Beautiful Restrictions


I was recently invited to attend a wedding celebration for good friends of ours.
Ecstatic, we did the usual most people do to prepare; plan a gift, get a new outfit, a hair do…
but you see I also had the pleasure of being asked to cater.

For the small gathering, I was asked to bring the desserts, only there were a few little catches.
Being vegan was a given, so any baked goods were to be egg and dairy free, but add a few more allergies and the offerings now needed to be gluten and nut-free too.

I am a girl who loves a challenge. And this day was to be all about love, wasn’t it?

I wanted to have a few selections, so I opted for small, and the mother of the groom suggested that it would be great if we didn’t need to cut cakes or fumble with too much extra cutlery. Small and quaint, that was the goal.

With weeks of research in, I gave myself two days to prep and begin baking. Thankfully, I had a Daring Baker deadline looming, and, like always, I figured it would fit into what was going on in my life this month.

Of course, ever since a botched my daughter’s first birthday cake, I’ve always seemed to find gluten-free baking a little daunting.
Since that day, of any research I could muster, I’ve realized that it take a good number of replacement  flours to create a good combination. Different flours do different things. Some are starchier, heavier and most create a much drier batter than you might be used to. Considering this, I thought I’d create a bit of a safety net by combining my little cakes with a touch of fruit.
That and I put together a few recipes, you know, just in case.

CARAMEL APPLE GATEAU TATIN

1/4 Cup White Rice Flour
1/4 Cup Soy Flour
2 Tablespoons Potato Flour
3 Tablespoons Spelt Flour*
2 Tablespoons Cornmeal
3/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 Cup Coconut Oil
1/2 Cup Sugar
2 Tablespoons Ground Flax Seed
1/4 Cup Hot Water
1/3 Cup Soy Milk
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla

5-6 Firm Apples, I used Empire
2 Tablespoons Butter, vegan
1 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Apple Juice

*To go gluten-free, substitute the spelt for 3 Tablespoons of rice flour.

Peel and slice the apples 1/4″ thick.
Melt the butter in a large sauté pan, then shake over the sugar.
Once the sugar has begun to melt and bubble, add the apples in an even layer.
Cook until the apples are tender, then add the apple juice, stirring to incorporate. Coat the apples well before removing from the heat to cool.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Combine the flours. (If not going gluten-free, 3/4 cup of an unbleached AP, may be substituted.)
Add the cornmeal and baking powder and sift together.
Meanwhile, combine the coconut oil and the sugar with a stand or hand mixer until well combined.
Mix the ground flax and the water, then add it and the vanilla to the sugar mixture.
Alternate adding the flours and the soy milk until everything has been added.
Spoon about 3 slices of apples, along with a little “caramel” into a oil sprayed miniature muffin tin.
Next drop the batter, by the tablespoonful, over the apples then bake for 18-20 minutes.
Cool slightly, then gently run a knife around the edges to release the cakes.

If desired, garnish with dried apple chips.
To make, thinly slice one apple with a mandoline. Squeeze over the juice of 1/2 a lemon and a sprinkling of confectioners sugar. Drop onto a parchment or Silpat lined baking sheet and leave in a 200ºF oven for at least 2 hours or until crisp.

Best Vegan Visitor Recipes of 2008


ytd2008

JANUARY

The citrus obsessed that I am decided away with diets and and that pink grapefruits were way underused:
Red Grapefruit Curd Filled Donuts

Every winter likes the cold and every winter I battle it with something extra warm:
Creamless Potato Leek Soup


FEBRUARY

This Chili continued to warm + what would the Superbowl be without it’s tailgate chili?
Superbowl of Chili

And this was just goood:
Cape Gooseberry & Raspberry Clafouti


MARCH

Daring Baker’s sent me the perfect gift. Dorie Greenspan’s recipe for my own birthday cake:
Perfect Party Cake

A March break get-away might have almost gotten me trapped by a snowstorm, but it was Montréal. I was hardly complaining:
Maple Madeleines


APRIL

It’s my daughter’s birthday in April and it just wouldn’t be tradition if she didn’t get her “Favourite Things Dinner”.  She’s six, I’ll give you one guess what her favourite thing is to eat:
Cheeseless Macaroni n’ Cheese

Spring and weeds. If you can’t beat ’em, EAT them:
Warm New Potato & Dandelion Salad

After breaking out the BBQ for the first grill of the season, I discovered one of the best soups ever with the leftovers:
Cedar Smoked Asparagus Soup


MAY

A peanut butter cookie bomb became one of my favourite desserts:
Peanut Butter Caramel Tarts

Mother’s Day brunch wouldn’t be complete without cake. And what better one than this coffee cake developed from my Nana’s own recipe box:
Also Goes Great With Tea Coffee Cake

JUNE

Squeaking it in for the last of the school year. I couldn’t resist buying more snacks for lunches, so I replicated them instead (even though I was made fun of for it):
Chewy Nut-Free Granola Bars

Getting sick of watching countless sandwich crusts go to waste, I came up with a solution. I saved the crusts and made bread pudding. Waste Not:
Chocolate Cherry Bread Pudding
JULY

