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♥ Vegan scones

I don’t understand why so many vegan cake recipes especially need to be so complicated? It’s so easy to replace marg and milk for vegan spread and soya milk. And since scones don’t require eggs, they are super-easy to veganise!

Vegan Currant Scones

scones

Recipe:

  • 45g vegan spread
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 35g sugar
  • 1 x pinch of salt
  • 100g currants
  • 110ml soya milk (or almond / hazelnut / oat / rice / whatever!)

Method:

  1. In a large bowl, rub the spread into the flour to make light breadcrumbs. Try to rub from a height to try and introduce a little air. Stir in the sugar and salt using a knife and then add the currents. 
  2. Slowly add the milk whilst stirring. Once all the milk has been absorbed, use your hands to knead the mixture into a dough. Remember that not all flour has the same absorbency, so you may need a little less or little more liquid in order to produce a slightly sticky but not-at-all-dry dough.
  3. Most recipes will recommend that you roll out the dough on a floured surface. However if you get the consistency of the dough just right, it shouldn’t stick to your work top. And not using extra flour reduces the risk of the dough becoming too dry. (But if you’re worried, it should be fine to sprinkle a bit of flour around.)
  4. Using your hands, gently squash out the dough until it is about ¼ of an inch thick. Then using a sharp cutter, stamp out 8 scones and gently plop onto a well-greased baking tray.  I can’t remember if it was good old Delia Smith or Gary Rhodes who warned me not to twist the cutter as you stamp out the scones, but they were right – don’t do this or else the scones won’t rise properly.
  5. Bake the scones at 220oC for 10 mins. 
  6. Cool on a wire rack before cutting open and dolloping on a generous helping of cream. I served mine with a blob of my home-made blueberry jam and a big mug of tea. Lovely!
scones and tea

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♥ Pecan and chocolate chunk brownies

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Years ago, before I turned vegan, I made some very yummy brownies for work, which had they not have contained dairy milk chocolate, would have been SFV. I was reminded of my recipe when I was flicking through a free copy of LABL magazine. Inspired by this article, I routed out my recipe and simply swapped the chocolate for a dairy free version.

The best part of this recipe is that brownies are super easy to make!

Pecan and chocolate chunk brownies

Ingredients:

  • 125g x plain flour
  • 175g x caster sugar
  • 35g x cocoa powder
  • 125 ml x sunflower oil
  • 125 ml x water
  • 35g x Dairy free “milk” chocolate (broken into chunks)
  • 5g x chopped pecans
  • 1 tsp x baking powder
  • 1 tsp x vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180oC.
  2. Then, simply mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and cocoa powder together, before adding  the oil, water and vanilla extract. Mix thoroughly until a smooth glossy batter is formed. Then fold in the nuts and chocolate chunks.
  3. Pour the mix into a lightly greased 7 x 7” baking tin and bake for 20 mins. I turned the tin around after 10 mins to ensure an even bake.
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Before…
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…and after

4. Allow to cool before cutting into 8 triangles.

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Enjoy with a nice cuppa 🙂

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♥ Baked Cheezecake

Cheezecake 1

Smooth creamy fluffy baked cheezecake. This dairy-free version is protein-packed and lactose free. And if you’re careful with your biscuits, nut free too!
I tried this out on several people, including the husband and the Besties. They said it was lovely but I have to be honest – I can’t remember what traditional cheesecake tastes like! But this one definitely looks like the real McCoy and is undeniably scrummy.

