Posts Tagged ‘baking’

Sourdough Bread…

I miss bread. I miss it. When is Easter Sunday????? Lovely warm spelt bread with olive oil, or wholegrain toast with saad, or wholewheat pitta with hummous and raw veggies. I love you.

That said, I cannot fail to notice that for the last month I have not been afflicted with any stomach pains that I secretly suspected were triggered by certain foods.

Frankly, this makes me want to weep.

Sesame Ryvita is lovely, know…….

Still, when Lent is over I shall do some experimentation with foods/quantities and so on, and close watching, and fear not- I will not be going into this again– who wants to hear peoples digestive issues???!!!

And as time is short (I need to make sandcastles with my son) I post a couple of links for anyone who is interested in making sourdough bread.

To be honest, just reading the instructions made me want to sit down with a herbal tea and some biscuits (oh- wait- no……)  It’s probably no more “faff” than sprouting- just patience and a couple of daily routines of no more than a few seconds. It’s just that instruction list seems SO long!

But not to put you off! Sourdough bread is supposed to be a great alternative if you struggle digesting regular bread (enough on digestion already!) Does it taste sour, I wonder? I am sure I will try this next month. Meanwhile, here is the link. It’s from Peas and Thank You.

Follow this link for the sourdough starter

Follow this for “The Ultimate Sourdough Bread recipe”


Happy Easter….almost……    😦





Vegan Carrot Cake (sugar free)- Holy moly!

You know those baking recipes that start “sugar free, dairy free, egg free, gluten free, fat free….” and  you may think- “what’s left to taste good???!!”  Well, this is not one of them. I mean- it is wholewheat, free from butter,eggs, and refined sugars, but it IS delicious.

Well, technically, honey is a naturally refined sugar. It’s been refined and concentrated inside an insects abdomen. (I know….sounds pretty gross.Still a preferable option to many, in my opinion)  Maple syrup has been concentrated by extensive boiling, though I find, because of it’s price, one is less free with it than a bag of sugar.You can also buy Sucanat, which is simply cane juice that has been dehydrated and is supposed to have retained more of its original minerals from the cane plant. It has a distinctive stronger flavour than white sugar for that reason. It could be a good alternative option. Still, I wouldn’t exactly call it a food group 🙂

I don’t think a bit of sugar in your baking is terrible, especially when packaged among other wholesome ingredients, although I think one of the problems is-

1.It’s very habit forming

2. It is rarely packaged among wholesome ingredients.

That is why I prefer kinda-quirky baking.

This carrot cake is sufficiently delicious to not even count as quirky.Rich, sweet and absolutely delicious.


  • This recipe uses honey. For that reason the oven temp is a little lower (170) Keep an eye on your cake to avoid burning- every oven is different.
  • This is a vegan recipe, it is bound with flaxmeal. Alternatively, add one egg.
  • For the crushed pineapple, I used fresh pineapple, blitzed in the chopper, because we had one “open”, and the taste was fantastic. You could use tinned crushed pineapple, drained, if you wish.
  • I tried these quantities doubled up to make a nice deep loaf and it never worked- it just never cooked right the way through before the honey had burned the outside. I used a square tin (6×6)
Pre-heat oven to 170 C, and lightly grease a 6×6 square tin
PART 1: In a saucepan
  • 3/4 cup of chopped dates.(75g) 
  •  1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup raisins.
  • 1/4 cup  crushed pineapple (50g) 
  • 1/2 t cinnamon.
  • 1/4 t nutmeg

Bring to the boil,and simmer for for 1-2 minutes until thick. Remove from the heat, and cool a little.

Part 2. Add:

  • 1 cups of grated carrot (1 medium carrot)
  • 1 Tablespoon of golden linseeds, ground in a spice grinder
  • 1/8 cup sunflower oil or similar
  • 1/4 scant cup of honey (50g)

Part 3. Stir into your wet mixture:

  • 1  cup wholewheat flour.   (if using egg instead of linseeds, add an extra 1/4 cup, to compensate for extra liquid)
  •  1/2 cup chopped walnuts (50g)
  • 1   teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  •  1/4 t salt

Once in the tin, put straight into the oven. The bicarbonate of soda starts reacting with the honey straight away so don’t leave it sitting around too long.

The cake should be done in around 20 minutes. As always check with a cocktail stick for raw mixture.Each oven is different, so check your cake.

