Lemon chickpea slice

Abundance! What a brilliant word. But when it comes to citrus, you really have to get a little bit creative. Oranges are great because you can just eat or juice them. Lemons and limes are a tad more tricky – pickled limes, preserved lemons, marmalade? Tick. And there are still bags of fruit coming off the trees.

Desserts.

Lemon and lime sweets generally use very few fruit, which will hardly make a dent in the abundance of your heaving lemon tree. But any use is better than none, right? Especially a tasty one.

This is a variation on a recipe I posted a while ago for choc-berry chickpea slice. That one was vegan – this one is dairy-free and uses eggs. I must say that this version is rather lovely. It has a much lighter consistency, rather than the more fudgey chia-egg version. Not to say I don’t love a fudgey slice, but the eggs really do make a difference to the texture. Lighter is better when it comes to lemon I think. It also has no oil! Why did I even include that in the first place?! (And it still excites me that you’re getting a little dose of legume in your dessert!)

Lemon chickpea slice

1 cup chickpeas, cooked and drained
1 cup plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup raw sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
zest of one lemon
1/4 cup lemon juice

Preheat oven to 180C and line a square or rectangular baking tin (the type for making brownies, or square cakes) – about 20 x 20 or 30 cm.

Whizz the chickpeas in a food processor until the texture resembles something between breadcrumbs and flour. This will be easier if the chickpeas are well-drained.
Place the chickpeas in a large bowl with the flour and baking powder, and whisk to mix together and remove any lumps.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, vanilla, lemon zest and juice. Add to the bowl of dry ingredients and mix until well combined.

Pour the mixture into prepared baking pan and bake for 40 minutes until the top is golden and an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Allow to cool, then remove from pan and ice with lemon icing by combining approx 1 cup icing sugar with a dash of lemon juice (or dilute with non-dairy milk if you want a more subtle lemon flavour).

When icing has set, cut into slices of your desired shape and size.

Eat.

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Choc berry chickpea slice

On the weekend, I got a little creative. (The best kind of weekend, right?)
I challenged myself to make a slice, using the berries that have been sitting in the freezer for longer than I care to admit. Not knowing exactly how to make a slice, I experimented and was quite pleased with the results. After refining the recipe slightly, I am now happy to report that this is quite delicious, and also has chickpeas in it! I’m yet to try it with only chickpeas (and no flour), but if you experiment yourself with this one, please let me know how it goes!

I love using chickpeas in baking because they’re such a great little alternative to flour, and so full of protein that you can feel a little bit less guilty for indulging in baked goods – winning! These are also vegan (if you use vegan chocolate). Huzzah!

Chickpea tip: We always have chickpeas pre-cooked and frozen in small portions in zip lock bags. Cook up a whole heap at once, then you can just use them as you need, rather than having to think ahead in order to soak them in time for your meals!

*Edit – Take a look at Lemon chickpea slice for a light and lemony variation.

Choc berry chickpea slice

1 cup chickpeas, cooked
1 cup plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup raw sugar
2 chia eggs (2 tablespoons ground chia seeds, whisked with 6 tablespoons water)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup water
1 cup mixed berries (or whatever berries you please) – could be fresh or frozen
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips, or block chocolate cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 180C, and line a baking pan (of the sort you would make brownies in), about 20cm x 30cm.

Make up your chia eggs in a small bowl and allow to sit for a few minutes. Meanwhile, whizz chickpeas in a food processor until they resemble something between breadcrumbs and flour:

Place them in a large bowl with all other dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon). Whisk together to mix and get rid of any lumps.

In a medium bowl, whisk together oil, chia eggs, vanilla essence and water until well mixed. It should be quite thick. Then add this mixture to the dry ingredients, and mix until well combined. Carefully fold in berries and chocolate until just mixed.

Pour mixture into prepared tin and bake for around 40 minutes, or until golden brown and an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Allow to cool for a while in pan before removing to cool on a wire rack. Once cool, slice into bars or squares, and serve dusted with icing sugar.

**Don’t be concerned if they look a bit undercooked once you’ve sliced them. These are really moist and fudgey due to the moisture from the berries, which gives them a really great texture.

When all else fails, make brownies.

During the week, I received a lovely parcel in the mail from my friend interstate. Despite having met her in person only once, I kind of feel like she knows me too well. It’s cool. This parcel contained (among other things) a recipe. Today I baked it, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

I’m going to get a bit philosophical here, but it’s necessary.

Life doesn’t go to plan. That much is pretty obvious. Sometimes this is a good thing, and sometimes it is just too awful for words. In these not-so-great moments, even the tiniest of gestures can make a world of difference, or at least make things a little more bearable. In fact, small gestures are great any time.

Receiving mail from friends is one of those things that can instantly lift your spirits a few hundred notches, which is fantastic no matter how good/bad you’re feeling. Brownies are also one of those things. Luckily, the recipe I received was for brownies. Too perfect.

So to bring it all together here, I shall let you in on the story of my life… (not quite). Today kind of determined my success/failure in regards to this semester of my uni degree. After weeks of struggling to get anything done, today was nothing out of the ordinary. Another deadline came and went, and I found myself realising that although there was still hope for saving the semester, it probably wouldn’t happen. Definitely not the end of the world, but a defining moment in the life of a student nonetheless. So what else can one do in such a situation, but make brownies?

If baking could be dedicated to people, as songs or novels are; this batch of brownies would be dedicated to my friend; the spirit-lifter and provider of delicious recipes.
(Yes, I realise you can’t dedicate food to people, but I make the rules on this blog, so…)

Here is a photo of the glorious wonder that is a giant, as yet unsliced ginger pumpkin brownie, and below: the finished product. (You’re right, they are tasty.)