Ingredients:

  • 150g ginger nut biscuit
  • 60g vegan margarine
  • 375g firm tofu (not silken)
  • 350g firm silken tofu
  • 245g non-dairy yoghurt (1 x cup)
  • 200g sugar (1 x cup)
  • 3tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3tsp vanilla essence
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 100g plain white flour (2/3 x heaped cups)
  • 2 tsp agar agar powder

Method:

  1. Line the bottom of an 8-inch* spring loaded tin with grease proof paper and grease the sides.
    *I wouldn’t advise using a larger tin, but a smaller one should be ok, but you may need to alter the baking time slightly.
  2. Whizz up the ginger nut biscuits and marg in a food processor to make crumbs which will mould together when pressed. Press into the bottom of the tin and put into the fridge to chill.
  3. In the meantime, pre-heat the oven to 165oC.
  4. Prepare the cheezecake filling by whizzing together the tofu, yoghurt, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla and salt until smooth and creamy (at least 5 minutes).
  5. Add the flour to the mixture and whizz up again until thoroughly combined.
  6. Pour the filling onto the biscuit base and use a spatula to smooth down the top.
  7. Put the tin onto a baking try and put into the oven for 1 ½ hours. You’ll know when the cake is cooked as it will have browned slightly on the top and will be pulling away from the edges of the tin.
  8. Leave to cool and set before attempting to remove from the tin.
  9. Serve!

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If you’re feeling fancy, you could serve with a nice fruity coulis!

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♥ The Vegan Venue – Warrington

*20/06/2019 – Note that the Vegan Venue is now called “The Green Room”*

I live in Warrington, a town in the North West of England, almost halfway between Liverpool and Manchester. Warrington is famous for its Rugby team (the Warrington Wolves), steel wire and the famous song “Zombie” which was written (and performed) by the Cranberries, about the IRA bombing of Warrington in 1993.

Warrington however is not exactly on the map for being a vegan hotspot! But perhaps times are beginning to change… hooray!

I was so sad that I nearly cried when our first and only vegan restaurant, “Shambala” closed down. But today I nearly cried because I was so happy after visiting Warrington’s newest vegan joint, “The Vegan Venue”!

Rumours of this new takeaway / shop crept onto my Facebook page late last week and it didn’t take me long to discover that its ONLY 2 FREAKING MILES AWAY FROM MY HOUSE!!!! I cycle further than that to work! So today being Saturday, there was no way that I wasn’t going to pay a visit.

Placed in Padgate, The Vegan Venue is fairly easy to get to and has a sizeable car-park across the road. First impressions when you enter the building is that it’s CLEAN! Now I’m not saying that all vegan eateries are dirty (V-Revolution in Manchester for example is spotless). BUT, I’m sorry to say that are lot are grim. Not that mucky cutlery and sticky menus puts me off tasty cruelty free food….

Anyway, I wasn’t expecting much from such a new business (they’ve not even been open a week yet) but I was pleasantly surprised to see that they had a pretty impressive menu! (I’ve posted a photo of it below). They sell everything from fresh juice to “bacon” bagels to calzone to burgers, pies and wraps. They also have a daily specials board and a cabinet with the most gorgeous looking vegan cakes you have ever seen!

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So what did I go for? I chose the daily special – a huge, great, massive, big-as-my-head burrito (and my head is pretty big!) It was filled to the brim with rice, marinated “beef” strips, lettuce, tomato, courgette, black beans and freshly homemade guacamole.  It was deeeeeelicous!

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It’s huuuuuge!

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Serious, even my massive mouth couldn’t get around it!

I also bought a piece of orange and pistachio cake. OMG! Yet again it was huuuuuuuuge! And so amazingly, mouth-wateringly yummy.

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Drooling just looking at this photo! (Orange and pistachio cake)

AND I picked up a pack of ten acres crisps and a very nice vanilla Nespresso latte (would deffo recommend!)

One of the very best parts about the shop however was how lovely and kind the owners are :o)
(Not to mention how reasonable the prices are!)

I really hope all the vegans and veggies of Warrington and its surrounding areas make a special effort to make sure that this place does well. Would be great to see them be able to extend their opening hours and get permission to transform from a takeaway to a sit-down café!

