Salted Caramel Victoria Sponge Cake

Is there any more traditional English cake than a Victoria sponge? It’s the very essence of tea time, maybe along with some scones and cup of tea in fine china cups!

I’ve found it quite a journey to develop the perfect Victoria sponge recipe, for some reason it has been so much harder than a chocolate cake. Sometimes the texture is a bit too rubbery/bouncy or the flavour not quite right. However finally thanks to some gratefully received input from a reader and his mother in law, the a pretty fine egg and dairy-free Victoria sponge is here. It’s always such a delight to me when I feel I have developed a great ‘friendly’ alternative to a classic staple. I feel like I’m finally hitting my ‘brief’ from the outset of this journey, which is about enabling everyone to enjoy the same things. This cake would make an awesome birthday cake if chocolate isn’t your cup of [English] tea.

This sponge has a wonderful crumb, perfect for a layer cake and the addition of custard powder adds an additional welcome vanilla hit. Custard powder – that’s the tip I was given and wouldn’t have thought of myself.

This would’ve been perfect as a traditional jam filled sponge cake, but since my children aren’t very keen on jam I turned this into a salted caramel sponge cake with a Lotus spread drizzle and salted caramel buttercream. A version I highly recommend 🙂

Salted Caramel Victoria Sponge Cake

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

makes one sandwich cake

370g self-raising flour

2 tbsps Birds custard 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 2 20cm sandwich tins
  2. Sift together the flour, custard powder, bicarb and salt
  3. Stir in the sugar
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the dairy-free 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 tins and bake for 30 minutes, until a knife comes out clean
  7. Cool in the cake tins.

Filling, enough to fill one cake:

  • Make the buttercream by whisking together 1tbsp Trex, 1/4 cup dairy-free margarine, 1 cup sifted icing sugar [use Sugar and Crumbs salted caramel icing sugar if possible] and 1 tbsp dairy-free milk.
  • (if you can’t find flavoured icing sugar use normal but add 1 tsp caramel essence instead)
  • Make the caramel drizzle by combining 2 tbsp Lotus caramelised biscoff spread with 1 tbsp dairy-free milk
  • spread the buttercream over one of the sponges, top with the Lotus drizzle. Place the top layer on the cake and dust with a generous layer of icing sugar

Hot Cross Scones

 

Get it? Since Easter is all about Hot Cross Buns they have to feature. However, I also love scones, then why not link the two to make some wonderfully seasonal baked goodies which are a little out of the ordinary?

The spicing, with added fruit and peel (if desired), is to my mind, the taste of Easter. Who would have thought it would work so beautifully in scone format (or biscuit as I believe they’re known in the US).

Obviously any Easter recipe must feature a cross so these little spiced scones are topped with a water icing cross which was more effective and maybe a bit more celebratory than a traditional flour paste version.

 

Hot Cross Scones

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

Makes about 12

 

220g plain flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

2 tbsp dairy-free margarine

2 tbsp caster sugar

1 tsp mixed spice

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Pinch of salt

Up to 100ml dairy-free milk

handful of dried fruit and 2 tbsp mixed peel (optional)

1-2 tbsps granulated sugar

1 tbsp dairy-free milk

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade/Gas mark 6
  2. Grease and flour a baking sheet
  3. Mix together the flour, salt, baking powder, sugar and spices. Rub in the margarine until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the dried fruit and mixed peel if using.
  4. Pour in some of the oat milk. Gently bring together to form a soft dough (do NOT knead or you’ll end up with rock hard scones!). Add more milk if necessary.
  5. Gently pat out to a circle about 5cm thick. Stamp our circles and place on the baking sheet. Gather up the remaining dough, pat out again and stamp out more circles until all the dough is used up
  6. Brush the tops with dairy-free milk and sprinkle over some granulated sugar
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes until well risen and golden on the tops and bottoms
  8. Cool on a wire rack

Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake

Have you ever had an an American style coffee cake? Not a coffee flavoured cake which were so popular in the U.K. in the 80s but a spiced cake made to be eaten with coffee?

