Vegan Irish Apple Cake

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With St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner I wanted to do a post featuring something Irish made vegan! My main criteria? It could not, and absolutely would not, be colored any shade of green. #IPityTheFoodColoring

Of course my first thought was, “ERMAHGERD POTATOES!!!” A logical first thought but alas, I wanted something different. I wanted something that was Irish but that didn’t punch you in the face with its Irish-ness. I wanted something that would caress your cheek (whichever cheek you prefer to be caressed upon) and then whisper in your ear, “Iiirriissshhhhh.” Immediately my mind went to desserts and, thanks to a little search engine inspiration, I figured out exactly what I wanted to make -Irish Apple Cake, also known as Kerry Apple Cake.

The traditional versions of this beloved Irish treat aren’t that sweet and they usually feature apples alone as the star of the show. I mean, it’s called apple cake so what would you expect, right? But in my modern take I have 2 stars -the apples, of course, and walnuts which add crunch and a little bitterness to offset the tart apples. I also upped the sugar just a smidge but the cake isn’t cloyingly sweet by no means so you can still enjoy it for breakfast just like they sometimes do in Ireland! However and whenever you choose to enjoy it, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it -especially if you’re an apple lover like I am!

To get started, I went ahead and prepared some egg substitute for use a little later in the recipe. (By now I’m sure you know what my favorite egg substitute is in baking but, just in case you haven’t checked out any of my other recipes before, it’s Ener-G and I prepared it according to the instructions on the box for 2 eggs worth of substitute!)

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After I prepared my egg substitute I then prepared the walnuts by tossing them around with a little flour. We do this because nuts, and things like them that you add to cakes, tend to sink to the bottom of the cake if not coated in a little flour. Now, the batter for this cake is rather thick so I probably didn’t have to do this step but I thought better safe than sorry and it only took like 5 seconds to do! When all of your walnuts are nicely coated in a light layer of flour you’re just going to set them aside for a moment -we’ll come back for them soon, I promise!

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Okay, time to make the cake batter!

First I mixed the wet ingredients, including the egg substitute I made earlier, together. And remember now, we count sugar as a wet ingredient in baking. After all of that was whisked to perfection, I added the dry ingredients and gave it all a good stir. The batter should be pretty thick and that’s exactly how we want it to be so don’t be tempted to add more liquid. Once the batter is made set it aside for a minute so that we can get the apples ready.

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For the apples, you’ll wash them (obvi), then peel them and slice them thin (think 1/5th of an inch or a little over 1/8th of an inch). You’ll then core the slices and cut them into more bite size pieces. Lastly, you’re going to toss the bite size pieces in with a little flour -just like we did with the walnuts.

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Now it’s time to build our cake -no degree in cake building required!

In a prepared pan (sprayed, floured, and lined on the bottom with parchment paper) I add a thin layer of the cake batter. Don’t worry about spreading the thick batter out edge to edge, it will get pushed out as we add stuff to it. Speaking of adding stuff to it, we will then add half of our apples, pressing a little with each one to help spread the batter out, and then we will add half of our walnuts.

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On top of that first layer of apples and walnuts you’re going to spoon on dollops of batter. Again, we’re not looking to completely cover the pan edge to edge, we’re just looking for moderate coverage. Add the next layer of apples and walnuts now -the remaining amounts of each. Be sure to once again be pressing on the apples as you lay them down so that they help spread the batter around a little. The final layer is the remaining cake batter dolloped and then gently spread/pressed around to ensure that the apples are all covered. Once the final layer is complete you may then put the cake into the oven.

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When the cake is done, a toothpick inserted into the center will come out clean. Let that bad (Irish) boy cool completely then give him a nice dusting of powdered sugar and enjoy!

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Vegan Irish Apple Cake

  • Servings: 8-10
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • Egg substitute for 2 eggs (I used Ener-G -it’s my favorite!)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 stick of vegan butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups flour + 1/2 tablespoon for walnuts + 2 tablespoons for apples + extra for pan
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 granny smith (green) apples
  • Powdered sugar for dusting over finished cake

