sultanas

carrot cake with a cream cheese frosting (vegan)

9th June 2021

I had my sights on a go-to celebration carrot cake that is walnut-studded and carrot-flecked, fragrant, moist and lavish with a decadent frosting.  So I revisited and reposted a recipe that was created a few years back and made a few adjustments. 

This cake uses walnuts for crunch and flavour, with a lovely warmth coming through in the cardamom and cinnamon. The cake itself is deliciously moist and it is topped with a vegan cream cheese frosting and decorated with edible flowers. 

carrot cake with a cream cheese frosting

Inspired by the much-loved Spice Cake from The Voluptuous Vegan by Myra Kornfeld.

Makes one 9-inch cake or 12 cupcakes (Reduce baking time to 35 minutes)

The cardamom adds a rich warmth, so it is important to grind your own as the taste is much more fragrant, fresher and more flavour intense. 

ingredients 

1 cup/100g walnuts – divided

1 cup/120g whole-wheat flour

1 cup/120g unbleached white flour

2 tsp baking powder

1½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp fine rock salt

2 tsp cardamom powder

2 tsp ground cinnamon powder 

½ cup/110g neutral-tasting oil or mild-tasting olive oil

cup/190g maple syrup (can replace with cup/100g brown sugar)

¼ cup/45g brown sugar or coconut sugar

cup/160g almond/oat milk

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

¼ cup/50g golden raisins/dates, roughly chopped

2 cups/210g grated carrots (approx 2 medium)

cream cheese frosting

cup/60g vegan/regular butter (softened to room temperature)

1 tub (200g) Vegan Violife Cream Cheese, (available from Celeiro – out of the fridge for an hour)

cup/40g icing sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract or scrape 1 vanilla bean (halved lengthways and seeds scraped out)

prepare the cake 

1.  Preheat the oven to 350F/180C. Oil a 9-inch springform pan with oil.

2.  Toast the walnuts: place them on a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes.  Remove half of the whole walnuts for garnishing on top (approx 23 pieces) and roughly chop the remaining (50g) to add to the cake batter – set aside.

3.  Make the cake: In a medium bowl, sift together the dry ingredients –  flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Whisk to combine.

4.  In another medium bowl, combine the wet ingredients – oil, maple syrup, sugar, almond milk and vinegar. Whisk until the wet ingredients are emulsified. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry, whisking together just until all the dry ingredients are absorbed. Stir in the walnuts, sultanas, grated carrot- fold gently with a spatula to combine.

5.  Pour the batter into the oiled pan and bake for about 45 – 55 minutes, or until the cake is springy to the touch and a toothpick comes out clean. If the top looks like it’s getting dark, but the inside needs more time, cover loosely with aluminium foil for the last 10 minutes of baking.

6.  Prepare the frosting: Beat together the butter with a hand mixer until soft. Add the cream cheese and beat again until well mixed (don’t overmix.) Sift over icing sugar and add the vanilla extract – beat again. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

7.  When the cake is completely cool, flip the cake over so that the top is now the bottom and spread the frosting evenly over the cake. Decorate the cake with the remaining walnuts and edible flowers.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Variation

  • Sprinkle the sides and bottom of the greased cake tin with 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds before baking.
  • If wanting to avoid the frosting, sprinkle the top with 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds and extra chopped raw walnuts before baking.

fig almond orange swirl cookies (vegan)

19th March 2017

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This recipe was quite a journey.  After many attempts and too many references to mention, I persevered, as there seemed too much scrumptious potential in these cookies to give up. It felt like I was conjuring up a kind of magic, from the transformation of ingredients to the finished result – even more so due to the many attempts to get here.  I am now satisfied to share it with you.

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In Ayurveda, sultanas are considered kingly of all the fruits, figs are considered precious and the winter citrus adds colour and zest to the last of these dark and rainy days.

Figs, whether fresh or dried, are an incredibly healthy treat and have favourable levels of calcium, contain iron, potassium, manganese and vitamin B6.  They also have high fibre content, keeping us feeling fuller for longer and have a helpful laxative effect.  When buying any dried fruit, look for organic and sulphite-free.

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fig almond orange swirl cookies

Makes approximately 18 cookies.

Recipe inspired by here and here.

Not overly sweet, the luscious fig filling is deeply flavourful and the pastry is light and buttery. 

The filling could be replaced with any dried fruit of choice – dates would work nicely.  I used 1 cup whole almonds which I ground in a blender – blanched almonds would give a much more visually pronounced contrast between the filling and the dough.  I wanted to achieve a lighter cookie, so I used white spelt flour, but it can be replaced with whole spelt or for a gluten-free version, rice flour. 

I call this a dough but just to clarify it doesn’t handle like a normal dough – it is very fragile and easily crumbles this is why it is recommended to work between two pieces of baking paper – the end results are delicious and are worth all the fiddliness.

for the dough 

1½ cups/130g almond meal (1 cup whole almonds ground in a blender)

1 cup/120g white spelt flour

tsp fine rock salt

¼ cup/60ml olive oil

2 heaped Tbsp brown sugar/coconut sugar

¼ cup/60ml freshly squeezed orange juice

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp baking powder

for the fig paste 

9 medium/180g dried soft figs

½ packed cup/80g dried sultanas/raisins

orange zest of 1 orange

½ tsp cinnamon powder

¼ cup/60ml fresh orange juice

sesame seeds for garnishing

preparation 

1.  Set the oven to 180C/360F.  Line a baking sheet with baking paper.

prepare the dough 

2.  Place in a medium bowl the almond meal, flour and salt, then whisk together. Set aside.

3.  In a small bowl, whisk the oil and sugar for 1 minute, then add the fresh orange juice, baking powder and baking soda – whisk until combined, it will billow up and turn into the most gorgeous, soft, golden colour.

