meringues can I ask you to suspend your disbelief and give these a whirl. Not only do they taste great (not a bit like chickpea), they also contain a much smaller amount of sugar than standard meringue and would be a fun thing to do with kids. Known as aquafaba in the business, this liquid is a great all round egg replacer.

I used these meringues recently for a vegan cake I made and the consensus was that they are the business for vegans or anyone who can’t have egg.

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Aquafaba Meringues       Makes 80 small meringues

1/2 cup chickpea liquid – the liquid drained from a standard can of chickpeas
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Place chickpea liquid and vinegar in a very clean bowl. Any trace of fat will ruin this so I like to wash my bowl well with hot soapy water before I start. Beat with a stand or electric hand held mixer for about 5 mins until stiff peaks form. Slowly add sugar one spoonful at a time whilst continuing to beat. Once all the sugar is incorporated add in vanilla.
At this stage you could also fold in flavourings such as coconut or almond meal if you’d like to.

Pipe or spoon meringue onto trays lined with baking paper and bake for 1 – 1 1/2 hours at 100 degrees c. Small meringues will obviously take less time to cook than pavlova sizes and will feel dry to touch when ready. Once cooked open oven door slightly and allow to cool for another 30 minutes.

*** If you want to get creative you can tint meringue mixture with food colouring, pipe into different sizes and shapes or, like the photo above, you can paint food dye (you can use natural colourings) onto the inside of your piping bag, fill with meringue and pipe stripy meringues onto trays.

Here is the ‘cheesecake’ you’ve been waiting for ….

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Like most of my favourite recipes this one cropped up kind of by accident in a moment of kitchen madness. I felt like cooking but not really eating (go figure) so thought I’d try to make a cheesecake that my vegan daughters could enjoy.

Inspired by the avocado chocolate mousse I made a while ago – https://naturocath.wordpress.com/2015/08/08/just-when-you-thought-you-couldnt-have-chocolate-mousse-anymore/   I decided to tweak it a bit to make it more able to hold its own. The end result was decadent, chocolatey, smooth and creamy. It does have some maple syrup but contains no refined sugar, no wheat or dairy so it’s great if you are trying to move away from these things.

It’s so easy to make – all you need is a food processor. No baking or beating. It all came together in about 15 minutes.

Hold onto your hats ….here we go….

NaturoCath Chocolate Cheesecake

Base – You can make a standard biscuit base or this nut and date version.
2 cups whole almonds
15 medjool dates
1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon each of coffee and cinnamon (optional)

Place nuts and dates in food processor and whiz till chopped. Add coconut oil, salt, coffee and cinnamon. Blend until this mixture forms a ball. Press this into a lined springform pan and place in fridge while you make the filling.

Filling

3 medium ripe avocados
3/4 cup coconut oil
1 1/2 cups cocoa powder – you can substitute in some raw cacao or cocoa nibs here if you want
Big pinch of good quality salt ( like Maldon)
1/2 – 3/4 cup of maple syrup ( or other sweetener – agave syrup, rice malt, honey – add gradually tasting to get the right amount of sweetness for you )

Blend all filling ingredients until very smooth – scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times – depending on your machine this should only take a couple of minutes.

Pour filling over base, smooth and place in freezer for a hour or so until stabilised. Remove from freezer about an hour before serving and top with whatever you fancy. I used freeze dried strawberries, bashed with a rolling pin to make strawberry ‘dust’. You could also use whatever fresh fruit you enjoy most. Store in refrigerator if eating within a couple of days otherwise leave in freezer.

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Caramel Slice for Georgie

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By popular request I’m sharing this recipe. Whilst I try to keep the food on here healthy and easy I’ve had quite a few people ask for this so here you go…….

A couple of weeks ago my daughter Georgie had a craving for caramel slice. That was weird in itself because she is one of the most health conscious people I know. I think it had something to do with wanting what you can’t have. You see Georgie decided to go vegan a little while ago so slices made with butter, milk and chocolate aren’t on the menu for her anymore.
In the interest of keeping my weight in a healthy range and looking after ourselves we generally don’t have these kinds of food in our house but this is a cracker of a recipe and we all have to live a little sometimes !