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 9 inch round cake pan by greasing it, dusting it with flour, and then lining the bottom with parchment paper. Prepare egg substitute according to directions on packaging for 2 eggs if you haven’t done so already. In a separate small dish, prepare walnuts by coating them with 1/2 tablespoon of flour. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine sugar, vegan butter, almond milk, egg substitute, lemon juice, and vanilla. When combined, add 1 1/4 cups flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg. Stir to incorporate dry ingredients. Batter should be thick and smooth. Set aside for a moment to prepare apples. To prepare apples, wash then peel the apples. Slice apples into thin slices, core the slices, then quarter the slices. In a small bowl, toss the apples with 2 tablespoons of flour to lightly coat them.
  3. Grab your prepared pan and add in a thin layer of batter. Enough to coat most of the bottom but don’t feel the need to get it edge to edge. Layer in half of your apple pieces, pressing down on each as you add it so as to help push the batter around into a more even layer. Add half of your walnuts over top of the apples. Now add another layer of batter by spooning dollops of batter into the pan. Again, don’t worry about getting complete coverage because the batter will spread as you add the next layer of apples and walnuts. Add the final layer of apples and walnuts just as you did the first. Lastly, top the whole thing off with the remaining cake batter, dolloping it on and then carefully smoothing/pressing it out to ensure that all of the apples are covered.
  4. Bake for 50 minutes. When done, a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center of the cake will come out clean. Cool cake fully then dust with powdered sugar. Cake will keep on counter in an airtight container, or covered well, for 2-3 days or in the fridge for up to 4 days.

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Vegan Tomato Tart

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I love my best friend, Angel. She’s the bestest best friend a girl could ask for! We’ve known each other for (I think) nearly 15 years and if there is one thing that I have learned about her in those 15 years it’s that she loves food. Any food.

Now this is both a good thing and a bad thing though. It’s a good thing because it means that she will eat whatever I make for her (and her hubby and baby boy). I always get to test out new recipes and she gets free, yummy vegan food -most of the time. That’s where this can be a bad thing. I’m not a professional chef or culinary wiz by no means so there are times when, despite my best efforts, something just doesn’t turn out as I had hoped it would. But there’s my soul sister, eating it anyways. I’ll critic my work with every bite but she doesn’t say a peep. When I mention how I can make it better next time she often lovingly says that it was great this time. (Did I mention that I love her??)

One such occasion where we didn’t agree on how a recipe turned out was when I made my very first tomato tart. It looked amazing but it was troublesome to eat and missing something. I rattled off the changes I wanted to make to the recipe and what did my best friend do? She asked me for the recipe. As it was. Well me being the perfectionist that I am, I straight up refused to give it to her. Instead I said that when I had finished tweaking it I would then, and only then, share it with her -and all of you. Fast forward a few months later, to today, and I am proud to say that my tomato tart recipe has been perfected and is finally ready to share.

This one’s for you, Angel! #LoveYou

This easy to make tart is a thing of beauty and I’ve definitely improved on its eatability and flavor. The sweet little cherry tomatoes which have been cooked down in a balsamic vinegar reduction are everything -they are bursting with flavor. Below them there is a creamy, garlic-flavored tofu cream and below that is light and crispy puff pastry. Top it all of with some fresh basil and this recipe is perfect for a light lunch or dinner, or as an appetizer at your next get-together.

The first thing that we need to do is prepare some egg substitute for use a little later. I used Ener-G egg substitute and I prepared it in accordance with the instructions on the box for 1 egg. Set this mixture aside until it’s needed.

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Next, the creamy tofu filling needs to be made by first draining and pressing some firm tofu. Put the tofu in a blender and add in almond milk, lemon juice, a whole bunch of garlic, a little onion powder, salt, and some sugar. Blend until perfectly smooth then set aside for a moment until we need it.

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Okay, now for the puff pastry portion -say that 10 times fast! For this recipe you will need 1 sheet of puff pastry that you’ve thawed according to the instructions on the packaging. Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut a 1/2 inch wide strip off of the left side and the right side of the pastry sheet. Now cut 1/2 inch wide strips from both the top and the bottom of the pastry sheet.

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Grab your egg substitute and, using your finger or a small pastry brush, paint on a 1/2 inch wide strip of egg substitute onto the bottom edge of the final pastry square. Once you’ve got a strip of egg substitute on the edge, place the bottom strip of puff pastry that you cut off over top of the egg substitute to create the bottom side of what will be a frame of puff pastry. Repeat the egg substitute and puff pastry strip application on the opposite side of the pastry square.

With the top and bottom of the frame done now we must put on the sides. Before you “glue down” the left and right sides of our puff pastry strips with egg substitute, trim the length of the strips down to fit between the top and bottom puff pastry strips without overlap. Once all of the puff pastry frames edges have been attached with egg substitute, carefully transfer the whole thing to a parchment-lined sheet pan.

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Pour the creamy tofu goodness that we made earlier in the center of your puff pastry frame then carefully spread it out into an even layer. Try not to get it onto the frame itself but if some does accidentally spill over just push it back towards the the center of the pastry square.

