This is not only a massively easy recipe but it’s also so versatile, as you can add whatever you like depending on your taste. This is the basic recipe, but maybe you fancy putting in some sultanas, raisins, dried blueberries or orange/lemon zest. You could add cinnamon, nutmeg, maybe some cloves or mixed spice, or ginger. I even once kept it all plain, except the addition of about 50g dark, vegan chocolate and a sprinkle of cocoa powder 😀 Anyway, this should serve about 6-8:
- 200g short grain rice
- About 1 litre-ish of sweetened soya milk
- 200g caster sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
- 2 teaspoons dairy free butter/spread
Just put the whole lot together and give it a stir, adding any optional things (ie the fruits or spices) you might wish. Then you could either cook it in the oven for about 3 hours, or a slow cooker for maybe 4ish, but just check on it regularly and once it’s really hot and the rice is soft it’s ready – there isn’t really an exact amount of time, just don’t go burning it…
This cake is honestly as good as any non-vegan cake I’ve ever had, it keeps for absolutely ages as long as you cover it (not that you’d want to leave it for all that long, of course) and is actually pretty filling! I got it from a book by Kris Holechek called ‘The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes’, but thought I should share it with all you vegan cooks because it tastes so damn good! So, here’s what you’ll need, and it’ll serve about 12 (but like I said, keeps for days):
For the cake:
- 2 cups plain flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Two thirds cup melted soya margarine, cooled to room temperature
- 1¼ cups brown sugar, packed
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 4 mashed bananas
- ½ cup soya milk
- 1 teaspoon mild vinegar
- 2 bananas, sliced
For the frosting:
- 1 8-ounce container soy cream cheese, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons soya margarine, softened
- About ¼ cup peanut butter (I used smooth, and actually ended up using a little more)
- 2 to 2½ cups sifted icing/powdered sugar
- Preheat the oven to about 350°F/175°C/160°C fan assisted oven. Lightly grease 2 9-inch cake pans with melted soya margarine, lightly dust in flour, and line the bottom with parchment paper.
- Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Mix melted margarine and brown sugar in a large bowl, then add vanilla and the 4 mashed bananas. In another small bowl, and vinegar to milk and leave to sit for a few minutes (this acts as an egg replacer for leavening the cake).
- Gradually add dry ingredients to the margarine and sugar mix, and then stir in the milk mixture. Mix the batter until it’s just combined, however make sure you don’t overly mix it or the cake won’t rise and will be rubbery.
- Divide the mix between the 2 cake pans and bake for about 25 or 30 minutes until the are lightly browned and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
- Meanwhile, prepare the frosting. Simply beat together the cream cheese, margarine, and peanut butter in a large bowl, then add the powdered sugar. You can vary the amount of peanut butter or sugar to suit your taste.
- Once the cakes cooled, spread a generous layer of frosting on the 2 halves, and top each with the sliced banana. Finally, put the 2 together! The recipe also suggests serving it with melted vegan chocolate drizzled over the top, but we weren’t brave enough to try that. If you feel like going all out, though, I’m sure it tastes great!
This post is mainly for those who live in the UK, because from what I’ve read vegetable shortening is pretty well known in America and I probably sound like an idiot for getting so excited about it. Unfortunately I can’t say I’ve discovered any particular brand in any other country, but over here in England I have come across a wonderful thing called Trex…
I found it fairly recently and so have only used it with a few recipes so far, but honestly, it looks like it could be coming in pretty handy and I’ll probably end up using it loads. I don’t want to sound too much like an advertisement for it, but this stuff is definitely worth grabbing hold of, for the crumble in the previous post if nothing else. I make a vegan apple crumble, and I also used to make a non-vegan one for the non-vegans in the family, but I don’t need to do that anymore because apparently it really does taste exactly the same.
Trex – or vegetable shortening – is basically solid vegetable fat (instead of milk fat which butter mostly is) and is stocked in loads of big supermarkets including Tesco and Sainsbury’s, and is by far the best butter replacement I’ve found (it claims to be ‘the ideal partner in the kitchen’, and so let’s hope it’s true to word). Soya margarine is great for tonnes of stuff in cooking, but in some recipes it just isn’t thick enough and so sinks to the bottom, but this is a problem that’s solved by vegetable shortening.