So, massive thanks to The Vegan Venue! You made my Saturday :o)

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♥ Lemon and poppy seed cupcakes

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Have you ever booked a weekend away and picked the hotel purely on the basis that it was in the same city as a café that sells vegan cupcakes…. only to find out that the café was sold 2 months’ earlier and now isn’t even vegetarian?!

That was my valentine’s weekend, haha! Aww well, we still had a lovely time 🙂

Anyway, hubby bought me a silicone cupcake kit for Christmas so I decided to christen it by making lemon and poppy seed cupcakes. I loosely based the recipe on this non-vegan version and I have to admit that I was pretty smug about the result! Seriously soft and fluffy but delightfully tangy and not too sweet… I ate 7 out of 12, whoops! And my favourite part? They rose! It might be pancake day today but these beauties were most definitely NOT vertically challenged!

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Super fluffy! ♥

Lemon and poppy seed cupcakes:

Ingredients (Makes 12):

  • 13/4  x cups self-raising flour
  • 1 x tbsp. slightly toasted poppy seeds*
  • 3/4  x cup sugar
  • Zest of 2 un-waxed lemons
  • 3 x tsp No-Egg  in 6 x tbsp. water  (whisked together until white and frothy)
  • 1 x tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 x cup soya yoghurt (or any other dairy-free variety)
  • ½ x cup vegan friendly marg
  • 1/3 x cup soya milk (or any other dairy-free variety)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 12 x cupcake cases ( I used silicone).

*(Toast in a dry frying pan on a medium heat for 1 – 2 mins)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180oC.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, zest (reserve a quarter for decoration), poppy seeds and baking powder.
  3. In another bowl, electric-whisk up the No-Egg and water before adding the marg, followed by the sugar, yoghurt, milk and finally the lemon juice.
  4. A spoonful at a time, add the dry ingredients into the wet and gently fold in. A silicone spatula is great for this
  5. Using a couple of teaspoons (one for scooping, one for scraping), distribute the mixture evenly between the 12 cupcake cases.
  6. Put in the oven and bake for 15 mins or until golden brown. A skewer should come out clean when inserted into the centre of each.
  7. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

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These cakes are so tasty that they don’t really need icing. However, just to pretty them up, I added a small swirl of the following onto each and topped with some extra poppy seeds and a sprinkling of zest:

Icing

Ingredients:

  • 4 x tbsp. icing sugar
  • 1/3 x cup vegan friendly marg
  • ½ x cup vegan cream cheese (I used Violife)
  • Juice of ½ lemon


Method:

  1. Whizz together the marg, cream cheese and lemon juice using an electric mixer.
  2. Whizz in the icing sugar, cover and pop in the fridge for 20 mins or so.
  3. Once the cupcakes are COMPLETELY COOLED you can either spoon or pipe a small amount of icing onto each cake.

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Perfect with a cup of tea!

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♥ Vegan mince pies

I hate Christmas!!!

Maybe it would be better if I had kids so I could watch them enjoy the magic, but to me it is just a season of waste: wasting food, wasting money and wasting time!

The ridiculous amount of food that remains uneaten and gets thrown away unnecessarily. The obligation to buy people presents and struggling to come up with something they actually want and will use. The stress of spending hours that you don’t have, wrapping presents and hoovering up glitter…. Rargh!!

HOWEVER, all that said, I AM a sucker for a mince pie ;o)

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The inoutlaws are staying at ours this year so I am trying to make an effort and not be miserable. I am trying to be super organised so I don’t have to add stress to the equation. I’ve made and frozen (or eaten!) 92 mince pies already so I’m well prepared in case we have any unexpected visitors or if we feel peckish on an afternoon.

One has to be careful with mince pies of unknown origin – there is a risk of there being butter and maybe even lard in the pastry and the mincemeat itself may contain animal suet.

Lucky for me, my age-old mince pie recipe happened to be “accidentally vegan” so I’ve not had to change a thing since giving up animal products, hoorah!

