Vegan Mofo 18: R is for raw buckwheat rolls with Red Bean filling

Sweetened red bean paste (anko) opens the door to East Asia, where it is used in a variety of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean desserts from soups to pancakes to ice creams. I have not worked with red beans before so I thought I’d give it a go. Note that red beans, also known as azuki or adzuki beans, should not be confused with red kidney beans, which are much larger in size.

Recently I came across a very inviting recipe for raw buckwheat cinnamon rolls which looked just like swiss rolls. Currently in a buckwheat phase, I combined the idea of a buckwheat roll with anko filling, thinking that the earthy buckwheat flavor would be a nice complement the sweet anko. In the original recipe, 100% raw groats were used, but I decided soaking and sprouting would be better on the digestive system.

Red bean paste generally comes in two consistencies: chunky (tsubu-an) and pureed (koshi-an). I went for a chunkier filling as I prefer more bite to the rolls. Most recipes call for a 1:1 ratio of beans to sugar but I drastically reduced the sugar amount, because the rolls had dates in them and I didn’t want to overdo the sugar.

But it still turned out quite a sugar-rush though. Buckwheat + dates + sweetened red beans, that makes a triple carbo-load! Also the rolls lacked textural contrast as everything was quite pasty (somewhat like energy balls). On hindsight, chop nuts such as walnuts studded on top would add a lovely crunch. Even better, use crushed pistachios for a red-and-green festive look that would be perfect for Christmas. Overall I love the concept of the buckwheat rolls but the filling needs tweaking.

Raw Buckwheat Rolls with Red Bean Filling (recipe-in-progress)
Makes 10 small rolls.
Vegan.
Buckwheat Rolls adapted from Vegan Fusion; Red Bean (Anko) Paste adapted from Just Hungry.

Ingredients
Raw & Sprouted Buckwheat Rolls

  • 2/3 cup raw buckwheat groats
  • 2/3 cup Medjool dates (about 8 dates), coarsely chopped

Red Bean Paste (will make extra paste)

  • 2/3 cup (125g) red beans (adzuki beans)
  • Water
  • 2 tbsp sugar

Directions

  1. Day 1: soak buckwheat. Two days before making the rolls, soak the buckwheat overnight in water.
  2. Day 2: sprout buckwheat & soak red beans. The next day, drain the buckwheat and rinse well under running water to remove the slime. Once the water runs clear, leave the groats in the sieve and place it away from direct sunlight. Allow the groats to sprout for one day. Also, soak the red beans overnight in water.
  3. Day 3: make the rolls.
  4. First prepare the red bean paste. Drain the beans and put them in a saucepan with water to cover. Bring the water to a boil, boil for a minute then drain the beans. Repeat the boiling and rinsing three times. (Apparently this helps to get rid of the impurities and give a cleaner taste). Then add water again, just enough to cover the beans, and boil for about one hour until the beans can be squashed easily with the back of a spoon. Drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid. Add sugar and mix well. If it is too dry, add a little of the reserved cooking liquid back in. Once sugar has completely mixed in, pour into a container to cool down.
  5. Meanwhile as the red beans are boiling, prepare the buckwheat paste. Place sprouted buckwheat and dates into the food processor and pulse until slightly crumbled and doughy, but with some bits of buckwheat groats still visible (I may have overprocessed mine!). Then spread dough out onto a parchment paper and press the dough into a square/rectangle that is roughly ¼-inch thick.
  6. Spread the red bean paste over all of the dough except for about 1/2-inch along the far long edge.
  7. Roll the dough up by making a small fold along the near edge, pressing it down, peeling back the parchment, and continuing to roll in the same way, making sure to press the whole thing together as you go so that you have a tight roll. Refrigerate for a few hours to harden.
  8. For a clean slice, use a thread to cut into 1-inch pieces.

 

Vegan Mofo 4: D is for Daring Durian [Birthday] Cake

I may be failing slightly in my commitment to Vegan MoFo but it’s all for a worthy cause – conceiving and creating my first birthday cake. I considered attempting one of Fragrant Vanilla Cake’s beautiful creations, or trying my hand at the equally luscious raw cakes by the Nouveau Raw. Yet somehow I knew I would not be satisfied by just following someone else’s recipe; it had to be an expression of my creativity, and of course, feature my favorite ingredients. Hours of brainstorming and kicthen labour later, this baby was born: Lemon & Rum Durian Mousse with Dark Chocolate Sherbet Surprise.

