Gingerbread Spiced Swirl Buns

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Gingerbread cinnamon swirl buns

I reckon it’s about time to get a little bit festive and Christmassy round here – I’ve got so many ideas which have been simmering away since last Christmas and I just didn’t get time to action, and despite all my best intentions to be prepared, there’s just something that prevents me from Christmas cooking before the start of December!

These delightfully gingerbread scented swirl buns give a nod to the forthcoming festive season without seeming too full on Christmassy. In fact you could happily eat them at any time of year. I think spiced swirl buns are such a successful and rewarding bake – they take time but are essentially very simple, look delightfully irresistible and make the house smell heavenly! You can’t get better than that!

gingerbread spiced swirl buns, dairy-free, egg-free

Gingerbread Cinnamon Swirl Buns

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

vegan gingerbread spiced swirl buns

makes about 24

250ml dairy-free milk, I used Oatly

3 tbsp dairy-free margarine, such as Pure

1tbsp black treacle

450g plain flour

2 tsp dried yeast

60g sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp salt

For the filling:

1/2 cup soft brown sugar

3 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp ground ginger

2 tbsp dairy-free margarine

christmas swirl buns, vegan

For the glaze:

2 tbsp soft brown sugar

2 tbsp water

2 tbsp pearl sugar/sugar crystals

And/or:

1/4 cup icing sugar

Sprinkle cinnamon

Water to make into a runny paste

  1. Melt the spread and milk together – you want it to be warm and melted but not hot, stir in the treacle.
  2. In a bowl mx together the flour, yeast, sugar, cinnamon, ginger and salt
  3. Make a well in the centre and pour in the warm milk mix
  4. Bring together to a soft dough and knead until its smooth and bounces back when poked
  5. Cover and let double in size
  6. Knock back and roll out to a large rectangle
  7. Smear on the dairy-free margarine. Sprinkle over the sugar and cinnamon and ginger, then roll up tightly into a long sausage
  8. Cut into even slices – I managed to get 24 small slices from mine
  9. Place on lined baking sheets and leave to rise again for another half an hour.
  10. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade/Gas Mark 4/375 degrees F. Bake for 17-20 minutes until risen, golden and cooked through
  11. Melt the brown sugar with the water and brush over the top and sprinkle with the pearl sugar (if using). Remove from the pans and peel off the paper. Drizzle with the cinnamon water icing.

dairy-free christmas spiced cinnamon swirls

The Best Chocolate Birthday/Celebration Cake (dairy, egg, soya and nut-free)

Unicorn birthday cake, dairy-free egg-free

I’ve realised that although I make multiple versions of this cake every year, I’ve never posted it as a recipe. Silly really because it’s a fantastic recipe and everyone needs a great birthday cake up their sleeve!

Birthday cakes were one of my first big challenges as a dairy and egg free cook. I was determined that my girls could have a pretty ‘Wow’ cake like all their friends, that could challenge the popular store bought versions that everyone gasped over at the countless birthday parties we’ve attended. So I needed a great, fail-safe reliable recipe, and this one ticks all those boxes

My first versions, despite trying my very hardest were not particularly great (totally round cake shaped bumble bee anyone?) but as the years pass they’ve improved, I think!

I use this lovely chocolate cake recipe which gives just the right crumb to turn into an iced sandwich cake. You could make two sponges and sandwich together but my preference is to make one large cake and then split it in half when it’s cool. I find that way gives a better finish when the whole cake is iced.

sliced chocolate celebration cake, dairy-free, egg-free

As I make a chocolate sponge, I sandwich it together with vanilla buttercream and also coat the top and sides with a thin layer of the buttercream to help the icing stick.

Next it’s a layer of fondant icing which is then decorated for the chosen theme.

underwater dairy-free cake

Chocolate Celebration Cake

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, can be soya-free, vegetarian and vegan)

make up cake, vegan

makes one cake

330g self-raising flour

5 tbsps cocoa powder

220g caster sugar

1 1/2 tsps bicarbonate of soda

pinch of salt

290ml dairy-free milk

2 tbsps dairy-free yogurt

100g dairy-free margarine, melted

1 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Centigrade/Gas Mark 5. Grease and line a deep cake tin
  2. Sift together the flour, cocoa, bicarb and salt
  3. Stir in the sugar
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the oat milk, melted dairy-free margarine, yogurt and vanilla.
  5. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry. Mix gently until well combined.
  6. Pour into the cake tin and bake for 40-50 minutes, until a knife comes out clean
  7. Cool in the cake tin.

chocolate celebration cake, egg-free

 

Fill and cover with buttercream:

Vanilla Buttercream

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

chocolate birthday cake, vegan

makes more than enough for the cake!

