Vanilla and Cinnamon Flecked Rhubarb Cake (and a birthday!)

Gluten Free
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 It’s my blog’s birthday! Happy birthday blog :) I’m actually half a week late because I completely forgot what month it was I started, but it’s the thought that counts right? And the cake of course. 

When I started this blog I had no idea what I wanted it to be. I loved baking, and I loved taking photos of what I made. My sister suggested I put up the recipes and photos in a blog, which sounded like a better idea than just hoarding hideous photos on Microsoft. I was so completely intimidated by the beautiful blogs I was reading at the time, I thought my blog would be a clumsy failure full of silly writing and hopeless photos. And guess what, it was! (Example 1: my first post…)

But over time I think (I hope!) I’ve gotten a little better at it. The recipes I put up now reflect the food I love to make and eat, and the photos, although looking nothing like how I dream of being able to photograph one day, are in their own clunky way prettier. It makes me happy knowing that people read what I write and actually try out the recipes. Even though it’s not why I started, and it’s not why I continue to work hard on this space, it’s nice knowing there’s a little audience out there. I’m so thankful that you all exist! All the comments I get and emails bring a smile to my face :)

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 I thought for this momentous day I would share a few of the blogs that inspired my to start (most of them you’ve all probably heard of) and also a few of the blogs that inspire me to keep going. Undoubtably the two blogs that sparked a love of photography and baking, and continue to inspire me daily, are Poires au Chocolat and Raspberri Cupcakes. There’s not a doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t have started blogging if not for these two. Even today when people ask me for what blogs I think stand out, with the multitude of professional photographers and chefs setting up their own sites, I first think of these two. 

As my blog has developed it’s own taste and taken a turn for the healthy, 101 Cookbooks, Sprouted Kitchen and of course Smitten Kitchen have become my staple weekly reads, that I check probably more regularly than my university emails, unfortunately. 

And as for the new blogs I’ve discovered, the lovely Josefine at Smoothie Lover, Consuelo’s Honey and Figs, and the beautiful To Her Core, constantly put up amazing recipes that I always, ALWAYS want to eat. Their posts are always so beautiful and healthy I’m so happy to have discovered them. 

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 I had a lot of ideas for what kind of cake to make for this day, but in the end I decided against a big celebratory layer cake or tart. I wanted to make something that represented exactly what my blog would taste like if it was a cake. And I’m pretty sure I got it right! 

This cake is so yummy. It’s so moist and rich. The syrup soaks down and keeps the cake moist for ever, and the topping is crunchy and tangy from the rhubarb and raw sugar. We ate this with ice cream for afternoon tea, but it could work for any special occasion really. And the recipe is inspired by a woman’s weekly recipe, just like that very first plum cake I made on my first post. 

So Happy Birthday Sugar and Cinnamon! And Happy Easter to all of you. If you’re reading this now, just know that if I could I would give you a big slice of cake with a scoop of ice cream on it xxx Image Vanilla and Cinnamon Rhubarb Cake Adapted from Women’s Weekly

185g (1.45 cups) butter, softened

150g (2/3 cup) caster sugar

3 eggs, at room temperature

1 tbsp orange zest, from about 2 oranges

1/4 cup (60ml) buttermilk or yogurt

150g  (1 cup) self-raising flour (or 1 cup almond meal for gluten free- will be slightly denser but still great)

80g (1/2 cup) ground almonds or semolina

1/5 tsp cinnamon

200g (1.8 cups) rhubarb, cut into 3cm pieces

1 tbsp raw sugar

For the Syrup:

1 cup (250ml) orange juice

110g (1/2 cup) caster sugar

125ml (1/2 cup) water

11g (1 cup) rhubarb, cut into pieces

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Preheat the oven to 180C (350F) and line a 20cm (8 inch) cake pan with baking paper. Beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the orange zest, followed by each egg, beating in one at a time slowly so the mix doesn’t split. Once combined, mix in the flours and cinnamon gently, and the buttermilk until just combined. 

Smooth into the cake tin and top with the rhubarb and raw sugar. Bake for about 50 minutes to 1 hour, until a skewer comes out clean. 

