Cherry crumble slice

cherry crumble slice

Summer. It’s the season of abundance. Definitely my favourite time of year produce-wise, with all those delicious fruits that are so very missed during the cooler months; tomatoes, plums, peaches, apricots, berries, figs. Fantastic! Having too much of a good thing can be a bit irksome though, specifically when you somehow manage to end up with too much of one thing. The glut.

A lovely friend recently posted on the harvest and yarn facebook page requesting vegan cherry recipes, preferably using a lot of cherries. Firstly, I need to apologise for taking so long getting this up here. It’s one of those chaotic times when writing about food constantly falls to the bottom of the ‘to do’ list, following the ever growing amount of produce that needs cooking, drying or bottling. Secondly, this doesn’t use nearly as many cherries as I would have liked. I rushed straight to the farmers’ market to buy some, and was lucky enough to get a punnet from the last cherry pick of the season. But they were still expensive. I’m sure you’ll understand, Mia :)

To make up for this, I’ll just note that I’m certain you could probably double the cherries in this recipe and it would work just fine. Or even better, use a bigger pan, and triple the cherries! I’ve also found a couple of neat little vegan recipes that look super-tasty, and make me wish I had discovered them at the start of summer:

Homemade cherry ripe bites (Wholesome Cook)
Cherry Garcia Ice cream (Girl Cooks World)

I also had a flashback to a wwoofing experience last year, where we were instructed to cook up sour cherries with 80% as much sugar as fruit, which was then strained and bottled separately as stewed cherries, plus cherry sauce. Could go?

Anyway, fingers crossed cherry season isn’t long gone, but in the likely event that the glut is no longer existent, at least we all have a heads up for next summer.

cherry crumble slice 2

Cherry crumble slice

Base
1/3 cup almonds
1 teaspoon raw sugar
4 tablespoons vegetable oil (coconut or olive oil is fine too)
2 tablespoons soy milk

Filling
200g cherries, seeds removed (halving and picking them out is fine)
3/4 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
2/3 cup soy milk

Crumble
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 180C. Line a rectangular dish with baking paper, though it could really be any shape. (Mine was about 25x15x15cm).

Make the base by blitzing the almonds in a food processor to form a course meal, then mixing with the sugar. Add oil and soy milk and combine to form a crumbly mixture. Press about half into the base of the prepared dish.

Mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl, then add the milk and vanilla essence and stir until well combined. Lay the cherries evenly in the dish on top of the base. If you want to add more, just pile them up a bit. Pour the filling on top of the cherries, ensuring it fills all the gaps.

To the remaining half of the base mixture, add the brown sugar and cinnamon, then sprinkle liberally on top of the slice. If you used more cherries, they might poke out the top, but that’d look quirky so don’t worry :)

Bake for 50 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean (but don’t worry if it’s not – the cherries keep it moist). Serve warm or cool with something tasty – ice cream, cherry sauce, or ideally both.

Thyme and lemon biscuits

thyme and lemon biscuits

A little while ago I went on a crusade to find a good replacement for butter. After plenty of searching, numerous palm oil woes, and debates with myself about using biodynamic butter, I pretty much decided to just avoid it where I can, using olive oil instead, or coconut oil if I’m feeling rich.

In the process of reaching this conclusion however, I came across a certain product by Melrose, which I think ethically is not too bad, though obviously pretty processed and quite far from being actual food. It tastes alright (but not amazing), and goes fine on toast. The jelly-like consistency did irk us all a bit though, so I made the call that it definitely wouldn’t work to bake with this stuff. Fast forward about 9 months, and the poor little tub is still sitting in the fridge; forgotten, but otherwise fine.

It really needed to get out of our lives, however being one to avoid wasting anything, I decided to give baking a go.

Biggest. Mistake. Ever.

Heating this spread seemed to just compound its not-amazing flavour, and ruined a batch of what would otherwise have been quite tasty biscuits. I was saddened by this defeat, but was sure that these biscuits could actually be quite good. Herbs in sweet biscuits – what a delicious paradigm shift!