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Get that into your preheated oven and bake it off until the puff pastry is golden brown and the tofu cream has set. While that’s baking, we will need to make the tomato mixture that will top off the tart after it comes out of the oven and we will also need to cut up some fresh basil.

For the tomato mixture, halve a generous cup of cherry (aka cherub) tomatoes. Put them into a pan with a little balsamic vinegar and cook them over low-med. heat for about 10 minutes or until the tomatoes have become soft and darker in color, and the balsamic vinegar has reduced to a thicker consistency.

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Once the puff pastry and tofu cream are done in the oven, it’s time to add the tomato mixture to our tart to transform it into the hella good tomato tart it was destined to be.

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As you can see, I just use a spoon to get the tomato mixture onto the tart. After all of the tomatoes are on there I then use the back of the spoon to gently press the tomatoes down a little which helps them fill out the tart a little better.

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Add the fresh basil and enjoy!

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Vegan Tomato Tart

  • Servings: 3-4 as a light lunch or dinner, 4-9 as an appetizer
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • Egg substitute for 1 egg (I used Ener-G -it’s my favorite!)
  • Flour for cutting board or pastry board
  • 1 sheet of vegan puff pastry, thawed according to directions on packaging (Pepperidge Farm puff pastry is vegan!)
  • 7 ounces of firm tofu, drained and pressed
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled but left whole
  • 3/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 generous cup of cherry (aka cherub) tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Fresh basil, finely chopped or cut into little ribbons (chiffonade)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper. In a small dish, prepare egg substitute for 1 egg according to package instructions. Set aside.
  2. Put the drained and pressed tofu into a blender and add in the almond milk, lemon juice, whole garlic cloves, onion powder, salt, and sugar. Blend until perfectly smooth then set aside.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, lay out the puff pastry sheet. Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut a 1/2 inch wide strip off of the left side and the right side of the puff pastry sheet. Now cut 1/2 inch wide strips from both the top and the bottom of the puff pastry sheet.
  4. Using your finger or a small pastry brush, paint on a 1/2 inch wide strip of egg substitute onto the bottom edge of the final puff pastry square. Place the bottom strip of puff pastry that you cut off over top of the egg substitute to create the bottom side of what will be a frame of puff pastry. Repeat the egg substitute and puff pastry strip application on the opposite side of the puff pastry square. With the top and bottom of the frame done now put on the sides but before you “glue down” the left and right strips of puff pastry with egg substitute, trim the length of the strips down to fit between the top and bottom puff pastry strips without overlap. Once all of the puff pastry frames edges have been attached with egg substitute, carefully transfer the whole thing to a parchment-lined sheet pan.
  5. Pour the tofu mixture in the center of the puff pastry frame then carefully spread it out into an even layer. Try not to get it onto the frame itself but if some does accidentally spill over just push it back towards the the center of the puff pastry square. Bake for 35 minutes.
  6. While the puff pastry and tofu cream are baking, make the tomato mixture that will top off the tart after it comes out of the oven. Cut each tomato in half. Put halved tomatoes into a shallow pan with the balsamic vinegar. Cook uncovered over low-med. heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until the tomatoes have become soft and darker in color, and the balsamic vinegar has reduced to a thicker consistency. Set aside until tart is out of the oven.
  7. After 35 minutes is up, remove tart from oven and top with the tomato mixture. Use the back of a spoon to gently press over top of the tomato mixture to help it fill out the tart a little better. Finish with fresh basil and enjoy! Will keep in an airtight container in fridge for 1-2 days but is better when served and eaten immediately.

Vegan Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry “Buttercream” Frosting

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Happy Valentine’s Day! Well, Happy (almost) Valentine’s Day! (Or Galentine’s Day, or Singles Awareness Day, or whatever other name you have for February 14th!)

With the day o’ love coming up I decided to do a Valentine’s-inspired recipe this week. When I think of Valentine’s day, the first thing that comes to mind is that I’m single but, once I stop crying, the next thing, or rather things, that comes to mind are strawberries. Who doesn’t love a good fresh strawberry? I know I could eat them, and have eaten them, by the pint. Oh who am I kidding, I’ve eaten them by the pound before. #StrawberrySkank

So with strawberries in mind I decided to come up with a recipe for fresh and from scratch strawberry cupcakes with a strawberry “buttercream” frosting to go on top. Why did I take the time to let you know that they are not only fresh but also from scratch? Because 9 out of 10 strawberry cupcake/cake recipes you find out there are not fresh or from scratch. Most ask you to plop in some strawberry gelatin dessert mix and some just doctor up a box of strawberry cake mix -either way, no thank you. My recipe calls for real strawberries and that makes all the difference.

