Archive | Cakes RSS feed for this section

Chocolate and Lavender Easter Cupcakes

3 Apr

Lavender is the colour of the moment. Everywhere I look when we are out walking the dog I see wild lavender growing out of rocks.

Or the beautiful wisteria that has decided to bloom all at once. Just in time for Easter.

I wanted to make something sweet for Easter and that for me that means chocolate. I had an idea in my head of chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting, sprinkled with crumbled up Flake (to look like a nest) and little mini eggs inside the nest.

The thing is that tidy, delicate and uniform is not my forte. Also, if it doesn’t work the first time, it’s never going to happen. So when my first attempt at a mini egg chocolate flake nest looked like a six year old had been let loose in the chocolate cupboard, I actually considered inventing some children and blaming them.

Already bored of the chocolate nest idea I started playing around with the icing and some of the lavender I had picked that morning. It turns out that the lavender ones looked the best, so I spent the next few minutes picking out all of the lavender coloured mini eggs. I don’t know what happened to the other colours, must of been those pesky kids again…

These cupcakes are actually vegan and made with spelt flour. The frosting is also vegan, made with an olive oil spread instead of butter which is why it is a bit softer than proper buttercream icing. As I didn’t know beforehand that I was making lavender chocolate cupcakes I didn’t add any lavender to the cake mix. I have added it into the recipe below but it is up to you whether you do or not.

Chocolate Lavender Easter Cupcakes

Makes 10-12, vegan (without toppings), wheat-free. Adapted fron Oh She Glows

Prep time: 10 mins Cooking time: 25 mins

  • 1 cup oat milk (or any non dairy milk)
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar (raw cane if possible)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups spelt (or wholemeal) flour
  • 1/3 cup pure cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tsp dried edible lavender (optional)

Preheat the oven to 170 C and line a cupcake tin with cupcake liners.

In a large bowl, beat together the  milk, vinegar, sugar, oil and vanilla with an electric whisk/mixer for a minute ot two.

Sieve the dry ingredients (except the lavender) into the wet and stir well to get rid of any lumps. Then stir through the lavender.

Transfer the mix to a jug and pour it into the cupcake liners about two thirds to three quarters full for each. Bake for about 25 minutes until the top springs back slowly when pressed with a finger. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely before adding the frosting.

Vegan Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • 6 tbsp olive oil spread (or equivalent)
  • 3/4 cup pure cocoa powder
  • 2+2/3 cups icing sugar
  • 1/3 cup oat milk (or other non dairy milk)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream the spread and vanilla together with an electric whisk until light and fluffy. Add 2 tbsp of the milk and whisk again.

Alternate adding the sugar, cocoa and milk a bit at a time until it is all mixed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to get all of it combined well.

Store in the fridge until ready to use. Don’t start icing until the cupcakes are completely cool. Use a palette knife or piping bag to ice the cakes and decorate as you wish.

If it stops raining long enough I should be able to get about and photograph some of the spectacular processions and plays that take place here for Semana Santa. I remember saying the same thing last year and there was a huge electrical storm which blew up my modem and motherboard as well as cancelling all the processions and the crucifixion.

So, fingers crossed!

Happy Easter everyone!!

Lemon Polenta Olive Oil Cake

31 Jan

Lemons are everywhere here at the moment. I use lemons a lot in my cooking to brighten up soups, curries, salads and dips. Most of my dishes are finished of with a squeeze of lemon before serving. It just highlights all the other flavours and brings the dish to life.

I saw Nigella make a lemon polenta cake that looked delicious. Hers had quite a bit of butter in it so I thought I’d try to make it with olive oil instead. I have some amazing first press newly harvested local stuff to play with and I’m always looking for excuses to use it in anything.

You should always keep olive oil (or anything really) in glass bottles if you can. Plastic affects the chemical make up of things especially when heated.  Like you should never use cling film when microwaving things. Or drink water out of a plastic bottle that has been in the sun. Microwaves are nasty anyway. Ours broke a few years ago and we have never replaced it. I honestly don’t miss it at all.

Most recipes also use a mixture of polenta, plain flour and ground almonds. I wanted to make a gluten-free, dairy-free version so I tried it without the flour. It works…

Lemon Polenta Olive Oil Cake

Makes a 24cm/9 inch cake, serves 12. Dairy-free, gluten-free.