Meanwhile make the syrup. Combine all the ingredients and cook in a small saucepan over a low heat until the rhubarb has dissolved (you can strain it if you want a smoother syrup). Cook for about ten minutes to reduce it, then pour half over the hot cake and reserve the rest for pouring over pieces when you serve it. Eat with ice cream!

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Black Tea and Currant Hot Cross Buns

Wholemeal, Low Fat

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 Is it just me or is Easter kind of the coolest holiday ever?!? You’ve got chocolate by the bucket load, all kinds of exciting buns and spiced cakes in bakeries, holidays galore, it’s wild! 

And don’t even get me started on the Easter Show. I don’t know if it’s just Sydney, but every year here there’s a huge fair with a theme park, food markets, baking competitions, wood chopping and largest animal competitions, which are all somehow very connected to the concept of Easter…

I think it’s super fun but all my friends and family think it’s lame (they’re lame!!) so I haven’t gone in years. Sad face :( But this year I might just go with the kids I babysit so woohoo get ready for the biggest chicken weighing competition!!! I know I am.

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My family isn’t actually that into Easter. I never even knew about the whole ‘Easter Sunday Lunch’ thing until I went away one year with my friends family. It was amazing! We ate all the traditional meals like pies and lamb roast and simple fish the night before (well I didn’t because I don’t eat meat but I creepily watched them eating it). And on the celebrated morning, we came down to the dining table which had been completely covered in decorative chocolate nests with Belle Fleur chocolate sculptures for each child. Oh my God. I was in heaven.

We set up an Easter Egg hunt for the little kids, hiding the colourful chocolates in tree branches and under piles of autumn leaves. We boiled eggs and decorated them with paint and glitter, then cracked them open and drizzled olive oil and vinegar in the yolks. We walked through the forest and drove in her older brother’s rally car around the paddock behind the house, then watched the sun set over the trees eating chocolate leftovers.

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After that year I realised how good Easter can be. I decided to start making hot cross buns as my own family tradition, even if the first try was a couple of weeks late. Now the heady smell of cloves and cinnamon, and the calming roll of dough and currants is familiar to me. It makes me think of Easter. It makes me think of hot Autumn rain showers and uni holidays, of early sunsets and browning leaves.

It makes me think of the Easter Show, with the turkey pavilion and the poodle parade and hot curly fries with tomato sauce and mustard. It makes me realise that Easter is a pretty great holiday, whether you celebrate it traditionally or not.

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These hot cross buns are the best I’ve made so far. They’re classic of this blog made with wholemeal flour and a good dose of cinnamon, but still rich and soft from butter and lots of dried fruit. I steeped the currants in tea for half an hour before adding them in, and it made the buns taste lovely and complex. You can always skip this step if you don’t like tea, or use a different flavour if you’re feeling adventurous.

I originally got the recipe from Poires au Chocolat, because she is my bible for all English/traditional buns and cake recipes and I trust her yeast expertise with my life! Also, you may have noticed I forgot the crosses. I know, I know! I’m sorry!

For a vegan version, I’m planning on adapting these Coconut Scones, swapping the vanilla for cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves and adding in sultanas for that traditional flavour. If you want to give it a try before me, please tell me how it goes!! I hope all of you have a happy Easter :)
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Black Tea and Currant Hot Cross Buns: Adapted/Copied from Poires au Chocolat
50g unsalted butter
225g whole milk (I used light and it worked fine)
300g strong white flour
150g wholemeal flour
7/8g instant yeast
50g caster sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp each nutmeg, ginger, cloves
1 egg, cracked and lightly beaten
110g (1 cup) each sultanas and black currants
1 cup of strong black tea

Method: In a saucepan, heat the butter and milk until the butter melts and the milk scalds (this will keep the buns extra soft). Place in the fridge or freezer to cool down, it needs to be room temperature otherwise it will kill the yeast!
Steep the dried fruit with the tea until the fruit is soft, then drain and dry the fruit well with paper cloth.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, whisk together the flours, spices, sugar and dried fruit. Mix in the egg and milk (it has to be room temperature or slightly lower!!) until combined. Mix on medium for 6-7 minutes until the dough is elastic and bouncy. Put into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Leave for an hour to an hour and a half until doubled in size (I take a photo of it with my phone so I can work this out).