Never one to back away from a challenge to keep one of my gorgeous kids happy I embarked on finding a recipe that would meet her craving but not blow our health out the window and this is what I came up with. Whilst not completely guilt free it is a huge improvement on your classic caramel slice which is full of condensed milk, butter, sugar, sugar and more sugar and topped off with chocolate. This is definitely a ‘sometimes’ food but interestingly it is quite rich so you only need a little bit to feel like you’ve had a treat. We sliced ours into 2cm cubes and even that little amount felt pretty indulgent.

So, with no further ado I give you …..

Georgie’s Caramel Slice 

Start by soaking 1 cup of raw cashews in hot water.

At this point you can decide between a couple of biscuit bases. Option one is healthier and option two is quicker. It’s up to you what you’d prefer. I think option 2 works better and at this stage it’s in for a penny, in for a pound. I’ll got to the gym more this week !

Biscuit base options
Option 1
1 cup almonds
1/2 cup dates
2 tablespoons coconut oil

Whiz up in the food processor and press into slice tray

Option 2
1 packet Choc Ripple biscuits (yes, they are vegan)
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

Whiz up in the food processor and press into tray.

Place in freezer to chill.

Filling

1 cup raw cashews ( that you have soaked in hot water for 30-60 minutes)
1 cup dates (medjool is best but ordinary dates will work too)
1/2 cup coconut oil
2 tablespoons tahini
1/3 cup maple syrup

Whiz these in food processor till smooth and well blended. Depending on the power of your processor this can take a few minutes. Once done smooth over your chilled biscuit base and place back in the freezer.

Topping 

1/4 cup each of coconut oil, maple syrup and cocoa powder.

Place in saucepan and melt together stirring till smooth.
Spread over chilled slice and place back in the freezer.

When well chilled slice into small cubes. Store in freezer and allow to thaw for a few minutes before eating.

Try this… you can thank me later.

Yum !

Moving Day Apple Gingerbread Cake – for Eleanor….

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My daughter shares her house with a couple of friends who have steadily wiggled their way into my heart over the last couple of years. Charlie is a gingery, kind, chutney making gentle soul. Eleanor is a funny, feisty, funky-glasses wearing gal. Together with Zoe – cat loving, vegetable gardening, ever loving, vegan feminista –  it makes for the basis of a great sitcom. Some of the tales from their home make for laugh out loud stories and I am so glad that Zoe has these friends to share her days with. They are incredibly supportive of each other and I am loving having a little place in their lives.

We spent some of the end of year break helping this trio move into a new house and what do mothers always bring to moving day ? Drinks, sandwiches and cake ! Yummy, sticky, spicy, gingery, vegan cake.

This cake was a particular hit with Eleanor so, in her honour, I am dedicating this one to her !

Eleanor’s Gingerbread Apple Cake 

2 teaspoon flax seeds soaked in 1/4 cup water ( or 2 eggs if you’re not vegan )
1/4  cup each of brown sugar and caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 tablespoons of molasses
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large apples grated
1 cup milk – I used almond
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp bicarb soda
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups wholemeal flour
1/2 cup rolled oats

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Grease or line a round pan or loaf tin.

Mix together flax seeds or eggs, sugars, oil, milk, vanilla, water, molasses and apples.

In a large bowl place flour, baking powder, bicarb soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt and whisk to combine.
Stir through wet ingredients until combined. Gently stir through oats. Don’t over mix !

Pour into pan and bake for about 40 minutes.

We had this with some vegan cream cheese icing but it was still good even without it. I’ll leave the toppings up to you !

 

Dan Sultan and Banana Bread – two things sure to make you feel good….

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Remember long ago, like maybe 2014, when everybody thought banana bread was a healthy option at the cafe ? That long ago time before everyone realised it was CAKE !?

Ok, here is the truth – it is cake, it is not healthy and even more so when it is toasted and slathered in butter. That’s not to say that its not completely delicious but in the interest of a healthy start to the new year I thought I’d share with you my version of banana bread which is nowhere near as sickeningly sweet and has stacks of fibre and good things bundled in. Lots of whole grains, vegan, only a smidge of refined sugar. What’s not to love ?