**You can now find the recipe for ginger pumpkin brownies here.

Cinnamon scrolls and ch-ch-ch-chia eggs

Report back time!

Now, I must admit to being a pretty chronic procrastibaker. Anyone could easily think I was doing a baking apprenticeship, not a science degree. But it’s not all about avoiding study; I do find baking to be a really useful ‘self-care’ strategy. For those to whom this terminology is foreign, I basically turn to baking when I feel crap, or need a positive distraction. It is also a lot of fun.

So tonight I had set myself the challenge of attempting (and mastering) vegan cinnamon scrolls. I definitely attempted them, less so mastered them, but I feel confident that I could make these to sell (with a little practise). They are delicious, and that’s all there is to it really.

I used a slightly modified recipe from veganbaking.net, and though my timing was a bit rubbish, they turned out rather well. I omitted walnuts from the top, and chose an alternative to the recommended flax egg.

And so I come to my adventures with chia. Salvia hispanica or chia, is a type of sage native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala. In recent times, it has been hailed as a superfood, though you may remember it from the days of Chia Pets. Hurrah! Luckily, we have now found a more useful application for chia. Basically, when mixed with water, chia takes on a gelatinous quality, making it perfect as a replacement for eggs in vegan baking. Traditionally, flax meal has been used for this purpose, but chia is just as good, and as I had a bag of chia and no flax – my adventures with the chia egg began.

‘Adventures’ is probably a bit far fetched – it was actually really straight forward. One tablespoon of chia ground in a mortar and pestle, mixed with 3 tablespoons of water.

I forgot to take a photo of my chia egg, but will remember for next time.

And so the result: a delicious, vegan distraction.

Recipe:

Dough
3 Tablespoons water
1 Tablespoon ground chia seeds (use white chia, not black – aesthetic reasons)

4 ½ cups plain flour
2 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast

1 cup + 2 Tablespoons warm water
½ cup sugar
⅓ cup margarine, melted
1 teaspoon salt

Filling
¾ cup + 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
¼ cup margarine, softened
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
2 ½ teaspoons cinnamon

¼ cup walnuts chopped (optional – I left them out)
¼ cup raisins

Icing
2 cups icing sugar
dash soy milk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

1)
Chia egg: In a small bowl whisk together the 3 Tablespoons water and the ground chia. Set aside and watch the magic happen.
In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the plain flour and the yeast.

2)
In another medium mixing bowl add the water, sugar, margarine, salt and whisk until well incorporated.

3)
Add the chia egg to the bowl containing the wet ingredients and whisk until well combined. Add the wet ingredients to the bowl containing the dry ingredients and stir to roughly combine.

4)
Lightly dust a clean surface with flour and knead the mixture for 5 to 10 minutes. The dough should be firm and smooth, not sticky. Place the dough back into the mixing bowl, cover and place in a warm place like on top of the stove for 1 hour. After 1 hour has passed, knead the dough for about 30 seconds and let it rest for 10 more minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 205C.

5)
In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, margarine, maple syrup and cinnamon. Set aside.

6)
Roll the dough into a flat 16 x 20 inch rectangle. Spread the margarine, sugar and cinnamon mixture evenly on top using the back of a spoon.

7)
Carefully roll up the dough lengthwise so it’s 16 inches long. Cut it into 1 ½ inch sections with a sharp knife.

8)
Place the rolls close together, cut side up in a lightly greased glass, ceramic or non-stick baking dish. This will ensure that the rolls don’t unravel during baking. Sprinkle the walnuts (optional) and raisins over them. Cover and let the buns rise for one more hour.

9)
Prepare the vanilla icing by combining the icing sugar, vanilla essence and soy milk in a small bowl. Add just enough soy to achieve a slightly runny consistency.

10)
Bake scrolls for about 15 minutes or until golden brown, rotating the dish halfway through the baking duration. Pour the icing on the warm rolls before serving. You may want to heat the icing up a little so it can easily be poured.

Recipe adapted from veganbaking.net.

Changes and Challenges

This blog has been neglected.

This is sad, and I am going to give it some love. I am also setting myself a challenge, and this may just give me the motivation to follow through with it.

So here’s the back story.

I am making radical life changes. Like, completely shifting most of the things that currently define my day-to-day life.
I am leaving uni, my family, my home of 21 years and my friends, and travelling around Australia. I might be gone one month, six months or more, and I have no intention of attaching a timeline to what I am hoping will be a journey of self-dicovery. I am also leaving in one month.

So what has this got to do with gardens, cooking and craft?

Basically, I don’t have a lot of money. I have sufficient savings to start travelling, but in the mean time, I am pretty much living on $132.16. This is an issue, because I don’t think that will get me very far this next month.

So what has this got to do with gardens, cooking and craft?

I am determined to make some money at a market, selling bread, baked goodies, or something crafty. This is something that I’ve been wanting to do for a very long time, and now seems the perfect time to make it happen. I don’t have a job, therefore any income – so any cash I can make from other means would be very welcome, and at the moment this is the only means I can think of. Busking is not an option.

So there are two markets I’m thinking of. Uraidla – first and third Sunday of the month, and Verdun – second Sunday of the month.

But what can I sell?

Tonight’s challenge is to attempt (and hopefully master) vegan cinnamon scrolls.

I shall be reporting back either elated at my success, or utterly despondent.

To be continued…