Summer’s in full swing with heat beaters and last minute evening parties. I took full advantage of the garden’s offerings with these easy recipes:
Rose Infused Strawberry Sorbet
Scape Salsa Verde Potato Salad
AUGUST

This was time consuming, but boy it was good:
Summer Pea Ravioli

The cherries were awesome this year, sweet and almost never ending. When I *almost* became tired of spitting pits, I decided I could finally bake with cherries more instead:
Cherry Streusel Muffins
SEPTEMBER

One of my favourite times of year. You know it, when there are too many tomatoes to eat at once. Never a fan of it as a kid, still I tried my own swing at it and will forever be changing my tune about tomato soup:
Heirloom Tomato Soup

Tree-fruit season YAY:
Gingered Peach Shortbread Bars
OCTOBER
Have I not yet mentioned how much I like autumn and the tree fruit? This was so easy, especially when tearing through a freshly picked bag of apples before our vacation:
Apple Upside-down Cake

Super good, super easy and quick autumn-y gnocchi with one of my most favourite flavour combinations:
Gnocchi with Butternut Squash & Spinach
NOVEMBER

Move over Charlie Brown, I’m the pumpkin patch junky. Never fails, ever November I find myself with, well, enough pumpkins to last me until next Halloween. This year I FINALLY made this:
Maple Pumpkin Butter

Everyone needs a quick go-to recipe to use up those browning bananas, and this one is it for us:
Ultra-Quick Banana Bread
DECEMBER

I took a scoop of that long over due pumpkin butter and added it to my favourite brownie batter. Why didn’t I think of this sooner?:
Pumpkin Swirl Brownies
Honestly one of the best gingerbread men I’ve ever bitten the head off of:
Classic Gingerbread Cookies

Wow. What a year! Wishing you and yours the happiest 2009!

July Daring Bakers — How Could I Resist?


Sometimes I just look over those great recipes and think; no way, no how.
This was one of those months. A cake where the only leavener is a bowlful of pouffy egg whites? How am I going to veganize that? Buttercream? Whipped cream? C’mon – my guests are more than happy with a fruit bowl, right?

But then, when I made the original recipe – and tasted it… It would be just plain cruel if I didn’t, at the very least, attempt something for everyone to eat.

Continue reading July Daring Bakers — How Could I Resist?

Daring Bakers May: L’Opéra Cake


It’s terrible but it’s the truth. I almost didn’t attempt to veganize this month’s Daring Baker Challenge.
Daunting to say the least when a cake has a dozen eggs in it to somehow replace. (…And that’s not including the other two that were in the buttercream recipe.)

After making the original version I had to share. I mean, what’s the point of this site if everyone can’t share good food together?

I halved the recipe (because the other cake was enormous) and started in on my trials. I stuck to the traditional recipe as close as I could without those eggs but having had the other I had a general idea as to what I was after. This cake is very light without too much flavour. It’s a perfect canvas to add your own and it this case we, The Daring Bakers, were able to get creative just as long as we kept it light in colour. Again having the other version I knew what I liked and didn’t so choosing a flavour this time around was pretty easy. In my traditional version, I really wanted to go give it a Taste of Yellow in honour of one great and Daring Baker, Barbara of Winos and Foodies, who hosts the Livestrong event. For that I made an Earl Grey with a lemon buttercream so for this version I wanted to keep the citrus but add some kick with just a little brandy syrup, and boy did my little cake sing.

L’OPÉRA CAKE

JACONDE

1 Cup Ground Almonds
1/4 Cup Confectioners Sugar
1/2 Cup Cake Flour
1 1/4 Cups Soy Milk
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 Tablespoon Vinegar

Preheat oven to 400ºF.
Line a 5 x 8 inch loaf pan with parchment then lightly spray with oil.
Add the dry ingredients together into a large bowl.
Combine the soy milk and the vinegar, then add to the dry.
Mix vigorously with a fork.
Once combined, consistency will be similar to a pancake batter.
Pour about 1/2 cup of batter into the prepared pan to cover the bottom to the edges.
Bake for 5 – 7 minutes or until the top appears golden, begins to dry and the edges come away from the sides.
Loosen edges with a knife, if necessary and top with an additional sheet of parchment or waxed paper.
Flip pan to remove the cake, cooling on a rack to room temperature.
Reline the pan and repeat with the remainder of the batter, baking three cakes.

COGNAC SYRUP

4 Tablespoons Sugar
1/3 Cup Water
1-2 Tablespoons Cognac

Add everything to a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.
(May be made in advance and kept covered in the fridge for up to a week.

ORANGE “BUTTERCREAM” ICING

2 1/2 Cups Confectioners Sugar, sifted
1/2 Cup Earth’s Balance Margarine, room temperature
Juice and zest of one large orange
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla

In the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, combine half of the sugar with the margarine.
Add the orange zest and juice and mix on a medium-high setting.
Add the remainder of the sugar, half a cup at a time.
Once it has come together, then add the vanilla to incorporate.
Continue to up the volume with a higher speed until light and creamy.