I’ve been having a love affair with this recipe and my new Dan Sultan album and the two go together to make for happy baking times for me.

Banana Bread

2 cups whole grain rolled oats – whiz these up in a food processor to make oat flour.
1 cup wholemeal flour
2 teaspoons bicarb soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk of your choice ( I like almond)
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3 – 4 mashed ripe bananas
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup molasses or treacle
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons vegetable oil – I use rice bran oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 extra tablespoon of oats

Method – Put on Dan Sultan Dirty Ground CD and get baking….

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Grease or line a loaf pan.

In a small jug mix together apple cider vinegar and milk and leave to stand for 5 minutes.

In a medium sized bowl mix together oat flour, wholemeal flour, bicarb, spices and salt.
In a separate bowl mix together mashed banana, maple syrup, molasses, oil and vanilla. Add milk mixture and mix. Add dry ingredients and stir only until there are no dry lumps.
Pour mix into prepared pan and sprinkle with brown sugar and extra oats. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes.

 

Making the best of things …sometimes only really good chocolate cake will do

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There has been a lot of change here recently. We have a new government and although this blog is not usually a forum for this kind of thing I have to say that I am feeling blue over the fact that the majority of my fellow countrymen have chosen to elect a man and political party for whom I have little respect and no faith whose agenda seems to be one of money and not people.

Election of our political leaders has become a populist, personality based game and it seems that policy, ethics and decency took a wrong turn somewhere and we haven’t seen them for a while.

Whilst I respect other peoples right to their opinion and choice I am disappointed that, by and large, the government we have now is one with which I can find no common ground. The things that are important to me – fairness, affordable quality healthcare, the rights of asylum seekers and refugees, compassion, respect, care for those unable to care for themselves, dignity for all regardless of wealth and status, safe and affordable housing, equity across races, genders and religions seems to be a long way from who we are as a nation. I have been told that my opinion and hopes are pie in the sky, leftie and utopian – to that I just say ‘thank you, that’s exactly what I was aiming for”. Why should we not be hopeful, compassionate, welcoming and aiming for a society which is uplifting and respectful of each other and the planet we all share ?

I guess one good thing is that we have the right to free speech and I am exercising that right now.

Sometimes all there is left to do is eat cake… my apologies for the lack of healthiness and naturopathy …I’ll get back on track soon..

My best chocolate cake

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • ¾ cup cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons bicarb soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs or no egg substitute
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup boiling water
 
Instructions
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans
Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt  to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk through to combine. Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water to the cake batter. Beat on high speed for about 1 minute to add air to the batter. Divide cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Ice with your favourite icing or ganache.

Lemon cake for Zoe and now it’s here for you too ……

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Despite being a vegetarian for too many years to mention,  we have had our diet and food situation shaken up in a good way by my daughters decision to go vegan.

I am loving exploring this new cruelty free way of eating and last nights lemon cake has quickly become a keeper. It also helps that we have lots of lemons and limes on our trees. Feel free to use milk based yoghurt and any type of milk you like if you aren’t vegan.

Make the most of some weekend down time to whip up this incredibly simple and oh so tasty lemon cake.  Perfect with a cup of tea and the company of friends or daughters.

Lemon cake 

1/3 cup oil
2/3 cup almond or soy milk
1 small pot of vanilla soy yoghurt
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup caster sugar
2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Mix together the oil, milk, yoghurt, lemon juice and zest, vanilla and sugar.

Mix together the flour, baking powder and bicarb.

Combine the wet and dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Don’t over mix.

Place batter in a greased bundt or ring cake pan and bake at 180 degrees for 35-40 minutes. You can make this in a normal cake tin but it just doesn’t seem to be so good.

When cooked, turn out onto a plate.

Mix together the juice of another lemon with 1/3 cup caster sugar and pour over hot cake.

Happy weekend xxx

Perfect food for this cold and wintry day … Broccoli & Lemon Soup and a Pear & Ginger Cake

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Winter is most definitely here. It’s cold, wet and rainy outside with a top temperature of about 12 degrees today. The mist is swirling around the house, as it does when you live on top of a mountain, and the only thing to do is make soup… and a yummy ginger and pear cake.

