Mini Berliner style Doughnuts

IMG_5788 Friday after school always calls for a proper sweet treat. A ‘well done the week’s over and welcome to the weekend’ kind of treat. Doughnuts must be the ultimate naughty treat – deep-fried, sugar-coated, jam-filled bites of pure naughtiness, and so totally perfect for welcoming in the weekend! These mini Berliners are filled with blackcurrant jam whereas more traditionally it would be raspberry.

The yeast risen dough is light and fluffy with a crisp outer and I was informed that they are doughnut perfection! Who needs eggs and dairy when the results without are as good as this. Sadly, I didn’t quite achieve the white ring around the diameter of the doughnut for true Berliner style – any advice on how to achieve would be gratefully received. Warning: don’t eat too many at once, although you may find it hard to stop!IMG_5785 Mini Berliner Style Doughnuts (dairy-free, egg-fre, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan) IMG_5782 makes about 20

  • 1 cup plus 1 tbsp hand-hot water
  • 1/2 tbsp dried fast action yeast
  • 2 tbsps melted dairy-free spread, such as Pure
  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • Seedless raspberry jam to fill
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar, to roll in

– Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, yeast and cinnamon (if using)

– Stir in the 1/3 cup caster sugar

– Pour in the water and melted spread and bring together to form a soft dough. Knead well. Cover the bowl and let rise for an hour or two

– Roll out the dough to about 1 inch thick and cut out circles and place on a floured baking sheet. Cover and leave to prove for an extra 15 minutes

– Bring 5cm/2 inches of flavourless oil up to temperature (it’s the right temperature when a piece of bread bubbles on contact)

– Deep fry 2-3 doughnuts at a time until well browned all over then drain on paper towels. Roll in the sugar whilst still warm.

– To fill the jam doughnuts: once cool, make a small hole in one side and pipe in some smooth blackcurrant jam. IMG_5781

Chocolate Ganache topped 3-2-1 Tray Bake

IMG_5780

This week is going to have a distinctly sweet theme, after last week’s little foray to Mexico. What better way to start the week than with something rich, chocolatey and irresistible?

Sometime a tray bake fits the bill perfectly – for those occasions when you need to feed a crowd with little fuss but somehow has the wow factor. This recipe makes 2 failsafe trays of light chocolate sponge that is then topped with rich chocolate ganache before being feathered with white chocolate for a really professional finish. (Top tip: a bit of not-so-tricky white chocolate feathering never fails to impress!)

This sponge recipe is one to always keep to hand, so simple and one to turn to when you’re on holiday with little baking equipment to hand. It’s as easy as anything, able to be made without scales or measuring cups just as long as the proportions are right: 3 parts flour, 2 parts sugar, 1 part cocoa, 2 parts water and 1 part oil with a bit of baking powder and salt on top.

Chocolate Ganache topped 3-2-1 Tray Bake (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free [if chocolate soya-free], sesame-free vegetarian and vegan)

IMG_5772

makes 2 tray bakes

  • 3 cups of self-raising flour
  • 2 cups of soft brown sugar (any sugar will do, but I prefer soft brown)
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup sunflower oil
  • 2 cups of water

IMG_5769

for the ganache: (for one tray bake, double for both)

  • 1/2 cup dairy-free chocolate
  • 1/2 cup dairy-free cream, I use Oatly
  • 1 tsp syrup
  • 2 tbsps dairy-free white chocolate

– Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Centigrade/Gas mark 3

– Line two brownie tins with baking parchment

– Mix together the dry ingredients and pour in the wet. Mix well and pour into the lined tins.

– Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a knife comes out clean and the cake is well risen. Cool.

– To make the ganache: melt together the cream, syrup and chocolate then bring to a boil and simmer for 1 minute stirring all the while.

– Pour over the cake and smooth with a palette knife. Before it sets, pipe lines of melted white chocolate and then drag a tooth pick up and down to give the feathered effect.