A few years back I worked on a project in the US Virgin Isles (beautiful Caribbean waters), and we ate an American style diet and as we were very busy, convenience was the key. I have to say the catering, which we took turns to help with, was not always very inspiring, however, crumbly topped spiced coffee cake was one flavour which stayed with me. If I remember correctly, it was a boxed cake mix we used, but certainly not a familiar style of cake in the UK.

 

I’ve tried to recreate my memory with little success over the years, but now I think I’ve cracked it. The sponge is moist and spiced and the topping is sweet, crunchy and crumbly – and indeed does go rather well with a coffee. Handily enough it also makes a great pudding when served with custard. Double bonus to have a recipe with multiple uses up your sleeve.

 

Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake

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

  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 cup Bird’s custard powder or corn flour
  • 1/2 cup dairy-free margarine, such as Pure
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup soya yogurt, preferably vanilla flavour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup oat milk

For the filling:

  • 1/4 cup soft brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

For the streusel topping:

  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup dairy-free margarine, such as Pure
  1. Mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon for the filling and set aside.
  2. In a bowl stir together the flour, sugar and cinnamon for the streusel topping. Rub in the margarine with your fingertips to make a crumble like consistency. Set aside.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade/gas mark 4. Grease and line a spring-form cake tin
  4. Sift together the flour, custard powder or corn flour and bicarbonate and set aside
  5. Mix together the yogurt, oat milk and vanilla and set aside
  6. Cream together the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy
  7.  Alternately add the flour and yogurt mix (about 1/3rd of the mix each time) and whisk well between each addition.
  8. Pour 1/2 of the mix into the cake tin and level off.
  9. Sprinkle over the cinnamon/sugar mix on top, then pour the rest of the cake mix over the top.
  10. Scatter over the streusel mixture and then bake for 35-40 minutes, until a knife cones out clean
  11. Cool briefly in the tin before unmoulding.

 

Maple glazed spiced doughnuts

 

maple glazed spiced doughnuts, dairy-free egg-free nut-free

I love getting requests and this week I was asked for doughnuts, which gave me the perfect opportunity to get all experimental with flavours and designs – bliss!

I’ve had a really good quality bottle of maple syrup in the cupboard for a while and it’s been begging me to be used in other ways than poured over waffles (recipe coming soon!) or yogurt, so that had to feature, and a maple syrup glaze sounded rather tempting! Since maple syrup has a mellow sweetness I’ve given the actual doughnuts a subtle spice to give an overall warm cosines – it is still wintery after all, so any warmth and goodness is most welcome.

I’m particuarly pleased with this riff on my usual baked doughnut recipe – the flavours work really well and the maple glazed has a wonderful soft bite which is perfect for a doughnut. I was worried that they’d look a little anaemic as the icing is a syrupy tan colour on a golden doughnut, so a sprinkle of adornments definitely adds to the overall look.

maple glazed doughnuts, dairy-free egg-free

Maple Glazed Spiced Doughnuts

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

vegan maple glazed doughnuts

Makes 20 doughnuts

3 cups self-raising flour

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 cup soft brown sugar

1/4 cup caster sugar

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup dairy-free margarine, melted

5 tbsp of aquafaba (water from a tin of chickpeas or beans)

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp mixed spice

1 cup dairy-free milk

  1. Grease your doughnut pan (or follow the instructions here if you don’t own one) and preheat the oven to 220 degrees centigrade
  2. Mix together the dry ingredients. Combine the wet ingredients and pour into the dry. Gently mix until fully combined.
  3. Pipe or spoon into the tin
  4. Bake for 7-10 minutes until well risen and a knife comes out clean. Remove  from the tins and cool.

baked dairy-free egg-free donuts

for the icing:

2 cups icing sugar, sifted

50g dairy free margarine, melted

 

100ml maple syrup

  1. Whisk together then use to coat the doughnuts and sprinkle with decorations.

vegan maple glazed donuts

Triple Chocolate Swirl Buns

triple chocolate swirl buns, dairy-free and egg-free

I love making sweet swirled buns, there’s something magical about using a yeasted dough and making the swirls, then watching them come’ alive’ in the oven. They’re also a fantastic bake because they’re simple but look mightily impressive. As I’ve mentioned before Little S’s class gets a home-baked treat every Friday partly so she can enjoy sharing nice treats that she can have with her friends and partly to install in her friends that ‘friendly’ foods are also delicious (and I get to bake too)!