Pour out onto a floured surface and punch down. Cut into 14 pieces and roll into balls. Working quickly, place the balls on a lined baking tray and cover with plastic wrap for 45 minutes until puffy. Preheat oven to 200C (390F) and bake the buns (take off the plastic!) for 15-20 minutes, until risen and golden. Drizzle a little honey or marmalade over for a glaze. Enjoy! For a cross, mix flour and water and use the back of a spoon or piping bag to mark a cross on before you bake them. Enjoy!

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Guest Post: Healthy Apple and Cinnamon Coconut Crumble

Vegan, Wholemeal, Low Fat, Sugar Free

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Hey guys! I’m doing a guest post over at Smoothie Lover today with this recipe and a little about my food philosophy so go check it out!
Josefine’s blog is seriously beautiful. She makes healthy vegetarian food and her desserts are always amazing! I’ve been following her for a while now and am constantly impressed by how quickly her blog has grown and how lovely her photos are becoming. This apple crumble started life out as a simple way to use up all the apples in the fridge, but it turned in to one of the tastiest crumbles ever especially with all the coconut going on in there.

Also I’m sad about the photos. Everything was going along great until the sun decided to abort mission early and set at 4 in the afternoon! Before I’d finished taking my photos!! So please forgive the lack of an inside shot and just trust that it tasted epic. I’m going to try and do another post before Easter but if not, happy holidays guys!!

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 Some of the beautiful things you have to check out on Josefine’s blog:

Her honey and dried fig scones. The combination of honey and fig anything is just out of this world and combined with a scone!!!

These perfect raw tarts would make the best fancy dessert ever!

And the tastiest looking falafel recipe ever. 

Thank you Josefine for having me on your blog today! 

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Chocolate and Coconut Tarts (using Coyo!)

Vegan, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free

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I hope you’re all ready for part two of the coconut appreciation week! The Coyo train continues. If you aren’t up to date, this week I am experimenting with coconut yogurt in a few of my favourite desserts. Coconut yogurt is thick and tangy like milk yogurt, with a pleasantly sweet flavour of coconut. It works perfectly in desserts because it’s naturally so rich and versatile. (Plus it’s super healthy- check out the benefits here). 

I have a habit of making something that tastes perfect as it is, and then adding a butt-load of chocolate to it. In my mind there’s not a dessert that can’t be made better with chocolate. I’m thinking…I’m thinking….nope. Well, possibly carrot cake would taste weird with chocolate. But then again now that I’ve said that…chocolate chunk carrot muffins? Anybody?!

With these tarts I was so happy with the first tarts I made, my mind naturally came to the conclusion that a chocolate version would be even more amazing. And I was right! These are possibly even easier to make than their fruity friends. The base is a raw walnut, chia and apricot crust with cacao and the filling is plain coyo flavoured with cacao, maple and a pinch of cinnamon. Possibly the best coconut dessert known to humans. (I don’t brag.) 

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I put them in the freezer to make them easier to photograph, and discovered how good they taste almost frozen! The base becomes so chewy and the middle is like a chocolate mousse ice cream, if that’s a thing. PS sorry if the above photo is kind of strange, I had major cabin fever when I was taking these photos and I started to imagine the tarts were my little friends. I had to stop myself talking to this one telling him he was the king tart sitting on his tart castle. 

I made these tarts mini sized, but I think it would work even better as a larger single sized tart. I didn’t want to make a big one because I promised my friend I would give her some, and making a whole tart would imply that I would be giving her that whole tart…without leaving any for me. But a bigger size would be easier to get the ratios right I think. Also I was planning on topping each tart with a cascade of beautiful red raspberries, but have you seen the prices of berries in Sydney lately?! $8.99 a punnet would break the bank! If you are blessed and live in a land of plentiful berries I think raspberries would be really nice as a topping. 