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Vegan mince pies (makes 12)

Ingredients:

  • 260 g plain white flour plus extra to dust
  • 65 g vegan friendly marg
  • 65 g vegan shortening (I used Trex)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Cold water to bind
  • Jar of vegan friendly mincemeat (I used an 822g jar from Costco – this should be more than enough)
  • Icing sugar for dusting (optional)

Method:

  1. Put the flour in a large bowl.
  2. The marg and shortening should be completely chilled in the fridge before using. Add to the flour and use a butter knife to chop into chunks.
  3. Using your fingers, rub the marg and shortening into the flour. Keep going until you have made soft, golden breadcrumbs.
  4. Add a little bit of cold water at a time and knead into the breadcrumbs until a soft dough is formed. It shouldn’t take too much water to form the dough so be really careful not to to overdo it. (The amount of water can vary depending on the absorbency of the flour, which can differ from bag to bag).
  5. Cover the pastry with clingfilm and leave in the fridge for an hour.
  6. Pre-heat the oven to 190oC
  7. Flour a flat, clean surface and a rolling pin. Take the pastry out of the fridge and roll out until around 1/8th inch thick. Using a pastry cutter, cut out 12 circles and place each into the hole of a patty-pan (good pastry shouldn’t stick so you shouldn’t have to grease the tin, however if you’re worried, it won’t hurt).
  8. In each case, add around 2 heaped teaspoons of mincemeat. The secret is not to use too much or else the mincemeat will bubble up and burn and make a mess of your pastry! Trust me, less is more!

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    ps6 2014-11-09 14.32.35 This year I got my mincemeat from Costco. I also really like the Co-op’s own brand which is also vegan friendly.

  9. Using a star shaped cutter (or a small round cutter if you want a more traditional pie) cut out 12 tops and place on top of the pies.
  10. Put the pies in the oven and bake for 10 mins.
  11. I like to scoop my pies out of the tin using a spoon before placing on a cooling rack. It’s a good idea to carefully remove the pies whilst they are still hot as any excess mincemeat will cool down and stick the pies to the sides of the tin.
  12. Once cooled, either eat or freeze for later. They look extra pretty if you sprinkle some icing sugar on top using a sieve.

If only everything about Christmas was this sweet!

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♥ Vegan, baked mini jam donuts

Does anyone have one of these things?:

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My QVC shop “bargain”. I paid a tenner for this, I have used it once…

If not…. Don’t bloody bother! :p

Well, perhaps I’m being a bit harsh, but let me explain.

My BFF challenged me to make some scrummy vegan donuts. I wanted to make them a bit healthier than normal so I decided the way forward was to bake them rather than frying. If I were to deep fry my donuts I would have had my oil heated to 190oC, so it made sense to bake them in the oven at the same temperature. My fandangled cake maker however doesn’t heat up that hot, so I found it impossible to get my little donuts to go golden brown.

I had no problem when I re-made them in a patty-pan tin in the oven though, hooray!

(but even if they weren’t golden brown, they were still pretty delicious…)

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Recipe makes 12

Baked vegan donut recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 x cup plain flour
  • 1/3 x cup sugar
  • 1 ½ x tsp baking powder
  • 1 x tsp “No-Egg” whisked up with 2 tbsp water until fluffy
  • 1/3 x cup non-dairy milk
  • ¼ x cup melted vegan marg
  • 1 x tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 x tbsp. jam (I used wild blueberry and seedless raspberry)
  • ½ x tsp apple cider vinegar

To coat:

  • ½ x cup caster sugar
  • ¼ x cup melted vegan marg


Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190oC
  2. Grease up your patty-pans (even if they are non-stick). You’ll need 12 holes.
  3. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl and add the sugar.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk the No-Egg, marg, vanilla extract and apple cider vinegar
  5. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet until a smooth, thick-but-pourable batter is formed.
  6. Split 2/3s of the batter among the patty-pan holes.
  7. Add a little blob of jam to the centre of each batter-filled hole. If you’re using a more solid jelly-like jam, you can just use the back of a teaspoon to push the blob into the batter. If you’re using a more runny jam, you may want to attempt to create an indent to the centre of each donut first, just to make sure it stays in place.
  8. Cover each jam blob with the remaining batter. You’d shouldn’t be able to see any jam!PS3 2014-10-18 13.30.18
  9. Cook for 10 – 12 minutes.

