Pursuing natural health & thinking beyond the superficial. Deconstructing Culture.

Posts tagged ‘Baking’


Pizza Mania – This time a double!

Yesterday I wrote a pizza post which I enjoyed thoroughly and for your viewing pleasure today is another!

– Two wholemeal bread wraps,
– Tomatoes and Avocado,
– Green beans,
– Broccoli,
– Lady fingers,
– Green bell pepper,
– Red onion
– Green Chillies,

Vegetable Vegan Pizza Healthy

– Turmeric powder
– Garlic powder
– Ginger powder
– Himalayan Salt
– Poppyseed Oil

Vegetable Vegan Pizza Healthy

– Three types of vegan cheese (these are solid cheeses but you can also use cream cheeses or after cooking add yeast flakes instead)
– Coriander

Vegetable Vegan Pizza Healthy

End product! Finis!

Vegetable Vegan Pizza Healthy

The ‘cheese’ is so addictive!

This tasted absolutely amazing, far better than any shop pizza I’ve ever tasted! ๐Ÿ˜€


Pizza with pizzazz!

Here’s another one of my perfect Mum’s perfect creations: vegan pizza!

We’ve been pitta pizzas for ages in all sorts of combinations but for some reason hadn’t in a while until…

Homemade Pizza, Vegan, Vegan Friendly, Vegetables

Note that there’s no need for cheese, vegan or otherwise. The mango was for dessert.

– Large round pitta bread, two wraps or homemade version flatbread.
– Tomato passata is best but tinned tomato or fresh tomatoes work just as well for the base (Mum doesn’t always use a base because of the spice and oil on top of everything which sinks through in the cooking).
– Fried aubergines (fried them separately, aubergine skin has a lot of oil in it so we don’t usually add any for that, just keep the temperature low enough to fry gently.)
– Bell pepper; Green, Red, Orange or Yellow
– Mushrooms
– Red onion
– Turmeric
– Fresh garlic
– Fresh ginger
– Papaya seeds
– Chilli
– Olive oil drizzled over the top
– Fresh coriander and dill after cooking as seasoning (and massive health benefits obviously ๐Ÿ™‚ )

Once you’ve got everything you want on there that needs cooking place in the grill on high for approx 10-15 minutes. If you’re using an oven you’ll have to experiment.

Tips: We’ve made many variations over the years from simple homemade baked beans (cannelleni beans in tomato sauce, paprika, rock salt and unrefined sugar) and pineapple with cayenne pepper or chilli sauce to more traditional like the one above to my more interesting concoctions e.g. green lentils as a base, almost any other savoury toppings including sprouted beans and vegan mozzarella.

Vegan pizza is great (just make sure your bread is vegan friendly e.g. no tartaric acid or cream of tartar – very common ingredients, and gluten free for those that need it) and so addictive without all the additives! Have a go and have fun!


Apple and Pear Crumble – Yum!

Today is Worldwide Chocolate Minty Day but hey we just have to be different ๐Ÿ˜‰

This cake is a variation of a recipe Mum and I came up with HERE

However this time we weren’t foraging (not the right time of year) and we had to finish the fruit we had quickly!
So I came up with the idea of an apple and pear crumble instead of simply apple.

I doubled and altered our old recipe (it was made slightly piquant on purpose last time but I gave the traditional recipe in the aforementioned post as well):

16 ounces (1 heaped tbs x16) of flour (we used plain White, can’t remember last time)
1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
8 ounces of muscovado sugar
8 ounces of dairy free butter

Fruit layer(s):
Enough apples and pears to fill 1/3 or 1/4 in height of the baking dish
Nut milk (enough to reach the top of the fruit)

apple pear fruit crumble cake recipe vegan

Cooking Steps

1. Wash, chop/dice your fruit and place in baking tray.

apple pear fruit crumble cake recipe vegan

2. Preheat oven to gas mark 4 or 180ยฐC/350ยฐF.

3. Add the dairy free milk of your choice upto half the level of fruit (I ADDED TOO MUCH UNFORTUNATELY THIS TIME and had to turn the oven off 10min early to allow it to cool because the liquid was boiling). We add milk (or filtered water) to the fruit specifically to make it more creamy and less gooey (good if you’re lacking cream/custard to serve it with) but you don’t have to.