Anyway, I’ve ended up babbling on for quite a bit but basically, if you have the same problem as I did, in that soya margarine is too light for some recipes, I went for about a year thinking I was limited to cooking margarine based recipes, but just get some vegetable shortening such as Trex 🙂
Next in line for making is vegan fruit crumble, a nice and versatile recipe. Back in my early days of vegan baking I thought this would be a fairly easy one to convert because all that needed to be excluded is butter, and surely just use soya spread? Sadly not – the olive or sunflower oil is too liquidy meaning it melts through the fruit and settles at the bottom. Don’t get me wrong – it still tasted good, but didn’t look too appealing or taste quite as nice as it could do. Then I discovered vegetable shortening (I use Trex), which I’ll talk about in my next post, but to sum up – if you can get hold of it, use it! 😀
Anyway, enough of that, back to vegan crumble! You can use whatever fruit you choose (blackberries, tinned apricots, plums, apples…) and follow whatever preparation method you wish, but for this recipe you’ll want:
Enough fruit of your choice to fill the oven-proof bowl of your choice (we use a big 4 litre Pyrex dish because the crumble easily keeps for a week and we like to keep stocked up, but you might prefer to make a smaller one). The following ingredients are to make enough crumble topping to cover the 4 litre bowl of fruit, but if you’re making a smaller size just change the ingredients to roughly fit, but there is no exact amount so don’t worry about getting it right:
- 150g self-raising flour
- 1½ teaspoons ground ginger
- 60g ground almonds
- 110g Demerara sugar + 1½ tablespoons
- 110g caster sugar
- About 30g vegetable shortening, depending on how buttery you like it (if you only have soya spread, go for it, but as mentioned above it won’t be quite as good. You’ll probably need about 60g instead)
- Prepare the fruit of your choice. For apple, peel as many Bramley cooking apples as necessary to fill your dish and slice into fairly thick discs. Layer these in the oven-proof bowl, and you could maybe add a layer of another fruit such as blackberries between. Depending on how sweet your choice of fruit is, you may want to put in a couple of tablespoons of caster sugar, but we don’t normally bother because once it has been cooked it’s pretty sweet naturally.
- Preheat the oven to about 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 (or 160-170°C for fan-assissted).
- Separately, mix all (except for the extra 1½ tablespoons Demerara sugar) dry ingredients in a bowl – personally I don’t bother sifting flour for this recipe. Then gradually rub in the vegetable shortening with fingertips until the mixture forms small clumps.
- Spread the crumble mix over the fruit, then sprinkle the 1½ tablespoons of Demerara sugar over the surface. If possible, try to then put the bowl on top of a baking tray because the metal conducts the heat to help cook the fruit through properly, then put the whole thing in the oven.
- It will need about 40-50 minutes depending on how well cooked you like it (we’ve found it tastes surprisingly good burnt) and is lovely hot, cold, with soya cream or soya custard or by itself! Wow, so much choice…
Possibly one of the main things that put people off baking vegan but actually so easy to solve with tasty results. There are a variety of egg replacers available (such as these on Goodness Direct). But there are also quite a few methods which don’t really require any special ingredients other than those as readily available at supermarkets as the eggs themselves! These substitutes were taken from ‘The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions’ by Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman.
If the recipe requires eggs for binding in baked foods (usually those that require 1 egg per recipe), try:
16g (2 tablespoons) of any starch – such as cornstarch or arrowroot – whisked with 30ml water (2 tablespoons)
18g (2 and a half tablespoons) flaxseed meal whisked with 45ml (3 tablespoons) warm water
60g (quarter of a cup) applesauce, pumpkin, or other fruit or vegetable puree. Half a mashed banana works well, but often flavours the recipe so watch out!
If the recipe require eggs for leavening in baked foods (usually 2 or 3 eggs per recipe), try:
- 15ml (1 tablespoon) mild vinegar combined with soya milk such as Alpro. This should curdle to provide 235ml (about one cup). This method is best used for recipes that also use baking soda (sounds disgusting but I’ve tested it and it works well)
- 60g (quarter of a cup) nondairy yogurt.
If the egg is required to add moisture to baked food (usually 1 egg), try:
- 60ml (quarter of a cup) coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon of oil combined with non-dairy milk to make 60ml (quarter of a cup)
- 60g (quarter of a cup) fruit or vegetable puree.
You could also try replacing egg white by using 8g (1 tablespoon) agar powder with 15ml (1 tablespoon) water, whipping it, then chilling thoroughly, and whipping again. However, this is unlikely to work for a recipe that require more than one egg white, therefore egg replacement powder (as mentioned above) is the best bet, as it works well as a replacement for egg white as well as all other egg requirements. Eggcellent 😉