2 tbsp vegetable fat (such as Trex)

1/2 cup dairy-free margarine (such as Pure)

1 1/2 to 2 cups icing sugar, sifted

1 or 2 tbsp dairy-free milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Whisk together the spread and vegetable fat.
  2. Add the icing sugar, 1/2 cup at a time with a splash of the oat milk and vanilla, until fully combined and nice and fluffy.

Here’s a gallery of some of my other favourites over the last few years.

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Sinful Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes

sinful chocolate cupcakes, dairy-free, egg-free

These cupcakes are chocolatey, really chocolatey and topped with a rich sticky ganache that turns to a fudgy set icing when it’s cooled, somewhat reminiscent of shop bought chocolate cupcakes, but far far better. If you’re in the mood for a good dose of chocolate power then this is the recipe for you! Besides there is something rather elegant about those shiny chocolate tops, making them equally at home when served as a dessert or tea time treat.

Sinful Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes 

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

chocolate cupcakes vegan

makes 18-22

350g self-raising flour

200g caster sugar

50g cocoa powder

200ml sunflower oil

300ml dairy-free milk

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

pinch of salt

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade/Gas Mark 5
  2. Mix together the dairy-free milk, lemon juice, vanilla and oil. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and salt. Stir in the sugar.
  4. Add the bicarb to the wet ingredients and stir.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and gently mix to thoroughly combine.
  6. 2/3 rds fill the cupcake cases and bake for 15-20 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.
  7. Cool on a wire rack.

the best chocolate cupcakes, dairy-free and egg-free

Fudgy Chocolate Icing

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, can be soya-free, vegetarian and vegan)

chocolate fudge icing

85g dairy-free dark chocolate, such as Kinnerton

3 tbsp dairy-free margarine

3 tbsps icing sugar

  1. In a saucepan, gently melt together the ingredients
  2. Bring to a boil and then simmer until thickened, stirring all the time. This will only take a couple of minutes.
  3. Cool slightly and then spread on top of the cupcakes
  4. Decorate as desired

nut-free chocolate fudge cupcakes

Cake Pops

cake pops, dairy-free, egg-free

My girls have often asked to try cake pops but I always presumed they were difficult to make – surely an orb of sponge is fairly tricky with no gadgety cake pop maker? As it happens, cake pops are a doddle to make, the spherical form is molded out of cake crumbs mixed with buttercream. If I’d known they were so simple I’d have made them ages ago!

The popularity of these spherical shaped cake treats is no doubt due to both the lollipop shape, and the tempting decorated chocolate coating  – surely irresistible to any in possession of a sweet tooth. This version features vanilla sponge, mixed with fluffy vanilla buttercream and coated in dairy-free chocolate. Recipes for the cupcakes and buttercream can be found here.

Cake pops totally fit the birthday party brief, small desirable little treats that are meant to be eaten by hand. These little beauties are easily assembled from a few leftover cupcakes and some extra buttercream, perfect for when you want wow factor with only minimal fuss.

making cake pops

Cake Pops

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

cake pops, vegan

makes approximately 8, multiply as necessary

1 cup cake crumbs, I found 3 cupcakes did the trick

1/3 cup buttercream

50g dairy-free chocolate, melted

sprinkles or decorations of choice

  1. Crumble up the cakes to make fine crumbs. Either use a food processor or by hand
  2. Mix in the buttercream and form into even sized balls, insert the cake pop sticks
  3. Place in the fridge to firm up cake pop centres, nut-free
  4. Dip in the melted chocolate and sprinkle with decorations. Place in a cup to set.
  5. Enjoy!

dairy-free cake pops, no egg

Dairy-free Chocolate Cheesecake

vegan chocolate cheesecake

Now, obviously you can’t make a really authentic cheesecake if you don’t eat dairy – you do need plenty of cream cheese after all! I’ve made plenty with soya cream cheese which makes a fantastic fruity cheesecake. This chocolate based recipe is pretty inspired as it’s made made using silken tofu, which was kindly supplied by Mori-Nu. It’s a particularly versatile and good quality tofu and my preferred brand of choice when either making savoury dishes such as salt and pepper tofu, or a sweet dish as found here.