4. Add the 2 ounces of sugar to the fruit in the baking tray and mix in gently. Or sprinkle over each layer of fruit if you’ve decided not to mix e.g. one layer of apples, one of pears etc.

5. Mix the all the crumble ingredients together in a larger than necessary bowl/dish; it needs space to dry and spread as youโ€™re mixing it otherwise it will stick together too much and not cover enough of the fruit. Once crumbly leave and allow to breathe. Mix either using a fork or with your fingertips โ€“ which is called โ€˜rubbingโ€™. Or Mum’s new method – using a table knife just keep slicing through, it’s very easy and makes a nice consistent texture.

6. Very gently spread the crumble over the fruit (don’t squash it) and then place the baking tray either low or middle height in the oven; for 45min until Browned.

apple pear fruit crumble cake recipe vegan

apple pear fruit crumble cake recipe vegan

7. Voila! They way you serve it is up to you ๐Ÿ™‚

apple pear fruit crumble cake recipe vegan

apple pear fruit crumble cake recipe vegan


Sunday Baking – Rustic Raisin Bread (V) (Ve)

โ€œThere are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.โ€
โ€• Mahatma Gandhi

I personally believe that to be true, though I would add ‘and/or soup’ to the equation. There are very many whose daily toil only really leaves them homemade bread and/or soup (especially when flour isn’t available – can at least make soup out of carpet plants ‘weeds’ and drink clay water) as a physical channel with which they feel any kind of hope, contentment or ability to continue.

I know that mum and I have always made a lot of bread when running low on food or we’ve had the same thing for a long time. We usually make one of the many types of flatbread until the next lot of groceries meet our path but this time we decided that we missed loaves of bread, the type with a crust. It’s also through cooking that I found a way to consistently physically/personally/directly show my consideration and do my best to clear my mind of anything I wouldn’t want to go in to the food.



Everyone has their own ways of making bread and I mean bread that has a crust and is fluffy/light on the inside rather than cake loaves. Vegans have to experiment more with gums/binders/thickeners (xanthan, guar, agar) or flour mixes that don’t need gums. For those with a decent budget, health necessities like gluten free folk or people with allergies to gm soy/dairy/corn xanthan and to a lesser extent guar aren’t great due to their origins/processing or raw foodists (non baked breads) there’s alternatives like psyllium husks, chia and flax seed. Sometimes it just comes down to what you have in your kitchen, I’ve yet to try apple cider vinegar in bread but I’ll get to it ๐Ÿ™‚

The below recipe will make one loaf, but I doubled it and made two ๐Ÿ™‚


1 Cup plain white (unbleached) flour.
1 Cup wholewheat flour.
1 Cup multi-grain/seed flour.
1/2 cup water or soya/nut milk.
1/2 Cup oil of your choice (I used sunflower but would have liked a nut oil).
2 tbs Unrefined Brown sugar.
2 tsb Guar gum.
1 tsp Bicarbonate soda mixed with 2 tbs water (I didn’t have any for cooking so used Himalayan salt – which meant it didn’t come out as fluffy as I would have liked).
Yeast = 2 tsb active dry vegan yeast, 3 tbs water, 1/2 tsb Brown sugar .
Dried fruit (however much you want really) e.g. raisins, currants, sultanas.


1) Heat 6 tsbs of water, warm-hot not boiling.

2) Put the 2 tsp yeast and 1/2 tsb sugar in a glass or bowl, put the 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda in another glass/bowl. When the water is ready add 3 tbs of it to the yeast/sugar and 2 tbs to the bicarb. Leave the yeast/sugar for upto 15min to melt. The bicarb should dissolve much faster but it’s ok to leave it until you need it.

3) Put the 3 cups of flour, 2 tbs sugar and 2 tsp guar gum in a mixing bowl – and stir until everything is spread evenly (no need to be too enthusiastic with the stirring ๐Ÿ™‚ ). Remember once you add anything with liquid the guar gum will activate so I always add it with the dry ingredients and get it mixed in first.


Can’t see all of the ingredients in here as some got buried.

