Vegan Battenberg “Window” Cake

One afternoon after I finished work, I had a wander around my local city centre and stopped off at the only Vegan cafe in Stoke On Trent (and the surrounding area as far as I’m aware) to get a cookie. I totally wasn’t expecting owner Charlie to bring out a preliminary batch of Battenberg cake she’d made!

I love it when people veganize traditional dishes, particularly desserts. I thought the Ms Cupcakes Cream Eggs and Jaffa Cakes (though I’ve only ever got to try the Jaffa cupcake myself) were my faves, but this battenberg was off the chart!

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In fact, I couldn’t resist eating pretty much all of it before taking this picture. So sorry. But if anything that’s a testament to it’s bodacious-ness! It tasted exactly like the Mr Kipling cakes that I used to love so much as a non-veggie. The pink and yellow colours of the two cakes was an exact match, as was the delicious crumbly texture of the sponge. The marzipan to cake ratio was spot on. The only criticism I have about the cake is that it could have done with a teeny tiny bit more jam, but that’s just personal preference and me being used to the super-juicy Mr Kipling cake I’ve eaten before.

Now, I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned The Big Strawberry before, but they opened towards the end of last year. From what I can remember, I’m pretty sure at first they sold some dishes with cheese on them but now, and for the last few months, they’ve been completely animal-product free.

The cafe sells a variety of paninis, wraps and a Thai vegetable soup I’ve yet to try but always smells insanely good as well as having a selection of ice cream or normal soy milkshakes and cakes. Compared to the kind of eateries I was used to down south, and even local competing cafes and chains, the prices at The Big Strawberry are minuscule. A giant panini packed with filling averages at £3.25 and comes with a herb side salad, whether it’s to take away or eat in. Cookies and cakes range from 75p-£1.25 (if I remember right). The peanut butter and oat cookies are particularly delicious. I always find it hard to get the texture right with big cookies, but the baker who supplies The Big Strawberry always gets it spot on.

If you’re ever in the Midlands, or fancy a day trip, I’d definitely recommend visiting The Big Strawberry. Moving back home has had it’s ups and downs, but finding a vegan community in Stoke has been amazing. I recently found out that there are weekly Animal Aid meetings and that there was a vegan fair/fete in the middle of July catered around families, with outdoor entertainment and food and other product stalls promoting animal welfare and the vegan diet. Unfortunately it was my graduation this weekend! I really hope they do another soon.

I’m going to spam the blog a bit now, been so quiet for ages but been accumulating content, slowly but surely 😉 Still going to post my Berlin stuff too, even though it was months ago, mainly because I don’t know what to do with the hundreds of photos of food I took…

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Moist as Snooky’s Vag, Vegan Victoria Sponge Birthday Cake

The original recipe for this used chocolate buttons (you can buy dairy-free chocolate buttons in white and milk chocolate in little packets from the Tesco Free From isle), but I prefer using jelly beans because I’m secretly a four year old child.

I like making this recipe x2 for a nice big momma thick cake if it’s for a birthday.

Ingredients

  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder (instead of the normal 2 spoons, seems you needs to add an extra teaspoon for every 110g self raising flour if omitting eggs)
  • 225g Dairy free margarine
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 225ml custard (I used Birds custard powder with soya milk)
  • Strawberry Jam (quantity depending of preference of thickness of spread)
  • Icing Sugar (quantity as with Jam)
  • Jelly Beans (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C or 350F, gas mark 4. Grease two 18cm sandwich cake tins, line with greaseproof paper and lightly brush with oil.
  2. Sieve the flour and baking powder together into a bowl.
  3. Add the margarine, sugar and custard and whisk until thoroughly mixed. The mixture should fall slowly from a large spoon. Stir in one or two tablespoons of tepid water if necessary.
  4. Divide the mix between the two prepared tins, gently spread it over the base of the tins and level off with a knife. Place tins on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until firm and springy in the centre.
  5. Leave the cakes to set for 30 mins before running a knife around the tins to loosen. Turn the cakes out onto a wire rack, leave to cool.
  6. When cold, transfer one of the cakes, crust down, to a serving plate.
  7. Spread the base of one of the cakes thickly with jam and place the other cake on top, crust uppermost.
  8. Mix icing sugar as packet dictates or sprinkle with caster sugar for a lighter cakey taste. Serve and enjoy.

This recipe was adapted from a blog called something like ‘Pint Sized Pixie’? I lost the link but thankfully saved the recipe in my email drafts ;D I’ll try and make this soon so you can get some cheeky piccies and have a big food porn fap.

Easy Vegan Toaster Pitta Pizza Pockets

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Since my last blog post, I’ve relocated from Portsmouth to the Midlands so blogging has kind of been on the backburner. I now have two jobs, one in PR/Content writing at an amazing local company and another as a bartender with some lovely people at the Underground in Hanley. I’ve got lots of recipes to updates this blog with, so bear with me 🙂

I thought I’d start with an easy one, I think the clue as to what it is in the name.