In the making of this cake, I unearthed some unexpected discoveries and acquired new kitchen knowledge. Like where to find the cheapest nuts (Albert Centre Food Market, Level 3; sold in bulk) and cheap durian (a makeshift stall opposite Bugis Market). Threateningly huge Mao Shan Wang (Cat Mountain King) durians sold at $15 per durian – can you beat that?! To put that in perspective, two durians yielded three large boxes, all for $30, and all of premium quality – small seeds with undulating layers of potent creamy rich non-fibrous bittersweet deep yellow flesh. In terms of culinary skills, it was the first for many firsts – making coconut whipped cream, homemade ice cream/sherbet, using xanthan gum and chocolate art. All in all, making this cake was a pretty insightful experience.

Oh yes, and a spanking new Bosch food processor as a birthday gift from Mum! Although KitchenAid is by far the most popular in the (American) market, it is unfortunately not sold in Singapore and I was put off by the hassle of shipping it. Nevertheless, this multi-function Bosch food processor packs quite a mean punch too – it comes with multiple attachments including the S blade, cutting disc, shredding disc, slicer, grater and dough hook, as well as juicer and blender. In fact I’m not sure if I’m ever going to utilise all its functions! So far it works like a silent workhorse and I’m more than pleased!

So back to the cake. This completely vegan, almost raw frozen cake is full blown TREAT. YO. SELF. birthday territory. The ingredients are decidedly luxe with durian (a whooping 800g), copius coconut milk, dark bittersweet Valrhona, and lots of nuts. It’ll take a bit of time, with multiple washing of the processor after making each layer, manual stirring the sherbet every so often (no ice cream machine), messy drippy chocolate and more washing of various kitchen equipment. But it’s my birthday and an excuse to create my ultimate birthday cake and have fun in the kitchen!

I understand that durian is not a readily accessible fruit, but at least you can learn some chocolate art, the resource and links which I have put up below. Believe me, waking up at 6AM to pipe chocolate on templates is very therapeutic.

I’m a pretty visual person, so I like to plan recipes visually. The crust is a basic nut/date crust but with cacao added in. The durian mousse is separated into two contrasting flavours: a lower boozy rum/vanilla layer and an upper zesty lemon layer. Sandwiched in between the two creamy durian layers is an icy bittersweet dark chocolate sherbet “surprise”. Indeed, there is a lot going on here but the play of flavours and textures all works out beautifully. The subtle hint of tartness of the lemon durian mousse provided just enough to cut through richness, while the creamy-icy-creamy-nutty mouthfeel was simply delightful. As for the cake decoration, I got my inspiration from the breathtaking delicate chocolate art from 100daysofevelyn, or more specifically her chocolate cage cake. However as a beginner I went for a simpler design of flower ornaments.

Lemon & Rum Durian Mousse with Dark Chocolate Sherbet Surprise
1 8″ cake.
Vegan. Gluten-Free.

Ingredients
You may also refer to the image above for the ingredients for each layer
 
For the Crust

  • 1 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup soft medjool dates (about 9), pitted and chopped
  • 8 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Rum Durian Mousse

  • 450g durian flesh 
  • 3/4 cup whipped coconut cream
  • 1/3 cup cashews, soaked
  • 1/2 cup silken tofu
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp rum essence

Dark Chocolate Sherbet Surprise (inspired by CakeBoule’s Raspberry Blast Secret Centre)

  • 3/4 cup gula melaka (coconut palm sugar) syrup (100g + 200ml water)
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 3/4 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 100g dark chocolate (I used Valrhona Guanaja – 70%)
  • 2 tbsp cacao powder
  • 1/4 tsp pectin (optional, supposedly lowers melting point)
  • 1/8 tsp xantham gum (optional, for stabilization & texture)

Lemon Durian Mousse

  • 350g durian flesh 
  • 140ml whipped cream
  • <1/3 cup cashews, soaked
  • <1/2 cup silken tofu
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 1/2 tsp lemon zest

Lemon Cashew Frosting (from the Nouveau Raw)

  • 1 cups raw cashews, soaked
  • 6 tbsp coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp raw agave syrup
  • 1/4 tsp each of vanilla, rum
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 6 tbsp coconut oil, melted

Chocolate Decoration

  • Dark chocolate, melted (I used Valrhona Guanaja – 70%)

Directions
 
For the Crust
Add nuts, cocoa and salt into food processor and process until nuts are fine crumbs. Then add dates and process until the mixture is smooth and holding together. Press into 8″ cake pan. Set aside in the freezer to firm up.  
 
