Chocolate, Blueberry and Banana Ice Cream Cake (raw and vegan!)

Raw, Vegan, Refined Sugar Free, Gluten Free
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I’ve been eating ice cream cake and listening to this song on repeat all morning. Faded pajama pants, woolly socks, green tea and Thelma and Louise – one of those kind of mornings. It’s a beautiful day outside too. I can see the sunlight literally pouring through my window, catching the dust. I know I should go outside and do something productive, but it’s just one of those days.

One of those ice cream cake and woolly sock days.
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I’m one of those people that likes to be active literally all the time. I like to fill my days with work and nights with fun and fall into bed exhausted at the end of the week, drifting to sleep instantly.

I like to ignore the parts of life that are not so pleasant by distracting myself; by filling my life with “things.”

A few weeks ago something ended with a special someone, and instead of crying with Adele playing and eating ice cream by myself for a week, I just shoved my heart deep down inside and got on with life – more than that, poured myself in to each day so that was barely time to pause and think.
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As a tactic it actually did work quite well, for a while. Until I had one of those woolly sock days. And now I guess I feel a little…lost. Not sad, no. No regrets or anger. Just a little disconnected, drifting. So I’m eating ice cream cake. And listening to Bon Iver. And watching Thelma and Louise, which I personally think is possibly the best movie ever.

I think we all forget that sometimes, you need to eat ice cream and watch movies. It’s good for spiritual health, and for discovering which of your socks are the warmest and which are sneakily not very warm. This ice cream cake is so good, I keep squirrelling away slices to eat at every hour of the day and night. I couldn’t get a complete photo of it because I ate a slice in the middle of the night before it was even frozen!

The bottom is a rich and creamy avocado chocolate cinnamon ice cream, followed by a blueberry and coconut cream layer, followed by vanilla flecked banana. Soooo good! And you can sub in cashew cream for the coconut to make it completely raw and vegan! You can have your cake and eat the whole thing too 🙂

One Year Ago: Black Bean Avocado Fudge Brownies

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Chocolate, Blueberry and Banana Ice Cream Cake:
2 perfectly ripe avocados
4 tbsp raw cacao
4 tbsp maple syrup or soaked dates
2 tbsp almond milk
1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 cup either coconut yogurt, cream or cashew cream
2 tbsp maple syrup

2 frozen bananas
1-2 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 tbsp almond milk

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Line a 20cm cake tin with baking paper, to make it easier to remove later. Blend together well the avocado, syrup or dates and almond milk. Blend in the cinnamon and spoon in to the ice cream tin. Smooth the surface and freeze for at least 20 minutes before pouring on the next layer.

Blend together the blueberries, coconut or cashew cream and maple syrup. Pour over the avocado chocolate layer and freeze for at least two hours.

Blend together the frozen bananas, milk and vanilla until creamy. Pour over the blueberry layer and freeze the whole cake for at least 4 hours before cutting and serving. Serves 8-10.
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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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Fluffy Banana and Blueberry Pancakes

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This morning, there was pancake. Glorious, crispy, banana and berry filled pancakes smothered in maple syrup. But first there was failure. I woke up with a brilliant idea of making coconut and banana pancakes filled with desiccated coconut and drizzled with honey. As I was stirring in the coconut the doubt began to descend. ‘Why so lumpy’? I pondered to myself. ‘Hmmm’ I muttered. ‘There seems to be water in this batter’. I should have stopped there, but I persevered and got out the frying pan. ‘Strange… every pancake was sticking to the pan’? That’s how the episode began. It ended with me pointing to a ruined frying pan in the sink filled with burnt pancake and shouting ‘YOU F***ING BETRAYED ME’. Needless to say the first pancakes did not turn out well. 

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Instead of giving in, I thought no. This is not the day that the pancake wins. So I pulled out trusty Nigella Lawson’s pancake recipe from How to Eat and adjusted her recipe, knowing it would lead me safely down the pancake path. I lowered the amount of milk and added a mashed banana but otherwise the recipe is the same. These aren’t anything fancy pancy. There isn’t any coconut (don’t try it! I think that’s what made them stick!) or buttermilk or Turkish yogurt or whole wheat. But they are still delicious. They are fluffy, and very fast to make. If you please you can chill them for an hour before making them but I never do, and they work out fine.

What to watch is the heat of the stove, it should be medium. The melted butter, there should be minimum froth in the pan if you don’t want uneven edges. And the berries- don’t add them until you’ve already poured the batter in. I use the same ladle filled to the brim for every scoop so that all the pancakes are even, but you don’t have to be as particular as all that. 