Ingredients

Pizza Breads (Wholegrain or white, depending on how junky you’re feeling)

Vegan Cheese (Cheezly Melting Mozzarella is a favourite for Italian dishes)

1 Tin of chopped tomatoes / Jar of pasta sauce / Tube of tomato puree

Toppings of choice:

I used Tofurky Pepperoni Pieces that I smuggled back from Germany. I don’t know whether it was the lack of refrigeration of the journey, but I wasn’t a massive fan. They had a bit of an acidic aftertaste that youmight expect from meat pepperoni, but not that much flavour and a chewwy texture. 

Mushrooms

Balsamic vinegar

Vegetarian Pesto

Sundried Tomatoes

Instructions


1. Put the pittas in the toaster for a minute or so until they inflate enough to be cut easily.

2. Cut the pittas, add toppings in layers of tastiness.

3. Flip the toaster so it’s lying on your worktop on the side. Put pittas back in the toaster for 2 minutes or until cheese melted.

Brighton Vegfest, March 2012

So this year was my second year at Vegfest. I went on the Sunday with my buddy Charlie, who’d never been before. This way we could catch Ms Cupcakes (love of my life) and the good weather with the intention of going al fresco with all our diabetes-inducing shit on Hove beach (it rained loads on Saturday).

If you’ve never been/heard of veg fest before, this is what this glorious day means to me:
Vegfest, n. A day in which vegetarians and vegans congregate to sample loads of free clothing/cruelty-free products without spending all your dough, learning about new products, getting stuff cheaper direct from the supplier (many have one-off prices for the weekend) and generally getting fat in the name of excellent food.

There was such a diverse range of companies there, which is always pretty good to see.

As a massive sugar junkie, I was pretty chuffed to see Goody Good Stuff who do all natural, gelatine free Haribo-like sweets make a reappearance. I know you can get Halal/Vegetarian Haribo from Holland and Barrett thesedays, but their Sour Summer Peaches are a-m-a-zing. They have that sugary taste with a great deal of flavour and juiciness from natural sources.

Over the past few months, I’ve noticed Good Life products popping up in supermarkets. Not sure if they were at Vegfest last year, but sampling some more of their meat-alternative cutlets and things for free proved insightful for future purchases. This company is great if you don’t like eating copy-cat “meats” like Tofurky, Sosages, etc. Most if not all of their products are just vegetables left to their own, with a bit of saucing up.

A few months ago on a trip to Brighton, I picked up some Vegusto No-Moo Classic cheese from Infinity Foods. This tasted pretty terrible, I’m not guna lie, plain with a vague mushroomy aftertaste. I gave them a second go at Vegfest, and out of all their products, their ‘Mild-aromatic’ cheese was the best tasting replacement I’ve ever tried. Not sure how well it melts, but they do have a range of melting cheeses as well as hard ones.

Kara were there again this year. If you’re new to a dairy-free diet, I cannot recommend Kara freshly-pressed coconut milk enough. It’s great for cereal or to drink on it’s own, without having the sour taste of soy or watery sweet rice milk. They’ve started selling this in bigger Tesco stores as well now. If you’ve seen it in other supermarkets, let me know!

Amy’s had some new products I hadn’t seen before. Tried the single burritos they have in Holland & Barrett which were alright, and saw that they’ve recently started selling soup in Tesco. For £2 a can, it barely seems worth it when Tesco value vegetable soup is dairy-free anyway. We tried their mac & cheese – so so nice! But didn’t have any tins for sale available at the event, which was pretty lame.

Fry’s have launched some incredible new products lately, including their Popcorn Chicken and Louisiana Chicken Pieces. Charlie & I sampled both and they were lush, a good replacement if you were ever partial to a bit of KFC before realising how grim it was… They had steak pieces too, but had run out by the time we got there 😦 Knowing Fry’s, and based on our fake chicken findings, I bet they were divine.

Redwood were set up in the same place as last year. Had a hot dog from their stand and a cheeky California Sushi Roll from Titbits Catering, who are the best and most diverse caters around by far. The had so many little tasters to try that were £1 or so each, so you had a chance to try everything.

Veggie Vision were giving away free canvas bags with information on local charities and things inside for signing up, and free carrot cakes for donations.

My absolute favourite new company discovery has to be The Living Food Kitchen. We tried sample of their raw chocolate cheesecake which was well rich, and raw citrus cheesecake which I preferred (despite being a massive chocolate addict) because it tasted like Solero ice creams. Ahhh so good.

