My February ‘challenge’ is vegan baking. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, it is always good to have a few things up your sleeve for guests with different diets. Secondly, I need to widen my repertoire (well…you will see I didn’t really in this case) and thirdly, I really wanted to try baking with different ingredients to the ones I have been using since a teenager.
For my first foray into cakes without butter and eggs, I headed over to Gaz Oakley for an upside down cake. As regular readers may have picked up, one of my basic standard cakes is a pineapple upside down cake. Wonderfully retro and always enjoyed, it is also so simple and never fails. Gaz’s recipe calls for mandarins, but I had to stick to my classic. Plus it is summer, so not mandarin season. The recipe (link here) could not be simpler, and I challenge even the most hopeless baker to try it. In fact, it was easier than the normal cake I make as all you need is a wooden spoon to combine the mixture. Do make sure though you let it sit in the tin before turning it out.
For my second experiment, I really wanted to try baking vegan scones. I’ve been making scones since was 11 or so, with differing results (for some reason, I could never bake good scones in Denmark – must have been the flour? I know that can make a big difference). Anyway, I had a go at date scones, which are a firm favourite of mine. Recipe adapted from this one here.
Preheat your oven to 200C and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Sift together – and here I apologise for the measurements which are in New Zealand/Australian cups – 2 cups of plain flour, 4 teaspoons of baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 2 dessert spoons of sugar (I actually used less). Make sure they are well mixed. Add 1/2 cup of chopped dates, and mix/whisk well. Add 3/4 cup almond milk with with slightly under 1/4 cup lightly flavoured oil (I used rice bran).
Mix until the ingredients are just combined—over mixing them will make the scones tough. Place the dough onto a floured surface and gently pat down until it is about 1.5 centimetres thick. Cut with your favourite cutter, place on baking tray and cook for around 12 minutes depending on your oven. When cooked, lay a clean tea towel on a cooling rack, and fold tea towel over to cover to keep warm while you make a pot of tea.
Verdict: Really light and fluffy. You can tell that both the cake and scones were not made with butter, but both were very light, really good and exceptionally easy to make. I really need to read up on vegan baking and substitutes, and get to grips with the science of it all though. Regardless, I now have two quick and easy vegan treats in my baking list.
Title: quote from the introduction to Julia Turshen’s book Small Victories (2016: 15) “Cooking is simply a huge and often very fun puzzle of piecing together techniques with different ingredients”
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