Lotus spread filled Jammie Dodgers (Speculoos Linzer Biscuits)

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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 safe home baking too.

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 Jamie dodgers as they’re known in the UK. Big S likes jam so the flavour combo for her class was a no brainier (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)

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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.

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Raspberry and White Chocolate Welsh Cakes

 

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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)

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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.

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– Sprinkle with caster sugar and serve.

– To reheat warm in an oven or microwave

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Oreo Cheesecake

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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)

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  • 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

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Sun dried Tomato Bagels

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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)

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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.

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Scandinavian Style Potato Pancakes

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Fancy stepping outside of the norm this pancake day? Well here’s a Scandi-inspired delightfully savoury pancake recipe perfect for a different take on shrove Tuesday. By adding mashed potato to a pancake mix you get a more filling and naturally savoury and satisfying dish. I topped mine with tofutti soured cream alternative and homemade chilli jam to great effect. Roasted tomatoes and mushrooms are also wonderful, or opt for any slightly tart jam for a traditional feel.

Scandinavian Style Potato Pancakes (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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makes about 15

  • 1 1/2 cups dairy-free milk
  • Salt
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tsps baking powder
  • 1 cup mashed potato, leftovers are ideal!

– Whisk together the dairy-free milk, oil, flour, salt and baking powder

– Whisk in the mashed potato, making sure there are no lumps. Set aside for at least half an hour.

– Fry spoonfuls in a hot oiled frying pan until lightly golden on each side

– Keep warm in the oven until they’re all done. Serve.

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Profiteroles

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Profiteroles – those cream filled, chocolate topped choux buns – are so tempting and the ideal wow pudding for any special celebration. I’m thinking, these will be perfect for Valentine’s Day. The recipe works particularly well with my egg-free creme patissiere as the filling and chocolate sauce topping both soften the pastry making those vegan choux buns taste even more authentic. Proud of these as I’ve not found other vegan profiteroles online and they really have come out a treat.

So, this is mainly an assembly of other recipes…

You will need to make:

– Make a hole in each bun and using a piping bag fill with the creme pat
– Place them decoratively into a tower on a plate
– Then make the chocolate sauce and drizzle over the buns

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

  • 50g dairy-free dark chocolate
  • 1/4 cup dairy-free cream
  • 1 tsp honey or syrup

– Melt together until smooth and luscious. Drizzle over the choux buns.

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Egg-free choux buns

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It’s been a very, very long journey for me to find any recipe that even approximates choux. Countless failed attempts, so much disappointment. I’ve tried egg-replacers but ended up with stodgy lumps. I’ve tried going totally off-piste with experimental combinations with disastrous slimy results. I was going to give up, maybe egg-free choux was simply out of my reach.

But then again there are so many fabulous creations that require choux, hence I have plugged away. I had visions of towers of profileroles and croquembouche, chocolate eclairs, St Honoré – this was the kind of patisserie that I trained in and really need to make friendly and accessible! The search continued…

Then I came across this recipe from a wonderful French blog called Veganwiz.fr.

And their idea is great – cook puff pastry in such a way that you force it to become a choux-type airy bun. Absolute genius! I know it isn’t quite the same as choux, the layers and they’re pretty crispy when they come out of the oven but in my opinion they’re a pretty good approximation. Once they’ve been filled and topped, the crunch turns soft, more like proper choux. Prepare yourselves for a run of friendly patisserie on the site. Watch this space!

Please note: This is not my recipe, all credit goes to Sauro Martella at Veganwiz.fr. Also, a warning: do not alter the method, temperatures or cooking times or the recipe will not work!

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

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To make 12 large buns

  • 1 sheet ready rolled puff pastry

– Preheat the oven to 240-250 degrees centigrade (yes, really that hot)
– Line a muffin tray with paper cases
– Using a glass with a thickish rim (not a cookie cutter) cut out circles of pastry. You need the glass to in effect quash and fuse together the edges of the dough, making a seal so the middle can puff up to an airy little container. If you were to use a cookie cutter this would not happen as the layers would be sliced right through.

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Place the circles on the top of the paper cases – gently push down in the middle a little but they must be mainly resting on the top

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Place in the oven for 5 minutes until the circles have completely puffed up (keep a close eye on them as this is the crucial part)
Once they’ve puffed up, reduce the temperature to 150 degrees centigrade and cook for a further 8-10 minutes until golden brown
Remove from the tray and liners and cool on a wire rack.

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Brioche Burger Buns

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Brioche burger buns seem to be all the rage, with their impossibly glossy tops, rich soft crumb and sweet taste. Interesting breads are so often lacking if you avoid milk, eggs and nuts/seeds, so I thought I’d jazz up our Friday night burgers with an attempt at an egg and dairy-free brioche. I really didn’t think it would work – brioche is essentially bread packed full of eggs and butter. Actually though, the results are really pleasing and very much like regular brioche – OK, the glaze on the top isn’t quite as dramatic as an egg-based brioche glaze, but I was pretty pleased with the results.