Don’t cut until completely cooled.

And just in case you have forgotten, we’ll just review our virtuous cake.

  • No butter, margarine or eggs; in other words, no animal fats or strange factory concoctions
  • Wholewheat flour
  • No refined sugar
  • No artificial sweeteners
  • Oh! And it’s got fruit and veggies in  🙂

I iced it with a mini-chopper-blitzed creation of:

  • 1/4  cup of cashew butter, 2 Tablespoons lemon juice  and 1/8 cup of honey

Shared some, froze some, till after Lent 🙂


Tips for baking with honey / Amazing Cookies!

Okay, let me get to the point. You have got to make these cookies! They have no sugar in at all and it is almost certain that you have all the ingredients in your cupboard right now! For the recipe itself, I will direct you to the original post on the blog it is from, but let me just say, that it only contains: wholewheat flour, bicarbonate of soda, honey, peanut butter, sunflower oil, and chocolate chips (substitute for raisins for a healthier option).

But first! Baking with Honey 101.

Ask yourself why you want to bake with honey. If it is because you have this feeling “honey is good for you”- you are right, in the sense that unpasteurised honey has a lot of beneficial minerals, amino acids and enzymes which support the immune and digestive system.

However, when you bake with quality unpasteurised honey, the heat destroys quite a bit of that goodness. In terms of blood sugar, your body will treat it as a quick sugar like table sugar. However, “raw” or cooked, it is still a more natural choice than sugar- even the ones that say “unrefined”.  Personally I use unpasteurised honey in unbaked treats and if I am baking with it, I use everyday” honey, (aka cheap!)

Honey burns far more easily than sugar; I had almost written off baking with it until I discovered this website. (I will post the link with the recipe at the end again) She bakes lots of things only with honey, and not so much as a burnt bottom in sight.

So I decided to try again, and please allow me to furnish you with the tips I have discovered. Some may not be necessary for your oven, but here goes.

  • Test with 1/2 quantities, or even 1/4 quantities of a recipe first.
  • Drop the Oven Temperature?  Her recipe calls for 175 C, I dropped mine to as low as 160, as I think my oven is quite fierce.
  • Reduce cooking time? My cookies were ready at 160 C  after 7-8 minutes, seriously!
  • Cook nearer the front of the oven– the back of the oven is always hotter.
  • Check frequently. These are not a cake so feel free to check on them if in doubt. You do not want to stick honey-only cookies in the oven and then go and paint your nails. They are done in under ten minutes in most ovens, so seriously- just hover!
  • The tray. Since everything I had ever baked with honey ended up with a burnt bottom within (it felt like) seconds, I wondered if my tray was causing part of the problem? Different types of trays conduct heat differently (Nil points for that un-scientific explanation!) Which brings me to my next magic, slightly unorthodox cookie-baking tip:
  • Silicone muffin trays! I now spoon my cookie dough into the bottom of muffin cases and gently press into shape. I place them directly on the oven shelf, not onto a tray.  Once they are cool-ish (5-10 minutes after removing from oven) remove from the cases, and with the heel of your hand gently press down so you lose that “cupcake” edge at the bottom. Okay….you may not want to advertise that you do this with your cookies (whoops, I just did!)…..a fish-slice would work too  🙂
  • Do not over-cook! These cookies will harden considerably on cooling. If you leave them in even a little too long, they will turn quickly.  Once the tops of your cookies look ever so slightly dryish and a little cracked, and/or they start to brown slightly at the edges, take them out.

Here are some photos, followed by the magic link. Don’t forget my tips, now. Good luck!

In the muffin cases they look wierd. (Don't put too much dough in....)


but the advantages for those of us with issues are....perfectly round cookies!

By the way, her cookies look nothing like mine! But she seems to know what she is doing. I just shared some tips that are the fruits of my failures in case it helps anyone. (By the way, these ones are with raisins)
And here is the link:
Just doing my bit for all you cookie lovers out there who want a slightly better option. You’re welcome  🙂

Baking again! Sugar-free Date and Banana cupcakes

Definitely even better than the fig ones! The thing about figs is, they are pretty seed-heavy….in fact, there is nothing but seeds under that beautiful skin. This is precisely what I love about them when fresh and one of the things I hate about them when dried. While I enjoyed the natural sweetness and flavour of the fig cupcakes (despite my feelings about dried figs) there was a definite tiny-seed presence, and I was more than keen to re-try the recipe with dates.

