Chocolate and Blueberry Mousse Tart

Vegan, Sugar Free, Gluten Free, optional Raw

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 Guess what day is right around the corner! It’s……VALENTINES DAY! To celebrate I made a chocolate mousse tart topped with fresh blueberries. It’s the perfect valentines day dessert because it’s rich, creamy and chocolatey, and will win you love from whoever you decide to give it to. It’s also super easy to make and very comforting. It can be eaten with a spoon, by yourself, in your pyjamas. I won’t judge you. 

Valentines Day is always such a weird day. Last year for the first time in my life I actually had a real valentines, so me and my boyfriend went out for dinner. He ordered four dishes all for himself while I got just one…and then could barely move after eating them all. And then the waiter dropped his dessert on his lap and looked like she (he? we never really found out) was going to cry so we had to comfort her (or him) while we waited for a new one. It was sooo romantic.

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 This year I think I’m just going to make him some kind of warm chocolate brownie pudding and homemade ice cream. Because that’s his favourite and eating warm brownies and ice cream is the best way to celebrate any occasion. If someone wanted to make me a chocolate dessert for the special day (hint hint…) it would be this chocolate tart. I’ve been wanting to experiment more with silken tofu ever since I made mango pudding with it. I saw some amazing looking chocolate tarts that used it as a base and got so excited to make a chocolate mousse tart! With fresh blueberries because you should always add fresh blueberries when they’re cheap and in season. Am I RIGHT???

I didn’t want to use all melted chocolate as the sweet component, but I didn’t want to just use cocoa powder and sweetener. So I ended up using a balance of 100g melted dark chocolate with some vanilla, agave and raw cacao powder. I was so so happy with how it came out! The flavour was intensely chocolatey and rich, but the texture was just perfect! Super creamy and light. You’d never guess how light and healthy this tart is.

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 I decided to make a raw walnut and sultana base because I wanted people to have the option of making it completely raw. If you want to, just replace the 600g of silken tofu with two perfectly ripe avocados. You may want to increase the agave as well. It won’t last as long in the fridge, but it will have a deliciously smooth texture and lots of healthy omega fats. Put your hands up for healthy fats! 

The blueberries tasted so good with this tart as they sunk into the chocolatey custard layer, but you could top it with anything you want. Orange slices, strawberries, coconut cream, banana slices, nuts, praline! The list goes on forever. If you’re allergic to nuts, you can also replace the walnuts with a combination of flax and sunflower seeds. I don’t have a powerful blender and I still managed to make this tart in about half an hour, not including freezing time.Just bash up your nuts in a mortar and pestle first and soak your dried fruit so it blends faster. Happy Valentines Day! 

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 Vegan and Gluten Free Chocolate Berry Mousse Tart: Inspired by Baking = Love

For the Base:

2 cups walnuts or sunflower and flax seeds, bashed into crumbs in a mortar and pestle

1 cup sultanas, soaked briefly in warm water (about 20 minutes)

3-4 tbsp cocoa powder

For the Filling:

600g (21 ounces) silken tofu, drained

100g (3.5 ounces) dark semi-sweet chocolate, or more or less depending how rich you like

3 tbsp raw cacao powder

1 tbsp agave nectar

1 tsp vanilla extract

500g (1 pound) blueberries

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Start recipe a day before. Line a 20cm tart or cake tin with plastic wrap of foil (not baking paper as this will disintegrate when you freeze it). Blend together the walnuts and sultanas, adding the cocoa powder as you go to reach a thick, cookie dough like consistency. You may need to add a teaspoon of water or milk if it’s too crumbly. Press with your fingers into the tart tin, pushing the dough out to make an even layer on the bottom and sides of the tin. Keep in the freezer for at least 4 hours, until ready to fill. 

To make the filling, blend the drained tofu with the melted chocolate until smooth. Sift the cocoa powder well, and blend in, tasting as you go to reach the desired chocolatey flavour. Blend in the agave syrup and vanilla to sweeten, adding more if it’s too bitter. Pour into the tart tin and keep in the fridge for at least an hour before serving. Top with the berries when ready to serve. Lasts well in the fridge for a day or two. 

