Christmassy pear & minced fruit cake with home-made marzipan

If you read my previous recipe, you’ll know I made my own mincemeat a few days ago, for the first time ever. It’s delicious and I wanted to try using it in a few ways. So yesterday there were traditional mince pies (and people from outside the UK were like – wait, there’s no meat in these?! Bizarre how some cultural things don’t travel.) Today I baked a fancy fluffy christmas cake using up the mincemeat in combination with pear and some very quick marzipan balls which are hidden in the middle of the cake (surprise!). I hope you enjoy this recipe!

Ingredients

For the cake:

3 medium eggs

100 raw cane sugar or honey

200g very finely grated courgette

120g ground almonds

1,5 tsp baking powder

zest of 2 lemons

a pinch of salt

For the filling:

150g mincemeat

1 large pear, diced into fairly hefty chunks

80g almond flour

50g honey

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
  • Beat the eggs and sugar/honey together for five minutes till very fluffy.
  • Add the other cake ingredients and mix well.
  • Add the diced pear and mincemeat.
  • Mix almond flour and honey in a blender until well combined. Then roll out small balls in the palm of your hand.
  • Pour half the cake mix into a 18cm diameter pre-oiled cake tin.
  • Put the marzipan balls on top, spread out over the surface.
  • Pour over the other half of the cake mix and flatten the surface.
  • Bake for 35 mins. Let cool entirely. Enjoy with cinnamon ice cream or something similar.

Healthy cranberry mince pies

I’ve had one busy term at work, and it made me very sad not to have time to bake. So I’ve been catching up in the past few weeks since my workload has eased (a little…). Strangely (or perhaps not strangely, considering these discomforting times), it took a while to get my creative juices flowing again: for the first few weeks I just used my existing recipes or other people’s. But while talking to friends in the UK and Ireland, I got so nostalgic (not to mention upset about not being able to travel there) about a British-Irish christmas, I just wanted to do something so I could at least feel I was there in spirit. So this mince pie recipe was stewing in my mind for a while (and no, this isn’t a meat pie for those of you unfamiliar with the Irish and British tradition of mince pies: though in Tudor times they had mince meat in them, it is now a supersweet dessert with dried and fresh fruit and spices).

The problem is that the bought ones have so many additives and sugar, not to mention (non-vegetarian) suet, that I wanted to create a recipe that’s completely gluten-free, lactose-free, low on (non-refined) sugar, alcohol-free, and vegetarian – yet still delicious for an allergy-prone person like me. (I took some recipes on the BBC Good Food website as a starting point – thank you BBC!) Just to warn you, this recipe does take some preparation, so don’t make these when you’re in a hurry. What I’ve enjoyed most about making these is the smell! While the mince was soaking, I went over every few hours to just go and just stand over the mixture and let the smells carry me to Wales and Kildare. It’s the smell of Christmas for me – delicious!

Update: I had my first one this morning and I didn’t have any reaction, so that’s great. I hope you enjoy these too! Oh, and Merry Christmas!

Ingredients

For the mince:

250g sultanas (I love the yellow ones, but use whichever you prefer, or raisins etc.)

70g dried unsulphured apricots

40g dried cranberries

zest and juice of 1 lemon and 1 orange juice

40g coarsely grated apple

80g fresh cranberries

100ml of ginger ale

100g lactose-free butter

100g raw cane sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp mixed spice

For the pies:

120g lactose-free cold butter, diced

120g rice or buckwheat flour

60g almond flour

20g potato starch

1/2 tsp psyllium

zest of one lemon

60 mls of water

some extra flour for when you’re rolling out the dough

Instructions

  • A day before you want to make the mince pies, put all the ingredients for the mince (except butter, sugar, and the spices) in one bowl and mix well. Leave to soak up the beautiful ginger ale and juices of the lemon and orange.
  • Around 24 hours later, put the mincemeat mix with the butter, sugar, and spice into a pot, bring to a boil and then let simmer for around 5 minutes. You’ll see that the mixture starts to thicken. Put the mix into a sterilized pot if you want to keep it for longer. Let cool down entirely.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
  • Then, you can start making the pies: rub all the pie ingredients except the water together, and then add the water to knead into a flexible dough.
  • Put the dough into the fridge for at least 30 mins. Then roll it out to 1/3 inch or less than 1 cm thickness and cut circles out of it (it’s easier when you sprinkle your rolling surface with some extra rice or buckwheat flour first). Put the pie crusts into little tartlette moulds (such as these – no I’m not sponsored!), fill properly with mincemeat, and add little christmas shapes of the dough on top.
  • Bake for 20 minutes (keep an eye out because they can suddenly burn) and leave to cool. Top out of the tartlette moulds and sprinkle with e.g. stevia. Serve with, oh I dunno, some lovely vegan ice cream, or just enjoy on its own for breakfast as my kid did today!