Determined to eat these biscuits, I tried again with old mate nuttelex. It may not be the greatest solution to my butter woes, but it came through with the goods. I was rewarded with golden, sugary discs of thyme and lemon, and the realisation that I probably just need my own cow.

thyme and lemon biscuits 2

thyme and lemon biscuits 3

Thyme and lemon biscuits

Makes about 20

4 tablespoons butter/margarine
1/4 cup raw sugar
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
finely grated rind of 1 lemon
1/2 cup plain flour

Preheat oven to 180C, and line a baking tray with grease-proof paper.

Grind thyme to a pulp using a mortar and pestle. Whisk butter/margarine and sugar in a medium bowl, then add thyme and lemon rind and mix to combine.

Sift in flour and mix to form a dough. Roll out dough between two sheets of baking paper to approximately half a centimetre thick. Cut into rounds (or the shape of your choice) using a biscuit cutter, and transfer to prepared tray. Sprinkle lightly with raw sugar.

The baking time will vary with your oven, but will be around 7-12 minutes. You might need to rotate the tray halfway through if your oven cooks unevenly (like mine). Just keep watch – they’re done when they’re lightly golden. Allow to cool, then eat.

Rose and almond muffins.

rose and almond muffins

I am a fan of muffins. It’s barely a secret. They are so easy to make, versatile, not terribly unhealthy, and a brilliant multipurpose food (breakfast/snack/dessert anyone?)

They’re also a fun medium for playing with flavour combinations, and although these ones aren’t terribly adventurous, I have been known to make banana and coriander seed muffins in the past. Whoa!

Though I don’t have any exciting stories to tell today, it’s probably afternoon tea time somewhere in the world, so why not bake some muffins?

These vegan lovelies are deliciously rose-flavoured with crunchy almond bits. Might I suggest enjoying with a cup of tea, probably from a teapot, because it’s always better that way.

rose and almond muffins 2

rose and almond muffins 3

rose and almond muffins 4

Rose and almond muffins

Makes 12 small-medium muffins

1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup almonds
1 apple
4 tablespoons water
1/2 cup raw sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons rose water
1 cup non-dairy milk (I used rice milk)

Preheat oven to 180C and grease or line your muffin pans.

Lightly toast almonds using your preferred method. I threw them in a bowl in the microwave for one minute. Once toasted, roughly chop.

Core and roughly chop the apple, then whizz it in a food processor (a small one if possible), with the water. This makes a kind of instant applesauce. If you have applesauce on hand, use about half a cup of that instead if you like.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the applesauce, sugar, rose water and milk. Use a whisk or a fork to mix it well.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and powder and chopped almonds, then add the wet ingredients, whisking to combine well.

Spoon the mixture into your pre-prepared muffin pans, until they’re about 3/4 full. Bake for around 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Orange and wattleseed muffins

Are you across wattleseed?

It is brilliant, and what’s more; an Australian native. What could be better than cooking with plants that are native to your own backyard? Though there are hundreds of species of Acacia, only a few are useful in the culinary world. The one I’ve heard used most frequently is Acacia victoriae, and in this case, it is roasted and ground. In this form, it can be used to make a delicious brew – often called wattleseed ‘tea’ – with a taste kind of similar to coffee (but not quite…)

Last week I was pondering the change of season, and the somewhat scarce selection of fruit that comes with winter. It’s citrus, really… oranges, mandarines, lemons, limes. That’s not to say that other fruits aren’t available. Supermarkets make sure of that. But I’m really keen to pursue local and seasonal produce, and with that comes a brilliant opportunity for creativity, especially when your favourite ingredients aren’t around. I’m also going to mention here, that I’ve recently come into a supply of small-batch-milled wholemeal flour courtesy of my lovely boy’s family farm in the Clare Valley. This is pretty well as close as I will ever get to home-grown wheat/flour, which is a tad exciting. I also retrieved some oranges from the tree at said boy’s house this morning, which leads me back nicely to the citrus. So I was contemplating the potential pairings with orange, and my mind went to the packet of wattleseed laying almost forgotten in the meat safe. After some quick consultation, I was assured that this combination would work, so I set about figuring out what makes a good vegan muffin.

I have to admit to being pretty pleased with the result here. Light and fluffy muffins that are not too sweet – great with a bit of butter/spread as a breakfast or morning/afternoon tea treat. The orange and wattleseed actually go really well together. Being a flavour that can’t really be described, I suggest you find yourself some wattleseed and give it a try. They are also vegan and very low in fat, if these are qualities you seek in a muffin. Otherwise, feel free to substitute with milk if you have a cow etc. Happy seasonal baking!