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    This photo demonstrates why its important not to overfill your jam donuts – otherwise you’ll end up with little jammy volcanoes!

  10. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 mins before brushing with melted marg and tossing in caster sugar.

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I warn you, both times I have made these, me and the hubby have scoffed the whole batch within 20 minutes, whoops!

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♥ Rocky Road

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So, it’s my birthday next week but since I shall be celebrating the occasion by skiving work, I figured I had best bring my cakes in tomorrow instead. I pushed the boat at this year as I’m fed up of being asked what I eat. Hopefully this will help to persuade some people that a) I don’t live off dust and b) being vegan doesn’t mean I have to miss out!

I made a Bakewell tart, a Lotus Biscoff and chocolate spread cake and the pièce de résistance, vegan rocky road!

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Bakewell Tart

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Lotus Biscoff and chocolate spread cake

My rocky road recipe is an incredibly easy one, so easy in fact that I didn’t think it warranted a recipe. But since posting a few pictures around social media I have been inundated with requests for the recipe, including the makers of the veg*n marshmallows I used, Freedom Mallows. I am so happy that Holland and Barratt started selling these babies, although I was sad that they didn’t have the strawberry ones in last time I visited. The vanilla ones are delightful but I think the strawberry ones would have looked and tasted fab. If only I hadn’t scoffed the entire bag I got in my Vegan Kind box this month. Live and learn!

Easy peasy, dirty and sleazy (but oh so yummy! ), my vegan rocky road recipe…

Ingredients:

  1. 1x tsp Vegan marg
  2. 350 g x Vegan milk chocolate
  3. 25 g x Vegan white chocolate buttons (chopped in half)
  4. 1 x bag Veg*n friendly marshmallows
  5. 5 x Oreos (any biscuit would work – chopped up)
  6. 4 x Hobnobs (chopped)
  7. 100 g x Glace cherries* (chopped into halves)

*make sure they aren’t coloured with beetles!

 Method:

  1. Line a 7.5” x 7.5” baking tin with Clingfilm and leave to one side.
  2. Put a pan of water onto a low heat and pop a heatproof bowl on top.
  3. Break up the chocolate and add to the bowl. Leave until it begins to go melty then add the marg and give it a stir.
  4. Gently stir (a rubber spatula is best) until the chocolate is completely melted and glossy looking, then take the bowl off the pan.
  5. Chuck in all the other ingredients (although save around 1/3 of the Oreos, cherries , buttons and marshmallows to decorate). Stir until thoroughly covered in chocolate.
  6. Pour into the baking tin and spread around with the spatula.
  7. Sprinkle the reserved ingredients on top and press down slightly to make sure they stick.
  8. Pop in the fridge for around 2 hours or until the chocolate has set hard.
  9. Using a nice big, smooth edged knife, chop up the rocky road into bite sized pieces.PS2

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>>>>Warning, finished product contains an obscene amount of calories! I cannot be held responsible for any abuse inflicted on people’s waist bands after consumption of this snack <<<<

;p

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♥ Chocolate and Lotus Spread cinnamon cake

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It’s my birthday at the end of the month so I’ve been trialing a few cakes. I want to try and persuade my work colleagues that vegans don’t just live off dust 😉

I’d heard very good things about the new Lotus Biscoff Spread via the Vegan Groups on Facebook, so when I saw a jar in the shops I couldn’t resist. Facebook was right, this stuff is gorrrrrgeous! So gorgeous in fact that I had to invent a cake to put it into. This one is definitely a contender for the birthday bake-off!

