Saturday, 30 July 2016

Vegan, Gluten Free Chocolate and Coconut Cream Cake

I love chocolate. The thought of being vegan and unable to eat it is deeply distressing to me.

But my sister is both lactose intolerant and vegan and when she asked me to make her a chocolatey birthday cake, I knew I had a difficult task on my hands.
I later found out she was in fact an egg-eating vegan (I know, right?), which would have made my life a lot easier if I had known beforehand.

I made her a cake that I found on this blog called PurelyTwins. Surprisingly, it wasn't a disaster. Despite not being filled with sugar and butter and eggs and all the things that make cakes nice, it was very edible. It had a rich dark chocolatey taste and an almost normal texture.

Flora (the aforementioned sister) then made me slather some pre-made coffee flavoured buttercream all over it. It was vegan, but had very little else to recommend it.

So when I had a chance to make the cake again, with a more suitable topping, I went for it. This whipped coconut cream topping is very simple and easy, but before you want to make it, leave the cartons of coconut cream in the fridge overnight.

When choosing a nut butter, the general rule is that the fewer ingredients there are, the better the nut butter. I use a brand that contains only peanuts, a little salt and sustainable palm oil. 

This cake is vegan, gluten free and the only refined sugar it will contain is any that is in the applesauce or the peanut butter. So it's chocolatey, rich and best of all, guilt-free.

You will need:

For the cake:
225g slightly unripe banana
115g applesauce
65ml coconut oil (if yours has solidified, just warm it in the microwave for a few seconds)
2 tbsp nut butter 
half a tsp baking powder
half a tsp bicarbonate of soda
half a tsp sea salt
4 tbsp protein powder
70g raw cacao powder
an 8 inch springform cake tin, greased and with the base lined with greaseproof paper

For the icing:
2 cartons of coconut cream
grated zest of one lime

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C. Mash the banana and mix with the applesauce, coconut oil and nut butter until thoroughly combined.

2. Fold in the protein powder, cacao, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. 

3. Use a hand-held blender to blend the mixture until smooth. 

4. Pour half the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for about 25 minutes.

5. Repeat step 4. Leave the cakes to cool while you make the icing.

6. Cut open the top of each packet of coconut cream. The cream should have semi-solidified into a block which will be surrounded by coconut water. 

7. Carefully drain off the coconut water without disturbing the cream. Put the cream in a bowl and beat with a whisk until smooth.

8. Spread the coconut cream over the top of each cake layer and then place one on top of the other. 

9. Grate the lime over the top of the cake to decorate.

Cut yourself a big, chocolatey, creamy, guilt-free slice.



Friday, 22 July 2016

Banana and Peanut Butter Breakfast Muffins (no refined sugar)

This month I am going to be doing something a bit different on this blog.

I am trying to avoid refined sugar, junk food and booze until I go on holiday on 17 August.

This is because I want to wear crop tops on holiday. And I'm also training for a half marathon and would like to drag as little weight as possible around the 13 mile course and don't want to lose any training days to hangovers.

So I have discarded the usual basics of baking - white flour, caster sugar, butter and I am getting creative.

One of the first things I wanted to do was make a healthy breakfast option. I never seem to have much time in the morning, so I usually end up smearing half a jar of peanut butter on toast and shoving it into my face before running out the door.

So I decided to make muffins - something I could take with me to work. I included bananas for sweetness, some peanut butter for protein, wholemeal flour for fibre, some oats for more fibre, seeds for essential fats and some more peanut butter for good measure.

Next time I make these I will get some deeper muffin cases and make 6-8 bigger muffins, so they are big enough to just have one for breakfast. I also might try separating the eggs and whipping the whites to see if I can get them to rise a bit more.

You will need:
3 bananas
100g smooth peanut butter
125g wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 tbsp milk
1 tbsp jumbo oats
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
a muffin tray and 6-8 deep foil muffin cases

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Mash the bananas in a bowl and add 50g of the peanut butter, the egg, the milk, the vanilla and whisk together.

2. Mix the flour, baking powder and cinnamon.

3. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Put a teaspoon of peanut butter in the bottom of each muffin case.

4. Divide the rest of the mixture between the muffin cases.

5. Sprinkle the oats and pumpkin seeds over the muffins and bake for 15-20 minutes until risen and cooked through.

6. Eat while still warm or microwave for 10 seconds before eating.

Nutritious, delicious, convenient and completely free of refined sugar.

Happy (and healthy) baking!