Sunday, 19 July 2015

Vegan Chocolate Cake

Recently I was asked to make a birthday cake for a friend, since I love making cakes this was a very welcome request, until came the stipulation that it had to be vegan. oh... I've never made a vegan cake in my life! The idea quite baffled me I mean eggs and butter are pretty much a staple in cake. This would be quite a challenge! It also had to be sturdy enough to stand up to being carved and covered in fondant as they wanted a rollerskate cake (as a side note Renshaw Regal-Ice and Modelling paste is totally vegan!).

I set about researching in earnest for vegan cake recipes, there are a few out there, most of which use oil, I tried one of the highest rated ones. I don't know what it is about oil based cakes but they just don't do it for me, the flavour always seems to be lacking the richness that butter gives it and it just seems to taste flat to me, I also really don't like the texture. Maybe it's just me, but I really don't get on with those kinds of recipes! So 1 try down and it was just ick, fudgy to the point of cloying in your mouth, almost like unbaked cake batter.

But, I had an idea! You can buy vegan butter so that's a start, and eggless cakes are quite popular as well so maybe an eggless cake was the way to go and I could 'veganize' it from there. This was by far the best choice. I found a simple eggless chocolate sponge and adapted it from there with almond milk in place of skim milk and vegan butter instead of butter. I also divide the flour between self raising and plain for a bit more lightness and added in some dark chocolate to up the chocolate factor a bit. The result was deliciously rich, moist cake that was tasted pretty much like a normal sponge cake. 

I will say that a problem of vegan cake is that it is quite crumbly, probably due to the lack of eggs so I found it best to leave it to cool completely in the tin before trying to move it and then by using two plates to kind of flip it over so you're not lifting it out as it's likely to crack. It also is much more stable to next day when it's had time to settle but if you are using it for carving/decorating you do need to be a bit more gentle!

For carving the cake I layered it up with peanut butter frosting (vegan butter, icing sugar and peanut butter) and then wrapped it in greaseproof and foil and froze it before attempting to do anything with it. It actually worked out quite well with minimal crumbling, just make sure you have a very sharp knife. Before crumb coating it I chucked it back in the freezer for half and hour and made sure my frosting was not too cold or thick otherwise it would have pulled off the crumb. Then just proceeded as usual, chilling the crumbcoated cake before covering in frosting. It turned out quite well if I do say so myself! And went down quite a treat with the intended birthday person!
(I used this recipe for vegan royal icing)

Vegan Moxi Skate Cake

Friday, 3 July 2015

Simple, yet delicious, fruit Salad

It's been a busy past few months! The blog rather fell by the way side amidst making 2 wedding cakes and 2 celebration cakes in the space of a month (perhaps I shall share some photos later), travelling around the south of England on research and studying. I also gave my first conference paper this week, oh my pretty scary stuff but quite fun, they also feed us and free food is always a bonus, especially accompanied with free alcohol, I think I could get used to this conference thing! 

Anyway, I do have quite a backlog of recipes to share with you now that things have quietened down a little. Today though I want to share something really really simple yet incredibly delicious, just to ease us back into this game!

Peach season is upon us! I think peaches have to be my favourite fruit and I can demolish a punnet of peaches in a day, but thats ok because they're totally healthy so I don't feel too bad about it. My favourite has to be the yellow flesh peaches they just seem so much sweeter and juicer than the white flesh, and necatrines? forget about it. Is it just me or do they taste weird? But yes, peaches. Peaches are delicious and I'm so happy that I can get them in the supermarkets again. I love that they are only sold in season since I think that fruit sold out of season is just kind of meh... you know the strawberries in December that just taste like water or Blueberries that have literally no tartness or sweetness just mushiness. Ick. Well its the season for Peaches, Strawberries and Blueberries so I am one happy camper right now! My three favourite fruits right at my finger tips in all their sweet, tart, juicy glory! It's also the season where the weather gets warmer which seems really nice at first, until it's too warm, you know that british thing right? There's like a 3 degree window of too warm... too cold. Yesterday was one of those days that it was a case of nope... too hot. But a girl still want's dessert! Just, not turning on the oven because oh dear god please no more heat.

This is where today's recipe comes in. Here at the grad house we try to eat healthy, sure the odd bar of chocolate sneaks its way into my belly more often than it should occassionally... but we try to get plenty of fruit and wholegrains and cook things from scratch so we know what's in them. We're still working on the vegetables because we have very different tastes in those! I love broccoli, sprouts, green beans, cabbage, Mr Grad... not so much. But that's another post and another recipe! So, eating healthy, this fruit salad is a really easy way to get delicious fruit into you diet without having to munch your way through endless apples. As a bonus it also has the flavours of Mojito in it which has to be like the best drink ever. What's not to love??