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Dulce de Leche and Strawberry Chocolate Meringue

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 Don’t say it! I know what you’re thinking. Double cream? Dulce de Leche? MERINGUE?!?!?! What is this unhealthy monstrosity! Well I’ll tell you what it is. It is my friend Sammy’s birthday cake. And if you had heard that hopeful little voice requesting something with chocolate and caramel involved, you would have cracked too! Sometimes I just have to accept that no matter how excited I get about vegan avocado mousse tarts and chocolate fudge orange cupcakes made out of chia and almonds, not everyone feels the same. In the words of one wise friend, not everyone wants that mangy vegan shit. True words. Amen sister.

So this cake was born! Did it fill the criteria? Caramel? Check. In the blessed form of Argentinian boiled condensed milk- Dulce de Leche. (Mmm who is remembering those evil caramel chocolate cookies?) Chocolate? Holy mama. And the chocolate was vegan! So please, I tried. I had so much fun shaving shards off my 2.5 kilogram block! Now that’s a lot of chocolate. I had lots of egg whites languishing in the freezer leftover from a recent vanilla ice cream episode, so meringue was the obvious way to go. The strawberries were a really yummy and colourful addition to what turned out as quite a light and creamy dessert. I made it in just over an hour, including the whole time the meringue was baking and I was dancing aggressively to Celtic rock music. (I have no shame). 

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I don’t actually recommend making it in such a short amount of time because as you can see from the equally delicious and equally horrendous photograph below, cream spreads when warm. It seriously knows no bounds. I was running late for the birthday lunch so I whipped the underdone meringue out of the oven, comforting myself that it would be perfectly chewy and marshmellow-centred because of my lack of baking time. I practically threw it on the floor and poured on a pile of cream and caramel. I like to think it was Jackson Pollock inspired. “Controlled chaos”. Once in the car, it started to ooze and meld together into a pool of creamy caramel and melted chocolate. For some reason, no one eating it complained at all!

Meringues and pavlovas were seriously one of my favourite desserts ever when I was growing up. Number one, they were always served with a practical mountain of fresh berries on top. I was OBSESSED with berries from a very young age. Number two, it looks like a marshmellow cloud, and is covered in cream. Number three, for some reason when people serve meringue, the slices are seriously enormous. And there’s nothing better than a plate of dessert that’s bigger than your plate of dinner was.

You can do lots of things with this super simple meringue base! I used the same ratio that Jamie Oliver uses. You can cover it in cream and whatever you really want. Fresh fruit, chocolate mousse and toffee shards, crush it up with ice cream, berries, yogurt and honey, anything! Go insane. And please forgive me for any mishaps in getting this post up or if I’m slow replying to comments, questions etc. I’m away! And sending lots of love from overseas.
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Caramel, Strawberry and Chocolate Meringue: Adapted from here

1 400ml can (13.5 fluid ounces) condensed milk

5 large egg whites, at room temperature
220g caster sugar

1 300ml (1 + 1/4 cup, 1/3 ounce) double cream
150g (5 ounces) chopped dark chocolate
400g (1 pound, 14 ounces) strawberries or mixed berries
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Put your can of condensed milk in a saucepan and fill half-way with water. Boil gently for 2-3 hours, constantly making sure the water is covering the bottom third of the can. Alternatively, pour it into a baking dish and bake for half an hour until golden and thick.

Preheat the oven to 150C (302F). Lay a sheet of baking paper on a tray. In a stand mixer with a very clean bowl, start whisking your egg whites. Speed up to fast and whisk until the egg whites form stiff peaks (not so stiff they are lumpy! You whisk more later). At this point, slow it down and start pouring in your sugar. Whisk on low to combine and then put it back on fast. Whisk for 5-8 minutes, until the meringue is glossy and thick, and when you rub some in between your fingers there are no sugar granules. Spoon the meringue on to the tray and flatten down with a spatula, leaving room on the edges for expansion. Bake for about an hour, until white but still spongy in the centre.

