The Musette: butternut squash and sweet potato cake

During Lockdown II, I’ve re-started my cake delivery service to my elderly neighbours. This one is obviously healthy as it contains not one but two vegetables! Of course, many of you already know that the sweet potato is your friend when it comes to baking cakes. It’s sweet, it’s moist, it’s filling and it’s easy to work with – what’s not to like? It gives cakes a lovely fudgy texture. Appropriately, it has a bit of a Thanksgiving vibe!

Of course, I never let on how healthy my cakes are and this one will blow your mind. No one can tell its not the real deal. It’s moist, sweet, spicy, fudgy and absolutely delicious. It can sit in the fridge for a couple of days  – as if that’s going to happen – and be as good if not better than the day you baked it.

Ingredients (makes 1 large cake or 8-10 muffin-sized cakes)

  • 250g (2 cups) sweet potato, cooked
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp organic honey
  • 2 tbsp any nut butter
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp vanilla sugar
  • 25g (1 oz) coconut flour
  • 30g (1 oz) rolled oats
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp grated orange zest
  • 150g (1 cup + 2 tbsp) butternut squash, cooked
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Orange glaze

  • 85g (3/4 cup) powdered icing sugar
  • 1tbsp fresh organic orange juice
  • organic orange zest to decorate (optional)

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/160ºC fan/gas mark 4 (350ºF/320ºF fan). Line your baking tin(s) with muffin cases or greaseproof (parchment) paper.

2. In a food processor, process all the ingredients into a smooth batter. It should easily drop from the spoon.

3. Pour the batter into the tin or tins. It should come 2/3rds of the way up the tin.

4. Bake in the oven for 30-55 minutes depending on the size of your cake(s). A toothpick should come out clean when inserted to the center of the cake.

5. Let the cake(s) cool for minimum of 30 minutes before glazing them. Just mix all the ingredients together and drizzle over the cake.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1.Make the cake vegan by substituting 2 flax or chia seed eggs (2 tbs of seeds plus 6 tbsp water for 2 eggs) or medium sized banana for the two eggs. Use coconut, brown rice or date syrup instead of the honey.

2. If you don’t have some of the ingredients, then here’s is a list of easy substitutes:-

  • Any nut butter: Coconut oil or butter
  • Rolled oats: tapioca flour, polenta
  • Coconut flour: Almond flour, hazelnut flour, or process unsweetened dessicated coconut until it’s fine

3. All ingredients should be at room temperature.

4. When I’m baking I always use a timer as it’s so easy to lose track of time. Once you’ve put the cake(s) in the oven, put the timer on for 5 minutes less than it should take to cook and then check regularly.

5. If you think the cake(s) is browning too much at the edges, cover it with an aluminium foil tent.

6. The cakes look a bit craggy. To make them more visually attractive I either use an orange drizzle icing as per above although this time I used some left over white chocolate and mango ganache. But there’s loads of glazes, icing etc that you can happily use. Just use your imagination!

The Musette: blueberry and lemon coffee cake

I follow a lot of food blogs, some vegan some not. But they’re all written by passionate cooks whose recipes are tried and tested. I often read about recipes and think: “Oooh, delicious, I must make that sometime.” Then, when sometime occurs, I can’t find the recipe. But, no more. I’ve set up a system whereby I store the addresses of all these fabulous recipes though I doubt I’ll live long enough to make them all!

As soon as I read Diana’s recipe for Blueberry Lemon Quick Bread, I realised that with only one egg in the list of ingredients this would probably work equally well as a vegan version. And, you know what? It did! A big thank you to Diana for the inspiration.

Ingredients

Cake:

  • 195g (11/2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 75g (1/3 cup) golden cane sugar
  • 1 tbsp organic lemon zest
  • 180ml (3/4 cup) plant-based milk, I used almond milk
  • 3tbsp aquafaba (or use 1 egg, lightly beaten)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 100g (1 cup) blueberries, I used frozen

Lemon Glaze:

  • 125g (1 cup) icing (powdered) sugar
  • 1-4 tbsp organic lemon juice

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/160ºC fan/gas mark 4 (350ºF/320ºF fan). Spray the bottom and sides of a 1 litre (9″ x 5″) loaf tin with vegetable oil and line the bottom with greaseproof (parchment) paper.

2. Into a large bowl sift and combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add the lemon zest, sugar and stir well.

3. In a small bowl whisk together the plant-based milk, aquafaba (or egg) and oil.

4. Pour the wet mixture into the dry and combine gently with a spatula using figure of eight movements until there are no dry spots of flour.