IMG_5771

Mexican Rice and Beans Salad

IMG_5804

The sun is shining and it’s starting to feel a little warmer – yippee! After the long dark, cold months there suddenly light and colour, oh what joy! I was intending on cooking another hearty vegetable soup for lunch but the sun’s warming rays made me quickly shelve that idea. What we needed was some vibrancy and colour; some freshness and zing to match the weather.

So a quick rummage in the larder later and I had the ingredients I needed for this wonderfully zingy and alive rice and bean salad, which also handily continued the Mexican theme that started with pinto bean soup the other day.

The vegetables add jewels of colour and flavour and the lime makes the dish zing. Wonderful eaten on the day, this salad also keeps well for a couple of days. For me, however, its best use is as the base of a delicious taco salad (pictured below): rice and beans salad combined with fresh salsa, lettuce, avocado, dairy-free soured cream and topped with crunchy tortilla chips and coriander – divine!

IMG_5807

Mexican Rice and Beans Salad (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

IMG_5800

serves at least 4

  • 1 cup of rice, cooked
  • 1/2 tin of beans, ideally borlotti or pinto
  • 1/2 tin sweetcorn
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped into small dice
  • Juice of 1 1/2 limes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 tsp chipotle Tabasco sauce, or 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • Handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

– Whisk together the lime, oil and salt (and chipotle sauce, if using)
– Pour over the other ingredients and mix well

IMG_5803

Mexican Pinto Bean Soup

IMG_5697

Sometimes some purse friendly, super cheap food is what you need – this is the perfect recipe for that week before payday when you’re trying to use up the contents of the cupboard rather than yet another pricy trip to the supermarket. A great comfort soup, as hot as you want it to be, perfect for these colder than expected early spring days. The blitzed beans give a smooth silky texture to the soup, but like many Mexican dishes, it’s all about the garnishing touches. Crunchy tortilla chips are great for texture, and I wouldn’t do this kind of soup without some lime, hot chilli sauce and coriander. The beauty of this is you can tailor each bowl to just how each person likes it.

Mexican Pinto Bean Soup (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

serves 4

IMG_5695

serves 4

  • 2 onions, peeled and chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery, peeled and chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Sprig of rosemary
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • Chilli flakes, to taste, I added a pinch so everyone could enjoy
  • 1 tin tomatoes
  • 2 cups soaked pinto beans
  • 500ml stock

– Sweat the onions, carrots, celery, rosemary and garlic until softened but not browned

– Stir in the cumin, chilli flakes and smoked paprika and cook out for a couple of minutes

-Pour in the tinned tomatoes, beans and stock

– Simmer for 15-20 minutes until totally cooked through.

– Blitz to a silky smooth soup, then taste and season as desired.

– Serve topped with tortilla chips, fresh coriander, a squeeze of lime and a good dash of hot sauce.

IMG_5698

 

 

Salt and Pepper Oven Fries

IMG_5777

Who doesn’t love a bowl of fries? The ultimate junk food with their fried, crispy, savoury moreish-ness.

This healthier oven-cooked version gives perfect results – crispy and light with only a tiny amount of oil. Add some salt and pepper and they’re ready with little fuss, in no time at all. Whilst it may seem a faff to soak and thoroughly dry the potato batons prior to cooking, it’s quite essential if you want a perfect fluffy inside and crisp outer. Never need your table be disgraced by soggy frozen chips again!

Salt and Pepper Oven Fries (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

IMG_5775

Serves 2, multiply as necessary

  • 2 medium to large potatoes
  • 1 tsp oil of choice
  • Salt and pepper

– Leaving the skin in, chop the potatoes into chip sized batons.
– Soak in cold water for at least half an hour.
– Thoroughly pat dry
– Toss with the oil and seasoning
– Scatter on a baking sheet in a single layer, use more than one baking sheet if you have lots of fries
– Bake for 30-40 minutes at 220 degrees centigrade/Gas Mark 6, tossing once or twice during the cooking

IMG_5774

Coronation chickpeas

IMG_5626

Coronation chicken is such a ubiquitous buffet dish and sandwich filling in the UK, and its something I had yet to replicate as a vegetarian. So here’s a recipe for a fully meat free version, inspired by one I saw a while back on a lovely blog I follow called ‘more than greens‘. I never tried out her recipe but the idea for chickpeas replacing the chicken stayed in my head. So last weekend for lunch with had homemade bread, salads and coronation chickpeas, and very nice it was too. There’s noting like a mild, creamy curried addition to add a bit of excitement and spice to such a basic meal.