When the meringue is done, leave it to cool. Whip the cream with a teaspoon of vanilla, if you want. Just until slightly thicker and fluffed. Wash and cut your strawberries, and cut your chocolate in shards. Spoon the cream over the meringue, then smooth over a layer of caramel. Dulce de Leche is thick but try and smooth it by using a knife and spoon to create long strands. Just before serving throw on the berries and chocolate and dig in! Serves 8. Once the toppings are on, try and eat it within the hour.
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Strawberry and Vanilla Bean Jam

Vegan and Gluten free

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 When I tasted this jam I literally stopped dead in my tracks with surprise. It has the fruitiest, sweetest flavoured strawberry taste of any jam I’ve ever tried. And the fragrance of the whole vanilla bean! Mercy. Sorry to be so blunt but I need you to understand! It’s so. Delicious.  

Before yesterday I was so scared of making strawberry jam. It’s like the macaron of the cookie world. Or the croquembouche tower of the donut world. Basically it’s really hard to get right, because there’s barely any natural pectin in strawberries, and barely any acidity. So to get the jam to set is a tall task indeed. But strawberries are so cheap at the moment and strawberry jam is so damn yummy! I really wanted to try. I wasn’t even going to post about it (hence the very unpleasing photography) but it came out tasting so heavenly I couldn’t not share it. 

I relied on my trusty friends pectin and lemon to get this jam to set. Confession time! The first time around it actually didn’t set at all. There’s nothing sadder than bottling eight jars of jam, and realising not one of them has actually turned into real jam at all. 
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But there is a simple solution for all your wobbly jam woes. It’s a little messy, but it’s sure better than starting again! Unlike when I made Sweet Plum Jam, which barely needed any attention at all to do it’s thing, strawberry jam needs lots of love and attention. It needs to come to a “rolling boil” for at least one minute to set. It needs the right amounts of sugar, acid and pectin to set. It needs to simmer at a low enough heat for long enough to set. If you don’t get it to set the first time, don’t worry. I don’t think any person in the world has got it to set the very first time. 

If you find the jam is still runny once jarred, Pour it through a sieve back in to a pot, reserving the chunks in a bowl so that you can keep the texture. Add another half a lemon and teaspoon of pectin to the jam and repeat the boiling and simmering process again. It might not firm up into a perfect jelly consistency like Orange and Cinnamon Marmalade will, but it will be thick and delicious spread on toast anyway. And the flavour won’t be too affected by the small amount of pectin too. If you want you can try using jam sugar, but I’ve never used it so wouldn’t know how well it works. 

I like to eat this jam on toast for breakfast, but it’s also great with greek yogurt or vanilla ice cream. It would make a great base for chocolate mousse pots or even strawberry tarts, or as the filling for a jam scroll. Or you know, you could just eat it from the jar, which is what I just did.  

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Strawberry and Vanilla Jam: inspired/adapted from Poires au Chocolat and Lebovitz’ Ready for Dessert recipes:
1.25 kilograms (2.75 pounds) strawberries, hulled (about 1.5 kilos or 3.3 pounds unhulled)

750g (3 3/4 cups) white sugar + 3-4g (heaped teaspoon) pectin (or jam sugar with added pectin)

1 whole vanilla bean, split with seeds scraped out

1 whole lemon, juiced

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Hull, wash and cut your strawberries into small chunks. Stir in a large pot with the lemon juice and sugar and leave to macerate for at least an hour with the vanilla bean and seeds mixed in. Once juicy, place over a medium-high heat and bring to a high boil. Allow the jam to boil, stirring occasionally, for at least a minute. Place a small plate in the freezer at this point. Reduce heat to a simmer and continue to cook for at first ten minutes, then take a small scoop and put it on your chilled plate. Return to the freezer for two or three minutes. Take it out and run your finger through it. If the jam wrinkles, it’s ready. Repeat this process until you have the right consistency. Pour the hot jam in your sterilised jars and leave to cool. The jam will last up to six months stored this way. 