Christmassy cranberry & dark chocolate surprise cupcakes

The surprise is they have lots (!) of courgette in them.๐Ÿ˜‹ I was looking for further lunch box treats, and had some cranberries to use up. Enter these delicious little morsels. They are small but packed with flavour! Ideal for the mid afternoon slump… This recipe makes about 28 little cupcakes or 14 muffins. You can halve the recipe for a smaller batch, but with kids in the house, just be warned: they don’t last long!

Ingredients

4 organic eggs

200g sugar or substitute

400g finely grated courgette

100g rice flour

100g buckwheat flour

200g almond meal

4 tsps baking powder

Pinch of salt

200g washed fresh cranberries

Handful of small dark chocolate buttons

Instructions

Pre-heat the oven to 180C.

Beat the eggs with the sugar for 5 minutes until pale.

Add all the other ingredients except the cranberries and chocolate, and fold through gently with a spatula.

Add the cranberries and chocolate and fold through until combined.

With a teaspoon, place a few dollops in either cupcake or muffin cases.

Put in the oven for 20 minutes (muffins between 25 and 30 – don’t let them go brown).

Leave to cool down and then enjoy when the need strikesโค๏ธ

Superhealthy cranberry & orange cake

I am crazy about cranberries. Normally I just turn them into jam and have them with nut roast or sprouts. But I wanted to try them in dessert too, but on the condition I could pack some veggies and protein in there too. This cake got applause from my son this morning, so it must be good! ๐Ÿ˜„๐ŸŽ‚

The recipe is easy and quick, and the combination of cranberries and soft cheese makes for a really fresh taste. I don’t put much sugar in my cakes, so add more if you prefer a sweeter taste. But I quite prefer the tanginess of the cranberries.

Ingredients

3 organic eggs

160g rapadura or other sugar (rapadura is unprocessed and I seem to digest it easier)

200g finely grated carrot (I put mine in the blender and pulsed until fine)

Zest and juice of 1 orange or 2 mandarines

100g almond meal

50g buckwheat or rice flour

30g tapioca or potato starch

20g chickpea flour

2 tsps baking powder

Pinch of salt

200g fresh, whole cranberries

For the frosting:

100g soft lactose-free or vegan butter

100g lactose-free cream cheese

1 tsp orange zest

1 tsp orange juice

100g rice syrup or honey

Instructions

Pre-heat the oven to 180C (fan-assisted).

Beat the eggs with sugar for 5 mins.

Fold through the grated carrot and mandarine zest and juice.

Sift the dry ingredients and add to the mix. Fold through gently until combined.

Add the cranberries and again fold in until combined.

Put into a round baking tin (I used a 10 inch I think, but use a bigger one for a lower cake).

Put the centre of the oven for 35 mins.

Leave the cake to cool down entirely. Then cut in half.

For the frosting, mix all the ingredients thoroughly.

Put frosting on the first layer of cake, then add the next cake and finish with frosting.

If you have some cranberries left over, put them in egg white and then white sugar. This gives them a frosted finish for decorating. Enjoy!

Christmas cake

Chocolate and cream = heaven! You’d never guess there was butternut squash in the cake, either in taste or in texture. In fact, I tend to play the ‘guess the vegetable’ game with my friends, and they rarely guess right. With the butternut squash replacing the butter, though, this really is a light recipe. It’s also really easy to jazz up for different occasions – I’ll give a few examples below. I don’t want to jinx anything, but this cake has never failed. Stick to the recipe, and something beautiful inevitably surprises you ๐Ÿ™‚

Ingredients:
3 organic eggs (seriously, for the chickens’ wellbeing as well as your own health, go organic)

100g caster sugar (this means the cake is not massively sweet, so you can add up to 160g if you really have a sweet tooth, but this blog is about healthy yumminess after all, and I think the chocolate flavour adds sufficient depth) – you can replace with coconut sugar (I don’t tolerate this)