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

IMG_5628

  • 1 tin chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup mayo, I used Plamil egg-free
  • 1/4 cup mango chutney
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 apple, peel left on, cored and cut into cubes
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup sultanas
  • Parsley to garnish

– Mix together all the mayo, mango chutney, curry powder and lemon juice

– Stir in the chickpeas, apple, spring onions, sultanas and parsley.

– If possible, let sit for about half an hour before serving for the flavours to combine.

IMG_5625

Lotus spread filled Jammie Dodgers (Speculoos Linzer Biscuits)

IMG_5664

Lotus specaloos biscuits are an unfailingly safe and readily available snack, especially in Europe. The delicate spices works well in so many settings, most notably with a quality cup of coffee.

As may by now have become apparent (especially if you follow me on Instagram!), Thursdays are my baking day. I’m not at work and following school drop off and an early boot camp session, I settle in for a serious baking session, putting into practice all the ideas that have been floating around in my head during my lengthy commute to work earlier in the week. It also enables me to provide some home baked goodies for both girls to take in and share with their class on a Friday. They so often miss out on the treats bought in by others for birthdays etc, and I think it’s important that they witness their friends eating and enjoying the same things they do.

The other week (I’m always a few weeks behind on my writing up, hence the heart theme!) I had the idea of making Linzer cookies or Jammie dodgers as they’re known in the UK. Big S likes jam so the flavour combo for her class was a no brainer (recipe coming soon!) but little S isn’t keen. I could have made a buttercream but then I spied a half empty jar of Lotus biscuit spread in the larder – perfect, what a great plan. Mildly spiced crisp biscuits sandwiched together with the caramelised biscuit spread. I only had the crunchy version which did work but next time I’d go for smooth for best texture combination.

Lotus Spread filled Jammie Dodgers (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

IMG_5663

Makes about 20 sandwich cookies

  • 1/2 cup dairy-free spread
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1 tbsp dairy-free milk, I used Oatly
  • 1/2 cup Lotus speculoos spread
  • icing sugar to dust the top biscuits with

– Cream together the dairy-free spread, icing sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
– Sift in the spices, salt, bicarb and plain flour and mix to a soft dough, adding the dairy-free milk to make the mixing easier.
– Wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for half an hour.
– Heat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade/ gas mark 4 and line cookie sheets with parchment
– Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out.
– Cut out an even number of shapes, and cut smaller shapes out of the centre of half of them.
– Place on the lined baking trays and cook for 10 minutes.
– Cool on a wire rack
– Dust the cookies with windows with icing sugar. Spread the lotus spread over the whole cookies and sandwich the window cookies on top.

IMG_5659

IMG_5665

Raspberry and White Chocolate Welsh Cakes

 

IMG_5755

The first of March, St. David’s Day, and its starting to feel like spring is just around the corner. There are snowdrops everywhere, the birds are singing more, the days are longer and I have a vase of daffodils on the kitchen table. After a few dark cold months I feel like we really need some light and the hope that spring is on its way.

So to mark St David’s Day as it’s both D’s name Saint and also the Saint of my Welsh ancestors, I’ve concocted a rather elegant and special Welsh cake variation. In case you don’t know welsh cakes are little griddle scones, normally flavoured with sultanas and spice and then sprinkled with caster sugar. This version with raspberries and white chocolate ramps up the elegance and makes them perfect for our tea party. Click these links for other welsh cake variations:

Raspberry and White Chocolate Welsh Cakes (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

IMG_5758

makes 8-12

  • 1 cup of plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup dairy-free spread
  • 1/4 cup of caster sugar
  • 1/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup freeze-dried raspberries
  • 3 tbsps dairy-free milk, I use oat milk
  • caster sugar, to sprinkle

– Sift the flour, baking powder and spice into a bowl.

