Veggies on the counter

Grandma’s Orange Birthday Cake

Posted in baked goods by veggies on the counter on January 10, 2011

 

I’ve left a pot of lentils cooking on the stove, while I sit on the couch with my laptop to write you about a cake I’ve baked this weekend. So, my grandmother’s birthday was on Saturday, and the cake I’ve made for us to enjoy was, in her words, the best I’ve baked so far. I was quite happy with a such a great compliment, and here I am sharing the said cake recipe with you. I tell you straight way: it has a long list of ingredients and requires the use of a couple bowls and pans, putting it under the “time consuming recipe“ label. But, on the other hand, I’d say it makes a great appearence at parties and will definitely impress your guests. As far as the taste goes, despite being quite orangy, it’s not overbearing orangy – you call actually perceive the delicate taste given by the combination of oat and rice flours in the batter, as well as the cream’s nutty scented flavor. An advise to all the sweet tooth out there: I tend to use very little sugar in baked goods in comparison to other recipes, because I’m not a fan of too sweet desserts, but, if you aren’t like me, I suggest you to increase the amount of sugar used in here by a couple tablespoons (four or five). I’ve told you before I’m not that much of a baker, and fussy and time consuming sweet baked goods aren’t really my thing. That’s mainly because the recipes I’ve tried so far tend to give priority to the final aestethical aspects rather than reflecting concerns on healthy baking. With this cake, I’ve done my best to combine both factors, working on a recipe that – I think – looks quite good, and  even though calling for the use of wholegrain and wheat-free flours, that doesn’t compromise its flavor.

Grandma’s Orange Birthday Cake

(makes one 20 cm diameter cake, 6 to 8 slices)

For the cake:

100 grams oat flour

60 grams white rice flour

60 grams brown rice flour

1 and ½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

1 large ripe banana (about 200 grams), mashed

125 ml (½ cup) non dairy milk

200 grams soy yoghurt

125 ml (½ cup) orange juice

2 tablespoons orange zest

140 grams non-dairy margarine

120 grams muscavado sugar

For the Syrup:

200 grams orange marmalade

2 tablespoons regular sugar

80 ml (1/4 cup) orange juice

For the cream:

70 grams unsalted cashew nuts

250 grams silken tofu

60 grams icing sugar

grated dark chocolate or silvered almonds, for topping

special equipment: food processor and electric beater

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC, racks in the lower and upper thirds of the oven. Butter two 20 cm (8-inch) round pans, and lightly dust them with flour.

2. Put all the ingredients for the cream in a food processor and pulse for 1 to 2 minutes or until totally smooth and similiar, in consistency, to that of heavy cream. If too thick, add one or two tablespoons of water to make the cream just a little more runny. Refrigerate it while you proceed with the recipe.

3. Mix the mashed banana with 125 ml non-dairy milk in a food processor, and blend until smooth.

4. In a large bowl, and using and electric beater, cream the vegan margarine with the sugar. Then, and still with the beater running, slowly pour the banana mixture, as well as the orange juice, soy yoghurt and orange zest.

5. In another large bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

6. Combine the wet mixture with the dry mixture, just until incorporated – be careful not to overmix.

7. Divide the batter among the two pans and bake, in the pre-heated oven, for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Transfer the cakes to a wire rack to cool and, using a skewer, prick their tops with several holes.

8. In the meantime, prepare the syrup: Heat the ingredients for the syrup in a small saucepan, over medium-high heat, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the marmalade is runny.

9. To assemble: generously brush the top of one of the cakes with half of the syrup, and then spread about one third of  the cream over it. Plaee the other cake over the first one, and brush it with the remaining syrup, finishing off with the remaining cream. Top the cake with grated dark chocolate or silvered almonds, and serve.