The crumb is slightly sweet and much richer than a classic bread roll. They worked beautifully as a burger bun, and regular readers of my blog will know I’m always concocting new burgers, so why not try it with my Mexican bean burgers, my smoky chipotle mushroom burgers, heck or even Jerk spiced sweet potato patties?

The left-overs were utterly sublime made into a bread and ‘butter’ pudding.

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

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makes 8-12

  • 500g plain flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp quick action yeast
  • 100ml warm water
  • 150ml oat or other milk
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup dairy-free spread, melted

Glaze:

  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 2 tsp oat milk
  • 1 tsp honey/syrup
  • 1 tsp oil

– Mix together the flour, salt, yeast and sugar
– Pour in the water, oat milk and melted spread and mix to a soft dough
– Knead for a good 5 to 10 minutes until smooth and bouncy
– Leave to rise, you want it to double in size
– Divide into 8 big or 12 small rolls and roll into neat balls. Score the tops if you wish (I did)
– Place on a baking sheet, cover with cling film and leave to rise again for another 30 minutes

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– Mix together the glaze and brush over the tops
– Bake for 20-30 minutes at 200 degrees Centigrade/Gas Mark 6 until they are golden, risen and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom
– For extra shine, brush the tops with more honey 5 minutes before the end of the baking

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– Perfect when filled with these awesome Mexican bean burgers ;-)

 

Treacle Tart

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Brrr February has started with a seriously cold snap so it’s definitely time to move away from those worthy new year resolutions and fresh beginnings and move to proper rib sticking comfort food – the kind that will warm the cockles and get us through these cold days.

Treacle tart – what could be more comforting than a crisp pastry shell filled with gooey sweet goodness? A classic British staple found on any school lunch menu, this traditional pud won’t disappoint. It may be called treacle tart but the filling is a mixture of lots (and I mean LOTS!) of golden syrup (corn syrup in the US), fresh white breadcrumbs to give body and lemon zest for zing, and well… nothing else! No one could deny that this is a sweet dessert, a really sweet dessert. But just sometimes a sugar overload is just what you need. I’m certainly not advocating you eat this kind of pud daily, but a little slice served with some cooling dairy-free ice cream or cream goes down down a treat now and then.

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

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  • Shortcrust pastry (ready made or home made)
  • 400g golden syrup (yes really!!)
  • 100g fresh soft white breadcrumbs
  • Lemon zest (I use zest of a whole lemon but this is quite lemony so you may prefer zest of 1/2 a lemon for just a hint)

– line a flan tin and blind bake
– mix together the syrup, breadcrumbs and lemon zest
– pour into the pastry case and level off
– Bake for 30 minutes at 190 degrees centigrade/gas mark 5 until golden
– Cool slightly before serving (the filling will be burning hot when it first ones out of the oven) but it is best served warm

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Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

IMG_5400 Well that’s January over with. I’ve been feeling it bad this year – real January blues! No holidays lined up in the diary, workload has ramped up etc etc… it’s definitely time for a bit of a comforting cheer up hug. These cupcakes are a big spicy steaming cup of hot chocolate in cupcake form. Enough to make you smile on even the most dark and frosty day. It turns out the ancient Mayans were geniuses with their flavour combinations – whilst the world veers towards the soft combination of chocolate and vanilla, this spicy Central American version of cocoa, cinnamon and (if you dare) a pinch of chilli powder packs a punch and works wonders. I left the chilli out of the children’s ones but nonetheless they gave the desired effect of a cosy warm friendly treat after a long day at school.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan) IMG_5399 Makes 12

  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 100g caster sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 100ml sunflower oil
  • 150ml oat milk
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice

– Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade/Gas mark 5 – Place liners in a cupcake tray – Sift the flour, cinnamon and salt into a bowl. Stir in the sugar. – In a separate bowl, mix together the oat milk, bicarb, lemon and oil. – Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and gently mix, until well combines. – 2/3rds fill the liners and bake for 18-20 minutes, until lightly golden and a knife comes out clean. – Cool on a wire rack. Fluffy Mexican Chocolate Buttercream (dairy-free, egg-free, soya-free, sesame-free, nut-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan) Enough to spread on 12 cupcakes, double the mix to pipe luscious mounds of buttercream!

  • 1/3 cup dairy-free spread
  • 2 tbsps vegetable fat
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 1/2 cups icing sugar
  • Up to 1/4 cup oat milk
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of chilli powder (if you dare!)

– Whisk together the fats.

– Add the cocoa and cinnamon (and chilli if using) and whisk well.

– Whisk in the icing sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, adding a splash of oat milk each time.

– Pipe or spread onto the cupcakes. IMG_5398