Chocolate and Lotus Spread cinnamon cake:

Ingredients:

  • ¾ x cup vegan marg
  • ¾ x cup sugar
  • 3 x tsp “No Egg” in 6 tbsp. water
  • 4 x tbsp. soya milk
  • 1 x tsp cider vinegar
  • 1 1/3 x cups self-raising flour
  • 1 x tsp baking powder
  • 2 x tsp cinnamon
  • 2 x tbsp. Lotus Biscoff spread (plus extra for decorating)
  • 2 x tbsp. Vegan friendly chocolate spread (have a Google search if you don’t already have a favourite brand!)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180oC
  2. Put the marg, sugar, No Egg, soya milk and cider vinegar into a bowl and whizz up until a pale batter is formed (it might look slightly “curdled” but don’t worry).
  3. In another bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and cinnamon together.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the batter a spoonful at a time and fold in until thick and thoroughly mixed.
  5. Pour half the mixture into a well-greased baking pan. Dollop in blobs of the Lotus Spread and chocolate spread. Pour the rest of the mixture on top and swizzle around using a skewer.
  6. Bake for 35 – 45 minutes, depending on the dimensions of your tin. A skewer will come out of the centre of the cake clean once cooked. If the outside of the cake is browning too fast, wrap in foil.
  7. Allow to cool in the tin for 10mins before turning out onto a wire rack.
  8. Once completely cool, you can decorate. Using a butter knife, I alternated blobs of Lotus and chocolate spread to make a pretty pattern.

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My favorite part of this cake is the slightly chewy crust and of course the Lotus – chocolate spread topping. Enjoy!

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♥ Strawberry and vanilla loaf cake

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What compliments the British summer time better than a bowlful of succulent, sweet strawberries?

Plump and juicy, perfect with a little sugar and a splash of soya cream. Or in a delicious, creamy breakfast smoothie. Or in a beautiful vanilla and strawberry loaf cake!

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A little bit like banana bread (without the banana, bleurgh!), this cake is crusty on the outside and marvellously mmm…. mmmoi, mooiss…. nope, I can’t say it. That word is too GROSS!

Unlike this cake, which is gorgeous and has a centre which is the opposite of dry :p

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Vanilla and strawberry cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 x cups flour
  • 3 x tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 x tsp baking powder
  • 0.5 x cup vegetable oil
  • 0.5 x tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 0.5 x cup soya milk
  • 1 x tsp salt
  • 0.5 x tsp cider vinegar
  • 1 x tbsp. white sugar
  • 1 x cup chopped strawberries (30 – 40 strawbs)
  • 2 x tbsp. maple syrup Plus extra for decoration.

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170oC.
  2. De-stem and chop the strawberries. Place in a bowl and mix with the sugar before mashing slightly. Leave to one side.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the flour, bicarb, baking soda and salt with a wooden spoon.
  4. Next, stir in the strawberries and wet ingredients. Keep stirring until thoroughly mixed. You should end up with a thick and glossy batter that is smooth apart from the strawberry chunks.
  5. Pour into a greased baking tin and wrap in foil.
  6. Bake for 50 – 60 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Be sure to take the foil off the cake after 30 minutes.
  7. When ready, leave to stand for 5 mins before turning out of the tin onto a cooling rack. Once cooled, you can add the icing.ps8

Icing

Ingredients:

  • 3 x tbsp. icing sugar
  • 1 x tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 x tsp soya milk

Method:

  1. Put the icing sugar into a bowl and add the vanilla essence.
  2. Stir in the soya milk a little at a time until a thick but spreadable paste is formed.
  3. Spread over the cake and decorate with slices of strawberry.

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And the perfect way to enjoy this cake is with a nice cuppa tea, whilst watching a couple of bouncing bunnies ♥ Here’s introducing my Bezzie’s wonderful little furry friends. These fella’s eat even more kale than I do!

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