4) Add the bicarbonate of soda and mix – again don’t over-stir, since you’ve already dissolved the bicarb it should mix in ok without any ‘salty bits’ once baked. Just mix until you think it’s spread through enough.

5) Add the yeast to the mix and add/pour in a little of the water/milk you have aside, a little as you go along, you may or may not need all of it. Knead as much as possible until you get a dough. It’s ok for the dough to be abit sticky.

6) Leave the dough lump/unshaped for approx 45min – 1 hour.


7) Oil/Grease your baking tin/dish/tray with some of the oil you have.

8) Re-knead the flour with the rest of the oil and the dried fruits. Shape the dough to your preference, make some air holes/lines across it (generally 1/4 down the depth, not more than a 1/3) and leave for another half hour.


Use a more suitably shaped tin/dish, I had to just go with what I had but putting it on foil on the oven tray would have been better. It’s unlikely to fill out properly in a dish that is different to the shape of the bread.


This dish wasn’t right either, both the dough and dish are round but the curve of the dish is smaller than the width of the bread so it couldn’t grow properly.

9) Before your dough is finished its second fermentation, pre-heat your oven to 220C/425F/Gas Mark 7.

10) Put the bread in the upper part of the oven for 45min.

11) Remove from oven and from its tin/dish and gently put the bread on a rack/cool tray.




12) Tastes great freshly baked with vegan butter, or peanut butter with a layer of humous/hummus and cayenne pepper ๐Ÿ˜€ (Or you know, any topping of your choice ๐Ÿ˜‰ ).




Yummy, scrummy, nummy *tried not to eat them too fast and to chew properly*

Victorian Tip of the Day 4: Homemade Yeast for Baking

Making, Increasing and Keeping Yeast

It may be made by putting a teacupful of split peas into a basin and pouring a pint of boiling water over them.ย  A cloth is then put over the basin, and it is set near the fire to keep warm. In about twelve hours it will begin to ferment, and a kind of scum will rise, which may be used as yeast. This is called Turkish yeast; but a better method is practised by Americans, which is as follows:- Take as much hops as may be held between the thumb and finger, put them with a few slices of apple into a quart of water, and boil the whole for about fifteen minutes or twenty minutes. Then strain the liquid, and when it is lukewarm stir in a little flour with three or four table-spoonfuls of treacle so as to make a thin paste; then set the whole in a warm place, and in a few hours the fermentation will be sufficiently strong to allow enough flour and water to be added to make a proper sponge for bread.

If you have a small quantity of yeast it may be increased in the following manner:- Take one pound of fine flour, and mix it in to the thickness of gruel with boiling water, add half a pound of brown sugar, mixing the whole well together. Then put three tablespoonfuls of yeast into a large vessel, and pour the mixture upon it. It will ferment violently, and the scum which rises to the top will be good yeast, which may be used immediately, or may be preserved for some time in an earthenware vessel covered closely from the air, and kept in a warm dry place.

To keep home-brewed yeast it should be put into a large pan and have three times the quantity of water poured upon it, being well stirred up and then left to settle. The next day the water is to be poured off, and fresh put on, and in this manner it is said that yeast may keep for six weeks. All yeast is best purified before it is used; that is, the yeast should be put into a vessel, and, cold spring water being poured upon it, they should be stirred together and then left to settle. The water is afterwards poured off, and the yeast taken our carefully, leaving the brown sediment at the bottom.

Mrs London, The Ladyโ€™s Country Companion, 1845

The Turkish yeast is less labour intensive but the hops one is closer to what we’re used to and the tip for thickening it is very helpful. As for keeping it, finding clean/non-treated spring water can be a mission but purified water should do. It might sound like a lot of work but when it comes down to it, it’s fermentation – like making sauerkraut, kimchi or brewing.


