Vegan & Vegetarian Munching

Beetroot Chocolate Red Velvet Cake

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Now this cake is amazing if I do say myself, and you could probably get away with saying it’s not that bad for you (as cakes go). Instead of refined sugar, there’s honey (or agave syrup), instead of white flour, it’s wholemeal and bulking up around half of the mixture os that juicy red beetroot.

Now, beetroot might put some people off, so my tactic is don’t tell them. My boyfriend loves a cake. Cheese cake, sponge, fruit cake -the lot. So when I told him not only was he going to get a roast lamb with roast potatoes and red wine…he was going to get a chocolate ‘red velvet’ style cake at the end of it, he was a very happy man. The word ‘beetroot’ never left my lips.

It’s also really simple to make. If you’re feeling devilish you can do the full red velvet icing. But, if like me, you’re trying to watch the pounds, there’s a simple chocolate drizzle to finish off.

Ingredients: 150ml Vegetable Oil // 100ml Honey (pure) // 20ml Agave Syrup (if you have no agave, honey will do) // 50g 70%+ Dark Chocolate // 3 large uncooked beetroots, grated // 3 tbsp. Flax seeds ground and mixed with 9 tbsp. water // 200g Wholemeal Flour, Self Raising (or Bulgawheat is a good healthy alternative) // 2tsp Baking powder // 3 tsp Cocoa Powder // 4 tsp Hot Chocolate Powder (Use Cocoa if you don’t want it too sweet) // Large pinch of salt // For the drizzle (option 1): 1 large tbsp Coconut Oil // 20g Dark Chocolate For the Buttercream (option 2): 215 grams Regular Vegan Butter or margarine, refrigerator temperature // 260 grams confectioners sugar 24 mL almond milk // ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract // pinch of salt // 1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Method: When baking, I like to prep all my ingredients first, so I can literally pop together and go. Pre-heat your oven to 180c. To start, pour your oil into your sauce pan and turn the hob onto a really low heat – pick the smallest hob you have. Add your honey and agave syrup, and break your chocolate in and let the ingredients melt together, stiring occasionally. Don’t let the mixture boil, so keep an eye on the heat. Add your grated beetroot, beaten eggs and mix well. Take off the heat.

In a new bowl, combined your flour, baking powder, hot chocolate and salt. Make a well and add your wet mixture. Fold the mixture until everything is well and truly combined. Now if you’re making the simple cake with drizzle, grease a standard cake tin (any shape you have) and pour in the mixture. If you want to go for the full red velvet cake, grease two slightly smaller round cake tin, and divide the mixture between them both.

Pop in the oven for 25-30 mins. Try to resist opening the oven door until the very end, as this can sometimes affect the cake’s rising process. At 25 min, pop a knife through the middle of your ake, and if it comes out clean you’re done. If it’s a little gooey, leave it in for the full 30 mins. Take your cakes out and leave to cool.

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For the drizzle: This is so simple. In a saucepan heat your coconut oil and chocolate on a really low heat until melted. once all the chocolate has melted and the ingredients are combined, take of the heat and pour onto the top op your take. The mixture should be fairly runny and you can use the back of a spoon or spatular to spread the drizzle evenly.

For the buttercream: Make sure your ‘butter’ is soft enough to mix. Place in a bowl and beat – either with a wooden spoon or electric whisk if you have one. Add the confectioners sugar and beat on high for about 3-4 minutes. Add the milk, vanilla extract, salt, almond extract and beat again until the frosting is smooth and slightly fluffy, (another 4 minutes should do it). Use a little of the mixture to sandwich the two cake pieces together and then smother the cake with the remaining mixture. Pop the kettle on, and enjoy!

Where to buy? The cake ingredients are pretty simple to purchase, and beetroots can be found in most groceries and leading supermarkets. For vegan special ingredients, Whole Foods provide many choices. Most leading supermarkets should offer alternatives also.

Lemon Drizzle Cake

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I don’t have a sweet tooth at all. If there was a plate of chocolate or a plate of scotch eggs, I’d go for those little eggs of loveliness. However, one of my best friends is getting married this year, and she’s got a love for all things sweet. Now most girls out there will know, when there’s a wedding, there’s a diet. So the challenge was to bake a cake that was sweet to taste but gentle on the hips.

Tricky but not impossible. I’m not a baker. My mum would disagree. She spent many a year boasting to friends that her special (when I say special i mean ‘special’) daughter could bake cakes. I think I made one cake in 15 years that came out perfect. The other’s would be lopsided, dry in texture or simply inedible. To be fair I was taught by my mum to bake, who is by far the best cook, but when she served my niece her fourth birthday cake it was a different story. The idea was lovely; traditional Victoria sponge with homemade jam. The ultimate cake. However, my mum (women’s institute proud member) had used an old lamb mint sauce jar to preserve her jam in. Yep, the cake tasted like a light and fluffy Sunday roast, but ended with tears from a very unhappy four year old.

So I accepted my friends challenge to create this cake, knowing full well this wasn’t a strength of mine, but seeing it as a challenge worth taking. This recipe was taken using lots of online inspiration, and it is so so simple, and surprisingly tasty. If you like lemons, that is.

Ingredients: 275G Wholemeal Self-raising Flour // 100G caster sugar // 100g Vanilla sugar // 1 tsp Baking Powder // Zest and Juice of 1 Lemon // 100ml Vegetable Oil // 170ml Cold Water // 90G icing sugar // Zest of 1 lime

Method: Place your flour, baking powder, sugar and zest into a bowl and mix well before adding the oil, juice and the water. Try to leave a little lemon juice behind for later. Mix well until everything is combined. Line your baking tin – I used a loaf tin, so use this same if possible. Pour in your mixture and bake for 30 minutes at around 200 C.

Once the cake is done, leave on a cake rack to cool down. Now I had some bottled lemon juice in the fridge which I used to drizzle the cake first. You don’t have to, but if you too have some extra lemon juice then do this next step. While the cake is a little warm, poke the top with a stick – not just a garden stick – try and find a long wooden tooth-pick stick which you use for kebabs, or if you don’t have this then prod with a fork. Drizzle some lemon juice all over the sponge – not too much just a little so that it soaks through the thin inserts you made.

When the cake is completely cool, in a small bowl sieve your icing sugar and then add the remaining lemon juice and keep stirring until the mixture turns gooey. Scoop up the mixture in a tea spoon and drizzle all over the cake – any pattern you wish – go mental.

To finish off I grated the zest of half a lime and then stuck right into it with a cuppa tea.

Where to buy? All ingredients can be bought from pretty much everywhere!

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