Rhubarb Cake and Spring Gathering with The Little Plantation

I am beyond excitement to share with you that the 27th of April I will be co-hosting my first Supper-club with one of the sweetest and most creative gal of all, in the vibrant setting of theSocial Pantry in Battersea.

The way you nourish you through your surroundings is very important. My kitchen is a collection of stain-steel, brass and hand made ceramics, that are beautiful and that last. A balance between beautiful, trustable and meaningful.

The same when I choose the people that nourish my inner environment. They are honest and beautiful. Kimberly in one of them. Her warm heart reflect in her manners, in her heartfelt cooking, in her actions (she was part of the little bounch that make happen the massive Women's March on London).
She is one of those people I want next when I want my creativity to flow like a river.

We prepared together this Rubarb Vegan Cake recipe, nut free and sugar free as an invitation to our new venture. Our Spring gathering  will happen at the beautiful Social Pantry.

We aim to gather you around the vibrant colours of the spring, make community in a friendly environment and slow down. Will be a moment to share,  and to savour the taste of slow-made seasonal food and of new friendships.

This cake is one of the two desserts Kimberly and me will be serving at our Spring Gathering.
All the dishes will be vegan, refined sugar free, and we will accommodate paleo and gluten free needs.  Have a peek at the menu!

 I do hope to see you there and finally meet you in person!


Ingredients for the sponge (makes 4 layers):

3 cups of white spelt flour
2 cups rapadura or coconut raw sugar.
5 tsp organic baking powder
2 tsp vanilla essence
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp of unrefined salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil or rapseed oil
1 cup of plant based milk unsweetned (you can add more if needed, the batter should be slightly runny - different flours take different amount ofliquid)
the zest of one lemon

Ingredients for the filling:

1 can coconut milk (refrigerated)
1 stalk and half rhubarb
1/4 tsp vanilla essence
1/4 tsp pink peppercorn or to taste
1 tbsp Xilytol
1 tbsp arrowroot
pinch of salt
2 raspberries or 1/4 tsp beetrot powder for a pink colour (optional)
Ingredients for the icing:
400 gr coconut yogurt wipped up
a pinch of pink peppercorn



Instructions for the sponge:

Pre-heat the oven at 180C/355F and grease 4 tins of 16 cm diametre.

Take all the dry ingredients from the cake (flour, sugar, baking powder and salt) and mix well in a large bowl.
Cover with the wet ingredients and lemon zest, and gently combine all well.
The more gently you fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, the less rounded the top of your cakes will be. It is matter of folding more than stirring in fact.
When the batter is ready spread it evenly across the 4 cake forms, place in the preheated oven and cook for approximately 35 min or until fully baked through (do stick test).

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


Whilst the cake is cooking prepare the filling and the icing.

 


Filling

Rinse the rhubarb, peel off the hardest bits.

Scoop out the coconut cream from the can leaving the water and leave aside.

Prepare the arrowroot stirring it in a couple of tablespoon of the leftover coconut water (you can use the leftover for stews or smooties).

In a small saucepan heat the rhubarb (plus the raspberries or beet powder) with the xilytol and the salt, stirring for a couple of minutes. Add the coconut cream and bring to a gentle boil over a low flame.

Stir in the arrowroot and the vanilla. Turn off the flame and leave aside to cool completely. The compote should be firm enough so the filling stay in the cake. You can reheat and add a bit more dissolved arrowroot, if needed.

Grind and stirr in the filling 5 to 10 pink peppercorns.

 


Frosting

Wip the yogurt adding a bit of pink peppercorn to have some nice pink bits in it.
 


Assembling

When the cakes are perfectly cold and the frosting and filling are "solid", you can start to assemble.

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

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. Than place on top an other cakes disk and repeat. Place the last cake upside down.

Now you can start with the frosting. Poke a long stick in the middle of the cake. This will 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 the top, then decorate with flowers or fruit.


This cake is extremely simple and delicious, I hope it will inspire you a slow relaxed afternoon with the people that make you heart sing.

Love, Silvia xx

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.