Thursday, 4 July 2013

Vegan strawberry sponge

Cake Ingredients:
280g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
120g caster sugar
350g fresh strawberries, chopped and roughly hulled
175ml soya milk
125ml light rapeseed oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
Vanilla Icing Ingredients:
300g icing sugar
2 tbsp soya milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
9 fresh strawberries, hulled for decoration
Makes ~ 1 7" cake
Preparation/Baking Method:
Preheat oven to 180C/350F/gas 4 and grease and line cake tin
In a large bowl mix together to flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and caster sugar. Add the chopped strawberries, milk, oil and vanilla.
Using a metal spoon, quickly mix everything together for about 10 seconds until the ingredients are just combined. Don't mix the batter too much, it should still be a bit lumpy.
Pour/spoon the mixture into the tins and place in the preheated oven for 30-45mins. Cool on a wire rack.
To make the icing mix together the icing sugar, milk and vanilla in a bowl. If it's too firm add a couple more drops of milk, and if too runny, add a little more icing sugar.
Ripple the icing onto the cake and decorate with fresh banana chips.
Enjoy on a Sunday morning, in the garden cabin, with a cup of tea and the broadsheets.
Notes: Cake was a little bit dry - but did eat it 24 hours after baking...Maybe moisten it up with strawberry jam and vegan buttercream!

Vegan scones with strawberry jam and not-so-vegan clotted cream

225g plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
50g vegetable 'butter'
25g caster sugar
150ml soya milk (plus extra for glazing)
Makes ~ 12-18 mini scones
Grease and line a baking tray with baking parchment and preheat the oven to 170C.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Rub in the 'butter' until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs then sir in the sugar.
Mix in enough milk to make a soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface and knead very lightly.
Roll out the dough to about 1cm thick and cut out rounds with a heart shaped cutter, re rolling the dough as necessary.
Brush with milk and bake for 10-12 minutes or until well risen and golden brown.
Cool on a wire rack.
Serve to your folks on a weekend visit with a mug of tea and strawberry jam & clotted cream (not vegan...still working on getting there).
Notes: Scones were a tiny bit dry and not too golden. Need to find alternative vegan egg-wash.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

i carry your heart with me

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
 here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)
e.e. cummings

Working from home vegan afternoon cob loaf

500g strong bread flour (plus extra for dusting)
7g salt
10g instant yeast
30 unsalted vegetable butter
320ml cool water
Rape seed oil for kneading
Makes ~ 1 loaf
Preparation/Baking Method:
Tip the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the salt to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other/ Add the butter and 3/4 of the water and turn the mixture round with your fingers.
Continue to add the remaining water, a little at a time, until you've picked up all the flour from the sides of the bowl. You may not need to add all the water, or you may need to add a little more - you want dough that is soft but not soggy. Use the mixture to clean the inside of the bowl and keep going until the mixture forms a rough dough.
Coat the work top with a little rape seed oil, then tip the dough onto it and begin to knead. Keep kneading for 5-10 minutes. Work through the initial wet stage until the dough starts to form a soft, smooth skin.
When your dough feels smooth and silky, put it in a lightly oiled large bowl. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise until at least doubled in size (1 hour).
Line a baking tray with baking parchment or silicone paper.
Once risen, the dough should be bouncy and shiny. Scrape it out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface.
First shape into a ball by folding it inwards repeatedly until all the air is knocked out and the dough is smooth. Then form it into a round, smooth cob shape.*
Put the dough on the baking tray and place in a clean plastic bag. Leave to prove for about 1 hour until the dough is at least doubled in size and springs back quickly if you prod it lightly with your finger.
Meanwhile heat your oven to 230C/440F/gas 8, put a pizza stone on the bottom shelf and put a roasting tray in the bottom to heat up.
Dust the dough with some flour, then slash deeply with a knife. Fill the hot roasting tray in the oven with hot water; this will create steam and give your bread a lighter crust. Place your bread and baking paper onto the pizza stone and bake for 30 minutes or until it's cooked through and sounds hollow when tapped on the base.
Leave for your boyfriend to eat, because you have to catch a train for the coast, and you can't take it with you because you don't have enough time for it to cool. Then eat it on Sunday night, toasted with lashings of butter and half a block of cheese.
*Cob - This is the term used to describe a domed round loaf.
To form a cob, first tip out your risen dough onto a very lightly floured surface, then knock out the air with your hands. Flatten the dough into a rough rectangle, then roll it into an oblong. Turn the dough so that the longer edge is running away from you and flatten it slightly. Now roll the 2 ends in towards the centre so you end up with a chunky, squarish shape. Turn the dough over on your work top, so that the join is underneath.
To shape the dough into a smooth, domed cob, you now need to use both hands. With you palms turned upwards, position your hands on each side and slightly underneath the dough. Move your hands round the cob, tucking the dough neatly underneath itself.
Keep going(!), gently forcing the sides of the dough down and underneath to create a smooth, taunt top and a rough underside.
Avoid adding any extra flour during the shaping if you possibly can.
Voila...Cob loaf.
Notes: Delicious. Worth all the time involved to make it happen.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Vegan olive sticks on a Thursday

250g strong white bread flour (plus extra for dusting)
5g salt
5g instant yeast
200ml tepid water
1 tsp olive oil
250g pitted green olives (well drained)
Makes ~ 4 chubby bread sticks
Preparation/Baking Method:
Oil a 2-3 litre square plastic container
Put the flour in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook (or use a mixer with dough hooks) Add the salt to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Add 3/4 of the water and begin mixing on a slow speed. As the dough starts to come together, slowly add the remaining water. Then mix for a further 5-8 minutes on a medium speed.
The dough should be wet and stretch easily when pulled. Add the olive oil and mix for a further 2 minutes. Add the olives and mix until well distributed.
Put the dough into the oiled tub and leave until at least tripled in size (1 hour0>
Line a baking tray with baking parchment
Dust your work top heavily with flour. Carefully tip the dough onto the surface. it will be very loose and flowing, but don't worry!
Rather than knocking it back, handle it gently so you keep as much air in the dough as possible. Dust the top of the dough with flour too, then stretch it out gently to a rough rectangle shape.
Starting at one long edge, cut the dough into about 15 strips. Stretch each piece out until 20-25cm long. Put the strips on the prepared baking tray, spacing them apart.
Put each tray inside a clean plastic bag and leave to prove for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat your own to 220C/430F/gas 7
Bake the dough sticks for 10-15 minutes. Serve immediately or cool on a wire rack.
Share with your boyfriend and housemate as you watch trash tv.
Notes: Use more olives...Bake a little longer? Try with semolina for an extra crunchy crust? Add sundried tomatoes/chillied olives?