– Rub in the spread until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs

– Stir in the sugar, white chocolate and raspberries.

– Add the oat milk  and mix to form a slightly sticky dough.

– Roll out on a floured board and cut out shaped with a cookie cutter – circles are the traditional shape but any would be fine.

– Heat a dry non-stick frying pan (or any frying pan wiped with a smear of spread)

– When hot add the cakes and dry fry/griddle for 2-3 minutes on either side until golden.

IMG_5752

– Sprinkle with caster sugar and serve.

– To reheat warm in an oven or microwave

IMG_5757

 

Oreo Cheesecake

IMG_5337

I saw a pin of an Oreo cheesecake on Pinterest and felt inspired to make my own version – there was something so appealing about the contrasting creamy white cheesecake mix sandwiched between the almost black crumb layers. Besides my girls love cheesecake over any other pudding so I always relish an opportunity to make a new variety!

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

IMG_5334

  • 200g Bourbon biscuits (check they’re dairy-free), crushed
  • 1 tbsp dairy-free spread, melted
  • 1 tub tofutti better than cream cheese
  • 3 tbsp icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp vanilla or plain dairy-free yogurt
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

– Place 1/3rd of the crushed biscuits in a bowl and set aside
– Add the melted spread to the remaining crushed biscuits
– Press into the bottom of a flan or cake tin
– Thoroughly beat together the cream cheese, yogurt, icing sugar and vanilla
– Spread over the biscuit base, level off neatly and place in the fridge to firm up
– Sprinkle the remaining crumbs over the top of the cheesecake and return to the fridge until ready to serve

IMG_5335

Sun dried Tomato Bagels

IMG_5610

I simply love my new Kitchenaid, it has made such a massive difference to my life. I’m using it 3-4 times each day – well days when I’m not at work and home and on a cooking mission. One massive difference is the ability to knead dough – I have to admit I can be lazy when it comes to kneading, after a few minutes of hard work (and it really is hard work) I always end up thinking ‘I’m sure that’ll be enough’ but invariably it isn’t quite. But no more. My little kitchen assistant happily kneads away until we’ve achieved those silky, springy results.

So with this kneading help, I’m on a mission to make some interesting breads every week – little S in particular has so few breads she can safely enjoy (due to the risk of sesame traces amongst other things) and has to put up with such dull varieties, that she is loving trying all these new options.

Bagels have long since been a favourite for Big S but are firmly out of bounds due to little S’s sesame allergy so these homemade ones went down a storm. The sundried tomato flavour is subtle but clearly present and the herbs add a touch of the Med. I’ve also found that they freeze brilliantly – simply defrost and warm in the oven for gorgeous fresh bagels any time you like.

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

IMG_5609

Makes 10

  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsps salt
  • 1 tbsp fast action dried yeast
  • 4 sun dried tomatoes, blitzed or mashed to a paste with 1tbsp of the oil they came in
  • 300ml warm water
  • 500g strong bread flour
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tbsp non-dairy milk (oat for me), for brushing
  • A few flakes of sea salt to sprinkle

– In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugars, salt, yeast and oregano.
– Pour in the tomato oil mixture and water and mix until you have a nice smooth, pliable dough (if you have a mixer with a dough hook use that)
– Knead until the dough is silky smooth and bounces back when you make an indentation.
– Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise for about an hour, or until doubled in size.
– Heat the oven to 220 degrees centigrade/gas mark 7
– Oil a baking sheet
– Bring a pan of water to the boil
– Cut the dough into ten equal sized pieces
– Shape each into a ball, then insert a wooden spoon handle in the middle to make a hole. Twizzle about until the hole is at least 2cm/1 inch across.
– Once all the bagels are shaped, tip the bicarbonate into the water. Place each bagel in the boiling water for about 30 seconds. Lift out, drain off excess water and place on the baking sheet.
– Brush with the milk and sprinkle with the salt and a little extra rosemary.
– Bake for 15-18 minutes until golden
– Cool on a wire rack.

IMG_5611