To sterilise jars: Wash well in the dishwasher or in hot soapy water. Heat the oven to 100C or 212F and place the jars on an oven sheet. Leave the jars to dry out in the oven before bottling. Hold them in a tea towel because they’ll be super hot.IMG_6750

Lemon and Berry Butter Layer Cake

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Eleven years ago, when I was little, me and my family moved suburbs. We changed primary schools to go to the local public school. I really didn’t want to go! I didn’t want to leave all my friends behind. I didn’t want to wear egg yellow shirts and crimson boy shorts, or have our school initials constantly changed to ANUS. But now I realise that move was the best we could have ever made, because it led me to my friend Maddie.

Our families became friends basically straight away, and almost all my childhood memories are interwoven with Maddie’s family. We moved to within a block of each other, bought a puppy in the same week, bought the same car, went to the same high school, went on holidays together and even went to university together. Maddie and her family don’t realise this, but I’m actually involved in an intense lifelong stalking project.

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For her birthday I made her a classic victoria sponge cake, but fruitified. The sponge is infused with lemon zest because she loves lemon. In between the layers is a strawberry and raspberry curd and sliced strawberries as well. And the whole thing is encased in whipped cream, sort of like a giant jam scone.

I know it’s not quite spring yet but it feels so close! Strawberries are super cheap at this time of year and it was actually warm enough not to wear jeans today! This cake has a feeling of spring about it. I think it’s the sugared violets that are actually three years old but I never deemed a cake worthy enough to use them.

The curd for me ended up turning out too thin, I think because I under-cooked it. Don’t worry I’ve adjusted the recipe, but lemme tell you there were some stressful moments trying to build this cake! I ended up thickening it with some icing sugar and ground chia seeds (so yes this is indeed a very healthy cake), and the flavour wasn’t affected. If you like a super sweet cake you might want to add some extra sugar to the curd anyway, depending on how tart your berries are. 

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In other news, the very kind Jessica from Daily Gluttony nominated Sugar and Cinnamon for the Versatile Bloggers Award! I was really excited because I think Jessica’s blog is great, and love reading her recipes and stories. I’m meant to tell everybody seven things about me but my posts are usually full of things about me so I’ll just tell you one little weird thing: I love peanut butter and banana slices on toast. 

I’m not really sure how to nominate my own favourite blogs, but here are some great new blogs that I have read this week, that I think are worthy of a mention: 

Sugary and ButterySinfully SpicyMunchin’ Mel, Tide and Thyme, Half Baked Harvest, Peeps From Abroad, The Baker Chick, Recipes From a Pantry, 350 Sweets, and Cesca

For a longer list of my long-time favourite blogs, check out my library page. Now for the recipe! Feel free to adjust the types of berries you use, and as I said judge the sweetness you think you’ll prefer. You’ll need to start this recipe the day before.  

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Lemon and Berry Butter Cake:
Berry Curd: Adapted from What She’s Having

700g (4 + 1/2 cups) mixed berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, but not blackberries, mulberries or anything too sour)

170g (3/4 cup + 1 tbsp) caster sugar

60ml (4 tbsp) lemon juice

60g (4 tbsp) butter

6 large egg yolks

Cut up all the berries and toss with the lemon juice and sugar. Leave to macerate at least 45 minutes. Blend together and strain into a bowl. It might take some time! Use a spoon to push out the chunks. Pour into a saucepan and bring to a simmer. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs. Pour a ladle of the berry puree in to the eggs to warm them, then return it all to the pan. Add the chopped butter and stir constantly over a medium-low heat until thickened. Strain into a jug and place plastic wrap directly on the surface to stop a skin forming, refrigerate overnight. If the mixture curdles slightly, either strain out the lumps or blend for a few moments to bring it back together. 

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For the sponge: Adapted from Cook wWith Jamie

225 (1 cup) grams butter, softened

225g (1 2/3 cups) self-raising flour, sifted

225g (1 cup + 2 tbsp) caster sugar

4 large eggs

zest of 1-2 lemons

Either: Make two sponges with this recipe and use a knife to cut them in half once cool, or split the recipe in half and make four sponges, washing your two 20cm pans in between. I find it easier to bake the layers separately but it’s up to you. 