Scottish Style Vegan Shortbread from a Perfectionist who isn’t Scottish

Mum loves shortbread, seriously. Other than mince pies she could eat shortbread everyday. In fact now that I know I can make it I should endeavour to make a shortbread trifle or cheesecake for her. I’m not so much a fan, there’s nothing not to like but I know it’s better to eat a couple and leave the rest to her…

Shortbread is a delicacy, Scottish shortbread was very hard to duplicate in my opinion because the delicate balance of light, fluffy texture with a semi-flaky outer and crumbly inner and balancing that with enough sweetness and butteriness and the melt in the mouth effect. We’ve tasted many brands over the years, vegan and non-vegan and that authentic Scottish style is hard to come by with many brands falling ‘short’ in some way usually sacrificing one characteristic for another e.g. too hard, dry, not sweet enough, not buttery enough, not crumbly enough, doesn’t melt in the mouth etc. The sad thing is on the occasions we found a brand that we liked they’d discontinue the product! So finally, with some trepidation we decided to make our own!

Remember that shortbread is a firm biscuit not a cake or soft biscuit ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s traditionally made from one part white sugar, two parts butter and three parts flour (so have a scale handy because one cup of butter doesn’t weigh the same as a cup of sugar or flour). It’s supposed to be sweet and buttery so not one for dieters.

I’ve seen a lot of recipes and read a lot of ingredients lists on packets and barely any of them seem to satisfy me because through comparing my memories of the taste I suspected that part of the ‘secret’ of shortbread is in using many types of flour (approx 4-5 types, all purpose could work though White or Brown by itself wouldn’t be enough and wholemeal by itself would be too coarse) and in the method of preparation before cooking. This isn’t like regular cookies and biscuits, blending the dry ingredients and adding the wet or mixing all together won’t get the original taste or texture. Also cooking straight away won’t get the gradiented crumbly texture. The difference/reaction between cold and hot temperatures is needed here too imo.


1 cup dairy-free ‘butter’/’margarine’
1/2 cup unrefined sugar & caster if desired
1 1/2 cups of flour
A little of the butter to lightly coat/grease the mould/baking tray

Remember there are many different types of flour:
White, Whole wheat, Rye, Spelt, Corn, Oat, Rice, Brown Rice, Chickpea/Gram/Besan, Barley, Coconut, Potato, Tapioca, Soya, Sorghum, Einkorn, Millet, Maize, Almond, Atta (good for Indian baking), Soda, Buckwheat, Hemp, Quinoa, Sesame, Khorason/Kamut (delicious Iranian flour), garbanzo bean, fava bean etc.
All have different characteristics, some are gluten free and some work best in different cooking/dishes but many go well together. I used a mix of Whole wheat, Rice, Malted Barley and Corn flour. I had wanted to add soya too but I hadn’t gotten round to drying out the okara or the thick bit leftover from soy milk making yet and that takes a while.

Notes on the sugar: typically White sugar is used but I prefer:
1st choice Golden sugar & Golden caster for coating,
2nd choice demerara,
3rd choice light muscovado.
I picked these because a) they are healthier b) they are light in colour c) Golden sugar over the other two as it’s sweeter.
I haven’t listed regaular/dark muscovado or molasses because a) dark in colour b) muscovado isn’t that sweet but I listed the light one as an absolute backup and c) molasses might melt too easily rather than add to the crumbly texture.

Note on salt: IF you’re going to use salt for cooking purposes try sea salt over rock or Himalayan as you’ll only need the tiniest amount (a sprinkle – much less than a teaspoon) and Himalayan is very strong in taste. I wouldn’t recommend bicarbonate of soda due to the rising effect. Remember not to use a coarse version.


1. Blend butter til creamy with a hand mixer or whisk as it will come out better than using a spoon/fork but a spoon is fine.

The 'olive spread' is an alternative butter, the olive is very subtle so it tastes like normal butter too. I didn't have any sunflower or soya.

The ‘olive spread’ is an alternative butter, the olive is very subtle so it tastes like normal butter too. I didn’t have any sunflower or soya.

2. Add sugar – blend in fully.

3. Gently stir in flour – pour in whilst stirring to from the ‘dough’, it’s not really a dough as it’s so buttery but remember keep stirring, when you think it’s done keep stirring, if you think you’re arm’s going to fall off keep stirring (joking of course). The air needs to get in throughought.