The tofu base is quite a revelation, on first reading it doesn’t sound good does it? Tofu cheesecake, it sounds bland and a bit meh. But in fact the results are inspired and delicious. The texture is as smooth and creamy as a cheesecake should be and the chocolate flavour is happily soaked up by the tofu to make a wonderfully rich and decadent filling. All this from six simple ingredients, you can’t go wrong with that!

chocolate cheesecake

Dairy-free Chocolate Cheesecake

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

dairy-free, egg-free chocolate cheesecake

makes one 12 inch cheesecake, enough to serve at least 8

200g crushed biscuits, I used Lotus Caramalised Biscuits

50g dairy-free spread, melted

350g pack firm silken tofu

170g dairy-free chocolate, such as Kinnerton

4 tbsps golden syrup/maple syrup (or use honey if you’re not vegan)

1 tbsp sunflower oil

grated chocolate to decorate

  1. Melt the dairy-free spread and stir into the crushed biscuits. Press into the bottom of a loose base tart tin. Place in the fridge to set.
  2. Meanwhile, in a blender pulse the silken tofu with the syrup/honey until smooth.
  3. Melt the chocolate and oil together either over a bain-marie or in a microwave. Stir until smooth.
  4. Carefully stir the chocolate into the tofu mix until well combined.
  5. Pour over the biscuit base. Smooth over the top and then leave to set in the fridge for at least a few hours.
  6. Decorate the top as desired, I used shaved white chocolate.

egg-free, dairy-free cheesecake

Disclaimer: Mori-Nu sent me a pack of tofu which I used to create this recipe.

Parkin

 

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Ever heard of a Parkin? Well you probably have in the UK, and most certainly if you’re from Yorkshire. It’s a sticky ginger, syrup, oat and molasses flavoured sponge that is traditional at this time of year. It’s most commonly served around bonfire night, when the sweet spicy sponge is likely to warm the cockles after a bracing evening standing in the cold. Definitely well worth making for November 5th or any wintery occasion!

I’d read about Parkin more than eaten it, and it seems that in its most authentic and traditional forms, it’s egg-free – hooray! But try as I might, no egg-free recipe could be found. Maybe most people think they might as well add eggs to a sponge mix to make it ‘better’? It’s funny because people make such presumptions – cake can only be nice if its made with eggs and milk/butter – but having eaten both varieties, I can safely say that I prefer the ones without. They are lighter, more delicate, with no discernible eggy-flavour. I reckon others would also think the same, if only they opened their eyes and gave them a go!

Despite being resolutely egg-free, I can’t say this Parkin is truly authentic – it’s devised to suit my taste with far less treacle than usual as I find the flavour hugely over-powering. Sorry to any Yorkshire folk out there, I apologise for messing around with your traditions! Feel free to up the molasses and reduce the syrup for a ‘darker’ flavour and do let me know how it turns out, maybe I’m missing a trick in being a molasses scaredy-cat!?

dairy-free egg-free parkin
Parkin

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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2 cups plain flour

1 cup soft brown sugar

1 large handful of oats

2 tsp ground ginger

2/3 cup dairy-free margarine, melted

1 cup golden syrup

1 tbsp treacle or molasses

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 tsp vinegar

1/4 pint dairy-free milk, I used Oatly

  1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees centigrade/Gas Mark 3
  2. Line a square baking tin with parchment and grease the paper or it will stick!
  3. Mix together the flour, sugar, oats and ginger in a bowl and make a well in the centre
  4. Gently melt together the spread, syrup and treacle (do not let it boil) and pour into the well
  5. Sprinkle the bicarbonate onto the syrup mix and then sprinkle the vinegar over that. The bicarbonate will fizz and bubble. Pour the milk over the top and mix to form a very wet and sloppy batter
  6. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 40 minutes to 1 hour, until golden, risen and a knife cones out clean
  7. Once cool, cut into cubes.

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Millionaire’s Shortbread

millionaires shortbread, dairy-free, egg-free

Millionaires shortbread, or chocolate covered caramel shortbread – is it a thing all round the world? Here in the U.K. you seem to get it everywhere, its so often the luxury baked item by the till in sandwich shops, right next to the brownies and flapjacks. It’s very popular, and rightly so, anything as naughty as caramel and chocolate topped shortbread must be rather tempting.