And so it was, on our trip to the marvellous Sealand Road Organic Store outside Chester that I acquired that one thing that I am ever-seeking and rarely-finding in shops nowadays- ripe,speckled bananas. Tons of them. Enough to freeze for Banana Soft-serve, and enough for some muffins too.

 This is one of the many reasons I love this blessed establishment. Some of the others are coconut oil, Medjool dates that you can buy individually if so desired, wholewheat breadsticks, miso, Pink Himalyan salt, smoked tofu, tiny 10p Green and Black bite-size chocolates, golden linseeds, purple kale (in the right season) cacao nibs, Nutritional Yeast, and a million other little random items as well as more recognisable goods, all pesticide/herbicide/fungicide free. Hooray!

But on with the muffins. The recipe is almost the same as the Fig and banana cupcakes. Made 12.

Prep: Oven at 180 C, a 12 hole cupcake tray lined with paper cases or greased.

  • 1 medium, very ripe banana
  • 1  cup or 125 dried dates that have been left to soak 1-2 hours 
  • 1  teaspoon cinnamon

Whizz well in a mini chopper until nice and smooth (1-2 minutes).

Add to this paste, in  a mixing bowl:

  • 1 cup soya milk
  • 1/4 cup sunflower oil
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon of ground golden linseeds (flax seeds)
  • 1/4 cup raisins

Leave to sit for a few minutes, while you measure out:

  • 1 cup wholewheat self-raising flour*
  • *(1 teaspoon baking powder, if your flour is regular wholewheat )
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (even if your flour is self raising)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Sift into your  wet mixture and stir in.

Spoon immediately into paper muffin cases or greased silicone muffin tins and put into oven. these took a little longer than ther others, 20 minutes, but each oven is different. When the top is completely resilient and bouncy to the top you know they are done which will probably be 15-20 minutes. Such a beautiful light texture! No photo today, though  😦

I silently wept that my daughters do not like bananas. And consoled myself with a yummy sugar-free cupcake. Cut, and spread with mashed banana.

Fig and banana Cupcakes (Vegan, sugar free)

Sweet fig, a hint of banana, no refined sugar or syrups, and these are so good! And I made this one up! They aren’t perfect, but they have already been made twice. These could be considered a prizewinning cupcake in regards to potassium and fibre, (both the banana and the figs are rich in both, plus, they are wholewheat) so make these for breakfast. Absolutely.

Need: Food processor or mini chopper. Spice grinder to grind your linseeds unless you buy them ready ground. These have a binding quality, and are the very richest source of Omega 3 by the way, as well as being packed with fibre.

Prep: Oven at 180 C, grease a silicone muffin case or prepare a muffin tin with paper liners. This recipe makes 12-14 cakes like the ones in the picture.

Let us begin. Whizz up until practically smooth:

  • 1 ripe banana
  • 125 dried figs that have been left to soak 1-2 hours  (about 6-8 figs)
  • 1  1/2  teaspoons cinnamon

Add to this paste, in  a mixing bowl:

  • 1 cup soya milk
  • 1/4 cup sunflower oil
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon of ground golden linseeds (flax)

Leave to sit for a few minutes, while you measure out:

  • 1 cup wholewheat self-raising flour*
  • *(1 teaspoon baking powder, if your flour is wholewheat plain)
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (even if your flour is self raising)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Sift into your  wet mixture and stir in.

Spoon immediately into paper muffin cases or greased silicone muffin tins and put into oven. Your muffins should be ready in 12-15 minutes.

Serve for breakfast with fruit preserve, or nut butter, or mashed banana. Enjoy!  (PS I am sure this is delicious done with dates, but i will check first and post a recipe as appropriate! PPS I do not like dried figs, but I like these!)

An addition to the post “Nut Butter Flapjacks”: Peanut Butter version

Thanks to an almond butter fanatic called Heather, I was introduced to the delight of baking flapjacks/granola bars without using butter or margarines; not to the intent of making them lower fat, just to the intent of using whole-food plant fats, ie nuts. The recipes are here, and I can highly recommend them.