Adapted from A Meandering Mango

Prep time: 15 mins Cooking time: 45 mins

  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 160 gr (3/4 cup) brown sugar (or raw sugar)
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) olive oil
  • 2 large lemons, zested & juiced
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 190 gr polenta (cornmeal)
  • 75 gr (1/2 cup) ground almonds
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • icing sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 150 C and oil a 24 cm loose bottomed cake tin.

Whisk the eggs and sugar until light and creamy (about 4 mins). Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, continuing to whisk until all the oil is combined. Whisk in the lemon zest and vanilla.

In another bowl, stir together the polenta, ground almonds, baking powder and salt. Sieve this mixture over the eggs and sugar in 3 batches, alternating with the lemon juice, folding until just combined.

Pour into the oiled cake tin and bake for 40-45 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.

Leave to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes then turn out to cool completely on a wire rack.

Serve with a light dusting of icing sugar. You can also make a lemon syrup to drizzle over if you think it needs it. Heat up some lemon juice and icing sugar in a pan until the sugar dissolves. Use a cocktail stick or piece of dried spaghetti (authentic Italian version) to make holes all over the top of the cake. Pour the syrup slowly over the top of the cake letting the syrup sink in.

Buen Provecho!!

In my next post I will be making an exciting announcement about what I will be getting up to over the next month…

Stay Tuned!!

Fresh Cranberry and Chestnut Gingerbread Scones

30 Dec

These are gorgeous. I had to share them with you quickly before the festive season is over and they are kind of irrelevant.

I bought a punnet of fresh cranberries just before Christmas because I had never seen or tried fresh ones before. When I got them home I was sort of unsure about what to do with them. Cranberry sauce was too boring, I wanted something where you can taste the cranberry in its natural state and feel the texture.

Continue reading

1st Anniversary Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake and A Giveaway!!

18 Oct

It’s my one year blogging anniversary this month so I decided to bake a cake. I actually made a loaf and some cupcake type muffins out of the same recipe and topped them both with a heavenly chocolate ganache.

You may have noticed that I don’t make a lot of sweet things, mainly because I would end up eating them so I try to steer clear as much as possible. This little beauty however is vegan. Can you believe it? Continue reading

My 7 Links Challenge, Pass it on…

21 Aug

There’s a challenge going around the blogosphere at the moment called The Seven Links Challenge. I have been nominated by four different bloggers over the past few weeks and I am very honoured, if not a little apprehensive, to be thought of for this.

I would like to say a massive thank you to the lovely ladies who passed this on to me, starting with E from Legally Blissful, who has just started law school and is following her bliss. Tiffany from Como Water a kindred spirit with a positive soul, Tanya from Chica Andaluza my fellow guiri living the dream in Andalucia, and last but by no means least Sawsan from Chef in Disguise my Middle East meets West kitchen guru.

This is the Challenge:

THE GOAL

To unite bloggers (from all sectors) in a joint endeavor to share lessons learned and create a bank of long but not forgotten blog posts that deserve to see the light of day again.

THE RULES

1)     Blogger is nominated to take part

2)     Blogger publishes his/her 7 links on his/her blog – 1 link for each category.

– Your most beautiful post
– Your most popular post
– Your most controversial post
– Your most helpful post
– A post whose success surprised you
– A post you feel didn’t get the attention it deserved
– The post that you are most proud of

3)     Blogger nominates up to 5 more bloggers to take part

So here are my “7 links”

Most Beautiful Post…

Chocolate, Fig & Almond Rosewater Brownies….

Or Beautiful Almond Blossom & Amaretti Biscuits

Are you noticing a theme here? I like pink flowers….

Most Popular Post….

Chargrilled Broccoli & Beans with Garlic, Chilli & Sweet Soy Rice Noodles…..

This was featured on Freshly Pressed, the front page of WordPress and had 45oo hits in 2 days. Very exciting!

Most Controversial Post…..

Mint Julep Peaches Via Iran….

This was featured on Foodpress and got quite a lot of hits. I didn’t think this was controversial but I received a comment saying that the book I was reviewing “Reading Lolita in Tehran” was considered by most Iranians to be“baloney”.

I’d just like to point out that all the opinions on this blog are mine and mine only and the last time I looked freedom of speech and expression were legal, at least they are here.

Most Helpful Post…..

Thai Squash Wonton Soup & Spring Rolls….

I don’t know how helpful it is but there’s some pictures of how to fold wontons and spring rolls. And the filling is delicious!

Most Surprisingly Successful Post….

Spanish Onion Soup on the Beach…..

