Almond and blackberry cake with caramel sauce

When I first thought of this new vegan "semi" naked cake I had in mind one of my childhood best dessert experiences. Layers of génoise imbibed in rose syrup that alternates fresh berries and whipped mascarpone cream. I can still recall the light textures of the Pan di Spagna sponge (the génoise sponge was so called in honour of the king of Spain), the tangy berries and the decadent cream, that I ate in spoonfuls under the kiwi pergola, at my grandma, the light dancing on the table and the kiwi leaves gently moving over our heads.

This cake recipe resulted to be a combination of those memories of Genoa traditional patisserie and my recent discovery, the English Bakewell cake. Coming from one of the birth places of fine patisserie it is inherent a desire to make eclectic mixtures and new discoveries from the tradition. Soon rooted in my imagination the bitter-sweet taste of almond frangipane, and rather accompanied with the unforgivably tangy-ness of blackberries. So, a star was born.
The caramel idea, instead, came barely reading the label of my favourite, seasonal, coffee brand. Although I drink coffee only occasionally and I usually drink golden milk with green tea (for the sake of my health and concentration), I love coffee very much. The fall blend was labelled with blackberries and caramel scents. A perfect conjure of flavours I couldn't resist to try.

The vegan sponge is so light properly recalling the original génoise. I used an old Italian method of making holes in the dry ingredients, and fill them with the wet ingredients just before covering with milk or, like in this case, water. And from the oven comes out a fragrant, feathery light sponge. And, yea I mean: it.is.vegan + fuss free. No margarine, no nasties. And as I was hoping the lightness of the cakes goes with the rich cream and tangy berries in a happy ever-after marriage.

This cake that doesn't leave you with the sensation of have been holding back from a proper enjoyment. And such a thing make me so happy. When I started my macrobiotic and vegan path I have been missing so much the richness and the aesthetic of the fine ingredients of a dessert like this one.
Here, I promise, you won't miss a thing. From the taste palette to the colours palette, is all a ode to all the 5+1 senses.


Serves 10 - 12
Makes 4 cakes of 16 cm diameter
Cooking time 35-45 min
Easy preparation, for beginners that dare.
 

Ingredients for the 2 white cakes

1 + 1/2 light spelt flour (patisserie kind, no stone-mill flours)
1 cup of unrefined raw sugar (here I use a mix of coconut and rapadura)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla powder
1 tsp of almond essence
1/4 tsp salt

1Tbsp/15ml baking powder (I use Doves Farm Organic)
-
1 cup of water
1/2 lemon zest
6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp apple vinegar

Ingredients for the 2 pink cakes

1 + 1/2 light spelt flour (patisserie kind, no stone-mill flours)
1 cup of unrefined raw sugar such as rapadura or coconut
1/4 tsp pure vanilla powder
1 tsp of almond essence
1/4 tsp salt

1Tbsp/15ml baking powder (I use Doves Farm Organic)
-
1 cup of berries purée, from fresh or frozen fruits (I used strawberries and only a few blackberries to have a perfect shadow)
1/2 lemon zest
6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp apple vinegar


Ingredients for the frosting

200 gr good quality cream cheese or follow my instructions for nut cream cheese*
2 cans of refrigerated coconut milk, the cream only
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1-2 Tbsp xylitol (or more to taste)
pich of unrefined salt

Ingredients for the filling

150 gr good quality cream cheese or follow my instructions for nut cream cheese*
6/8 blackberries made in purée
1 Tbsp xylitol
-
1/3 cup of roasted almonds roughly chopped
2 Tbsp dehydrated berries
150 gr blackberries

Ingredients for the caramel sauce

1/3 cup ofraw unrefined sugar
1/4 cup coconut cream room temperature
3 Tbsp plant milkroom temperature
pinch of salt
 


Method

We start with making the frosting and the filling

For the frostingblend the coconut cream with the coconut oil, salt and the xylitol. Then gently incorporate the cream cheese to themixture. Don't blend the cream cheese. Leave to refrigerate until creamy and buttery solid.
For the filling onlyincorporate the purée with the cream cheese. Leave to refrigerate

NOTE : Take care that all ingredients are at the same temperature or they will curdle.

For the cakes:
Preheat the oven at 180C degrees. Grease 4 tins of 16 cm diameter circa.
If you have a oven with ventilation (fan) you can cook all 4 cakes in one go.

In two separate bowl mix well each of the two cakes dry ingredients.
Make 3 "holes" in each of the dry mixtures. In one pour the oil, in the other 2 pour the vanilla essence and the vinegar. Cover with filtered or spring water and gently incorporate all ingredients together.
The more gently you fold the wet ingredients with the dry, the less rounded the top of your cakes will come.
When the batters are ready pour in the greased tins and cook ate 180 C for 35 min or until the stick comes out clean.