I’ve made homemade versions before but the caramel tended to get a little too chewy, it really needs to be set but gooey – you don’t want a toffee like texture. This recipe uses soya condensed milk which gives an extra creaminess to the caramel and perfect gooeyness – I’d actually advise to set the caramel in the freezer for an hour or so to enable a perfect slice. Be warned though, this shortbread is very rich so small squares should suffice!

Millionaire’s Shortbread

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

vegan millionaires shortbread

for the shortbread:

dairy-free shortbread

225g plain flour

175g dairy-free margarine

80g caster sugar

  1. Pour the flour and sugar into a bowl and rub in the margarine until you have formed a soft dough. Or pulse the mixture in a food processor until a dough forms.
  2. Press into a lined baking tray and bake at 160 degrees Centigrade for 30-40 minutes until lightly golden
  3. Cool

Next make the caramel:

caramel, dairy-free, nut-free

330g tin of condensed soya milk

100g dairy free margarine

100g golden syrup

  1. Place all the ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook until turned lightly golden and thickened.
  2. Pour over the shortbread base and place in the fridge to setchocolate over caramel
  3. Once cool, melt 150g dark dairy-free chocolate and pour over the caramel layer. Evenly spread and leave to set.
  4. If possible place in the freezer to firm up the caramel and they cut into small bars.

vegan caramel chocolate shortbread

Vegetarian ‘Swedish Meatballs’ and mustard cream sauce – dairy-free, egg-free and nut-free

vegetarian "Swedish Meatballs' dairy-free egg-free

There’s something very appealing with the coming of Autumn and a turn from bright sunny Mediterranean flavours (generally my preference) to a more Scandinavian cosy vibe. To me, it suits darker evenings and jumper wearing temperatures.

I’ve tried many times to recreate the classic Swedish meatballs (aka ‘Ikea Meatballs’!), mustard cream sauce and mash but often just missed the mark. This version, on the other hand, is totally spot on. The ‘meatballs’ made of a mix of red lentils, mushrooms, onion, garlic, breadcrumbs and have a great ‘bite’ to them as well as a wonderfully savoury umami flavour with hints of the deep dark forest. The texture, whilst clearly being nothing like a meatball made of meat has a toothsome feel and enough texture that they don’t just crumble into dust!

vegan swedish meatball mix

Dairyfree cream sauces can also be tricky to get right, they often have a slightly sweet flavour which is a little unnerving in a savoury context, also reduction sometimes doesn’t have the same effect as with dairy versions. But I have the answer, a simple veloute (like a bechamel but made with stock rather than milk) is made creamy by a good dose of the cream – resulting in a perfect silky texture and creamy taste with plenty of mustard umph.

We all really devoured this dish, although the girls were suspicious of the cream sauce – if you’ve been dairyfree for your entire life it’s not really surprising that you don’t ‘get’ creamy textures! I’m going to preserve though, this will definitely be one for the regular repertoire this winter.

Vegetarian Swedish ‘Meatballs’

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

baked vegetarian Swedish meatballs

makes about 15, serves 4-5

1 1/2 cups cooked red lentils

200g mushrooms, finely chopped

1 onion, finely chopped

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 tsp dried thyme or herbes de Provence

1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes

Salt and pepper

2 slices of bread, made into breadcrumbs

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (Henderson’s Relish is a great veggie alternative)

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp English mustard powder

1 tbsp cornflour

  1. Gently fry the onion, mushrooms and garlic with the herbs and chilli flakes until soft, fragrant and starting to turn golden
  2. Place in a food processor (or simply mix together in a bowl for a chunkier texture) and add all the other ingredients. Pulse until well combined and fairly smooth.
  3. Using damp hands roll into even sized balls and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Drizzle with a little extra oil and then put in the fridge to firm up.
  4. Bake at 180 degrees centigrade for 20 minutes

dairy-free egg-free mushroom and lentil Swedish meatballs

Meanwhile, make the garlic, mustard cream sauce:-

Mustard Cream Sauce

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

dairy-free mustard cream sauce, vegan

1 tbsp dairy-free margarine

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 tbsp flour

20 ml white wine

100ml vegetable stock

1 pack dairy-free cream (250ml)

1-2 tbsps Dijon mustard

  1. Melt the margarine, add the garlic and sauté until fragrant but not coloured
  2. Add the flour and cook out for a couple of minutes
  3. Over a medium heat stir in the wine and again cook out, stirring to make sure the sauce/paste is smooth
  4. Pour in the stock and stir to make a smooth sauce, next stir in the cream. Stir or whisk to ensure a smooth, silky sauce.
  5. Add mustard to taste

To serve:

Serve 3-5 ‘meatballs’ with creamy mash, greens of choice and the mustard cream sauce.

vegan swedish meatballs nut-free

Chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel buttercream

Chocolate and salted caramel cupcakes, dairy-free, egg-free

Is there any more delicious and tempting combination than chocolate and salted caramel? The flecks of saltiness in sticky sweet caramel paired with irresistible chocolate is a match made in heaven.