However, some of the ingredients may be kind of costly; macadamias for example, or maple syrup. While you can make any kind of nut butter, using less expensive nuts (unroasted almonds to name one kind), the other thing is that you need a food processor, and not everyone has one.

Here is a delicious variation for all you peanut butter lovers that I got from a book called The Yoga CookBook. I cannot remember their actual quantities, but these are mine. The best option would be 100%-nothing-else-but roasted-peanuts-butter.  Failing that, the next best thing would be a no added sugar or salt version like Whole Earth.

  • 1/2 cup of peanut butter  (100g)
  • a scant 1/2cup of honey (100g)
  • 1/4 cup of wholewheat flour
  • 1  1/2 cups of rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup raisins (optional)

Melt the peanut butter and honey in a pan, stir in all other ingredients. These quantities are good for a smallish tin like this:

Watch them and take them out the minute they have a light golden brown edge.In my oven it took literally 5-7 minutes at 180 degrees.  Obviously like all flapjacks they are a little soft when out of the oven but they are fine when cool, honestly. If you overcook them they will be horribly dry.  These are really good!

Breakfast-Worthy Banana Bread

Hooray! A banana bread with no animal fats and NO refined sugar! This is not a banana CAKE, that is very sweet, but it has a subtle natural sweetness. If you like a sweeter touch, spread it with something, we had it with nut butter and a smearing (or smidgin if you prefer…or indeed, a droozle) of honey.

 Thank you very much One Frugal Foodie blogger a.k.a  Alisa Fleming for this recipe, which is being re-posted with her permission.  Alisa founded  and has a book of delicious dairy-free recipes which you can purchase here (on Amazon; I am not getting any money from any affiliates scheme by the way. I hear the book is great! She has 67 reviews on the US Amazon and 66 are 5 stars, 1 is 4 star) Her original post and recipe is on her blog “One Frugal Foodie” here.


  • This is a vegan recipe, it does not use eggs. It is bound with omega-3-rich ground  golden linseeds aka flax seeds, which are available in most large supermarkets and all health food stores. (Of course, if you are not bothered, go ahead and use 1-2 eggs. I used flax seeds here.)
  • Of course, you need your bananas very speckledy and sweet. 3-4, depending on the size. Once mashed they should be about 2 measuring cups full.
  • If you wanted it sweeter by adding some maple syrup or honey for example, I am not sure if you would need to tweak the liquid. I am not much of a baker. If you return to the original recipe link above, the author is really good at responding. I would have thought a couple of Tablespoons of liquid sweetener wouldn’t alter the texture or cooking time much. 

Come, let us bake then.

Pre-heat oven t0 175 C  and grease a  9×5 loaf tin. (I lined it just in case)

Wet ingredients.  Stir, and leave to sit:

  • 2 tablespoons of flax seeds, ground in a spice mill or similar
  • 1/2 cup of milk alternative  (soy, rice, almond, oat etc)

Dry ingredients SIEVE THE FOLLOWING:

  • 2 cups of wholewheat flour (or half wholewheat, half oat)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda (not baking powder)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

To your wet ingredients, add:

  • 1/4 cup of vegetable oil 
  • 2 cups of mashed, very ripe banana. (3-4 bananas) 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract if desired.

Mix well, and then add your dry ingredients. Mix till incorporated but do not over mix.

Pour into your prepared tin, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the top is browned and resilient to the touch. Allow the bread to cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes before removing it to a wire rack to cool completely.

Almost burnt, but not. Phew.

And just because it was Friday, and I decided to push my personal proverbial boat out as far as my sugar free banana bread was concerned, I made some macadamia “icing”  by whizzing up 50 grams of mac. nuts until buttery in my mini chopper, and adding 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice, and 2 teaspoons of honey.Oh MY, it was good. I drizzled away joyfully, and the leftovers, we spread on the sliced bread the next day.The bread seemed to get moister as the days passed, rather than drier (well, only 2 days passed, and it was eatn, but I did notice a difference)







Thanks again to Alisa Fleming, and I do hope you enjoy this recipe.


P.S. Oh, did I mention I made this especially for my baked-goods-adoring-sometime-sugar-avoiding-love, and he looked at it sheepishly and said “Sorry, I ate so much pizza while you were out shopping that I almost want to vomit, can I try it tomorrow?”  Seriously. What’s a girl to do?

I am safe to say this, because he never reads my blog. (I know. Shocking. )

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