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Raw Vegan Carrot Cake…but it tastes good

April 2, 2016

This was one of those rare moment when a recipe an aggregated blog email actually turned into something in real life. You know the kind of thing “10 alternative easter treats” or “5 super quick cakes”. Usually I look at them, bookmark them and never get around to making them.

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This one though caught my eye because it was one of those fancy ‘raw’ cakes but didn’t have a million ingredients that I’d have to go to a worthy health store to get. The only real expense was the coconut oil, but I got that from an indian supermarket near us and it was £2. Don’t bother getting it from a big place or health store. I also used coconut cream block as I couldn’t find coconut cream. The original recipe notes the issues with this but I got around it by adding extra liquid.

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So I made it yesterday and it’s actually very easy to make. It also tastes great. Oh it’s not spongey and bouncy like a real cake I’ll agree, but it’s ridiculously  moreish.

I adapted the recipe from Sprinkle Of Green’s one  to make it a bit more achievable.

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Raw Vegan Carrot Cake
(sort of healthy-ish maybe)

Makes 3 teacup sized cakes. Line teacups with clingfilm before starting.

Put 200g of cashew nuts into water to soak 2 hours beforehand.
For the Carrot Cake:
60g each of  walnuts and almonds [original uses pecans and walnuts]
30g cashews [original uses pistachios]
100g of pitted dates. I used the kind you get in a block [original states 15 medjool dates, pitted]
2  carrots, grated – about 150g [I think you could go for three to make more bulk]
40g desiccated coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla powder [I didn’t have any, used a touch of coffee essecnce]
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon ginger
For the ‘icing’ (this will give you enough to ice each cake and some left over to go in the middle if you want a layer cake. You could halve the quantity.
200g cashews, soaked for 2+ hours
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 chunk of coconut cream block 1inch x 2inch, crumbled
1 tablespoon coconut sugar  I don’t think it need the sugar – up to you
1 teaspoon vanilla essence / paste
1 teaspoon matcha powder  I opted out of the green!
A big splash of almond / soya / other milk

Method for the cake:
If you’re using the blocks of dates, break the dates up and soak in water while you do the next stage.
Put the nuts into a food processor and blend until small but not ‘flour’ like – about the texture when you see bags of crushed nuts in the supermarket.
Add the dates and blend until it goes sticky.
Add the grated carrots, spices and coconut. Pulse until combined.
Divide the mixture between the teacups, press down hard and cover. Put in the fridge for an hour.
If you’re not eating the cakes straight away put them in the freezer, it’ll make them easier to ice and then you can leave them to defrost.

Method for the icing:
Drain the soaked cashews and put into a food processor with the crumbled coconut cream, coconut oil and vanilla. Start to blend and add the milk a splash at a time until you have a smooth but thick consistency.

Cover the cakes in the icing. Decorate with coconut / nuts / dried fruit etc. If you’ve had the cake in the freezer leave out to defrost or slice up and put back in the freezer for later. It’s the best way to make sure you don’t eat it all with a spoon in one sitting. Which I would never do. Obviously.

Home Sweet Home Bakealong 54: Rose Chocolate Cupcakes

March 31, 2016
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Please avert your eyes now and go to Beckie’s page:

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I tried. I honestly didn’t sabotage these cakes because I don’t like flower flavoured things. I did try. I spent a whole afternoon covered in a cloud of cocoa, icing sugar and cornflour. I even made the custard to go inside it (ha!). Look what I got for my efforts – lumpy icing, a weird floaty crust and a solid lump of cake, albeit  surprisingly good tasting cake.

Now, I should come clean and say that I can’t blame HSH-Hummingbird for this. I know that their cupcake recipe is pretty foolproof. Clearly this was one fool too far. For some reason I added a bit of the milk to the dry mixture before I remembered you weren’t meant to. Then  I realised I’d forgotten the sugar so had to add it to the wet mixture at the end. I guess that’s why it has the weird texture.

I made the custard and it came out ok -hurrah. It is meant to be hidden away in little pockets inside the cake before icing. The cakes were so solid under their little floaty sugar crusts that there was no way I could carve out a hole – boo.

I can only think that the butter was too cold when making the icing and that’s why it was lumpy. The more I make buttercream icing the more I dislike making it. Hrmph. Will someone please hurry up and make non-clouding icing sugar?

So, I’m not even going to post the ingredients to these because if you want to eat flowery flavoured things you can go buy some Parma Violets or lick the entire Cath Kidston store.

Grump over and out.

P.s they should look like this:

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Beckie’s beautiful specemens

P.p.s I also made this yesterday. It is, worryingly, vegan and raw and scarily liable to be labelled “clean eating”. It also also rather good. More soon.

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Join Beckie and me in our Epic 100 part bakealong. Next: Flourless Chocolate Cake. Hurrah!

#HomeSweetHomeBakeAlong

North London Half Marathon Race Review

March 27, 2016

Over at Bland On The Run

TRAINING: 21ST – 27TH MARCH 2016

March 27, 2016

Over at Bland On The Run

Bland On The Run

March 27, 2016

So that I don’t bore all the cake lovers with running or the running lovers with cake, I’ve started a new blog for running related things. It’s called Bland On The Run. I’ll post links between to two sites, but please do add the new site to your Blog reader if you’re interested.

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Easter Baking: Kulich

March 18, 2016
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As promised, here’s the full recipe for the Russian Easter bread, Kulich. You can also find it at my corner of RangemasterUK

Kulich – Russian Easter Bread

 Most countries have some kind of sweet bread which is a traditional part of Easter feasting. From the boiled egg-topped Mona de Pascua in Spain and the dove-shaped Colomba di Pasqua in Italy to our own Hot Cross Buns these breads are steeped in references to the Easter story and the family time that often surrounds it.