For the Durian Mousse Layers
Place tofu, soaked cashews in food processor and blend until smooth. Add in durian flesh and and vanilla/rum and blend until just combined.
Prepare coconut whipped cream. Measure out 3/4 cup and fold into durian puree to form mousse. Pour mousse on top of the crust and place back into freezer.
Repeat the same for the lemon durian mousse layer, except replacing the vanilla/rum with lemon juice/zest.
 
Dark Chocolate Sherbet Surprise
First prepare the gula melaka syrup. Place chopped pieces into a saucepan and add the water. Bring to boil and stir until all the sugar dissolves. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5-10 mins until the mixture thickens slightly. Pour out syrup into a large bowl.
Measure out 3/4 cup of the syrup and return it to the saucepan. Then add in almond milk and coconut milk and heat until simmering. Add in chopped chocolate and cacao powder, stirring until everything melts and dissolves. Add xanthan gum and pectin, if using. Then pour mixture into a aluminium baking tray and place into freezer (no ice cream maker method). Stir the mixture vigorously every 30 mins to break up large ice crystals.
After about 4 hours of frequent stirring, chop up the chocolate sherbet and place into the blender and blend until very smooth. Then pour the mix on top of the rum durian mousse.
 
Chocolate Decorations
I got the floral ornament template from Sabrina Sue (hey, we got the same name!).
Print out the template and place it on top of a rough flat surface (eg. bread board). Place wax paper over. Melt your chocolate using a bain marie or microwave. Pour into pipig bag (I used a ziploc). Cut a very tiny hole at the tip and trace according to the pattern (note: best to let chocolate cool until lukewarm for easier control). Place wax paper in freezer. About 5 mins later, peel off the decorations and stick onto sides of cake.
 
Serving
Remove cake from freezer about 15 mins before serving.

 
I had so much fun making [and eating] this no-holds-barred dream durian birthday cake. The texture of the mousse layer could certainly be improved (it was a bit icy rather than moussy); otherwise just treat it as a giant ice cream cake!

Fig & Almond Galette (vegan)

You haven’t known figs until you try a fresh one. Sure, the dried ones are available all year round, but there is nothing like the lusciously sweet taste and unique texture of fresh figs. Plump, soft, yielding, bright and juicy – no other fruit is as sensually pleasing. Delicate when fresh, bubbly when roasted, jammy when mashed. Oh, I could go on ravishing about this exotic fruit but I should probably stop lest there’ll be no end.

The appeal of the fig goes beyond its sensual delight. Here are some interesting information that you might want to go figure. Thought to originate in Asia Minor, humans have revered the common fig tree Ficus carica since antiquity. Fossil remains from the Jordan Valley indicate they have been cultivated for more than 11,000 years. In fact, the fig is the most talked about fruit in the Bible. For example, right in the beginning Genesis 3:7 indicates that the fig tree provided the first clothing for Adam and Eve: “… they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig eaves together and made coverings for themselves.” And henceforth, the fig leaf became the symbol of modesty, as you may see so often in Renaissance art.

Moreover, the fig is also a nutrition powerhouse – an excellent source of potassium, calcium, manganese and vitamin B6. So all the more seize the opportunity to load up on figs this season! Here is one idea how: make a Fig Galette!

The word Galette is derived from the French word “galet”, a weatherworn smooth pebble. In culinary terms, this refers to various types of flat cakes, including the crepe-like pancakes of Brittany and Normandy (Galette De Bretagne) as well as freeform pies. Today we are interested in the latter, because, what’s better than filling a dough purse stuffed full of bubbling roasty figs? Traditionally made with a butter-based pie crust or puffed pastry, I never thought that a vegan version was possible. Not until I came across several recipes using frozen coconut oil as substitute. I was very intrigued and couldn’t wait to try it out.