3.  Slowly add to the flour and almond meal mixture, then gently combine.  The dough should be quite moist and soft. Cover and refrigerate while making the fig paste.

prepare the fig paste 

4.  Remove and discard the hard stems from the figs, chop in half, then place into a food processor, along with the sultanas, and orange zest, process until the figs are nicely broken up.

5.  Add cinnamon powder and pour in the orange juice – process until it forms a thick, sticky paste and starts to come to together.  Cover and set aside.

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to assemble 

6.  Remove the dough from the fridge and place on a piece of baking paper.  Place another piece of baking paper on top and roll out the dough into a rectangle just under ¼-inch thickness, approximately 15-x 9-inches. (It is fine for the dough to be longer than 15-inches but makes sure it is no wider than 9 – 10 inches.)  To make a neat rectangle, trim off any excess dough around the sides and press it into the corners which need more shaping.

7.  Spoon the fig filling over the dough and spread evenly, making sure it comes all the way to the edges.

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8.  Use the baking paper to gently roll the long side of the dough around the filling, so that it forms a neat log. Leave the seam side down as the weight of the roll seals the edge.

9.  Sprinkle the top with sesame seeds and use the outer edges of the baking paper to help press the seeds into the top of the roll and the sides, pressing any seeds which have fallen down.  The contrast between the dough and fig paste will be more pronounced after baking.

10. Place the log in the freezer for 20 minutes – this will make it firmer for easier cutting.

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11.  With a sharp knife, slice into 2 cm thick pieces, wiping the knife after each cut. If wanting more of a perfectly round shape, rotate the roll after several cuts, then give them a gentle squeeze to reshape them into rounds on the tray.

12.  Carefully transfer them to the baking tray, laying them flat, with the spiral of the fig paste facing up.

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13.  Bake for 30 minutes, rotating the tray halfway through baking and bake until golden in colour, remove from the oven.  Delicious eaten warm, or later that same day, or the next.

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Goodness shared from Stacey

kaseri bath – sweet upma

12th February 2017

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Satya, sivam and sundaram.

Truth, sacredness, and beauty are three most important characteristics seen throughout the universe. They come from the Eternal Truth and are contained in everything to a greater or lesser extent. Happiness takes shelter under their protection.  Violence can utterly spoil them.  When we intentionally violate these qualities we violate Truth. It is, therefore, our duty to preserve and maintain them.

~ The Sacred Tradition of Yoga – Dr Shankaranarayana Jois

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A recipe shared by our teacher last year as part of The Jivana Yoga Programme, we are fortunate to be graced with their presence here in Portugal.  Their presence in our home and lives leaves a profound effect on our daily existence and our practices become that little bit more concrete and established on this yogic path.

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Kaseri Bath – Sweet Upma

Preparation 40 minutes

Serves 8 – 10 small servings

Kaseri Bath is especially recommended for Yoga practitioners.  It calms the mind and keeps it fresh.  It may be used by all constitutions.  Kaseri Bath can be served as part of the main meal and it is especially recommended to be served with Upma or Idli.  Best served warm, it is the Indian tradition to start with the sweet first.  Depending on the type of sugar used, the taste and colour may vary. Instead of bananas, apple or pineapple can be used.

ingredients 

1½ cups/350ml warm water

1 pinch saffron – 15 threads

½ cup/125ml ghee – melted

10 cashew

10 almonds

1 cup/170g semolina

¼ cup/35g raisins

3 medium/200g bananas

¼ tsp fine rock salt

1 cup/205g light brown sugar 

6 cardamom pods  – ¼ tsp 

preparation 

1.  Place the saffron threads in warm water to steep for 15 minutes.

2.  Cut the almonds into 3 pieces and the cashew nuts into 2 pieces. Peel and cut the bananas into 1 cm pieces.  Remove the hard shell from the cardamom, and place the small black seeds in a mortar and pestle, grind into a fine powder – set aside.

3. In a skillet over medium heat, add ghee, almonds, cashews and semolina – stir continuously for 10 minutes, or until the cashews have turned golden-brown.

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4.  Pour in the saffron water, add the raisins, chopped banana and salt – stir continuously for 3 minutes.  

5.  Add the sugar, after about 30 seconds of stirring the Kaseri Bath will become considerably softer and liquid in consistency, and then will thicken slightly again. This process will take approximately  2-3 minutes, of continually stirring; or until the sugar has dissolved.  While stirring, once you feel the Kaseri Bath is thicker in consistency and starts to pull away from the pan – it is ready. 

6.  Turn off the heat, stir in the cardamom powder, mixing well. 

Allow the Kaseri Bath to rest for a minute and for the flavours to deepen.  Serve warm.

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Goodness shared by Stacey

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