Since everyone always loves chocolate I thought we’d bring a ray of sunshine to cold dark January with these rather exciting and original triple chocolate swirl buns. Whilst we all love cinnamon buns sometimes it’s nice for a bit of variety and triple chocolate certainly hits the mark. The dough is subtly flavoured with cocoa, the swirl is a sugary cocoa paste flecked with chunks of white chocolate and the whole thing is drizzled with dairy-free milk chocolate. It makes for a stunning combination both to look at and eat. These have now been declared an all time favourite by some recipients so they must be ok!

making swirl buns

Triple Chocolate Swirl Buns

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

vegan nut-free chocolate buns

100ml dairy-free yogurt, I used Alpo

220ml water

3 tbsp dairy-free spread, such as Pure

475g plain flour

2 tbsp cocoa powder

2 tsp dried yeast

75g soft brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp cornflour

For the filling:

1/3 cup caster sugar

2 tbsp cocoa powder

3 tbsp dairy-free margarine

1/2 tsp chocolate extract [optional]

75g dairy-free white chocolate, finely chopped [optional]

For the glaze:

2 tbsp soft brown sugar

2 tbsp water

2 tbsp pearl sugar/sugar crystals

And/or:

50g dairy-free ‘milk’ chocolate, melted

  1. Melt the margarine and water together – you want it to be warm and melted but not hot, stir in the yogurt
  2. In a bowl mx together the flour, yeast, sugar, cornflour and salt
  3. Make a well in the centre and pour in the warm liquid mix
  4. Bring together to a soft dough and knead until its smooth and bounces back when poked. Cover and let double in size in a warm place.
  5. Mix together the filling ingredients (except the chopped chocolate) and set aside.
  6. Knock back and roll out to a large rectangle. Spread on the chocolate filling. Sprinkle over the chopped white chocolate, then roll up tightly into a long sausage
  7. Cut into even slices, probably about 1.5-2cm each – I managed to get 25 small slices from mine
  8. Place on lined baking sheets, cover with clingfilm and leave to rise again for another half an hour. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade/Gas Mark 4/375 degrees F
  9. Bake for 17-20 minutes until risen, golden and cooked through.
  10. Melt the brown sugar with the water and brush over the top and sprinkle with the pearl sugar (if using)
  11. Remove from the pans and peel off the paper. Drizzle with the melted chocolate if desired.

triple chocolate swirl yeasted buns

Christmas Cupcakes

 

christmas lights cupcakes

Is there any time of the year more about decoration and glitz than Christmas? So when everything from houses, trees and Christmas jumpers are adorned with lights, baubles and bells, why not also decorate some cupcakes to fit into the generally merriment?

These little chocolate cupcakes decked with Christmas lights make a wonderful addition to the Christmas fare. They look delightfully festive whilst also being a crowd pleaser; not many people can resist a delicious chocolate cupcake. The decoration is pretty effective but very easy: vanilla buttercream is piped into a smooth swirl, which is then drizzled with a ‘string’ of melted chocolate along which colourful decorations or sweets are placed to represent the twinkling lights on a tree.

Christmas Lights Cupcakes

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

christmas cupcakes, dairy-free, egg-free

makes 18

350g self-raising flour

200g caster sugar

50g cocoa powder

200ml sunflower oil

300ml oat 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 oat 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. 2/3rds fill the cupcake cases and bake for 15-20 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.
  7. Cool on a wire rack.

Fluffy White Buttercream

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

enough to ice 24 cupcakes

1/4 cup vegetable fat

3/4 cup dairy-free margarine

3 cups icing sugar, sifted

1 or 2 tbsp dairy-free milk

1/2tsp 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 the vanilla, until fully combined and nice and fluffy.
  3. Pipe or spread onto the cupcakes.
  4. Melt 20-30g chocolate, pipe a line onto the buttercream. Stud with decorations or sweets.

vegan Christmas cupcakes