ASSEMBLY

(Note: The finished cake should be served slightly chilled. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 day).

Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.

Place one cake layer on the baking sheet and moisten it gently with the flavoured syrup.

Spread about one-third of the buttercream over this layer.

Top with the second layer of cake and moisten again with the flavoured syrup.

Spread another third of the buttercream on the cake and then top with the third layer of joconde. Use the remaining syrup to wet the joconde. Spread the remaining buttercream on top of the final layer of joconde and then refrigerate until very firm (at least half an hour).

At this point a glaze of white chocolate may be made. I omitted this tradition but for a vegan white chocolate try this one from Bittersweet. Melt 7 oz of the chocolate with 1/4 cup of soy milk. Once it has cooled, pour/spread it over the top of the chilled cake. Refrigerate the cake again to set the glaze.

Trim the edges 1/2″ to reveal the layers.
Garnish with additional orange zest, candied or not, if desired.

Daring Bakers – Vegan Cheesecake Pops


Twice busted. I’d been holding off making this month’s cheesecake pops due to birthday celebration purposes…

It’s my son’s turn at a birthday this week, so I thought that these would be just perfect, since the family will be en route for is Favourite Things Dinner. As part of his request the dessert had to be chocolate… with candy (no strawberries, like his sister likes).

To make a long story shorter, I would call this month’s attempt at veganizing the Daring Bakers challenge a fantastic disaster. The result was not exactly cheesy or cakey, but look forward to the results as the weather warms a little more

As for the actual challenge, I do indeed complete them twice, so you can find the original recipe over on my Food + Photography blog.

March Daring Bakers – Perfect Vegan Party Cake


There’s something wonderful about the Daring Baker group that I’d recently joined.
Well, a few things actually. For starters, it’s a great community of super talented baker/bloggers. With currently over 600 members, it’s a fabulous place to have a question about baking. It’s also great to discover all these new and wonderful recipes, getting me to completely read a recipe over like a little school girl.

I was delighted to have cake as the challenge for this month (it’s my birthday month). Of course, Morven of Food Art and Random Thoughts did not choose just any cake. This one is perfect, Dorie Greenspan’s Perfect Party Cake.

I left the challenge to the end of the month for one reason and naturally opted to bake my own birthday cake this year. With a small houseful of friends and family, I decided to bake two versions. When I joined the Bakers, I’d sworn to stick to the rules, which means sticking to the original recipes, so I’ve posted the true version over on my Food+Photography blog.

However, for you and my vegan house guests, I baked up this version. Although intimidated by the pillowy bowls of whipped egg whites, I tried my darnedest to stick to the essence of the original. Only lacking the meringue buttercream, side by side, this version got fairly close to the original – and if I dare to say it: A Practically Perfect <birthday> Cake. Yum.

VEGAN LEMONY WHITE PARTY CAKE

2 1/4 Cups Cake & Pastry Flour
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 1/2 Cups Granulated Sugar
3/4 Cup Margarine or Butter
Zest of One Large Lemon, about 1 Tablespoon
1 3/4 Cups Soy Milk, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon Pure Lemon Extract
1 Tablespoon Vinegar

Measure and leave the soy milk to come to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Prepare two 9″ round or 8″ square pans by lining the bottom with fitted parchment or wax paper, lightly spraying then dusting with flour.
Sift the flour, baking powder, soda and set aside.
Rub the lemon zest with the sugar until evenly distributed and fragrant.
If using a stand mixer, use the whisk attachment and cream the margarine with the zested sugar until well blended; about 3 minutes.
Add the lemon extract and combine along with 1/3 of the flour mixture.
With the motor running, add half of the soy milk, followed by another 1/3 of the flour.
Once the flour has absorbed add the remaining soy milk and mix well.
Add the vinegar and the last of the flour, beating until smooth.
Halve the batter and pour into prepared pans.
Bake for 30 minutes. Check with a cake tester or a toothpick for doneness.
Cool slightly then invert onto a rack to cool completely before icing.

CREAMY LEMON ICING

2 Cups Confectioners Sugar, sifted
3 Tablespoons Margarine
3 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1 teaspoon Vanilla

In the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, combine the sugar with the margarine and lemon juice.
Once it has come together, then add the vanilla to incorporate.
Continue to blend on med-high speed until light and creamy.

Putting It All Together

You will need, 1 jar of the preserve of your choice, I went with strawberry for this one, gently heated and strained to remove seeds.

Line the edge of your cake plate with strips of wax or parchment paper.
With a long serrated knife, slice the the cakes through the middle horizontally and lay one layer in the center of your cake plate over the waxed paper.
Using either a pastry brush or a butter knife, evenly spread 1/3 of the jam over the top of the sliced cake, carefully toward the edge.
Top with another layer and repeat with another 1/3 of the jam.
Add another layer and finish with the remaining jam and last cake layer.
Dollop the prepared icing in the center of the top of the cake and using a spatula, evenly spread the icing over the top and sides of the cake.
Decorate to your liking with fresh berries, candied lemon peel or sugared pansies.