Jan 30, 2011

House of Cake

layered chocolate cake with vegan buttercream frosting in the shape of a house.
I took the month of December and part of January to clean, purge, and organize my entire house of 12 years worth of junk. It was tedious. It was draining. It was therapy. Old pots and pans, tupperware with missing lids, an assortment of clever kitchen gadgets that never worked as they're TV commercials had claimed- all to be remembered with varying degrees of fondness, before letting them go. It's amazing how much we hold on to things in our lives- some out of mere laziness, some with an alarming amount of dysfunctional sentiment. In the end, our home made it through it's month-long intervention with a rekindled energy, and a heck of a lot less dust!

A 4-yard dumpster, sore muscles, and 10 plus donation bags later, I decided to celebrate this experience by making a gift to the house. What better way to celebrate than with a house of cake? It's one whopping New Year's resolution down!

This cake was another of my attempts to also use spelt flour instead of wheat, and to minimize processed sugar. I adapted this recipe to make it, and also added a bit of coffee, as I read that it enhances chocolate flavor. It turned out super moist, not too sweet, and the perfect partner to the vegan buttercream frosting.
The roof was made with a triangle cake that was inspired by this post by Hannah over at Bittersweet.

Cake Ingredients:
2 1/2 C. whole pitted dates
3 C. water
1 T. instant coffee (I used decaf, but regular should be fine too)
1 C. soy milk
2 T. apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 T. ground flaxseed
1/2 C. vegetable oil
1/2 C. unrefined sugar
3 C. spelt flour
1 T. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
3/4 C. cocoa powder (unsweetened)

Makes two houses, depending on size

Cut open dates to check for pits. Place them in a sauce pan with the 3 C. of water. Let it come to a boil, then turn off heat, add instant coffee, and set aside.
Mix soy milk, apple cider vinegar, flaxseed, vegetable oil, and sugar in a bowl. In a separate bowl, sift together the spelt flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In a food processor, transfer the date mixture and blend until smooth (if it's still hot, allow steam to escape or allow it to cool down first). Mix the date mixture into the prepared wet mix, then mix in the dry mix. Spread into two prepared jelly roll pans (try to spread evenly). Bake at 350 F for 10 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow it to cool before cutting into four identical squares (to make the base layers). Cut 2 more squares into rectangles lengthwise (to make roof layers).

Vegan Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Ingredients:
1 C. Earth Balance buttery sticks
3 1/2 C. confectioner's sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 C. soy milk (adjust according to desired thickness)

Put everything in a food processor, and blend until very smooth and thick. Refrigerate.

Assembling the Cake:
To make the base, simply spread on a thin layer of frosting in between squares, making sure to frost all the way to the ends. For the roof, frost between the rectangle layers as you did previously. Then put in the freezer to set- this will help you keep the layers together when you cut your triangles. See the diagram below.

Jan 22, 2011

Vegan Spelt Date-Sweetened Apple Fritters

These are crisp on the outside, and moist and fluffy on the inside. Great smothered in maple syrup!

I've been gone a long time. No excuses, except that I've been working on a project, which will be revealed in my next post. In the meantime, I've been replacing a lot of my all-purpose flour with spelt flour, since we found out that my husband has a mild wheat intolerance. Did you know that a lot of people have this and don't know it? His symptoms included bloating, slight itch in the throat or mouth, constipation, and fatigue, but there are other symptoms that may arise and they don't always happen right after you eat wheat- which is why it's so hard to diagnose. The only way is to cut out the wheat and see if there's a difference in how you feel.

Spelt is an ancient grain, related to wheat but different. How? You can read an interesting article that explains it well here. Celiacs shouldn't eat it, but people with wheat intolerances have had success with it. It doesn't react exactly like wheat flour, but it can be manipulated to be a good substitute in some recipes.

We've also been cutting down on refined sugar, and I've found dates to be a good substitute. Now, these aren't exactly a health food, as they are deep fried to a golden fatty deliciousness, but I'm thinking you could probably pan fry them quickly, then finish them in the oven to reduce some of the oil.

This recipe makes a big batch- like 2 dozen or more. You can halve it, if you don't want so many.

2 C. spelt flour (white)
1 tsp. salt
1 T. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 C. whole pitted dates
1 1/2 C. soy milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 C. chopped apples (about 2 large peeled apples)
Maple syrup for dipping

Heat soymilk and dates in a sauce pan until just boiling. Turn off heat and let soak for about 10 minutes until softened. Sift together spelt flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon and set aside. Chop the apples in a food processor into small chunks, and transfer to a mixing bowl. Blend the date and soy milk mixture in the food processor until dates are finely minced (make sure to vent the processor if the mixture is still hot). Add the date mixture to the apples, then mix in vanilla. Add the dry mix to the wet until just combined. It should resemble a thick pancake mix- if it's too thick, add a little soy milk. Heat oil to 330 - 350 degrees F. Slide in the batter one heaping tablespoon at a time into the hot oil. If you put in too much, it won't cook on the inside. Brown (a couple of minutes each side), then remove and drain. Keep finished ones warm in the oven if desired. Drizzle with maple syrup.

Jan 10, 2011

Shortbread Jam Cookies

Reflecting on years past, I thought I'd do a repost. Enjoy, and here's to a wonderful 2011!
Warning: These must be eaten in moderation! I veganized a shortbread recipe from my old Mrs. Field's cookie book, which does not skimp on butter and sugar. Thus the warning. I am attempting to lower my blood pressure by losing 5 lbs. as my doctor suggested, so I baked these for my crew... honest! I did taste a bit to make sure they were good, though ;) Ok, back to the treadmill!


2 sticks of vegan margarine (I told you!)
1/4 C. light brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 C. all purpose flour
strawberry (or other) jam


Cream the margarine and sugar, then add the vanilla and flour and mix until you get a smooth dough. Arrange on a prepared cookie sheet (they won't spread, so you can fit a lot) for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees. Lightly golden when done.

For the "pinwheel" cookies, I rolled out the dough on a floured surface and cut it into squares. I then cut a line from each corner towards the center. Put some jam in the middle of the square, and folded every other corner to meet in the center. Got tired after a while, and made the rest into thumbprint cookies!

Do you remember the story of the polar bear that visited the huskies? I came across this picture, and it made me smile! If a wild bear can be loving towards a fellow animal, why can't we?

If you haven't already, read the full story - the other pics are SO cute!