Avocado Chocolate Vanilla Cake and a Recycling Adventure

This avocado and chocolate vegan cake is more than just a sugar free delicious dessert. It is beauty on the plate and sustainability through its ingredients leftovers. Learn to make  instead of consuming stuff is my new way of self nourishment that respect my ethics and inspires me the art slow living.
When I met Isabella ( http://www.twome.co.uk) I was running a pips challenge. (Planting the fruit stones instead of throwing them away). We have been so lucky to instantly feel close, and we developed together this idea "self sustained" cake and styling. We wanted to inspire to use all part of the ingredients, make instead of consume, self sustain even the styling. I made an avocado based frosting, and Isabella dyed some props fabrics with the stones.
For me it felt a return to my origins. In my grandparents farm life was a cycle. Everything had its place from the begin to its end, and it was perfect balance to me. We didn't even own a landfill bin. I am serious. Life felt much lighter that way.

Avocado stones make a deep pink colour, delightfully elegant. You can dye practically any natural fibre ( I don't recommend pure linen for the first trial). You can decide to have a flat colour, a ombré colour like our macramè, or a messy look dyeing the cloth closed in a knot perhaps. It is possible to also use the avo skin, and to be kept for that purpose it can be froze.

For me the encompassing pleasure of a good meal (and dessert) goes behind being vegan. I want to work with real ingredient, first of all. And my appreciation for food and a responsible sourcing are inextricable. However respect for the land, doesn't end with organic farming and plant based cooking. We should start to admit that sustainability only starts with sourcing. And that if might end in a less noble landfill is a half way practice. Nevertheless one could count on the already audacious and compassionate consciousness that accompanies the act of vegan eating itself. But the road goes forth. From the plastic food wraps (SUPs: single use plastics) to the food waste itself we are responsible of our acts as they are still upon Mother Earth and other species. I feel a personal urge of being vegan further from not eating or wearing animals. I believe that we can make ourselves responsible of killing as much if we don't care of filling our seas and land with pollution. And in my attempting to create a sustainable family I found to love most being able to use all part of my ingredients, make from what otherwise would be wasted. Create instead of consume for me is a new way of self nourishment that respect the ethics of the era of compassion we all strive to create. That is why an avocado cake recipe that also create the opportunity to create something beautiful with leftovers.


When I made this chocolate and vanilla cake I was looking for a vegan cake that could be soft and moist but firm enough to hold in this geometrical appearance when cut. Vegan chocolate cakes often can be very dry or use a lot of oil to have moisture. I find it to be a challenge to achieve the texture, I am not afraid to admit it, but I am also happy to have succeeded here! 

Cooking time 35 min circa
Preparation easy, adequate to beginners
serves 8 - 12 people 


ingredients for the vanilla cakes ( makes 2)

1 + 1/2 cup of white spelt flour (or half white and half wholemeal)
1 cup raw unrefinedrapadura sugar
2 tsp (10 ml) organic baking powder
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp apple vinegar
pinch of unrefined salt (let's appreciate your local salt please, and if you live on Himalaya feel free to go pink )
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or rapseed oil
1 cup of spring water

Ingredients for the chocolate cakes ( makes 2)

1 + 1/3 cup of white spelt flour (or half white and half wholemeal)
1 cup raw unrefined rapadura sugar
1/2 cup pure cacao powder (or pure carob if sensitive to cacao)
2 tsp (10 ml) organic baking powder
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp apple vinegar
pinch of unrefined salt (local please, if you live on Himalaya feel free to go pink)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or rapseed oil
1 cup of spring water

Method 

Pre-heat the oven at 180 C and 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 otherwise cook them only two by two.
In two separate bowl mix well the dry ingredients for each of the two cakes. Make 3 "holes" in each of the dry mixtures. In one hole pour the oil, in the other 2 pour the vanilla essence and the vinegar, repeat for the other cake. Cover with filtered or spring water and gently incorporate all ingredients together, repeat with the second mixture. The more gently you fold the wet ingredients with the dry, the less rounded the top of your cakes will come. It is matter of folding more than stirring infact. However this specific recipe tends to make cakes with rounded top so we will eaven them with a sharp knife before decorating. 
When the batters are ready pour each in two of the greased tins and cook at 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.


Frosting ingredients

4 medium avocado, ripe and soft
1/2 cup of raw cocoa ( or pure carob if sensitive to chocolate)
1/3 cup raw unrefined coconut sugar\rapadura\xylitol
1/4 tsp vanilla essence
pinch of unrefined salt
-Blend all together and refrigerate


Ingredients for the filling


170 gr good quality vegan cream cheese (or see my previous post to make your own)
pinch or drop of vanilla powder or essence
1 tbsp xylitol
4/5 blackberries juice
-Mix all ingredients without blending in a food processor, especially if using a ready made vegan cream cheese.


Assembling

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 cake are rounded cut off the top with a sharp bread knife,  taking care to keep them straight and similar in height. 
Start with the chocolate cake, spread a measured amount of filling in the centre up to 1.5 com from edges. So you can pipe all around the filling some chocolate frosting.
Place on top one of the vanilla cakes and repeat, then again a chocolate cake and repeat. The last cake will be the vanilla, place it upside down and poke a long stick in the middle to hold the layered cake while you work with it. If necessary put back in the fridge for some moments. 
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.
When finished put into the fridge.
Melt on a low flame a sugar free vegan chocolate bar adding a couple of Tbsp of plant based milk and 1 Tbsp of coconut oil. Leave to cool until viscous, then make a dripping sauce  scooping it on top of your cake, leaving one side without any dripping chocolate at all.
Decorate as please. Devour. You are very welcome!


I really hope this cake will inspire you beauty and sustainable life. Sustainable can be curated, aesthetically delightful and even fashionable. Monk sandals are not in my plans I ensure you! And as I always like to mention, a Japanese adagio says: is beautiful what is right ( and delicious I would add!!)

For the dyeing process have a look at Isabella blog, (http://www.twome.co.uk/single-post/2016/10/31/anatural-dyeing-a-vegan-cake-from-avocados) also she recommends Rebecca Desnos e-book. However the main steps are summarise below here.

-Clean your fabric with water and natural soap leaving it damp, and you can pretreat in soya milk mordant to help the absorption of the botanical colours.
-In a big aluminium pot bring to boil 3 to 5 whole stones and simmer them in enough water to cover the fabric you like to dye. Simmer for 1 + 1/2 hour or until the water turns from pink to a nice maroon. The more the pips the darken the colour will be!
-When ready strain the water with a cheese-cloth so the liquid is nice and clean. Let it cool to tepid.
-Then simply bath the fabric or yarn in the coloured water until it reaches the desired shade, it can vary from an hour to overnight. The longer the bathing, the more vibrant the colour will be.
-Rinse the fabric in warm water and hang to dry.

 

Enjoy! love, compassion and plenty foolishness.
Silvia B.  

 

 

 

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