I believe – even though I’m not sure – this recipe is remotely inspired by Epicurious

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Upside-down Pear Cake

Posted in baked goods by veggies on the counter on December 11, 2010

When I first started this blog I promised myself I’d be posting a recipe at least once a week. Back then, I was so excited about this whole blogging thing that I found myselft posting two, three, recipes a week. But school work has been leaving me with very little time to cook these days, and that’s the main reason why I can’t keep with my former promise all the time. Anyway, today, after an almost 12 hour sleep (yes, that’s possible), I cured my tiredness from the very busy week I had, and sit in front of the computer after lunch – this time, not to work on the projects I have on hand, but to write you the recipe for a delicious upside-down pear cake.

As I’ve told you in the previous post, I’ve been working with gluten-free flours recently and the results couldn’t  be better. So, this cake not only is gluten-free but delicious on its own. Chickpea flour is here used in place of eggs and the pairing of buckwheat with fall fruits such as pears, seems to work extremely well. As we’re approaching Christmas, and I’m experimenting with a couple ingredients typicall for this time of the year, it’s more likely that the following recipes will be desserts, cakes, and hearty savory dishes – we’ll then have plenty of time in January to  get back on track. ; )

Upside down Pear Cake

(one 23 cm cake, 6 to 8 slices)

for the fruit layer:

3 medium-sized pears, ripe but firm, cored and sliced

3 tablespoons muscavado sugar

3 tablespoons vegan margarine

a pinch of cinnamoon

for the cake layer:

140 grams (1 cup) buckwheat flour

130 grams (1 cup) white rice flour

1 teaspoon powdered ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

5 tablespoons melted vegan margarine

100 grams unsweetened soy youghurt

45 grams gram flour

60 ml (¼ cup) plus 3 tablespoons water

160 ml (2/3 cups) soy milk

120 grams muscavado sugar

80 ml (1/3 cup) agave nectar

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC. Oil a 23 cm round baking pan.

2. Heat a large skilllet over medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons of vegan margarine, pears, sugar, and cinnamon, and cook, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the pears are tender and slightly caramelized. Let the cooked pears cool to room temperature. Transfer the pears and their syrup to the prepared pan, spreading evenly.

3. In a large bowl, combine the buckwheat and white rice flours, powdered ginger, ground cinnamon, salt and baking powder.

4. In another large bowl, whisk the melted vegan margarine and sugar. Add the yoghurt, soy milk, and agave nectar to the mixture, stirring to combine.

5. In a medium-sized bowl, add the gram flour and water, whisking everything until you get a smooth consistency. Slowly pour this mixture over the wet mixture and combine well.

6. Using a rubber spatula, fold the wet mixture into the dry mixture, being careful not to overmix.

7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan – over the pears –  and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

8. Cool the cake in the pan for 20 minutes before inverting onto a large plate.

Hazelnut and Banana Bread

Posted in baked goods by veggies on the counter on September 19, 2010

I’ve baked a lot this week: there was a birthday cake for my boyfriend, a spice cake to bring to a picnic, and this hazelnut and banana bread, that I made yesterday. I’ve told you before that I’m not that much of a baker. Actually, baking cakes always scared me a bit, since so far I had way too many unsuccessful experiences to count. But, anyway, it seems I’m mastering the art of vegan baking, as those three cakes that I baked this week turned out quite yummy. The hazelnut and banana bread is the one I decided to share with you, since it’s almost 100% created by myselft.

To be fair, I first started to follow a recipe from an old cookbook that my mom bought a long time ago, but things weren’t working out (the recipe didn’t call for enough wet ingredients, and the batter ended up not coming together at all), so I started things over with a whole new approach. I might have been on a lucky day, as the bread turned out quite good: it’s definitely moist, and as far as the flavor goes, it’s delicate and slightly sweet, which makes it perfect for breakfast. First things first: use very, very, ripe bananas, as it makes all the difference. Baking them will enhance even more their sweet flavor, so make sure not to skip that step. A final note: I used hazelnuts in here, but feel free to substitute them for walnuts or pecans, as they work out very well too.