200g raw butternut squash (peeled and grated as finely as your food processor will go). You can replace it with carrot or sweet potato (don’t use regular pumpkin)

120g rice flour, semolina, or quinoa flour (I tend to use whatever I have in the house – spelt doesn’t work so well here though so I’d stick with gluten-free)

80g hazelnuts, ground finely – a coffee grinder will work nicely. When I don’t have almonds in the house, I tend to just use more of the flour above, but the almond does add more flavour

3 tbsp cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

a pinch of salt

125ml milk (use buttermilk if you have it, but if not, any milk – yes also dairy free – will do)

Instructions
Pre-heat your oven to 180C. Line two 18cm diameter tins (preferably with removable bottoms) with baking parchment and grease the tins too.

Whisk the eggs for 5 minutes with the sugar. Then add the grated vegetable (you can do this with the mixer on slow speed or manually), followed by the other dry ingredients.

Add the milk and whisk slowly till the whole mixture is well combined.

Divide the mixture between the two tins and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. If you don’t have two tins, you can pour the mixture into one tin, but if you do that, I’d increase the baking time to at least 40 minutes and then check whether it’s ready.

Once they’re ready, remove the cakes from the oven and their tins and let them cool down entirely, until they’re entirely cold.

As for fillings and topping, I tend to go with my imagination and according to what I have in the house. Here are some ideas:
– For a no-fuss option, I tend to go with a lovely layer of 250g whipped lactose-free cream sandwiched between the two cakes (I tend to add either pineapple chunks or cherries through the cream, though I’m sure it would work with strawberries or other fruits too – nectarines or peaches perhaps?) and a cocoa powder layer sprinkled on top of the constructed cake.
– For a more stylish version, I add 50g mascarpone and 50g yoghurt to 250ml cream (all lactose-free) for the middle. Oh, you could add sugar to it, but that would make it too sweet (and unhealthy) for me – the natural sugars from the fruit will add desired sweetness. For the top, I melt 200g of dark cooking chocolate with 200ml of lactose-free cream. Let that cool down until it becomes creamy in texture (rather than entirely runny) and then pour it over the top.

– Do you like my christmassy decoration? I got the inspiration here (http://blog.decoratorsnotebook.co.uk/christmas-crafts/free-easy-foraged-christmas-decorations/ though whoever made that cake did something much more stunning than mine), and added fresh pine and holly from the garden. What an amazing discovery that was, that you can dip anything (anything?!) in egg white and then cover it in caster sugar and it comes out looking like it’s covered in a lovely frost layer. Go wild!

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Sweet potato chocolate roulade with chestnut cream

I love the Christmas season. Dark outside, little lights inside… and a whole lotta baking going on. I’ve been practicing for our family’s Christmas dinner for a few weeks now and I think I’ve found a winner! This sweet potato chocolate cake is incredibly light and fluffy, and the chestnut cream lends a delicate flavour to the whole. Hope you enjoy!

 

Ingredients

4 eggs, whites and yolks separated

90g sugar or substitute (xylitol works well I’m sure)

100g finely grated sweet potato (pumpkin will work too)

45g rice or buckwheat flour

25g (raw) cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

A pinch of salt

400 ml lactose-free cream

200g prepared chestnuts

60g dates

200g dark dairy-free chocolate

IMG_20181210_212820.jpg

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 180C. Cover a baking sheet with baking parchment and oil it well.

Beat the egg whites with 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the salt for 5 minutes.

Beat the egg yolks with the rest of the sugar for 4 full minutes.

Add the grated sweet potato to the yolk mix and combine.

Add 1/3 of the egg white mix to the yolk mix and combine gently. Add another 1/3 and fold it in carefully. Add the final 1/3 along with the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder, and fold in carefully till combined.

Gently pour the cake mix onto the middle of the baking sheet and move it slowly to the edges. Bake for 15 minutes.

Once it’s out of the oven, immediately turn the cake over onto a towel and roll up. Leave it rolled up to cool down.

In the meantime, put the chestnuts and dates in a blender and then add them to cream before you whip it up.

Once the roulade has cooled down, unroll it and smear the cream onto the inside, making sure it’s evenly distributed. Then roll up the cake again.

Melt ghe chocolate with a little bit of extra cream or dairy-free milk in the microwave. If you heat it 3 times with 15 second blasts, you can get it to a smooth mix. Pour the chocolate over the cake and decorate. Enjoy!! IMG_20181210_212729.jpg

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