In fact this was my first time making a pie dough, vegan or not, so after some extensive research, here’s what I gleaned. Pie dough is made by cutting butter (or other solid fat) into flour until the butter and flour looks crumbly and has pieces of butter the size of peas. Then, just enough water is added to form the dough into a ball. Most importantly:

Keep things cold, very cold.
It is especially important for the fat to be cold because pockets of unmelted fat within the crust that melt away during baking are what makes a deliciously flaky pie. Thus, refrigerate the oil, flour and use ice-cold water when making the dough, and work quickly.

For a tender crust
Do not overwork the dough; over handling will lead develop the fluten and lead to a tough pie crust dough. Thus, also choose a low protein flour such as pastry flour. I used a blend of pastry flour and buckwheat flour for nuttiness and to make it more nutritious. Buckwheat flour is also gluten-free so I though it may work well. Nevertheless, all-purpose flour is readily available and works well for all pie crusts. Sift the flour before measuring it.

I understand that pictures speak more than words so below is a pictorial on how to make the coconut oil pie dough.

Assembling the galette is easy. I used an almond cream base and layered the figs on top, then folded in the edges to form a mini-dumpling. So cute isn’t it?!

First of all, I was very pleased and amazed at how the dough came out. It was pliable and very easy to work with, though you need to let the dough “defrost” slightly after chilling because coconut oil becomes very hard when chilled and takes even longer than butter to melt. Second, I have to admit that the crust didn’t come out flaky at all. Nope, no beautiful layers of flaky pastry was in sight. Instead, it came out crumbly, but in an oh-so-delightful crunchy graham-cracker style. That was exactly my first thought when I bit into the crust: Mmm…graham crackers!

With the bubbling hot cinnamon-spiced figs sizzling in its sugars and in all its glory, this was pure perfigtion. Crunchy graham base with pulpy caramelized figs, and a heady almond cream to pair the two together – this galette is definitely worth making. It’s a free-form tart; you don’t need a lot of skill yet it presents a level of rustic sophistication that will surely impress. This is what I call a cheat dish!

Fig & Almond Galette
1 medium galette, about 4-5 slices.
Vegan.

Ingredients
Pie Dough

  • 3/4 cup flour (I used 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour + 1/4 cup buckwheat flour)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, frozen until solid
  • 2-3 tbsp ice-cold water (I used 2 1/2 tbsp)
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Almond Cream

  • 1/4 cup almonds, soaked overnight
  • 1/2 large medjool date, chopped
  • 2 tbsp non-dairy milk (soy, almond, rice, coconut)
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract

Fig Layer

  • 3-5 figs, depending on size
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • Ground cinnamon

Directions
Begin by making the galette pie dough.

  1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt. Add the cubes of frozen coconut oil from the ice tray. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the coconut oil into the flour mixture until the texture becomes lumpy, with the pieces of coconut oil no larger than small peas. Add the water and knead with your hand just until the dough pulls together. Alternatively, the dough can be made using the food processor.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and pat into a round disk. Wrap tightly with a cling film and chill for at least 30 mins (can be prepared ahead).

Make the almond cream.

  1. In a food processor, combine the almonds, dates, milk and almond extract and process until smooth and creamy. Place the almond cream in a small bowl and refrigerate to thicken.

Assemble the galette.

  1. Once the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.
  2. On a floured work surface, roll the dough out to a circle of 1/8″-1/4″ thick.
  3. Place the galette dough onto a baking sheet. Spread with the almond cream mixture, leaving a 1.5″ border around the edge. Arrange the figs concentrically from the center. Lift the edge of the dough and fold over filling to make a nice, crimped border.
  4. You may choose to refrigerate the dough if it has become too soft. Bake at 350°F/175°C for 45-50 mins until figs are bubbling slightly and edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool before slicing and serving.

 

I just had to shove this picture up your face. Enjoy!