I was really surprised when this made the Foodbuzz Top 9 and ended up at number one. It was the first time I had been featured anywhere. It’s my Spanish take on the classic French Onion Soup.

Or Indian Lentil Dhal with Potato Stuffed Parathas

This one of my really early posts but it still get loads of traffic now through search engines. It must be something to do with the way it’s titled or something, I don’t know.

The Post That Didn’t Get The Attention It Deserved……

Halloumi Tikka Kebab with Turmeric & Cardamom Risotto & Tamarind Syrup

This is definitely one of mine and the The Washer Up’s all time favourite dishes. The texture of the halloumi that has been marinated in yoghurt & spices is a revelation and the complex balance of  flavours makes it a real winner.

The Post I am Most Proud Of……

Definitely Grandad’s Pickled Onions..

They’re amazing and so is he….xx

Okay so now I have to pass this challenge on to 5 other bloggers. I have chosen these five because they are blogs that I enjoy following that are quite new to me and I am really interested to see what they come up with from their archives.

Beth Michelle

Pease Pudding

The Sometimes Zoo

Sunshine & Smile

Crumb

Beloved Green

That’s 6, I know. If you get a chance you should check out their lovely blogs, if you don’t know them already.

And I look forward to seeing your gone but not forgotten posts…

Chocolate, Fig, Almond and Rosewater “Brownies”

16 Jun

There are roses everywhere here at the moment. I am slightly obsessed and take photos every day as you may have noticed. I love all the different colours. I run past these roses most mornings with the dog. There is one particular garden that has loads of different varieties and the lady of the house takes great care of them. She must be so proud, they are all beautiful.

So all these roses made me start thinking about making something with rosewater. Just to celebrate the rose and so I would have an excuse to show a you all the pictures I have been taking.

Following on from the success of my Date, Walnut & Coconut Energy ” Truffles”, I wanted to make something similar using figs instead of dates. There are fig trees where we run too, the figs are not quite ripe yet but it it got me thinking about fig and rosewater together, a classic Arabian combination.

Rosewater is the flavouring in Turkish Delight. When I was little there was a chocolate bar called Fry’s Turkish Delight. It may still be out there, I don’t know. It had a very exotic advert and a bright pink metallic wrapper. Inside, the rose coloured Turkish Delight was coated in chocolate. At the time it seemed very mysterious and grown-up probably because my dad used to eat it all and not give me any (only joking dad)!

So I definitely wanted to use chocolate with the figs and rosewater.  I found a recipe for chocolate, cashew & almond energy bars  that I adapted to suit my requirements,very successfully indeed.

I am positive that my dad (my biggest fan) will approve. In fact I know he will be making them as soon as he can. The date, walnut and coconut energy truffles are now the “petit fours” of choice on all the best dining tables in Cape Town thanks to my dad. He has little production line going. People are requesting them.

I have to say that, in his version, rather than soaking the dates in water for an hour he soaks them in Frangelico or Amaretto. That could definitely be part of the reason for their popularity, it sounds amazing. So feel free to do that with the figs in this recipe too. I know of two food bloggers who will approve wholeheartedly of this little  “twist”. (Rufus & Caroline!)

These “brownies” are in fact, raw, vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar-free and totally delicious. Please don’t be suspicious of their virtue. They have all the chewy, stickiness of a brownie with none of the bad things. Never has healthy tasted so naughty. Dad, I think you’re going to need a bigger kitchen…!

Chocolate, Fig, Almond & Rosewater “Brownies”

makes about 16. Adapted from Sea Salt With Food

  • 300 gr (2 cups) dried figs, soaked in water (or Frangelico/Amaretto) for an hour
  • 250gr (2 cups) almonds (no skin), roughly chopped
  • 60 gr (1/2 cup) hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 75 gr (3/4 cup) pure unsweetened cocoa powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 40 gr (1/2 cup) dessicated coconut
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4-6 tbsp rose water 
  • cold water

Remove the figs from the soaking liquid after about an hour and put them in a food processor with the roughly chopped nuts, cocoa powder and a pinch of salt.

Process until it starts to come together then add the coconut, process again then add the vanilla extract and the rose water a tablespoon at a time. The amount of rosewater you add depends on how strong the flavour is so taste as you go and stop when you are happy with the flavour.If you need to add more liquid to get it to a sticky mouldable dough consistency add a tablespoon of water at a time.

Line a brownie pan or baking tin with baking paper and tip the dough mix in and press it out evenly with a rubber spatula. Put another piece of baking paper on top and use a book or ice cream tub to press it down and make it flat. I made mine about 1 cm thick but you can make them thicker if you like.