Oh look, here come some fresh, real strawberries right now…

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Beautiful, aren’t they?

The first step is to process the strawberries by hulling, halving, and then blending them up with some lemon juice until smooth and liquidy. My blender has an “extract” button which pulverizes whatever you put in there so I opted to use this feature with my strawberries to ensure that their tiny little seeds would not be floating around in my puree.

You will be using this puree in both the cupcakes and the frosting but you will have a little leftover to do something fun with or you know, you could just drink that leftover strawberry goodness right down, if you’re so inclined to do so. And I was.

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To get started on the cupcakes you’re going to whisk together the dry ingredients and then set them aside for a moment until they’re needed. (Pretty easy so far, right?!)

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Next you’re going to get the wet ingredients, including some of the strawberry puree, combined in a separate bowl.

One of the wet ingredients in this cupcake recipe is vegan strawberry yogurt. For this recipe I prefer a soy-based rather than nut-based yogurt and if your yogurt has bits of strawberries in it then you, like me, will have to scoop those out before you move on to the next step. We want out cupcakes to be light and lovely and not have little lumps in them so it’s important that you get those out. It’ll only take a minute, I promise.

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Once your wet ingredients are combined and the strawberry lumps from the yogurt have been removed, you can then add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Should you desire a more pink-y cupcake you are more than welcome to add in a few drops of pink or red food coloring here but I personally wanted to keep my cupcakes au naturel.

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Fill your cupcake papers (12 to be precise) a smidge over halfway full then bake ’em for 20-25 minutes. When done, as with most cupcakes, a toothpick stuck in the center will come out clean.

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Transfer your little piggy pink beauties to a baking rack to cool completely before frosting.

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As for the frosting, it couldn’t be any easier to make a vegan “buttercream.” Simply combine the room temperature vegan butter, a little strawberry puree, vanilla, and salt in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment attached, or in a bowl and use a hand mixer. With the mixer on low you’re going to slowly add in the powdered sugar in parts. Once all of the powdered sugar has been added, crank up the speed of the mixer and whip a little air into your frosting for just a few seconds until it is light and fluffy. Again, if you’d prefer a more pink-y color you can add in some food coloring but as with the cupcakes, I went for the natural color which is a very pale shade of peachy pink.

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After you’ve allowed your cupcakes to cool fully you can then frost them with your strawberry “buttercream” frosting and add any little special touch you want to them -I added some itty bitty heart sprinkles because after all, these are Valentine’s cupcakes.

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Vegan Strawberry Cupcakes With Strawberry 'Buttercream' Frosting

  • Servings: 12
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

    For the puree:
  • About 1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • For the cupcakes:
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup strawberry puree
  • 1 stick of vegan butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 3 tablespoons vegan strawberry yogurt (preferably soy-based)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Red or pink food coloring (optional)
  • For the frosting:
  • 1 stick of vegan butter, room temperature
  • About 1/3 cup strawberry puree
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • A pinch of salt
  • Red or pink food coloring (optional)
  • About 3 1/3 cups of powdered sugar

Directions

    For the puree:
  1. Combine both ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and liquidy.
  2. For the cupcakes:
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a muffin/cupcake pan by lining 12 cups with cupcake papers.
  4. In a medium or large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Set aside.
  5. In a separate bowl or large measuring cup mix the sugar, 1/2 cup of strawberry puree, melted vegan butter, almond milk, vegan strawberry yogurt, and vanilla together and stir to combine. If your strawberry yogurt has little bits of real strawberries in it then you’ll want to fish those out before you move on to the next step -we don’t want those in our cupcakes because they’ll make our cupcakes lumpy. If you desire a more pink-y cupcake you can add a couple drops of red or pink food coloring to the wet ingredients but this is completely optional.
  6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Divide the batter evenly among the 12 cupcake papers and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick stuck into the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean. When cupcakes are done, transfer them to a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely before frosting. Cupcakes will keep in an airtight container for 2-3 days and because of the fresh fruit in both them and the frosting they should be kept in the fridge when not being served.
  7. For the frosting:
  8. Combine the vegan butter, about 1/3 cup strawberry puree, vanilla, and salt in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment attached, or in a bowl and use a hand mixer. If you desire a more pink-y frosting you can also add in a couple drops of red or pink food coloring but this is completely optional.
  9. With the mixer on low slowly add in the powdered sugar in parts. Once all of the powdered sugar has been added, crank up the speed of the mixer to whip a little air into the frosting. Be sure to not overwork the frosting -it should only take a few seconds of mixing on a higher speed to get the frosting light and fluffy.