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With Easter right around the corner these would be a pretty epic Easter dessert. I can picture them with cute little dark chocolate easter eggs on top, or oh my gosh marzipan carrots! How cute would little marzipan carrots be! I saw a photo on pinterest the other day of a baby bunny pushing a mini shopping cart of baby carrots. It was so cute I almost cried. I almost cried! Anyway back to the tarts at hand…

Coyo is a completely natural product with no preservatives, so I would suggest not filling the tart until the day you want to eat it. It will last up to 2 or 3 days, especially if you keep them in the freezer. But it will definitely be best on the first day. Start the crust the night before if you want them to be super easy to handle from being in the fridge. Have a great week everybody :) 

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 Vegan Chocolate Coconut Tarts: 

For the base:

1 cup dried organic apricots (use dates if you don’t have organic apricots) soaked in water

2 tbsp chia seeds

1 cup walnuts

1/2 cup desiccated coconut

1/3 cup raw cacao

Crush the walnuts and chia seeds together briefly in a mortar and pestle. Drain and chop the apricots. Put everything in a blender and blend until a smooth dough forms. Line one tart tin, or 6-8 mini tart tins, with paper or plastic. Use your fingers to press the base along the bottom and up the sides, making sure the bottom is thick enough to be sturdy. Place in the freezer until you’re ready to freeze it (this will make it much easier to remove). 

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 For the Filling:

1 tub plain COYO or 750ml coconut yogurt

3-4 tbsp raw cacao, depending how chocolatey you want it

4 tbsp maple syrup (or honey) 

1 tsp cinnamon

Optional: raspberries or other fresh berries, to top

Blend all the ingredients together until smooth. Taste and adjust the cocoa or sweetener until you have the flavour you’re after. Fill the tart with the coconut mix and leave in the fridge to set before slicing. Top with the berries just before serving, to prevent them going soggy. 

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Caramelised Banana and Mango Coconut Tarts (using Coyo!)

Vegan, Sugar Free, Gluten Free 

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When I was little I had what you could call a “dairy addiction”. I ate a lot of dairy. A LOT of dairy. I had a daily addiction to ice cream, I used to buy cartons of plain milk at school and chug them, I just loved all forms of dairy. I remember once eating a litre of dark chocolate ice cream whilst watching Gilmore Girls with my friend. (It was glorious). 

But last year I discovered to my horror that I’m lactose intolerant! Weep with me :’( It started with a month or two of going without any dairy to see if that was causing my stomach pains, and lets just say when I tried introducing milk again…it was messy. I’ve pretty much found a substitute for everything now except yogurt. Yogurt is my life, I can’t really live without it for any stretch of time. That’s why the discovery of coconut yogurt for me was a BIG DEAL. And this coconut yogurt is really good!

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 I don’t know if you’ve heard of Coyo, but it’s a delicious all natural product made out of pure coconut milk. They have fruit flavours, plain yogurt, and even ice cream which I can affirm is very creamy and lovely. Coconut is packed full of health benefits. It can aid in weight loss, indigestion, blood pressure, it boosts your metabolism and is wonderful for your skin. It’s high in fat, but this ‘saturated fat’ is not the terrible idea of saturated fat you have from pictures of beef lard and butter. The fat from coconuts is low in palmitic acid, which is the bad stuff in animal sources of saturated fat. While it does raise your bad cholesterol levels by a degree, it also raises your good cholesterol levels. 

Basically if you’re trying to decide between ice cream and coconut, coconut is the healthy option. It doesn’t deserve it’s reputation as a dangerous fat source. (Coconut oil on the other hand is a whole other kettle of fish and I personally don’t cook with high amounts of it). Anyway my point is, Coyo is a very healthy and creamy product. It has no added nasty’s so doesn’t last long in the fridge, but it tastes pure and sweetly of coconut and is a very nice alternative to yogurt. 

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 I’ve decided that this week should be coconut appreciation week. In honour of that I’m making coconut recipes all using Coyo to show you my favourite ways of eating it. (I will admit a lot of it was eaten from a spoon standing in front of the fridge). The caramelised banana and mango combination was inspired by this weeks beautiful clear weather. Goodbye Summer! There is a coconutty walnut base, creamy sweet banana slices and a topping of delicious mango flavoured Coyo sweetened with a little maple syrup. 