Preheat the oven to 170C. Grease and line 2 or 4 20cm sandwich pans. Cream your soft butter and sugar together until pale. Slowly add each egg, beating well in between additions until smooth and creamy. Sift over the flour and use a spatula to fold it in. Split the mix into two and bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden and springy to the touch. Leave to cool, then take out of the pan.

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600ml (2 + 2/3 cups) whipping cream
75g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
250g (1.5 cups) strawberries

Beat the cream in a cold bowl on high until just starting to thicken. Decrease the speed to medium and slowly pour in the sugar. Beat until just thick enough for soft peaks to form.

Assembly:
Cut any domes off the four cake layers. Place one layer on a large plate. Spoon over a thick layer of curd and spread it to one or two centimetres from the edge. Top with sliced strawberries. Repeat with the next two layers. Top with the final layer. To ice, use a large offset spatula to gently spread the cream in waves around the cake. Decorate either with more berries, or sugared violets.
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Berry and Lychee Vanilla Yogurt Cake (gluten and sugar free)

Gluten free and Refined Sugar Free

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Have you ever had a bite of something, and the smell or taste struck a memory really powerfully in your brain that you’d forgotten you’d ever had? This happens to me always in the strangest of reminders. Whenever I smell diesel and marigolds at the same time, my body physically relocates to New Dehli. Suddenly I see hundreds of colourful bodies carrying overflowing baskets of bright orange flowers on their backs, in between moving cars and spindly rickshaws and heavy, docile cows decorated in cloth. The smell of burning oil and fragrant spices and pollution comes back in waves and I’m left blinking, remembering images I’d seen and forgotten years ago when I was just a child.

It happens whenever I smell melted cheese and corn thins. I can hear faintly Ocean Girl playing on TV, and I can smell the earth and coffee scent that perfumed my Dad’s old house. Meaningless memories of my sister and I eating makeshift pizzas using corn crackers as bases and watching re-runs of the Simpsons, come creeping back to me.

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The same thing happened to me when I recently was eating a tub of froyo (don’t judge me! I may be mildly lactose intolerant and I may have limited funds but I will never stop eating froyo on a weekly basis!) and I ate a bite of the lychee topping. Suddenly I remembered the first dessert I ate as a child, tinned lychees with vanilla ice cream. Always with the red spoon. Always on the kitchen floor or under the table. I hadn’t thought of that dessert in years but after that bite I couldn’t get it out of my head. Out of that bite this cake was born.
In the centre, lychees are blended up with natural Greek yogurt and topped with a strawberry, raspberry, maple syrup and vanilla bean paste compote, then frozen until just set. It is so delicious! Like a tropical flavour bomb. Each layer has its own unique texture and there are so many flavours that somehow come together in the most perfect of ways. 

If you can’t tolerate sugar then it might be hard to find lychees that aren’t in sweetened syrup unless you can get fresh ones. The best thing to do would be to probably replace the lychees with something like banana or mango, that is sweet enough fresh by itself.IMG_5739

The topping is probably the best part, with the tangy raspberries softened by the maple syrup and the burst of vanilla paste. I used an entire teaspoon here because I got too excited, but the flavour spreads out over the entire cake so I don’t think I was being too generous.

Although the flavour profile here is a real winner, you could take this cake idea in so many different ways! There were so many different elements of inspiration for me but I will leave a few links to other alternative healthy cheesecakes that I have ogled at in the past few weeks:

For the classic baked lemon cheesecake

For something pretty and girly

For a vegan berry cheesecake 

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Berry and Lychee Vanilla Yogurt Cake: Inspired from here :
Crust:

300g (2 cups) dried organic apricots, soaked (if not organic, replace with dates)

185g (1.5 cups) walnuts

20g (1 tbsp) chia seeds

30g (1 heaped tbsp) desiccated coconut

45g (1/4 cup) cocoa powder

For the middle:

350g (1 + 3/4 cup or 1 tin)seeded lychees (if using tinned, drained)

500g (1 pound) natural Greek yogurt

250g (2 cups) mixed strawberries and raspberries

15 ml (1 tbsp) maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)

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 Soak the dried apricots for at least an hour before continuing. Note that normal dried apricots as opposed to organic are dried with sulphuric acid (the orange ones, not brown) and will be too sour. Replace with dates. In a blender blend all the ingredients for the crust. Line a 20cm pan with baking paper and press in the crust carefully with a spoon in an even base layer. Refrigerate until firm. 