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Making these pancakes today and having a kitchen failure made me realise how long it had been since I’d completely stuffed up a recipe. Haunting memories of the chocolate cake that had no oil, and could be folded in half like a rubber tire, floated to mind. Or chocolate roulade that ended up a pile of melted chocolate cream and broken shards of crispy pancake sponge. In the end though it was always good to make those failures because I’d still tried something new, and learnt from my failures.

These pancakes today were born out of pancake failure. And they’re great. So you should make them too. 

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Fluffy Banana and Blueberry Pancakes: Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Pancake Recipe

1 banana, mashed, plus more for topping

1 egg

200ml (1 cup) milk

30g (2 tbsp) butter, melted

1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

125g (1 cup) plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

100g (1/2 cup) fresh or frozen whole blueberries

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 Sift your flour and baking powder into a large bowl. In a separate bowl mash your banana well. Crack egg into the flour and mix until just combined. Stir in the mashed banana. Slowly mix in the milk until the pancakes are pourable but still thick. Pour in the melted butter and stir in. 

Heat your frying pan on medium and melt a small pat of butter. Take a level scoop of batter and pour into the pan. Place 6-7 blueberries on the top of the pancake whilst it cooks. Once tiny bubbles form across the top, use a spatula to flip the pancake over. After another 30 seconds or so flip it on to a plate and repeat with the next process. If you are a slow pancake maker, or are making a lot, preheat the oven to 100C and place a plate of the pancakes in the oven to keep them warm. Serve with maple syrup and more sliced banana immediately. 

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Banana Layer Cake with Maple Icing

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Sometimes I wonder why I was born quite so technologically challenged. Do you know what I just did? Just one minute ago? I deleted this entire post. Not just a photo, not a paragraph, the whole thing. So lets try again! 

Welcome to the Banana Birthday Layer Cake extravaganza that was created for my friend Evie. She loves bananas and pancakes, and especially banana pancakes with maple syrup. So I knew she’d love the flavours in this cake! I didn’t quite expect her to eat five slices in one day though…but each to their own.

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 So basically you are looking at the most beautiful banana birthday cake I’ve ever created. You are also looking at the only banana birthday cake I’ve ever created (shh). It is the softest, stickiest banana cake and the icing is amazing! I could eat it out of the bowl. The cake recipe is one I borrowed from Pastry Affair, and her chocolate glaze looks phenomenal! The icing however is the same as I used for my apple cupcakes, but this time with maple syrup instead of honey. In the middle fresh banana is sliced up to make it the most bananery cake in the land. The combination of maple syrup, banana and and cream cheese is such a winner!

I’ve mentioned how amazing the cake recipes from Ottolenghi (where I got the icing) are before, but if you didn’t get the message! It’s a super book with lots of great seasonal and fresh recipes.
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This is my second ever layer cake attempt. This time I just stuck to two layers, and it was truly the easiest cake I’ve made in ages. The only challenge I had was trying to make it not resemble a sad caramel coloured rock on a plate, but I am not the greatest cake decorator in the world by any means. IMG_4697

Make this cake for a birthday girl or boy who doesn’t like super sweet, super ridiculous traditional cakes. Make it for all the banana lovers out there. Make it for me if you can’t think of a better reason. IMG_4700

 Banana Maple Birthday Layer Cake adapted from here and icing from here.

Ingredients: 4 bananas blended until smooth, plus one extra for slicing in the middle

310 grams (3.5 cups + 1 tbsp) plain flour sifted with 1 tbsp baking powder

100 grams (1/2 cup) white sugar mixed with 165 grams (1 +1/5 cups) brown sugar

110 grams (1/2 cup) butter, softened

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

120 ml (1/2 cup) buttermilk 

Preheat the oven to 170C and grease and line two 8 inch or 20cm sandwich pans. Beat together sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Slowly incorporate the eggs and vanilla, one at a time. Stir in the banana puree and the buttermilk. With a spatula, fold in gently the sifted flour and baking powder. Pour batter evenly into pans and bake for 25 minutes, until the tops are golden and a skewer inserted comes out clean. IMG_4710

For the icing beat one 100 grams (1/2 cup) of butter with 100 grams (3/4 cup) of brown sugar and 100ml (1/2 cup) of maple syrup. Once smooth beat in 250 grams (1 packet or 1/2 pound) of cream cheese (or close if the packet is slightly different) until light and fluffy. 

Place one cake layer on a wide, flat plate. Smooth some icing with a knife over the bottom. Thinly slice the banana over the icing in an even layer. Place the other half of cake on top. Using a pallet knife, smoothly spread over the icing in swift, circular strokes, working down the sides of the cake evenly. Decorate with optional walnuts. Serves around 10. IMG_4703