Vegan Fruit and Nut Loaf

“I recently made a delicious fruit and nut loaf from one of Bill Grainger’s beautiful cookbooks.  It was light and fragrant with nice chunky pieces of dried fruit and crunchy nuts.  Because it didn’t have a lot of butter or eggs in it I decided to try and convert it to a vegan version.  After a few attempts I got the right balance that doesn’t lack any of the flavours or textures of the original.  It also works great toasted after a few days and freezes well. Of course I do have it smothered with butter, but you can always find a vegan alternative. Enjoy!”

Ingredients

  • 50g oats
  • 300ml almond milk
  • 250g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 75g brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 250g dried fruit, roughly chopped (Dates, raisins, apricots, figs etc)
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 70g almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 1 lemon, rind and juice
  • 30g almonds roughly chopped for topping
Method
  1. Place oats and almond milk in a bowl and allow to soak for 20 minutes.
  2. Combine the flour, spices, sugar and salt and mix together.
  3. Add the oats and milk, dried fruit, almonds, maple syrup, banana and lemon juice and rind and mix together.
  4. Pour the mixture into a lined loaf tin and smooth the top.
  5. Sprinkle the remaining almonds on top.
  6. Bake in a 180 celcius oven for 40 – 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
  7. Allow to cool for 30 minutes then remove from the tin.  Slather with butter and enjoy.

 

 

 

Apple Chai Pumpkin Pie

“Whoops! I seem to have missed thanksgiving or halloween for this post. (Not that we really celebrate them here much)  But who says pumpkin pie should only be served on those days? For this recipe I’ve combined the silky softness of the pumpkin custard with the spiciness of chai tea to make a slightly different version of this American classic. Like all good tarts, it’s slightly complicated and has several stages but the finished product is well worth the effort.  Enjoy!”

(Photo by Gary Donald Corbett)

Ingredients

For the cinnamon pastry

  • 140g butter
  • 300g plain flour
  • 140g castor sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 egg
For the spiced apples
  • 3 granny smith apples
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 2 tbsp chai tea
  • 2 tbsn raw sugar

For the pumpkin filling

  • 600g pumpkin
  • 2 cups cream
  • 2 tbsn chai tea
  • 180g brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 3 eggs

Method

  1. For the cinnamon apples: In a cup pour the boiling water over the chai tea and sugar and leave to sit.
  2. For the pumpkin custard: In a small saucepan bring the cream to a light simmer then add the chai tea.  Allow this to sit and infuse while it cools down.
  3. Cut the pumpkin into 2 cm square pieces and steam until soft.  Set aside to cool.  (If you’re in America you can buy pumpkin pie mix in a can. Shame on you!)
  4. For the cinnamon pastry: In a food processor combine the butter sugar, flour and cinnamon.  Pulse until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs.  Add the egg and process until pastry comes into a ball.
  5. Tip out onto a piece of cling wrap and form into a disc.  Place in refrigerator.
  6. For the cinnamon apples: Peel the apples and cut each one into 16 wedges. Place apples in a small saucepan.
  7. Drain the chai tea and add the tea leaves to the cream. (Every little bit of flavour helps)
  8. Pour the chai tea mixture over the apples and bring to a simmer.  Cook the apples until they’re soft but still holding their shape.  Transfer the apples and liquid to a bowl and refrigerate, letting them cool in the remaining liquid.
  9. For the cinnamon pastry: Remove the pastry from the fridge and on a well-floured surface, roll out until it’s about 5mm thick.
  10. Carefully transfer this into a greased 30cm tart dish (I use the sort with the removable bottom), filling any gaps and neatening up the edges.
  11. Transfer the tart dish to the freezer for 15 minutes.
  12. For the pumpkin custard: Drain the infused cream of the tea leaves and put in a food processor.  Add the cooled pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, ginger and eggs and process until smooth.
  13. For the cinnamon pastry: Remove the tart dish from the freezer and using a fork, prick the bottom of the pastry evenly (about 20 times).
  14. Line the pastry with grease-proof paper and fill with baking beads or rice.  Transfer to a 180 degree celsius oven and cook for 15 minutes.  Remove the beads/rice and baking paper and cook for another 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 150 degrees.
  15. Remove the tart shell from the oven and let it cool slightly.  Drain the apples of any remaining liquid and put a layer of 2/3 of the cooled apples into the bottom of the tart. (The remaining apples are reserved for serving)
  16. Pour the pumpkin custard over the apples and transfer to the oven for 30-35 minutes.  The cooked pie should be uniformly cooked but still a bit wobbly.
  17. Allow to cool and serve with whipped cream and some of the remaining spiced apples and a sprinkle of icing sugar.

 

 

 

 

 

Caramel Mud Cake With Ginger Butter Cream

“It’s been far too long since my last post.  I blame it on moving house, orchestrating and conducting a ballet and catering.  But I thought it was time to put a decadent cake recipe on my site that always gets the taste buds going.  This cake is quite easy to make but takes a bit of time and patience to get it looking pretty.  I also use this recipe for a cupcake version with a swirl of the butter cream on top.  Beware, it’s pretty rich and definitely not for the diet-conscious.  Enjoy!”

(Photo by Gary Corbett)

Ingredients

  • 220g butter
  • 220g white chocolate
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 220g brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup self raising flour
  • 1 cup plain flour

For butter cream

  • 300g softened butter
  • 500g icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup apricot jam

Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C
  2. Grease and line 2 20cm cake tins
  3. Put butter, white chocolate, golden syrup, water, vanilla and salt in a saucepan and gently melt together, stirring constantly.  Once all the ingredients are melted and mixed together leave to sit for 1/2 an hour
  4. Beat sugar and eggs together until combined.
  5. Add the cooled melted ingredients and then the flours.
  6. Pour into prepared tines and bake for 1/2 and hour or until centre is cooked when a skewer is inserted.
  7. Remove from the oven and let cool in the tins.  Refrigerate until you are ready to ice.  (This type of cake is much easier to cut and ice when completely cold so it can be made a day ahead if necessary.)
  8. Carefully cut the domes of each cake to get a flat top then cut each cake into 2 discs.  Keep the most even surface (usually the bottom) for the top layer of the cake.
  9. To make the butter cream put icing sugar and ginger in a food processor and slowly add the softened butter until combined.
  10. Heat the apricot jam in the microwave until runny and paint liberally on to 3 of the cake discs.
  11. When the jam has cooled add a layer of the butter cream.
  12. Assemble the layers finishing with the un-iced top layer.  Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  13. Remove from the fridge and put a thin layer of butter cream on the top and sides of the cake making sure to fill any gaps.  This “Crumb layer” will make it much easier to get a smooth finish later.  Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  14. Put the final layer of butter cream on top and sides smoothing down to get a perfect finish.  This cake is best served at room temperature.