Churros Cake

We’re still in desperate need of anything that’ll make us feel good and for these dark dismal lock-down days to pass as quickly as possible, although that said today was beautiful and sunny and hopefully a hint of brighter things to come.
Isn’t it crazy that we’re nearly a year into the Covid-19 pandemic and some of the simple joys of the first lockdown (the peace and quiet, quality family time, having to be at home but in some really gorgeous sunny weather and just the novelty of the whole situation – whilst not forgetting the horror and the misery people have had to cope with) has been replaced with boredom and drudge. No-one has zoom calls and quizzes anymore, no-one enjoys yet another day with nothing interesting to do, it’s all gone on for far too long.
I do believe that some good food and tempting treats do add little rays of sunshine into these otherwise dismal days and have been baking like crazy. Some experiments are quickly forgotten about, others become the seeds of new and exciting recipes. This is one of those successes…

Churros, cinnamon buns, snickerdoodles and more – all these bakes have such a wonderful warmth about them, there’s something so ultimately comforting about baking (and eating) with cinnamon and sugar. It’s almost like a sweet warm hug, the kind of hug we’re all missing right now.

I saw a photo of a churros cake on Instagram and immediately knew I had to make a ‘friendly’ version. So here we have a lightly spiced sponge, rippled with a spicy cinnamon swirl and then sprinkled with a crunchy sugar coating, just like a churros in cake form. How could that not be a spectacular combination? Add a warm, dark chocolate ganache sauce and you’re in churros heaven!

 

I served this cake for both pudding and a teatime treat, and it worked superbly in both scenarios. It won’t look quite so pretty without a bundt cake tin but it’ll still taste amazing. Let me know what you think?

Churros Cake

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

 

makes one cake

370g self-raising flour

2 tbsps Birds custard powder (make sure it’s the diary free version)

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

3 tbsp soft brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tbsp caster sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Centigrade/Gas Mark 5. Grease the cake tin with melted margarine and sprinkle over a dusting of caster sugar and cinnamon
  2. Sift together the flour, custard powder, bicarb and salt
  3. Stir in the caster sugar
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the dairy-free milk, melted dairy-free margarine and yogurt.
  5. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry. Mix gently until well combined.
  6. Pour half into the cake tin, sprinkle over the cinnamon sugar and then top with the other half of the better. Gently marble thebatzer with a skewer and bake for 30-35 minutes, until a knife comes out clean
  7. Remove from the tin and sprinkle with the extra sugar whilst still warm. If you want to add a chocolate sauce melt together 50g dark chocolate with 3 tbsp dairy-free cream.

Black Forest Cheesecake

Sometimes a recipe evolves as a idea and sometimes it just happens due to the contents of the larder!
I wanted to make a cheesecake for Sunday lunch last week and had all the necessary ingredients except for the icing sugar that I use to sweeten the cream cheese filling. It was nearly a case of no pudding for Sunday lunch – shock, horror! Luckily lurking at the back of the baking shelf was the remnants of a bag of Sugar and Crumbs black cherry icing sugar… could I use that? Then lightbulb moment, of course if it’s black cherry flavour then that goes perfectly with chocolate and we can have a black forest cheesecake. Bingo! What started as an experiment using what I had in the cupboard ended up as a complete hit. Everyone was wowing about it as a combination, so it’s certainly worth recreating 🙂
I urge you to seek out Sugar and Crumbs icing sugars and cocoa powders – they’re allergen free and flavoured with natural flavourings, and add an fabulous flavour to many a dish. If you don’t have the flavoured icing sugar then use either 1 tsp cherry essence, or maybe a tablespoon of cherry jam to flavour the cream cheese filling. Perhaps even a marble of cherry jam would be a nice addition?
Have you come across the Oatly ‘cream cheese’ yet? I’ve been emailing them for years to bring it to the UK as all their products are so good, I really hoped it would be a great cream cheese alternative. We always used Tofutti out of preference, as the creamy smooth spread was in our opinion the best you could buy. So many dairy-free cream cheeses are too ‘cheesy’ and no good substitution for a standard cream cheese which is smooth, creamy and mild tasting. So since the UK distributor of Tofutti disappeared we’ve had a sad lack of cheesecakes. These have been sad sad days as cheesecake is the favourite pudding in the household. But now with Oatly creamy spread is widely available in Tesco and Sainsbury’s, it’s back to cheesecake a go-go! The mild flavour works perfectly as a cream cheese substitute and carries additional flavours without any underlying cheesy aroma.