Copycat Nakd Cocoa Loco Energy Balls

Raw energy balls made from dates and nuts are pretty common, their popularity no doubt fuelled by American Larabars, British Nakd bars and the like. One of my favourite is the Nakd Cocoa Loco Oatie bar, which combines oats in addition to dried fruits and nuts. The added oats make the bars more satisfying and filling than a regular dried-fruits-and-nuts bar, which I find can border on being cloying and a bit of a sugar-rush. Unfortunately, at $3.50 a pop, funding the craving can burn a hole in your pocket. But fortunately, Nakd has listed the percentage ingredients on the side of the wrapper. So why not make your own? All it requires is some math to calculate the amount of each ingredients for the desired number of bars or balls you want to make.

I followed the percentage ingredients almost exactly, except I substituted the walnuts for more almonds, and used a mixture of apple cider vinegar and coconut milk for apple juice. I rolled them into bite-sized energy balls, perfect for the mid-afternoon energy boost or supper indulgence. Since I had to mash the dough manually (both my blender and chopper had gone bust), it was not as smooth as the real deal. Nevertheless, apart from the slightly coarser texture, they came out just like the real deal. Actually, no; they were even better: more doughy probably due to the coconut milk; crunchy from the coarser texture; deeply chocolatey; custom-made size; and cheaper. You could even go the extra mile and coat it with cocoa powder, flax seeds or shredded coconut. But I’m too lazy for the additional work and clean-up and besides, the’re darn yummy on their own they need no adornment. These balls keep me dreaming about a new food processor just so I can make more of them, including their other flavours!


I feel awkward to post a recipe because you can find everything on the Nakd website, both for the regular bars and the Oatie bars. But for convenience and since I’d already compiled the data across all their bars, I’d just share the them with you!

Copycat Nakd Cocoa Loco Energy Balls
Makes 5 30g balls (plus some extra)
Vegan. Raw.
Adapted directly from Nakd Cocoa Loco bars.

Ingredients

  • 55g medjool dates, chopped
  • 37g oat flour (freshly ground from rolled oats)
  • 9g dried cranberries
  • 9g sultanas
  • 13g raw peanuts, crushed
  • 6g almonds, crushed
  • 8g raw cacao powder
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vingear
  • 1 1/2 tbsp coconut milk

Directions

  1. Put all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until a dough forms. For a chunkier bite, you may want to mash it manually by hand.
  2. Divide the dough and shape into balls (or bars) of desired size.
  3. Optional coatings: cacao powder, flax seeds, or shredded coconut.

 

Below are the ingredients listed by percentage weight for their regular fruit and nut bars (top) and oatie bars (below). I hope you find this useful and enjoy making your own energy balls and bars!

Nakd Fruit & Nut Ingredients

Nakd Oatie Ingredients

Mini St(Raw)berry Cheesecake

When it comes to cheesecakes in the vegan community, they traditionally fall into two categories: cashew-based or tofu-based. The first time I came across a cashew cheesecake I was sceptical. How can cashews ever replace cream cheese? Won’t it taste nutty? It was like comparing apples to steak. The copious quantities of nuts and (often) coconut was another impediment because it translated to high amounts of fat. However these photogenic cakes kept popping up, further piquing my curiosity and tempting the will. With creations like Raw Cashew Dreamcake by My New Roots and the tantalizing array at Fragrant Vanilla Cake and Sweetly Raw, how can you not be inspired to create one? And so my adventure began. With the abundance of strawberries, I set out to make a miniature version of the classic raw strawberry cheesecake.

The crust is typically made from nuts (walnuts, macadamia, almonds, pecans etc.) and dates. I usually find the recipes too sweet and so I upped the ratio of walnuts:dates in favour of the former (approx. 2 1/2:1)

The crust ingredients are pulsed and pressed into a springform pan. It pays to oil the base, or sprinkle it with extra shredded coconut, to ensure easy removal of the base when serving.

The cheese is made from soaked cashews, which softens them and produces the creamy consistency when blended. It really helps to have a powerful high-speed blender that is able to whip the heck out of the cashews, which my brandless blender unfortunately falls short of. Another reason to invest in a Vitamix! Also in the cheese mix is a sweetener (honey, agave or maple syrup), the fruit (strawberries) and some oil to get the mixture smooth. To help firm up the texture, I used agar powder, a gelling agent derived from seaweed and completely vegan. Melting the agar powder reminded me of the tedious hours in lab preparing LB agar plates, which ironically I quite miss now. The agar is optional; you could omit it or substitute with other thickeners such as cornstarch, though I’m not sure how that will work out exactly.