This was just the way I wanted to take these tarts this morning. You can be as creative as you like! Fill the bases with whatever flavour you choose and I bet fresh berries on top wouldn’t go astray. Make sure you keep these little babies in the fridge so that the bases keep strong. And always use a clean spoon when eating your Coyo! Because there are no added preservatives you have to be a teeny bit more careful. Hope you enjoy!

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 Coconut, Banana and Mango Tarts:

Base:

1 cup walnuts

1 cup sultanas or dates, soaked briefly in water

1/2 cup desiccated coconut

Drain the sultanas or dates well and blend everything together until it forms a loose dough. If you don’t have a strong blender, make sure you crush up the nuts and cut the fruit first. Line 8-10 small tart moulds with plastic wrap or paper and press in the dough on the bottom and up the sides (make sure the bottom is quite thick). Keep in the freezer until ready to fill, to make them easier to use. 

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For the filling:

1 banana, sliced into dimes

1 tablespoon coconut butter 

2 tsp raw sugar

1 tub mango coconut COYO

2-3 tablespoons maple syrup or agave syrup, depending how sweet you want it

Combine the coconut butter and sugar in a small pan. Once melted, add in the banana slices and fry until just caramelised on each side. Place 2-3 pieces in each tart. Blend the coconut yogurt and agave together well. Spoon over the banana pieces. Keep in the fridge until ready to eat. Enjoy! 

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Fudgy Cocoa Banana Bread with Chocolate Chunks (vegan)

Vegan, Refined Sugar Free

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 Tomorrow is me and my boyfriend’s two year anniversary! Two years ago this week I’d been waiting for him to properly ask me out for four months, and he kept texting me but never actually asked! So finally I just thought this is ridiculous, and invited myself over to watch a movie. I got lost on the train and was an hour late to the station, but I made it! We watched the Hangover. His favourite line is when Alan says “that’s how I’ve managed to stay single this long”. He drove me home at 2 in the morning because the last train had left. We’ve been together ever since. 

I made him a chocolate banana bread because he loves dark chocolate, and he loves banana bread. His ultimate dessert is probably brownies but I’ve made so many of those recently I don’t think I could face them again for a while. So this here is a rich, fudgy and very very chocolatey banana loaf. (Definitely more on the cake side of loaf). 

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I was inspired to make this after seeing Smitten Kitchen‘s amazing banana chocolate bread last week. I adapted my classic vegan banana bread to make a chocolate version, because I wanted the cake to be healthy too. (I’m that sick kind of person that thinks ‘whole-grains’ and ‘healthy fats’ in a cake make a better present than delicious sugar and butter…I know). So there is raw cacao powder as well as the rich dutch-processed kind, chia seeds, maple syrup and of course lots of banana :) 

I wasn’t expecting this to come out so moist and chocolate flavoured. The espresso really brings out the chocolate flavour, so don’t leave it out even if you’re a coffee fan! When I was in year 9 I did a term project which involved baking a chocolate cake every single week using different rising agents. It got to the point where I didn’t need a recipe, I didn’t need a scale, I probably could have made it blind-folded. I don’t have that recipe anymore but I remember the strong smell of warm coffee that would come out of the oven as it baked. It was such a good chocolate cake! And not coffee flavoured at all despite using a whole entire cup. 

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 This cake freezes really well (although I don’t think it will have to it’s so popular). Just cut into slices and wrap well with plastic wrap. You can eat it with ice cream and chocolate sauce if you want a crazy good dessert, or just slice it up with tea. It’s a very versatile cake. It only takes about an hour to make from start to finish too! So really, what are you waiting for???

Also, I’ve put chocolate chips as ‘optional’ in the recipe. That was a lie. There’s not really an option is there. Especially not if this cake is for someone you love!