And last but not least, we rounded the day off with a lovely chat with none other than the fabulous Ms Cupcake herself. Charlie laughed at how much of a fangirl I am. No care evar. I was saving most of my money for the most decadent and great-tasting baked goods I have ever sampled, vegan or not. I couldn’t believe it when there were hand-made Vegan Cream Eggs for sale! Naturally, I bought three. And a peanut butter & jam cookie sandwich (ultimate favourite) and a double chocolate cookie sandwich with choco cream in the middle. Very happy fatty 🙂

Ms Cupcake UK

Overall, awesome day. Awesome weather. It’s a crime not to go to Brighton or Bristol Vegfest if you’re a vegan in the U.K. If you’ve got a long commute, the event spans over two entire weekends in two cities which have great train links, and beautiful surroundings for you to enjoy your treats and explore. Each day, stalls are open from 11am-4pm, leaving you with a decent amount of time to get there earlier in the day and enough time to leave at night. If you’re a small company, this is a great place to set up a stall for media coverage and to create a buzz for your services/products.

Bristol Vegfest takes place 25th-27th May 2012, and entry as usual, is free!

For more information please check out http://bristol.vegfest.co.uk/ or it’s Brighton equivalent next March.

Easy, Thin & Saucy Cheeseless Vegan Pizza

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Makes 2 x 12 inch Pizzas.
Recipe for base adapted from Low-cholesterol-food.com.

Ingredients for the base:
2 1/2 Cups plain flour (& more for non-stick purposes when kneading)
1/4 Teaspoon/dash of salt
1/4 Packet of Fast-action yeast
1 Cup warm water
1 Tablespoon olive oil
For best results, use a pizza tray with holes in the bottom!

Ingredients for the sauce:
1 Tin of chopped tomatoes
8 Tablespoons tomato ketchup (or till it’s sweet enough for your tastes)
Italian/mixed Herbs, pepper, garlic to taste. (I used one clove)

Toppings I used:
Onions, peppers, cherry tomatoes (so much better than tinned/chopped ones), sweetcorn.

Toppings that I totally would have used if I had them in: Balsamic vinegar, Redwood facon & gherkins. Maybe even some Mozarella Cheezly, but the base is so flavoursome you barely miss the cream.

Instructions:
1. If you have active dry yeast instead of the fast-action stuff, before you add it to the mixture be sure to:
mix a little sugar into the warm water, sprinkle the yeast on top and wait for ten minutes or until it gets foamy.

2. Mix the flour, water (if you’re using fast action yeast & therefore haven’t already used it in step one), oil salt and yeast together in a bowl.

3. Knead on a floured surface for approximately 6-8 minutes so the dough is still a bit elasticy. Add more flour if needs be.

4. Separate into two balls, cover in cling film and leave out for 20-30 minutes to rest.

5. Preheat oven to 220° C or 180° if you have a fancy fan-assisted oven.

6. When the dough is ready, stretch it out over the tray so it’s thin but not transparent in any places. It needs to hold a helluva lot of sauce, so make sure you fold in a good crust too. I did each pizza separately as I am poor and only have one tray.

7. Pre-bake your base for 5-10 minutes. It needs to firm up enough to carry the motherload of sauce you’re about to make.

8. Add all the ingredients for the sauce together in a bowl. Sweeten up with ketchup and flavour with herbs to your satisfaction. When base is ready, cover with approx. half of mixture and top with vegetables/faux meats of your choice.

9. Bake for a further 10-20 minutes & serve. Note: if eating with hands, use of napkins/bibs is advised.

* TOP TIP * Roll a dough ball in a bit of olive oil, bag it and freeze it for a rainy day.

After being vegetarian for all of my teenage and early adult life, I’d always wondered why people went completely vegan. General ignorance and the initial adaption of meals put me off, as it does with many. Cows looked so happy in Muller adverts, not eating ’em seemed like that was enough.

After some dairy-free experimentation, I decided to become completely cruelty free; clothes, beauty products & food. One of the best parts about being vegan is sharing discoveries of cruelty-free stuff with other vegans. There are so many great recipes, companies & events out there, but I found with a measly student budget & the majority of these recipes are written by amazing American cooks, listing ingredients that are a bit difficult/expensive to source in the UK. Plus I’m pretty lazy, so easy recipes are a must. I created this blog in the hope of preserving some recipes that fit this criteria from disappearing from the internet/my messy room forever and creating a go-to source of information on companies and events in the UK. This means contributions are greatly welcomed!

This isn’t going to be a series of posts on ethics, but a bit of baketivism inspired by the likes of Operation Icing, Ms Cupcakes, Vegan Potluck and many more amazeballs UK organizations/companies that make being vegan pretty fun.

If you’re considering trying out a vegan diet, I hope these will be helpful too, and I definitely recommend watching this video. Good summary of reasons to make the veg pledge from a pretty batty yet inspiring dude

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