This black forest cheesecake will be the prefect Valentine’s day pud – i hope you enjoy as much as we did ❤

Black Forest Cheesecake

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

makes one 20cm cake, serves 4-6

115g Biscuits, crushed (I used Lotus)

1 tbsp cocoa powder

3 tbsp dairy-free margarine, melted

1 tub of dairy-free cream cheese (150g)

1 tbsp dairy-free yogurt

2-3 tbsp black cherry icing sugar

30g dairy-free dark chocolate

fresh or glace cherries to garnish

  1. Line a spring form cake tin with parchment.
  2. Mix together the crushed biscuits, cocoa powder and melted margarine. Press into the bottom of the tin (and slightly up the sides if you’d like the biscuit crumb edge look). Place int he fridge to chill.
  3. In a food processor (or with a whisk), whisk together the cream cheese, yogurt and 2 tbsps icing sugar. Taste and add more icing sugar if desired. Pour over the chilled base and level off. Leave in the fridge for at least a couple of hours to set.
  4. Melt the chocolate and drizzle over the cheesecake. Garnish with glaze or fresh cherries.
Caramel muffins

Caramel Muffins

When I last visited the supermarket (how is it that a simple trip to the supermarket is now the most exciting part of the week), I spied a sign for a delicious looking caramel muffin in the coffee shop window. Now a caramel muffin sounds like a great idea, why haven’t i thought of that before? It’s funny how I usually get inspiration from so many different places, now it’s either from a screen or a brief trip out of the house. I do hope that when this is all over we don’t take simple luxuries, like eating out, browsing the shops or just the signs of bustling life for granted.

Since we as family have become rather fond of the new caramel filled Nomo bars (simply the best free-from alternative to a Cadbury’s Caramel that you are likely to find), I had the idea of stuffing the muffins with a square to give a gooey caramel chocolatey centre. This results in a filling that remains gooey even once the muffins have cooled, and an oozy chocolatey caramel simply has to be a good idea. These muffins don’t need the icing, but it does add a bit of extravagance that is very welcome in the rather dismal winter of 2021.

Caramel Muffins

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

makes 6 large muffins

20g caster sugar

25g soft brown sugar

1/2 tbsp baking powder

125g plain flour

pinch of salt

55g dairy-free margarine, melted

75ml dairy-free milk

75ml dairy-free yogurt

30ml golden or maple syrup

1/2 tsp caramel essence (optional)

6 squares of Nomo caramel filled chocolate 

for the icing:

40g dairy-free margarine

80g icing sugar

splash of dairy-free milk

  1. Heat the oven to 190 degrees Centigrade. Fill a muffin tray with liners.
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients together. Pour in the wet ingredients and combine. You do not want any clumps of raw flour but do not over-mix, a little lumpy is good.
  3. 1/4 fill the liners and then place a square of the chocolate in the middle. Cover with the remaining muffin mix.
  4. I topped mine with some Demerara sugar, but it’s not necessary
  5. Bake for 20 minutes, or until risen and golden and a knife comes out clean.
  6. Cool on a wire rack.
  7. If icing, whisk together the icing ingredients and pipe rosettes on the top of each muffin, topped with another square of caramel chocolate if you wish.

Spicy Tomato and Rice Soup

I don’t know about you but I find lunches the most difficult meal to cater for, especially right now where we’re all at home all the time, we have differing timetables and differing ideas over what makes a perfect lunch!

D and I generally have lunch and take the dog for a walk before the girls have even finished their morning lessons, so lunches have to be ready to be reheated or eaten cold. Right now, in mid-Winter slides and sandwiches seem rather less appealing and a hot option is preferred, but then there is the issue of keeping things warm for the lunches in stages. It has transpired that soup ticks all the boxes; it’s warm and nourishing, can easily keep warm and mostly all the family members like it. Also, there is something wonderfully homely about having a pot of soup on the hob and it makes me feel like I’m winning on the lunch front!

This soup is not only very easy to make from mainly store cupboard ingredients but also pleases the ‘bit-a-phobes’ (both children!) who only like smooth soups, but adds extra substance with the addition of rice to keep tummies full until supper time. I add chilli paste to mine as we all like slightly spicy food, but so feel free to leave it out if you’d rather have a more mellow soup for lunch.

Spicy Tomato and Rice Soup

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

serves 4

1 tbsp oil

1/2 onion, chopped

2 clove of garlic, finely chopped

1 tbsp tomato puree

1 tsp chilli paste

2 tsps balsamic vinegar

1 tsp sugar

400ml passata

400ml vegetarian stock

1/3 cup rice

1/2 tin sweetcorn (optional)

  1. Heat the oil in a sauce pan and sweat the onion  until soft and translucent – try not to get too much colour. Add the garlic and continue to cook for a couple of minutes until fragrant.
  2. Stir in the tomato puree and chilli paste (if using) and cook for a further couple of minutes. 
  3. Pour in the tomato passata and vegetable stock and bring to a simmer.
  4. Add the sugar and balsamic vinegar. Taste and season. 
  5. Blitz if you want a very smooth soup and return to the pan and bring back to a simmer. Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired.
  6. Add the rice to the simmering soup and cook for about 10 minutes, until the rice is cooked through. If using sweetcorn, add a couple of minutes before the end of the cooking.
  7. Serve with a hunk of bread or a sandwich for a hearty and warming lunch.