 Kulich is a predominantly Russian bread and features cardamom where we might use cinnamon. It is baked in tins so that it bursts out over the top and traditionally each one is drizzled with white icing and brightly coloured sprinkles before being blessed by a priest. I have to admit that they smelled so good when they came out of the oven that I forgot to do that bit, but can confirm that they are very good buttered whilst still hot from the oven. I found that they were a little firm if eaten cold a day later but a quick re-heat revived them. This recipe is adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s.

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100g sultanas
250g strong white bread flour
250g plain wholemeal flour
200ml milk, warmed to hand-hot
100g butter, cut into large chunks
100g caster sugar
2 eggs
1 sachet (7g) of fast action yeast
pinch of salt
60g candied peel
30g dried cranberries
40g chopped nuts (ideally almonds)
Grated zest of 1 lemon (I used a couple of drops of lemon essence as I didn’t have any lemons)
Crushed seeds of 2 cardamom pods

140g icing sugar
4 tbsp hot water
Coloured sprinkles

4x empty, washed 200g baked bean tins (not tomato tins), greased and lined with baking parchment that comes 1 inch above the top of the tin
OR 2x 800g tins if you can happen to have them, prepared as above. OR a 12 hole muffin tin

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In a microwaveable container cover the cranberries and sultanas in plenty of water and heat on full for 2 mins. Leave to stand for 30mins (you could also do this on the hob). Drain well.

Put all the flour, butter, sugar, yeast, salt (other side from the yeast), candied peel, lemon zest, crushed cardamom seeds and drained dried fruit in the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook. Mix a little, then add the milk and eggs and mix with the dough hook slowly for 10 mins until smooth. If you’re doing this by hand be warned it’ll get very sticky.

Place the dough into an oiled bowl and cover with a plastic bag or clingfilm. Leave to rise until doubled in size. It should take about an hour.

Preheat to oven to 170C (160 fan)
Once risen, knock the dough back a little by giving it a very quick knead on a floured surface.
Divide into as many pieces as you require. If you are putting it into tins you’ll want to shape it into a slight sausage shape in order to get it into the tin. Don’t worry too much if you have to push it in though.

Fill the greased, lined tins with the dough and place in the over. Bake for 45mins, check on them about 25mins in – if necessary cover the tops with foil.

If you’re going to glaze them wait until they’ve cooled a little but are still warm to touch. Mix the sugar and water well and drizzle over.

 

 

The Road to Asics Greater Manchester Marathon

March 13, 2016
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4 weeks today, in 28 days the results will be in and the Asics Greater Manchester Marathon will be done and dusted.

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This time last year even seeing the name of the race was giving me butterflies in my stomach and the race was a huge unknown. 3 hours, 0 minutes and 1 seconds after leaving Old Trafford I finished the race exhausted and elated but convinced I’d missed the 3 hour mark by a good chunk. Oh how wrong I was. Since then that one second has been a very funny, but nonetheless challenging presence on my running copy-book.

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I can’t recommend Asics MCR Marathon enough to anyone looking for a fun, flat race. This year it’s starting near the Trafford arch still but is finishing at Emirates Old Trafford, home to Lancashire County Cricket club. It’s great that there’ll be slightly wider finish area and chance to take in an extra part of the city.

This year thanks to Ben and Full Potential I’ve got training sessions that I can directly compare to last year’s efforts and I’ve got 12 months of running for fun, running in new places, doing track nights, missing challenges, hitting challenges, having to say goodbye to my favourite trainers (so-long Kayanos), running in foreign lands and running the A5 many many times. As for the race itself, I know what the course is like and I’ve got an idea of what I should be able to do but I really don’t know if that’s a good thing.

If you’re an elite runner I’m sure that knowing every bend and every incline is a great thing but for me I often feel that if I know the route I get more concerned with the distance to go and whether I can keep going. This year I will be running without headphones since London won’t allow them in Championship starts and they are classed as “performance enhancers” in most races. Since stopping using music I’ve posted marathon times of 3:21:05 (London) 3:04:50 (Bournemouth) and 3:04:02 (Lake Garda). There’s a part of me that wonders if those extra minutes are the ooomph that the music gives. Hmm. However, training has been going well and I’ve been hitting marathon pace when I’ve needed to. I just don’t know if I can do it for 26 miles straight!

I’ve been running a lot with the AR Collective and there’s huge crew of us heading up to Manchester. I’ll be looking forward to seeing how this lovely lot get on:

James Brewster
Adam Lennox
Claire Clifton Coles
Nicolas Wuethrich
Matt Hanson

and lots more to be added as I remember.

I really enjoyed Manchester last year, it’s incredibly flat (though even the slightest incline feels like a mountain after 20miles) and it gave me some moments I’ll never forget – the kids rock-gospel choir, the chat with a German lady at mile 18, an old Uni friend appearing unexpectedly on the cheer line and Mr B shouting his head like an utter lunatic as I came down the finishing straight. Oh, and of course these lovely people that I met thanks to Athletics Weekly (you can read all about our experiences here). It’s great to see that Amile, Tim and Andrew are out there tearing up the pavements as usual. Amile in particular is doing an amazing job as part of WMN Run.

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Before Manchester I also have the small matter of the North London Half Marathon and Cardiff World Half Marathon Championships, but they are just part of the journey to MCR.

p.s A huge shout out to Sarah, Cara, Jess, and George all representing  the AR Collective at London Marathon too, but more or that later #readytorun.

 

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