4. Leave to settle and cool in fridge for 20min.

5. Coat the baking tray lightly with butter or oil.

6. Preheat oven to 170C / 325F / Gas Mark 3

7. This ‘dough’ is not for rolling. Either use a mould (which is better) or scoop out little balls (I whirled the shape with a spoon and knife for a rose-like shape but if I make them again I’d probably flatten them more) approx 1/2 inch thick – most shortbread I’ve seen is quite thick.


8. Bake for 20min or just until it looks ‘cooked’ but not too Gold or Brown (remember shortbread is pale)


9. Leave to cool on a rack – the longer you leave it the firmer they will be e.g. 20-25min. (Caster sugar can be added to the top whilst they cool.)


Unfortunately I don’t have any pretty presentational photos of the end result, I had a nice plate ready and a well lit spot for them but when I came back after having waited for them to cool I’d found them all eaten bar two (how kind of them to leave me some…) I was gobsmacked, slightly pissed but mostly very happy because after I gave one as an offering to the fire (cooker) and the animals outside I ate the other for tasting sake and!!! I did it! Now I’m rarely proud of myself, but I bloody did it! One of life’s cooking mysteries that has eluded so many and I damned well bloody did it in one try Ha HA! Making authentic tasting shortbread is an achievement! Ok that’s enough of that but even mum was approving of the result and she was ready not to be beforehand… She said she could have eaten the whole lot. These were sweet, buttery, crumbly and melty with the textured yet soft coarseness throughout and slightly flaky on top even I wanted more and I usually am able to say no after a couple maximum.

Guid eenin!


Breakfast Treat – Rock Cakes! (Dairy Free)

Morning all and early *but very quiet* mornings to the sleepy heads still in bed!

Mum has been talking about rock cakes for a while now, which obviously meant she wanted some lol. However with the extra chilly onset of Winter our diet kind of slipped… but we’ve had a fair bit of sugar lately so I’ve been holding back. This morning called for a treat and boost though so we decided to make them!


2 cups plain flour (we got a sample of organic stoneground wholemeal)
1 flat tsp bicarbonate of soda
Depending on your sweet tooth 1/2 or 2/3 of a cup of brown sugar
1/2 flat teaspoon of ground ginger
1/2 cup sultanas, raisins, or currants, or any mix of dried fruit.
1/4 cup sunflower oil
10 tbs of alternative milk (we used freshly made soy milk here)

What we did:

1. SIFT the flour and baking soda together (very important – we barely ever sift but in some things and with the thicker flours baking soda sometimes doesn’t mix fully and then you get ‘salty’ patches in your results, and since rock cakes are quick and easy without much prep or concern for presentation it’s easy for it not to get mixed thoroughly.) OR dissolve the baking soda in 1 tbs of hot water or milk and then add to the flour.

2. Mix in the sugar. We used muscovado here but demerara is fine too.

3. Lightly oil/grease your baking dish. NOTE that rock cakes spread upwards and/or sideways so usually little ones would be necessary in a big dish. However we weren’t bothered with making two batches so didn’t mind if they started to meld into one big cake since they’re easy to separate.

4. Pre-heat oven to 200ยฐC/ Gas Mark 6 / 400ยฐF.

5. Our and stir in the oil into the dry mix.

6. Mix in the milk. It should turn into a dough the more you handle/mix it, not too wet but sticky enough to hold together. It doesn’t have to look too nice.


7. A tbs should be used to spoon out each ‘dollop’ and place separately on your baking dish. However since we were being casual with these I used a really big spoon and placed 6 blobs on the dish instead of 12 on two dishes for two batches which would have made regular sized and shaped cakes.


8. Place in the top part of the oven for 30min until Brown.

9. Once done, take them out of the over and leave them to stand for 20min.

10. Voila and total scrumminess!


Bear in mind doing it this way will mean that you don’t get the Black bits (slightly burned) perimeter which I usually associate with rock cakes, these will be softer and fluffier as they are bigger than normal but will still harden on the outside the longer they’re left to stand.

You can almost any fruit and cake spice (cinnamon, ginger, cardamom) to rock cakes – we didn’t have any fresh fruit but cherries are particularly nice in them as well as a bit of lemon rind.

There were delicious with dandelion and burdock loose leaf tea! (Very easy to pick weeds and hedgerow herbs, dry out thoroughly and then use for tea.)