Sticky Marmalade Cake

Have you been making marmalade? It seems like the thing to do in January. The Seville oranges hit the shelves after Christmas and then suddenly everyone is making marmalade. 
I jumped onto the marmalade bandwagon and made some rather tart but tasty grapefruit marmalade this year and have ended up with so many jars that I’m not quite sure what to do with it all. But it is a very rewarding and thrifty thing to make, with just a few citrus fruits, a ton of sugar and some water and you end up copious amounts of the sticky orange stuff. I used 3 grapefruits and 2 lemons and have ended up with 7 jars of Paddington’s favourite!
In usual times I’d give the jars to friends and family, but as you can’t really see anyone right now and everyone is simply stuck at home, the pantry shelves are groaning with jars of freshly made marmalade! So it is officially operation use up the marmalade. Obviously it’s great on toast, works well in marinades and sauces or for when you want a sweet dish to not be too sweet, such as in a cake or biscuits. 

This marmalade cake is a fantastic combination of sweet sponge with the bitter hints of marmalade running through it, topped with a sweet icing which also has a bitter marmalade edge. You might say it’s a more grown up kind of cake, one that is more akin to accompanying a cup of tea than to a children’s tea party.

Sticky Marmalade Cake

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

makes 1 loaf cake

200g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

pinch of salt

1 tbsp cornflour

100g caster sugar

1 tbsp orange or lemon juice

100ml flavourless oil

100ml dairy-free yogurt

125ml dairy-free milk

4 tbsp marmalade

for the icing:

100g icing sugar

1 tbsp warm water

1 tbsp marmalade

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade and line a loaf tin (I used a 2lb tin)
  2. Sift together the flour, bicarb, baking powder, salt and cornflour. Stir in the sugar.
  3. In a separate bowl mix together the oil, yogurt, lemon juice, milk and marmalade. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix to form a smooth batter (there will obviously be some lumps from the peel in the marmalade)
  4. Pour into the lined loaf tin, level off and bake for 45-55 minutes until a knife comes out clean.
  5. Remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack.
  6. Mix together the icing ingredients and drizzle over the cake adding a few extra pieces of marmalade peel

Homemade chocolate cookie selection box

Those pretty selection boxes of chocolates or cookies always look so tempting. I think they’re often a little disappointing but they always look like you want to dive in and choose some sweet delight.

Since my mission is always to recreate those delicacies that are not available if you’re avoiding certain foods and so a selection box had to be there! While you can get some free from chocolate boxes these days, I have never seen a friendly biscuit selection box. In fact biscuits are one of the hardest products to buy if you’re dairy, egg and nut free. Most free-from varieties are gluten-free and dairy free but then contain egg. Then the standard biscuits contain milk or traces, and nuts seem to pop up everywhere.

In an ideal world this box would have more variety, but since you can make all of these 4 varieties in just a few more minutes than making a single type, you can have a selection in no time at all! By all means add other fillings, but I find the marshmallow filled cookies are always some of the most requested, plus biscoff and chocolate is such a fantastic combination I just had to add that.

Chocolate Cookie Selection Box

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

makes 16 cookies

30g soft brown sugar (1/4 cup)
150g caster sugar (2/3 cup)
150ml cup sunflower oil, or other flavourless oil (2/3 cup)
60ml dairy-free milk (1/4 cup)
1 tbsp cornflour
190g cups plain flour (1 and 1/2 cups)
25g cup cocoa powder (1/4 cup)
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt

for the centres/flavours:
25g cup dairy-free choc chips, 2 marshmallows, halved, 2 tsp biscoff spread,12g white choc chips

  1. Preheat the oven to 160 Degrees Centigrade/Gas mark 3. 
  2. Whisk together the oil, milk, sugars, and cornflour. It will combine to form a smooth caramel.
  3. Sift in the flour, cocoa, bicarb and salt. Mix well.
  4. Fold in the chocolate chips
  5. Divide the mix into 4. Add white chocolate chips to one quarter.
  6. Roll each mix into tbsp sized balls.
  7. For the filled versions, flatten each ball and place the filling in the centre, then ring up the edges so the filling is completely surrounded by the dough.
  8. Place all the balls slightly apart on the lined baking sheets and flatten a little.
  9. Bake for 10 minutes
  10. Let cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes before moving to a wire rack.