When cooked, let cool down for 10 min, then remove from tins and leave on a rack. Let them cool completely before starting to assemble the layered cake.


Assembling

{prepare the caramel: gently heat the cream with the milk and the salt. On alow flame melt the sugar,  when starts bubbling add the warm cream, stirring. Leave to cool down to tepid before serving with the cake.}

When the cakes are perfectly cold and the frosting and filling are quite solid to hold onto the cake, you can start to assemble.

If the cakes are rounded cut off the top, taking care to cut them straight and similar in height. 

Start with the vanilla cake, spread a measured amount of filling in the centre up to 1.5 cm from edges. All around the pink filling pipe or scoop your white frosting. Cover with a mixture of blackberries, almonds and dried berries. Than place on top one of the pink cakes and repeat, then again a vanilla cake and repeat. The last cake will be the pink, place it upside down.

Now we can start decorating. Poke a long stick in the middle, all the way down into the cakes. This hold the layered cake while you work with the frosting. If necessary put back in the fridge for some moments before starting. 

Scoop a generous amount of frosting on top of the cake and with a spatula work it all around the top and down the sides of it, scraping away the excess very gently. You want to fill up any space leaving some of the cake edges still visible.

Keep working the sides until you are happy with the result, if needing some extra directions try here. Clean the edges and smooth, then decorate with flowers or fruit.


Serve immediately. Warning: it can make you very happy!

Silvia xx


* for the nut cheese
200 gr mix of macadamia and cashews soaked overnight and rinsed
2 Tbsp very firm plant based yogurt ( if are all runny leave it, you will only miss the probiotics)
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp xylitol
1/2lemon juice or to taste
1/2 tsp unrefined salt or to taste

Blend all ingredients (except the yogurt) until perfectly smooth, if needed pass through a sift. Pour in a clean container and incorporate the yogurt. Leave to refrigerate until solid. Use as cream cheese.

Apple Cinnamom buns to fall in love with Fall

I am so in love with season changes and the surprises that bring to us, the colours and the new tastes. My children growing out of the past season clothes. All feels renewing, in a perfect cycle of blossoming and resting. 

This recipe (you can also find featured on the feedfeed website), that we made together Kimberly Aimee and me, is without any doubt the perfect tribute to the Autumnal scents. And, oh my! Are real, deal buns vegan and refined sugar free! The buns are not so sweet, for who loves subtle delicate tastes and perfect even for breakfast! But if you have a sweet tooth worry not! The decadent vegan cream cheese frosting make them a perfect sweet treat for a luxurious tea party.

So here you are:

For this recipe you need a wide bowl, a warm place for proving, and a baking trail (I like to bake rolls in a round one - 25ø cm circa).

Prep time :25 min - Proving time: 1 to 2 hours + 45 to 1 hour - baking time about 30 min

Ingredients:

200gr spelt flour
250gr non bleached white flour
4 Tbsp raw coconut sugar
1 heaped tsp unrefined sea salt
7gr fast acting yeast (I use doves farm)
250ml almond milk + extra 3 Tbsp
1-2 Tbsp extra v olive oil to grease the proving bowl


Ingredients for the apple chinnamon filling:

2 crisp apples peeled and thinly sliced
7 Tbsp raw coconut sugar
2-3 Tbsp of cinnamon


Ingredients for the vegan cinnamon cream cheese frosting

4Tbsp coconut oil softened
1 cup powdered raw sugar
110g vegan cream cheese (mind the quality of the ingredients)
1/4 tsp pure vanilla powder or extract
1 tsp ground chinnamon

 

Method

Dough: mix together all ingredients for the rolls, except the olive oil, until just combined. If the mixture is dry add bit by bit some milk for the right consistency. Better a bit soft than dry. Then knead the dough on a dry surface sprinkled with flour. Knead about 7-10 min. Then, in a large bowl greased with the oil, place the dough inside, cover with a damp cloth and leave to rest for 1-2 hours (or until doubled) in a warm place such as the oven with just light on. Length of time depends on the weather.

As the dough is rising, prepare the filling by peeling, removing core and slicing the apples. We used seasonal pink apples that have are crisp, tart and sweet. Give them a squeeze of lemon to prevent browning, if you like to. 

When the dough is ready remove it from the bowl and roll it out with a rolling pin into a rectangular shape. Sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon evenly over the dough and then neatly place the apple slices to completely cover the dough. Roll it up and cut into 10/12 pieces. And place on a baking tin that can hold them all (25 cm ø circa). 

Next allow the rolls to prove in a warm dry place for between 45min and 1 hour. Cook into the oven for 30 min at 180C/255F or until they start to get brown.

As the rolls are baking prepare the frosting. Sieve the powdered sugar (you can powder it in the food processor) and combine with the other ingredients over a bath-Marie.

When the rolls are ready, let them cool until tepid and drizzle with the frosting. Devour! 