The strawberry cheese is then poured over the crust. Flecked with specks of strawberries, the rosy pale pink batter reminded me of girlish innocence. The horrible lighting definitely does not do it justice; I took it at dawn and so had to use flash.

The cake frozen and ready to be decorated. I used an easy & clean strawberry coulis made from just pureed strawberries, chia seeds and a touch of honey. The mixture is chilled in the refrigerator to let the pectin from the strawberries and soluble fiber of chia to work their magic. The mixture turns into a soft strawberry jelly, a consistency very amenable to decorating and forgiving to beginners of food art. I imagine this coulis would make a very good PB&J sammich too!

Initially I planned on doing swirls but the cheese layer was frozen solid and I was too impatient to wait for it to melt. The alternative was a simple flower design. As the finishing touch, I studded the sides of the cake with extra chopped walnuts just for that extra crunch!


Now you can have your pink cake and eat it too! The color is charmingly fabulous and au natural; the coulis may even border on being garish but I swear there’s no food colouring involved nor did I enhance the colour.

And so the weekend ended in style with a generous slice of the st(raw)berry cheesecake post-dinner. And now I’m a convert; I don’t claim this to taste like a real cream cheese cheesecake, but it is superbly light, rich, creamy and yummy in its own right. The berry flavour was smack-in-your-face intense, elevated by the zing of lemon juice and grated zest. I’m not sure if the agar powder did its job because it was still slightly soft, but freezing then slightly thawing it should produce the right texture. First attempts at recipes seldom produce great results, but this was a rare exception.

Mini St(Raw)berry Cheesecake
Makes one mini 4.5″ cake.
Vegan. Gluten-free. Raw.
Adapted from Lovely Food Blog and Noveau Raw.

Ingredients
For the crust

  • 1/3 cup (42g) walnuts
  • 2 tbsp dried fruits (I used 1 tbsp each of medjool dates and dried cranberries)
  • 1 tbsp (5g) shredded coconut
  • Pinch sea salt (omitted)

For the filling

  • 1/3 cup (48g) cashews
  • 1/2 cup strawberries
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp non-dairy milk (soy, rice, almond, coconut)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 5/6 tsp agar powder
  • 2 1/2 tbsp orange juice
  • Pinch sea salt

Strawberry Coulis (I reduced the proportions to suit the recipe, but it is definitely easier to get the processor whirring by making a double or even quadruple batch)

  • 1/4 cup chopped strawberries
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1/8 tsp chia seeds

Directions
Prepare the base

  1. Lightly grease the bottom of a springform pan with coconut oil.
  2. In a food processor, pulse walnuts and dates, then the shredded coconut and salt. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan, pressing it evenly into the pan. Put pan in freezer.

Prepare the filling

  1. In a high-speed blender combine the ingredients in the following order (this will help the blade move more freely): soy milk, lemon juice, honey and strawberries. Blend till the strawberries are pureed.
  2. Drain and rinse the cashews before adding to the blender. Add the cashews and salt. Blend until the mixture is creamy smooth. Depending on your blender, this can take 1-5 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl, dissolve the agar powder with the orange juice and microwave briefly for just 10 secs. It should turn sticky.
  4. Add agar mix and coconut oil to the filling mix in the blender. Blend on high until mixed in.
  5. Retrieve pan from freezer and pour the batter in. Tap the pan on the counter to work any air bubble up and out of the batter. Let set in the freezer until frozen, about 4 hours.

Prepare strawberry coulis

  1. Place the strawberries, honey and chia seeds in the blender or food processor and blend till creamy.
  2. Pour into a small bowl and allow refrigerate for at least 15 mins or longer if possible. The chia will cause it to start to thicken.
  3. Decorate your dessert with the coulis as you wish. You may also added extra chopped walnuts on the side of the cake.

 

More cake-porn. Enjoy!

Rolling in the Deep with Dates & Cinnamon – Cinnamon Date Buns!