Hazelnut and Banana Bread

(makes one loaf)

4 very ripe bananas, unpeeled

½ cup (125 ml) olive oil

½ cup (55 grams) muscavado sugar

1 and ½ tablespons ground flax seed, mixed with 8 tablespoons water

1 non dairy, unsweetened, yogurt (100 grams)

½ cup (125 ml) soy milk

1/3 cup (80 ml) agave nectar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

¾ cup rolling oats

1 cup (135 grams) unbleached all purpose flour

1 cup (135 grams) bleached all purpose flour

¾ cup (120 grams) hazelnuts, toasted and coarsly chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºc. Line a (25 by 12 by 7 cm) metal loaf pan with non stick parchment paper. Set aside.

2. Put the bananas, unpeeled, in a large baking dish and bake them for 15 minutes or until their skins are totally black. Remove from the oven and let cool. When they’re cool enough to be handled, take the flesh out of the bananas and put it into a bowl. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, sift together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Mix in the rolling oats.

4. Beat together the olive oil, agave nectar and muscavado sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer at medium-high speed, until well incorporated. Reduce the speed to low and add the yogurt, soy milk and flax seed mixture. Finally, mix in the bananas.

5. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the flour mixture and hazelnuts.

6. Pour the batter into the loaf pan, spreading evenly, and bake in the middle of the oven for 50 to 60 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Mine was done after 50 minutes, but after 35 minutes of the baking time, I covered the top of the pan loosely with aluminium foil, to prevent the top crust of the bread from browning too much.

7. Cool the loaf in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a rack to cool completely. I think this bread is at its best the day after it’s baked.

Tahini Cookies

Posted in baked goods, cookies by veggies on the counter on September 3, 2010

These tahini cookies might be one of my favorite cookies right now. As I’ve told in a previous post, I like my cookies with not too much added  fat and sugar, and I guess these ones fit the bill just right. They have tahini in there, which is their main source of fat, but at least it’s that of a good and healthy type. The taste of these cookies is quite nutty and dense, and the fact that they are coated in muscavado sugar and sesame seeds, adds crunchiness and extra flavor to them. I encourage you to use organic, dark tahini in here, as it is the variety that packs more flavor – the white one is usually a bit mild and bitter. An extra bonus: the cookies are also gluten free.

Tahini Cookies

(makes about 18)

1 and ¼ cups (125 grams) spelt flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup (60 grams) plus 1/3 cup light muscavado sugar

1/3 cup sesame seeds

½ cup (115 grams) dark organic tahini

1/3 cup (75 grams) apple purée

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1. In a large bowl, and with the help of an electric mixer, combine the tahini, apple purée, ½ cup of muscavado sugar and the sesame oil, until you have a smooth batter.

2. Sift the flour into another large bowl. Add the baking soda and salt and mix well.

3. Slowly pour the wet mixture over the dry mixture, mixing everything with a spatula as you go, until you have a soft dough. Shape the dough into a ball, wrap it tightly in plastic, and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour.

4. Preheat the oven to 180ºC – racks in the top and bottom third of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

5. In a bowl, mix the sesame seeds with the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar.

6. Cut two rectangles of parchment paper. Place one of the sheets of paper on a clean surface and evenly spread half of the sesame seeds and sugar mixture over it.

7. Unwrap the dough and place it in the center of the sheet of parchement paper in which you’ve spread out the sesame seeds and sugar. Now, you want to use the other sheet of parchment paper, and roll out the dough between the two sheets, to a rough circle 24 centimeters in diameter.

8. Spread the remaining sesame seeds and sugar over the circle of dough, and gently press it down with your hands to make them stick to the dough.

9. With a cookie cutter, stamp out rounds of dough and place them in the prepared baking sheets. The cookies won’t spread out that much while baking, so you can put them close together.

10. Bake the cookies for 10 to 11 minutes. Don’t overbake them, or they’ll get dry.

11. Let them cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. The cookies will keep, stored in an airtight container, for up to 5 days.