5. Add 1tbsp flour to a bowl containing the blueberries and gently mix to coat the berries with the flour. This will prevent them sinking to the bottom of the cake. Gently fold the berries into the batter – it should drop off the spatula – and pour into the baking tin. Level the top of the cake with an offset spatula.

6. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

7. Place the pan on a cooling rack for 15 minutes before carefully remove the cake from the tin and placing it back on the cooling rack until completely cool.

8. Meanwhile, make the glaze by combining the icing sugar and lemon juice (1 tbsp at a time) in a small bowl. Add just enough lemon juice so that the mixture is thick but you can still drizzle it from a tablespoon.

9. Drizzle the glaze over the bread, wait for it to set and then enjoy!

10. You can store the cake in an air tight container or cover with cling film (plastic wrap) for 3-4 days but, trust me, it won’t last that long. If you’re going to freeze the cake, don’t add the glaze until you’re ready to eat it.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. All ingredients should be at room temperature.

2. When I’m baking I always use a timer as it’s so easy to lose track of time. Once you’ve put the cake in the oven, put the timer on for 5-10 minutes less than the cake should take to cook and then check regularly.

3. If you think the cake is browning too quickly, particularly at the edges, cover it with an aluminium foil tent.

4. You can prepare a non-vegan version of the cake following Diana’s original recipe using a large egg and whole milk.

5. The recipe will work equally well with fresh blueberries but without the additional moisture from the frozen ones, you may need to add a couple of tablespoons of milk or plant-based milk to get the desired dropping consistency.

6. You can use this as the base recipe for a number of mixtures such as strawberries with orange, or raspberries with lemon, plums with clementines, rhubarb with ginger – the possibilities are endless.

 

The Musette: More vegan banana bread

I recently read a newspaper article about the millions of bananas that are thrown away every day because they’re slightly blemished, bruised or over ripe. I was shocked, shocked! Don’t throw them away, make banana bread!

Who doesn’t enjoy a slice or two of banana bread for breakfast? This one is adapted from an Anna Jones’ recipe.  I have substituted the chocolate in her recipe with raisins in mine. The texture  is soft and moist, studded with plump raisins and nuts, and is made without  flour, dairy, eggs, or refined sugar. This is the perfect breakfast before or pick you up after  a morning’s ride, run or workout and tastes totally indulgent.

Ingredients (enough for 8-10 hungry cyclists)

  • 75 ml (1/3 cup) melted coconut oil, plus extra for greasing
  • 200 g (7 oz) toasted, chopped walnuts
  • 150 g (5 oz) sultanas
  • 200 g (7 oz) rolled oats (preferably gluten free)
  • 500 g (1 lb) very ripe banana (approx. 4 large ones)
  • 100 g (3 1/2 oz) coconut sugar (or raw cane sugar)
  • 100 ml (6 1/2 tbsp) Grade A maple syrup
  • 100 ml (6 I/2 tbsp) unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of fine sea salt

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 170ºC (325ºF)/150ºC (300ºF)/gas mark  3 and grease a 1kg (2 lb) non-stick loaf tin with coconut oil.

2. While the oven comes up to temperature, toast the walnuts in it for 10 minutes, then roughly chop and set aside to cool. Hydrate the sultanas in some boiling water for ten minutes, then drain.

3. Blitz the oats in a food processor until you have a flour. Put the oat flour into a bowl, add the baking powder, cooled walnuts and salt.

 

4. Put the bananas into the food processor with the coconut sugar, maple syrup, almond milk and melted coconut oil and blitz until well combined.

5.  Add the wet to the dry ingredients along with sultanas and mix gently with a spatula until combined. The batter should be quite wet.

6. Pour the batter into the loaf tin and bake for 60-70 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool on a wire rack in the tin, for at least 30 minutes. Remove from tin and enjoy.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. All ingredients should be at room temperature.

2. When I’m baking I always use a timer as it’s so easy to lose track of time. Once you’ve put the bread in the oven, put the timer on for 5-10 minutes less than it should take to cook and then check regularly.

3. If you think the bread is browning at the edges, cover it with an aluminium foil tent.

4. You can substitute the walnuts with pecan, brazil, macadamia or hazelnuts.

5. To turn up the volume, soak the raisins in warm rum rather than water.

6. I tend to keep the bread in the fridge as it’s quite moist. That way it lasts the week providing I hide it from my beloved. I find it tends to cut better the following day – if you can wait that long……………

7. Equally, it’ll keep for up to two months in the freezer.