Back in February I was making the most of a bumper crop with pots of zucchini and basil soup. This winter version is a way to use the masses of broccoli I have coming on. This gorgeous soup is quick and tasty and you can have it on the table in about 30 minutes. Perfect Sunday night supper.

Lemon and Broccoli Soup

1 large head of broccoli
1 leek
3 cloves of garlic
4 cups vegetable stock
1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Good handful of parsley

Thinly slice the leek and fry till soft with the garlic in a little olive oil.
Roughly chop the broccoli. Include the stalk. It will all get whizzed up in the food processor and it is such a waste to throw it away. If you would rather not whiz the soup you should just use the flower of the broccoli.
Add broccoli to the saucepan and pour in the stock. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer. Allow to bubble away until the broccoli is tender.
Add a good grinding of pepper, nutmeg, parsley and zest and juice of the lemon. Feel free to go to town with the lemon. If it’s only small or not very juicy use two.
Whiz it all gently in a food processor or buzz with a stick mixer.
You can add some creme fraiche or light sour cream for serving if you like but it really doesn’t need it.

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Now onto the cake. This cake is a lovely hark back to Grandma style baking. It’s simple, makes a big yummy tray full and is perfect for lunch boxes and morning teas all through the week.

I have made this version pear and ginger but feel free to play around with other flavours. We have had great success with apples and cinnamon, quince and honey or fig and vanilla. Just use what you have in your garden or fruit bowl.

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Pear and Ginger Cake.

2 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups brown sugar
125 g butter
1 teaspoon bicarb soda
1 cup milk of your choice
1 egg ( or 1 tablespoon of no-egg mixed in 1/4 cup water)
4 pears, peeled and sliced into sixths
1 teaspoon good vanilla
1 heaped teaspoon of dried ginger

Place flour, butter, bicarb soda and sugar in the food processor and whiz till it forms a fine crumb.

Press half of this mixture into the base of a baking tray or large cake tin then lay pears on top.

Add milk, ginger, baking powder, egg/egg replacer and whiz together until just combined.

Pour this mixture over the pears and bake for about 45 minutes at 180 degrees.

Stay warm.

Super Delicious Coconut and Lime Cake….

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This is one of those cakes that will make a come back whenever you feel the need for cakey comfort or you just want to look really impressive. Ice it up for a winning birthday cake or use the recipe to make two everyday happiness kind of cakes. Eat one now and share the other or freeze for later if it lasts that long.

For added goodness, earth friendliness, animal kindness and an all round feeling of peace, love and mung beans it is also VEGAN.

Yet again, my lovely daughters and I made the trip to my favourite cafe, Ruby Fruit in Leura, where the only thing sweeter than the cakes is the chirpy welcoming owners and staff – no I am not being paid for this endorsement, I just think it’s really great. We had yummy vegan lunch topped off with shared plates of blueberry and lemon cheesecake and Georgie’s chosen coconut cake.

Inspiration hit me when we got home and the cakes are now in the oven. I hope you love this one too.

COCONUT AND LIME CAKE

For the cake:
3 cups plain flour
2 cups caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups soy, almond, or rice milk
1 cup coconut oil
Zest and juice of 3 limes
¼ cup apple-cider vinegar
2 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract/essence
1½ cups shredded coconut

For the icing :

2 tablespoons margarine
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 cups icing sugar
Enough soy milk for desired consistency

Cake – mix all dry ingredients except coconut together. In a separate bowl whisk together all wet ingredients. Fold wet into dry and mix till just combined. Stir in coconut and spoon into 2 prepared 24cm round baking tins.
Bake for 30 – 40 mins at 180 degrees.

Icing – Beat coconut oil and margarine together. Mix in sugar and coconut extract. Beat with a hand mixer adding soy milk to achieve desired consistency.

When cool use 1/3 of icing to sandwich cakes together and spread remaining icing over top and sides. For extra yumminess/impressiveness toast another 1 1/2 cups of shredded coconut and press over cake.