I haven’t made any cupcakes for a while but they’re always so tempting, especially to the younger members of the family, so they’re the perfect vehicle for trying out flavour combinations. The base is a simple rich chocolate sponge. The buttercream is flavoured with salted caramel – for this you have three options – caramel essence and a pinch of salt, a caramel sauce and pinch of salt drizzled over the buttercream, or as I did using Sugar and Crumbs delicious naturally flavoured icing sugars. Which ever you choose, the end result with certainly be irresistible! I added a sprinkle of honeycomb pieces for added sweet crunch.

Decadent Chocolate Cupcakes

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

vegan salted caramel and chocolate cupcakes

makes 18

350g self-raising flour

200g caster sugar

50g cocoa powder

200ml sunflower oil

300ml dairy-free milk

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

pinch of salt

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade/Gas Mark 5
  2. Mix together the dairy-free milk, lemon juice, vanilla and oil. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and salt. Stir in the sugar.
  4. Add the bicarb to the wet ingredients and stir.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and gently mix to thoroughly combine.
  6. 2/3 rds fill the cupcake cases and bake for 15-20 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.
  7. Cool on a wire rack.

nut-free, dairy-free chocolate cupcakes, caramel icing

Salted Caramel Buttercream

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

enough to pipe onto 14-18 cupcakes

1/4 cup vegetable fat (such as Trex)

3/4 cup dairy-free margarine (such as Pure)

3 cups icing sugar, sifted (i used half Sugar and Crumbs Salted caramel flavour and half normal icing sugar)

1-2 tbsps dairy-free milk

(or if using essence, add 1-2tsp caramel essence and a pinch of salt)

  1. Whisk together the spread and vegetable fat.
  2. Add the icing sugar, 1/2 cup at a time with a splash of the milk, until fully combined and nice and fluffy.
  3. Spread or pipe onto the cupcakes.
  4. Decorate with honeycomb pieces and cocoa powder if desired

salted caramel buttercream on chocolate cupcakes, vegan

Sticky Toffee Scones

sticky toffee scones, vegan

I do like scones, they’re such a delightful teatime snack. Not too sweet, light and fluffy, the perfect accompaniment to some tasty or interesting jam and a doddle to make as long as you’re light handed and respectful of the dough. I’ve made any varieties, with particular favourites being lemon drizzle and blueberry. I recently bought the fantastic 80 cakes by Claire Clark and its providing me with lots of inspiration. She features some ginger and molasses scones which for some reason got me thinking of combining the flavours of sticky toffee pudding and transporting them into a scone recipe. Sticky toffee scones! Now that sounds like a great idea.

In fact it turns out to be an awesome idea, why don’t people make sticky toffee scones all the time? The mellow sweetness of the whizzed up dates is perfect in the not so sweet scone template and who can resist a sticky, crunchy top?

Sticky Toffee Scones

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, soya-free, vegan, vegetarian)

sticky toffee scones, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free

makes 10-12

100ml dairyfree milk

25g dates

1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

220g flour

50g caster sugar

1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder

75g dairy-free margarine

1 tbsp golden syrup

Extra dairyfree milk for brushing

2 tbsp Demerara sugar to sprinkle on top

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees centigrade
  2. Simmer together half (50ml) of the milk with the dates until soft. Whizz up in a food processor/ blender to form a puree. Add the bicarbonate and set aside.
  3. Into a bowl sift the flour and baking powder, stir in the caster sugar.
  4. Rub in the margarine with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  5. Pour in the date puree and the remaining 50 ml of dairy-free milk. Gently bring together to a soft sticky dough. Do not knead.
  6. Turn out onto a floured surface and pat out to about 5cm thick. Cut out circles and place on a floured baking tray.
  7. Brush with the extra milk and sprinkle with Demerara.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes, until golden and risen.
  9. Cool on a wire rack.

sticky toffee scones, vegetarian and vegan