For the middle, blend together the lychees and yogurt until combined. Pour over the chilled base. Refrigerate until slightly firm. Blend together the berries, maple syrup and vanilla and pour over the cake. Freeze overnight before serving. Remove from the freezer about half an hour before you want to eat it. 

To remove from the tin, place the tin in some warm water to loosen the sides before pushing out. Serve with fresh berries! 

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Lemon Berry Poppy Seed Cake (gluten, dairy and sugar free)

Gluten, Sugar and Dairy Free

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When I went to flip over this lemon poppy seed cake this morning, I knew something was wrong as soon as the bundt tin was facing upside down. Me and bundts have quite a long and emotional history. The pattern usually follows that I make a cake, decide a bundt would be fun! Pour it in to the tin, bake it, pull it out, flip it over, flop out hunks of cake all over the bench, swear and throw the bundt tin in the sink. 

But bundts are so pretty! And the word bundt is so fun to say. “What’s that?” Someone asks? That cake-looking object that’s somehow more than a cake could ever be? “It’s a bundt!” Booom. Instant popularity and high status as cake baking master. This is why I persevere with bundts. This morning, after tapping ominously on the tin with a wooden spoon, half the cake very slowly and pathetically detached from the pan and cracked on the plate. At first I didn’t really react. I just said, oh there it is, and walked upstairs. I could hear my mum and cousin whispering over it trying to poke it back together. And then I lost my mind, and told the bundt pan that whatever we had, it was over. 

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 I was going to leave the cake forever and forget about it even though it’s been a whole week since I last posted! But that was until I tried it. As you can probably tell I’m pretty new to gluten and dairy-free baking, especially with full-sized cakes, so when I tasted this cake this morning I was literally wowed by how nice it was. 

The recipe for this came from a blog that’s one of the most helpful, informing and inspiring gluten-free blogs I read, Green Kitchen Stories. You’ve probably heard of it before, and if not get your butt over there and prepare to be wowed. The only changes I made to the recipe was I increased the berries and mixed them up a bit, increased the honey and poppy seeds, and tried olive oil instead of ghee. If you like the sound of a yogurt topping and glaze check out their recipe as well, although the cake is so nice on its own it doesn’t really need it.IMG_5468

 So because of the cracking disaster I didn’t have a whole cake to photograph, only the few pieces I could salvage and cut in to relatively normal slices. I’m sorry! If the photos are a little bit funky blame the bundt! No to be honest I did find it quite hard to make this cake not look like pieces of bleeding brown rocks. Luckily my neighbour is away and therefore doesn’t mind that I stole some of her flowers to make it a little prettier. 

If it isn’t clear by my own failures I wouldn’t recommend using a bundt tin here. I reaaallly buttered my pan, I mean really buttered it. Like it was slicked on, and it still stuck. There just isn’t that much fat in the cake itself so it isn’t really ideal for a tin without baking paper. I think it would make really delicious muffins though, especially if you juice another lemon and reduced it with some honey and glazed them, or even used some marmalade as a glaze like apricot or cumquat. I wanted to make mini cupcakes and put a dollop of strawberry jam in the centre but maybe that’s the worst idea anyone has ever had, and complete sacrilege to lemon poppyseed cake. It’s very sweet and dense, and crunchy on the top. It would taste good with oranges instead of lemons too.