There are some recipes that you come across and you know to have to make time. Recently I set to conquer two in my inexorable list of bookmarked recipes: Yeasted Cinnamon Date Rolls from mynewroots, and Strawberry & Apricot Coconut Banana Chia Seed Bread from ambitiouskitchen. I get alot of inspiration from these two blogs; their recipes are mouthwatering, unfussy and wholesome all at the same time. Today’s post will be on the cinnamon buns, which were actually made a few weeks ago and are long gone by now!

When I think of cinnamon rolls, I think of delicious baked fluffy rolls of doughy snails crammed with cinnamon, brown sugar, and perhaps some frosting. These were the cinnamon rolls of my childhood, which my mum used to buy from this shop when we were in the Orchard area. (The name of the shop has eluded my memory but if I’m not wrong, its business has closed.) To prolong the enjoyment, I would unroll the bun and eat it along the spiral, savouring each bite with delightful pleasure. Alas, ignorance is bliss; now armed with knowledge how much sugar and butter cinnamon buns can be laden with, it has been scornfully shunned and its deliciousness forgotten.

Then, one day, I came across mynewroots’ au natural date-sweetened vegan cinnamon buns and I knew it is time for a comeback. Furthermore, these rolls are leavened with yeast, which supposedly would give a more tender bite. I made several modifications to the original recipe: (1) WW pastry flour instead of spelt flour; (2) mashed bananas instead of applesauce; (3) omitted the nuts (I ran out) and glaze.

Yeasted Cinnamon Date Rolls
Makes 7-8 small rolls.
Vegan.
Recipe adapted from mynewroots.

Ingredients
For the dough

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading and dusting (I used Bob’s Red Mill WW pastry flour, 118g)
  • 1/2 tbsp instant yeast
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp mashed banana
  • 1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp water

For the date filling

  • 3/4 cup (112g) chopped (medjool) dates (I would reduce the amount as the rolls were too sweet)
  • 6 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 3/8 cups chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Directions

  1. Sift the flour into a large bowl. Mix in yeast, sugar and salt.
  2. In another bowl combine the mashed bananas and oil.
  3. Fold in wet ingredients to the dry ingredients to form a moderately soft dough that is smooth and elastic, adding extra flour as needed. Shape dough into a ball and place dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
  4. Meanwhile make the date filling. Pit and chop dates into chunks. Place in a saucepan with water. Bring to a simmer and stir often to break up the dates and form a chunky paste. It should take just a few minutes. If your dates are dry, add more water. Stir in cinnamon and salt. Set aside to cool.
  5. Once dough has doubled in volume, punch dough down. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Cover and let rest 10 mins.
  6. On lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to form a rectangle. Slather an even layer of filling across the dough and sprinkle with roughly chopped pecans if using. Roll the dough lengthwise into a log. Transfer to a piece of parchment paper. Using a piece of thread or dental floss, slice the log into pieces. Cover and let rise in a warm place for about 30 mins.
  7. Bake for 30-35 mins in a 375°F (190°C) oven until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.

 
Not to border on being too verbose, below is a step-by-step pictorial of the process.


The dough, after being rolled out. I don’t have a rolling pin so I actually used a wine bottle as a substitute. How’s that for creativity?


Time to spread on the date paste!


All spreaded out.


Medjool dates – nature’s candy.


Use a thread or dental floss to cut the rolls cleanly. I learned this tip online and it was certainly very useful.


The cinnamon rolls pre-baked. Already it smelled so good.


The baked cinnamon rolls. As you can tell, they were overbaked, and along with it, my mood turned as black as the buns. All was going well until the last step where the slightest neglect of time messed up what could have turned out so good. Nevertheless they were still edible if you overlooked the charred bits. Perhaps because I used WW pastry flour, the rolls had the texture of scones rather than being pull-apart doughy. Another major point was its sweetness. Although it is natural sugars, I would most definitely cut back on the amount of dates for these were so sweet that they had to be enjoyed in morsels. Overall, the recipe is quite promising but some tweaks are needed, especially to the the amount of dates, and maybe the type of flour for a more doughy texture.