Silvia B xx

 

Triple Chocolate Gluten Free Muffin with Hazelnut Hit

triple chocolate GF_ salvialimone

Anything for chocolate! This muffins are actually closer to browny for their mouthful richness. Are very soft and moist too. Do you know what annoyed me most when I was a kid? Having chocolate cakes that wouldn't taste chocolate at all. Especially some old friend of my grandma was serving this bland cake, basically because cocoa was expensive. My grandma instead would always strive for the best quality over quantity. So I did learn.

Has been a long time since I have been able to post something on my blog. For as much as I want to be more consistent on social media, remains that I have two small children and with me most of the time. Although I have been organising my schedule in different way my efforts seemed uneffective. I had more organisers syncing apps than I could ever imagine or wished,  a list of frustration-free second plans in case my smallest child doesn't nap or anybody is sick. But my daily was often packed with urgent things, matters that needed a fix. But problem solving attitude produces endless lists and condemn you to the eternal hell of paperworks, housework or whatsoever. With the result of feeling unproductive and exhausted.
So I decided to be more sustainable with my inner environment. I decluttered my phone from what only helped to feel more busy, and I kept a simple digital notebook. As my phone is always with me is my most accessible tool and I don't need much else. With a digital notebook I save paper and time as it sinc with my email.  And I am trying a social media managing app.


On Wonderlist I made 3 list. N.#1 Things that require less than ten minutes to be done and can be squeezed among other tasks. N.#2Things that are urgent but not important (and take a lot of time). N.#3 The important tasks. Important tasks come first. I leave the urgent, tedious and unimportant tasks for when the important are done. Among important things are prioritized PR and children quality time, and I recently added "me" time. Because these nourish my emotional health, make me an happier more productive person. I came to realise how important is for me to have constant interactions with the people I love, love and taking care of my so can take only 10 min now and then during the day, and it brings self respect and appreciation.

Now I plan my day with few tasks and then I half the list, I prioritise the most important goal of the day and I cut down the list even more if possible. I lowered my expectations therefore I lowered my stress. This way I feel more fulfilled, my day ease, and I am often able to complete more things than predicted. It is satisfying.
I also apply the rule of not leaving anything half way. So the urgent annoying things diminish dramatically. I answer the email or comments only during the evening while I sip on some herbal tea. This way I don't rush to the phone every time an app rings. This helps me to get less distracted during other activities and get more stuff done with less stress.

All these bits helped me to feel I do more than just floating above waters, remain that I only have 24 hours a day, nights are still interrupted by children waking ups. So lowering expectation has been gold and produced these high chocolate muffins! A win win situation, won't you agree?

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For this recipe you need a couple of bowls and a muffin trail. I used some recyclable muffin cases.

This recipe is: VG SF GF NF (option)


Ingredients for the muffins
 

320gr gluten free flour blend
200gr of raw unrefined coconut sugar (up to 240 for the real deal sweet tooth thing)
70gr raw cocoa powder ( raw cocoa in more substantial than regular one therefore you can use way less)
40gr circa dark chocolate (refined sugar free and soya lecithin free if possible)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp pure vanilla powder
pinch of unrefined sea salt
-
200ml circa of plant based milk (non sweet)
170ml light extra virgin olive oil or other extra virgin vegetable oil
2 Tbsp hazelnut butter


Ingredients for the ganache

60 gr dark chocolate (possibly refined sugar free and soya lecithin free)
1 tbsp coconut cream
pinch of salt
pinch of pure vanilla
 

Ingredients for the frosting

1/2 cup cold coconut cream (the thick cream only)
pinch of salt
squeeze of lemon
1 tsp of rice malt or other clear sweetener (optional)

Method

Muffins
Preheat the oven at 180ºC, line the muffin cases in the trail.
Chop the chocolate into small pieces and combine it with all the dry ingredients.
Add the oil to the dry ingredients and combine with a fork. When texture is sandy and all lumps are gone add the water, bit by bit. Depending on the flour, it can take more water or less. The mixture should be slightly runny, like honey.
Fill the cases up to 2/3.
Combine the hazelnut butter with a couple of spoons of hot water. Add a teaspoon of this mixture to the top of each muffin.
Cook for 35-45 min circa. Let them cool completely before assembling.

Chocolate ganache
Gently melt the chocolate with the salt. Leave to cool down until tepid and add the coconut cream and the vanilla. Serve slightly tepid to contrast the cold frosting.

Frosting
Simply whip up the coconut cream with the lemon and the salt. Gently incorporate the rice malt. Leave into fridge until perfectly set before using.

Assembling
Make sure the muffin are completely cooled down. With a small spatula spread the frosting over the top making a little hill in the centre. Sprinkle some chopped hazelnut or chocolate and pour the ganache just before eating.

Enjoy! xx

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triple chocolate GF_ salvialimone