Orange and wattleseed muffins

2 cups wholemeal flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tablespoons ground, roasted wattleseed
approx 1/4 cup applesauce*
1/2 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup soy or other non-dairy milk
1/2 cup orange juice – (approximately one large orange)
rind of one orange
1 tsp vanilla extract

*To make instant applesauce, combine one apple (cored and roughly chopped) with 2 tablespoons of water in a food processor until smooth. This yields the correct quantity for this recipe.

Preheat oven to 180C and grease or line a 12 cup muffin pan.
Place flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and wattleseed in a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
In a small bowl, mix applesauce, sugar, soy milk, orange juice, orange rind and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth and well combined.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, and whisk together until combined.
Spoon mixture into muffin pans until 3/4 full, then bake for 18 minutes or until golden and an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Honey-glazed earl grey and persimmon muffins – Sweet Adventures Blog Hop

This is something new for me. The Sweet Adventures Blog Hop (this month hosted by 84th & 3rd), is a monthly dessert link-up, whereby you submit a post relating to the month’s theme, and then become linked up with everyone else who does so in a neat little list, so you can read everyone’s wonderful recipes.

The theme for May is ‘What’s your cup of tea?’ – and if you have a little click on some of those links above, you can see the list of delightful adventures going on around this theme.

I have to admit to getting a little bit experimental with my entry here. Firstly, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a persimmon, let alone cooked with one. It was just one of those times where there were a few pieces of fruit in a bowl in the kitchen, looking a little bit sad, so it made sense to put them out of their misery and turn them into something a bit more appealing.

I can’t say I’ve ever used honey instead of sugar before either. However, I met up with a lovely uni friend today, whose Dad is a newly registered apiarist, and is selling his honey from hives in their suburban Adelaide backyard. How could I resist the sweet calling from happy hives?

And lastly; tea. The magic ingredient that is rather integral to this whole undertaking. I probably need to refine my methods for extracting the tea flavour (because there was some crazy stuff happening in my kitchen this afternoon), but I’ve had a think, and refined it for ease of replication in the recipe below.

These muffins are not too sweet, and the flavours are pretty subtle; probably quite appropriate for breakfast, as they’re quite healthy too (low-fat and egg and dairy-free). You might like to ramp up the tea flavour a bit by making a strong brew, and be careful with the honey on top – if it runs down the edges of the muffins, it makes them hard to get out of the patty pans. This could be a good thing though, if you want an excuse to get every last bit of muffin from the paper… I’m sure some experimentation will work this one out – perhaps just a dollop of honey in the centre. For a first try at an invented recipe though, these muffins are not bad. I mean, I ate two of them when I was supposed to just be ‘tasting’ them, so…

Well here you go. Honey-glazed earl grey and persimmon muffins. My first attempt at entering the world of the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop.

Honey-glazed persimmon muffins

Makes 10 muffins

1/2 cup persimmon flesh, mashed (the persimmon I used was so soft, mashing wasn’t necessary)
1 persimmon, diced
1 persimmon, sliced horizontally (to get the star pattern)
1/2 cup soy milk
1/2 cup boiling water (to make tea)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3 earl grey teabags
extra honey to drizzle

Preheat the oven to 180C and line a muffin tin with paper liners.

Brew some strong earl grey using around 3 teabags, and 1/2 cup boiling water. Heat soy milk in a small saucepan with the hot tea-water and tea bags to extract some more flavour.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder to remove any lumps. In a small bowl, mix mashed persimmon, 1/2 cup honey, tea-infused soy milk and water, and vegetable oil. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and whisk until combined. Carefully fold in diced persimmon pieces, then distribute evenly among muffin pans.

Ensure tops are level, then place one persimmon slice on top of each muffin. Drizzle a small amount of honey on top, preferably in the centre so it doesn’t end up around the muffin instead of on it.

Bake for around 30 minutes, or until golden brown and an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Sweet Adventures Blog Hop

This post is part of the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop. Head over here and scroll down to see the list of other blogs taking part in the hop!