Rawsome Raw Carrot Cake with Cashew Cream Cheese Frawsting

Attending the IRFD has been a monumental event. Although I’ve always had a plant-based diet, I did not consciously eat raw foods, salads and such. However of late I’ve been purposefully trying to incorporate more raw veggies into my diet, usually in the form of salads during lunch. As you know, typically Chinese like to have their veggie stir-fried, and while that’s not detrimental in itself, I can sort of feel the difference in “energy” when consuming raw veggies vs cooked ones; it leaves my body and spirit more energetic.

But sometimes one has and needs to be a little naughty and indulge in some desserts, so why not make it raw? A raw carrot cake is pretty common, which there are many recipes online. The basic ingredients for the cake body are shredded carrots, nuts, dates and spices. Most recipes also include shredded coconut, and even more elaborate recipes may call for crushed pineapples. My ideal carrot cake is dense and jam-packed with carrots, so I upped the ratio of carrots in my recipe. Since this is my first attempt at a raw carrot cake (or any raw dessert for that matter), I made a mini-cake and kept the ingredient list fairly simple. The deal breaker was really the “cream cheeese” frawsting. Although it certainly did not have the mouthfeel of real cream cheese (or maybe because I added too much soy milk), it still paired beautifully well with the carrot cake. All it all, one word – RAWsome!

A minor modification in the future would be to use just one medjool date for the cake (it was a tad sweet). Otherwise, it was perfect! Of course, maybe some experiments with other nuts such as pecans instead of walnuts and a different flavoured frawsting can be done also!


Cake ingredients pictured above: carrots, walnuts, coconut, dates, spices, orange peel.


The ingredients mixed together…


And placed into a mini springform pan. Alternatively, you may use muffin tins or molds to make it single-serving.


The cake unmolded after an overnight refrigeration. Looking good!


Decorated! I’m so happy I finally fixed the problem with the piping gun! Yay for beautiful desserts. 🙂


Another shot just to appreciate 🙂


Sliced up and time to serve. You want a slice, don’t you?

Rawsome Raw Carrot Cake with Cashew Cream Cheese Frawsting
Makes one small (4.5″) cake.
Vegan. Gluten-free. Raw.
Recipe adapted from here and here

Ingredients
Carrot Cake

  • 1 cup shredded carrots (about 1/2 large carrot)
  • 1/4 cup (35g) walnuts (or pecans)
  • 1/4 cup (22g) shredded coconut
  • 2 large medjool dates (may use just 1 as I found the cake a little sweet)
  • 2 tbsp dried fruits (I used a mix of cranberries & raisins)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or nutmeg or ground ginger)
  • Finely grated zest of 1/2 small orange
  • 1/4 tsp minced fresh ginger (if not using ground ginger)
  • Pinch of fine sea salt

Cream Cheese Frawsting

  • 3/8 cup (48g) cashews, soaked for 6-10 hours and drained
  • 2 tbsp soy milk
  • 3/4 tbsp manuka honey
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • Zest of the other 1/2 orange
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tbsp coconut oil/butter

Directions

  1. To make the cake, place all the cake ingredients into a food processor and pulse for a few seconds, until slightly crumbly. Do not over-blend or the cake will end up pasty!
  2. Pour out “batter” into a mini springform pan or muffin tins/molds, pressing down slightly to compress.
  3. Leave to chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or better yet, overnight.
  4. When about to serve, make the cream cheese frawsting. Blend all ingredients until smooth and creamy. Pipe onto the cake, and let chill again for another 30 min until slightly firm.

 

Irrelevant to the carrot cake, last night I had a supper, a rare event. However I’m getting serious about gaining weight now and not just dabbling around like I used to in the past. It was a Nakd bar (Cocoa Loco). Initially I planned on having just half the bar but ended up consuming the whole thing, partly because it was so tasty I couldn’t stop and partly because I wanted to challenge myself. Feeling somewhat ambivalent about this; mostly proud that I didn’t restrict myself, yet a teeny sense of fear that one day I might loose control (this sounds silly as I’m typing out now). But overall, mostly proud of myself. People say, “no pain, no gain” when it comes to losing weight; but the converse applies for myself to gain weight. Gotta push aside all doubts and just do it! Best of all, I daresay I had a better sleep because my stomach was happily filled.

Sorry for the lack of posts lately; I’m in the midst of applying to medical schools (finally made the decision) and I’ve got tons of administrative stuff and essays to write!