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Lemon Berry Poppy Seed Cake: Adapted from here:

400g (4 cups) almond flour

35g (2 tbsp) poppy seeds 

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp each baking soda and salt

Zest of 1 large lemon or two small ones, unwaxed

Juice of 2 lemons

120 g (1 cup) runny honey

110ml (1/2 cup) olive oil or melted butter

3 eggs

320g (2 cups) mixed berries, frozen or fresh (don’t defrost before adding)

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Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin (or 10-12 muffin tins). Whisk together almond flour, rising agents, salt, poppy seeds and lemon zest. Combine the oil, honey, and lemon juice and mix together. Lightly beat the eggs together. Mix in the wet ingredients to the dry and stir well. Stir in the berries and pour into cake pan. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the top is golden and cracked and the centre is dry when skewered. 

For optional glaze: Juice half a large lemon or 1 small one and mix with a tablespoon or two of honey. Mix well and skewer the cake a few times. Pour over the glaze whilst the cake is still warm and leave to soak in. (This will mean the top won’t be crunchy any more). Cake will last for about 5 days in an airtight container, and serves 8-10 people. 

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Strawberry, Blueberry and Honey Frozen Yogurt

Sugar Free, Low Fat, Gluten Free

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THIS IS THE BEST FROYO I’VE EVER HAAAAAAAAAAAAAD!!!! JEEPERS CREEPERS

These were the words I roared when I ate a bowl of this frozen yogurt for the first time last night. I was literally overwhelmed by its deliciousness. For four days now the weather has been sunny and strawberries have been everywhere. You could almost pretend it’s Spring! It’s the middle of holidays and in typical holiday style I’ve been waking up at eleven, and doing practically nothing until about 6 when I finally get dressed and motivated to face the night and go out. Making frozen yoghurt seemed like a good productive idea yesterday morning when I finally managed to get out of bed. 

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 I forgot when I started that you have to wait for the whole thing to chill though! And then for the ice cream machine to finish churning! Talk about life’s challenges. After dinner when it was finally churned and fresh from the machine I took a bite of this frozen yogurt and the angels sang. It tasted so strongly of berries and fresh honey like no froyo that had ever come before. I think it might be because of the sheer multitude of berries used, or maybe the lack of sugar to distract from the flavours? A good quality yogurt is an important factor as well. IMG_5169

This is a really simple idea. It’s basically just a berry syrup mixed with yoghurt that is frozen in an ice cream machine. There are a few factors that make or break frozen yogurt. It can be very disappointing when expecting to find a smooth, ice cream-like scoop and instead finding a solid block of fruit flavoured ice. First important thing to remember is the water content. The more water in the mix, the harder it will freeze. So with berries and other juicy fruits, don’t cook them in much water. Fruit creates its own moisture so it only needs a splash to stop it sticking from the pot. Cooking it until some of the water is evaporated will create smoother froyo. Second, the yogurt. The lower the fat content, the more water they add. So full fat will be creamier and softer, whilst no fat will be very hard and icy. 2% is a happy medium but now that you’re warned, you can make your own choices. Third, any home made frozen dessert will freeze harder because of the lack of chemicals and softening agents, which is a good thing. Remember to take it out of the fridge 10-30 minutes before you want it. Ice cream in ice cream shops is kept under the glass at a much higher temperature than your average freezer, that’s why it scoops perfectly every time!

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 Berry and Honey Frozen Yogurt:

700g (1.5 pounds, 24.5 ounces) cut up strawberries and blueberries (or raspberries, blackberries, mulberries etc)

2 big tablespoons of runny honey

squeeze of lime juice

900g (2 pounds, 32 ounces) 2% natural or Greek unsweetened yogurt

 Put your berries, lemon or lime juice and honey in a blender and pulse until smooth. Cook over a low heat until soft, about 10 minutes. Use a sieve to strain out the fruit pulp into a bowl and continue to cook the fruit syrup until thick. Skim off any white foam that forms on the top. Allow to cool for about 20 minutes, then stir into the yogurt. Freeze in an ice cream machine according to instructions. Alternatively, put in a tub and freeze for 1 hour. Take out, smash up with a fork and blend until smooth. Freeze for 1 hour and repeat process until the frozen yogurt freezes smoothly. Tastes best half an hour frozen after being churned, with a few extra berries on top. 

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