Put in the fridge for about an hour before cutting into about 16 pieces. Store in an airtight container in the fridge layered with baking paper.

Serve some after dinner with coffee as elegant petit fours or take them to work as an afternoon snack bar. Or do like my dad and take them as a gift for the host of a dinner party. They also keep really well in the fridge. If they should last that long…

Buen Provecho!

Honey, Apple, Date and Walnut Olive Oil Cake

1 Apr

There are so many bees around at the moment busy collecting pollen. They reminded me of a visit I made to a local honey producer about a month ago that I haven’t blogged about yet. I have been waiting for the perfect honey recipe to come along which is deserving enough to feature the delicious honey that I bought, and this is definitely THE one. More about that later, first the visit then the recipe…

You had to drive through a river to get there but I doubt all that water is still there now with all the hot weather we have been having. It looks worse than it is….

Miel is “honey” in Spanish and Fuente del Sol means “Fountain (or Source) of Sun”.

There is a slightly unattractive warehouse and a very well hidden little shop with a small sign outside….

Inside the shop they sell lots of different types of honey. There’s orange blossom, rosemary, thyme, eucalyptus and wild flower honey and they sell it in the squeezy non-drip bottles as well as glass jars. They also sell pollen and royal jelly products as well as a range of  natural soaps and cosmetics made using aloe vera and olive oil. 

I bought some thyme honey which is really lovely. I have been having it on toast for breakfast with my local goat’s ricotta (requeson) it’s so good. If you’ve never tried ricotta and honey on toast you should, and so much better when they are both local. You could even make your own ricotta, it is really easy unless you’re my dad, but that’s another story…..He had a bit of a drama making my spinach & ricotta gnocchi!

I’ve been trying recently to use olive oil instead of butter whenever possible in my cooking. The delicious extra virgin olive oil in the picture above we helped to harvest back in November and I’ve used it to make some banana & coconut muffins that tasted great.  We store it in empty wine bottles because plastic bottles are not good – for your health or the health of the oil.  I’ve seen quite a few Italian recipes for olive oil cakes and wanted to give it a try. I was thinking local olive oil and local honey it’s got to be good. I wasn’t wrong….

Honey, Apple, Date & Walnut Olive Oil Cake

makes 16 squares, vegetarian

  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 130 gr brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
  • 165 ml good olive oil
  • 260 gr runny honey (coat the measure with a little olive oil so the honey slips out easily)
  • 375 gr wholemeal flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 – 2 apples, peeled,cored and roughly diced. I used 1 1/2 large fuji apples you need something crisp.
  • 100 gr walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 100 gr dates, stoned and roughly chopped, plus a few extra for garnish
  • a small tub of mascarpone/creme fraiche
  • extra honey

Preheat the oven to 180 C and line a 9×13 inch cake/roasting tin with baking paper, base & sides. Beat the eggs, brown sugar & vanilla (if using)in a large bowl with an electric mixer for about 5 minutes until light & fluffy. Slowly add in the honey and oil bit by bit, beating until well blended.

Into another bowl sieve the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt then tip in the whole-wheat bits left in the sieve as well. Stir to combine. Add the flour mixture, apples, walnuts and dates to the wet ingredients and fold together gently until just blended (Don’t overmix you will get a tough cake).

Pour the mixture in to the lined baking tin and spread out evenly. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes or until the top is firm and golden brown. Leave to cool in the tin.

Cut into 16 squares and serve with coffee and a pot of mascarpone drizzled with more honey and some more dates or walnuts for the top.

Spoon some of the honey mascarpone on top of your piece of cake and top with a date half. It was all looking quite healthy up until then wasn’t it. Oh well it’s only a suggestion…..

This cake is so moist and delicious with the apples, honey and olive oil, you need to make it and then invite people round for an afternoon tea or coffee. Otherwise you might just have to eat it all. It keeps really well too, if it should last that long…..Enjoy!

food to glow

feel good food that's good for you

Pease Pudding

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Chica Andaluza

Sometimes Up a Mountain in Andalucia and sometimes Down by the Sea on the English South Coast

Agrigirl's Blog

Placemaking for Healthier Communities and a Healthier Planet

Kitchen Operas

Gluten-Free Deliciousness

for the love of yum

A girl who loves to cook fresh, fun, and global cuisine.

The Path To Authenticity

Mind, Body & Spiritual Growth