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Chocolate Banana Bread with Chocolate Chunks:

2 very ripe bananas, mashed well

80ml (1/3 cup) brewed coffee

110g (1/2 cup) sunflower oil or butter for non-vegan

100g (1/2 cup) brown sugar or 1/2 cup maple syrup

3 eggs, or 3 tbsp chia seeds mixed with 6 tbsp water to make gel

120g (1 cup) plain white flour

120g (1 cup) cocoa powder, half cacao powder optional

2 tsp baking powder

optional: 1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 tsp cinnamon

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Method: Preheat oven to 180C (356F) and line a loaf pan with baking paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa, flour and baking powder. In a large bowl whisk the oil and syrup or sugar until well combined. Add in the vanilla if using, and the chia or eggs. Whisk well until combined. Add in the espresso and mashed banana and mix the wet ingredients well. Sift in the dry ingredients and stir just to combine. Stir in the chocolate chunks. Pour into the tin and bake for about 30 minutes, checking five minutes beforehand to stop it overcooking. Lasts 4-5 days, serves about 8-10. 

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Spiced Pumpkin Fritters with Roast Garlic Tahini Sauce (gluten free!)

Gluten Free
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 Oh my gosh guys. Today might just be the biggest day of the year. Possible EVER. Sugar and Cinnamon has officially started doing savoury! I can hear you thinking ‘but the name sugar and cinnamon suggests you know, sugar…and cinnamon…’ I knooow. But I thought that was a silly reason at the end of the day to not do something I’ve pretty much been thinking of doing since I started this blog. 

This year I wanted to focus more on making healthy, wholesome recipes packed with loads of good for you things. In my real life I’ve actually started making savoury food all the time, as you can probably tell if you follow me on Instagram (I over-gram. I can admit it.) So I thought it was time to start sharing the successful recipes on here with you guys. Because everyone has to eat savoury food. You can try and live off cake, weetbix and toast, I did that very well all through school. But once you start making awesome stuff like these fritters it’s kind of hard to go back to those sad breakfast foods for lunch. 

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I think the photography is going to take a while to catch up in the savoury department…I did try and do some ‘stylistic’ swishing of sauce and fancy herb placement as you can see but fritters are hard. Fritters are just so ugly. They make up for it though by tasting amazing. Packed with pumpkin, carrot and zucchini as well as cumin and tumeric they’re so flavoursome! And the roasted garlic sauce…oh my goodness. I might of eaten the whole bowl while shooting photos…I’m not going to lie. 

I’ve given quantities for the amounts of vegetables I used but you can sub in sweet potato, more or less carrot and zucchini, basically whatever you have really. I bet even corn would be nice! Just try and keep a good ratio of firm roots (carrot, potato, sweet potato) and the watery vegetables (pumpkin, zucchini, spinach). I used quinoa flour as a little experiment and they worked out so well! You can’t taste the difference at all. Feel free to sub back in plain white flour if that’s what you have though. And you can double or even triple the recipe too if you want, they’re so easy! I have a sneaky feeling they’d taste epic in a sandwich or burger as well. 

I haven’t tried making these fritters without eggs but you could try flax as a binding substitute. If you do let me know how they go! Otherwise these fritters would be completely vegan friendly :) 

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 Vegetable Fritters with Garlic Tahini Dipping Sauce:

350g grated zucchini (about 4)

350g grated pumpkin (1/4 large pumpkin)

250g grated carrot (4-5)

1 handful chopped coriander

2 shallots, finely sliced

2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp each cinnamon and tumeric

100g quinoa flour

4 large eggs, or 4 tablespoons flax mixed with water

Olive oil, for frying 

Mix everything together in a large bowl, seasoning with a little salt and pepper at the end. Heat a large fry pan with a good splash of the olive oil to shallow fry the fritters. Use a big spoon to scoop ladles of the mix (about 3-4 tbsp) into the pan. Using the back of a spatula, push down the fritters carefully so they are flat. Fry on each side for about 5 minutes, draining on a plate with paper. 

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For the dipping sauce:

Roast 4-5 cloves of garlic in the oven until soft in the middle, about 10 minutes. 

Blend with 4-5 tablespoons of tahini and the juice of 2 limes. 

Keep blending, slowly adding water until the sauce is as runny as you like it. Drizzle over the fritters with extra coriander to serve. 
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