April 21st is Earth Day. You’ll no doubt see lots of articles and social media posts about it (including this one of course 😉 ), but what is Earth Day and do the actions we take today really make any difference? Continue reading “Every day is Earth Day”
With the kids back at school and more people at their place of work rather than at home, packed lunches are back in focus. It can be hard to know what to put in that’s healthy, unprocessed and, of course, tasty. It’s even more challenging if you are creating packed lunches for a nut free environment, particularly schools. Continue reading “Savoury carrot flapjacks”
There’s no getting away from it, food has got super complicated! Every day I come across a new article or piece of research that claims a specific nutrient is the new cure for a disease or chronic health problem. Today’s one covered how vitamin C and E, but not other nutrients, could prevent Parkinson’s Disease. How much of these and why, they weren’t sure. And of course it concluded that more research is needed! Continue reading “Keeping it simple”
Spring has finally arrived in all her glory; it seems to have been a very long winter this year! Gorgeous Spring blossom and buds are everywhere, like this gorgeous magnolia coming into bloom near my house.
As it’s only a few days now until Easter, baking is at the forefront of my mind. Even though the Easter holidays are going to be much quieter than normal this year, there’s still something lovely about a toasted hot cross bun (did you see my sourdough hot cross bun recipe?) or a slice of cake – like this Simnel cake.
Simnel cake has been made at this time of year since Medieval times. Originally it was just for Mother’s Day, but then became associated with Easter. If you’re not too sure what Simnel cake is, it’s a light fruit cake with a layer of marzipan in the middle and/or on top, decorated with 11 marzipan balls to represent the disciples (Judas being the twelfth one who’s missing). To finish it off, the marzipan can be lightly browned using a blow torch or under the grill – if you dare!
Apart from the fruit element, there’s not that much that’s traditional about my version of Simnel cake! It’s egg free, dairy free and works well with gluten free flour. It’s low in sugar and refined oil (and you can miss it out completely if you like). And the marzipan is vegan too. The only thing I can’t make it is nut free. Although you could just make the fruit cake and forget about the marzipan. In fact, if you just want a tasty, plain fruit cake then do just that. It’s lovely!
This recipe includes glacé cherries. I’m always torn by these as they do contain a lot of sugar plus they bring back memories of my childhood of some horrid tasting ones. You can substitute more dried fruit for the cherries if you prefer. One top tip is to rinse the glacé cherries under a running tap to wash off some of the sugar syrup before using them – this helps to stop them dropping to the bottom of the cake as well as reducing the sugar content.
As you can see, I’ve not gone in for traditional decoration (no surprise there!). The mini eggs on top come from a company called Doisy and Dam who make chocolate products without animal ingredients or highly processed ingredients. Sadly they still contain lots of saturated fat from the cocoa butter so are not suitable for anyone follow a very low fat diet like Overcoming MS, but if you’re not, then check them out as apparently they’re a bit good.
If you enjoy fruit cake, then you will love this Simnel cake. Do let me know if you make it and how you get on. Wishing you a very Happy Easter!
- 18 cm loose-bottomed cake tin
- 1 portion vegan marzipan see link below
- 270 grams self raising flour wholemeal or gluten free
- 1 teaspoon baking powder gluten free if needed
- 1 medium unwaxed lemon grated rind and juice
- pinch salt
- 400 grams dried mixed fruit
- 150 grams glacé cherries rinsed and chopped
- 250 ml soya milk
- 50 grams coconut sugar
- 60 ml olive oil or extra soya milk if oil free
- Line a 18cm loose-bottomed cake on the bottom and sides with a double layer of non-stick baking paper (this helps to minimise the risk of the edges getting over-cooked)
- Make the marzipan as per the recipe in the link below and leave to firm up for 10 minutes.
- Whilst the marzipan is firming up, weigh out the flour, baking powder, lemon rind and salt into a large bowl. Stir well to combine. Add the dried fruit (not the cherries) and stir again.
- In another bowl or large jug, measure out the soya milk and add a tablespoon of lemon juice. Let it curdle for a couple of minutes then add the coconut sugar, olive oil and chopped glacé cherries.
- Pre-heat the oven to 170ºC
- Cut the marzipan in half. Place one half onto a silicon mat or sheet of non-stick baking paper. If it's really sticky, add an extra sprinkle or two of ground almonds and roll it out to a circle roughly the same diameter as the cake tin. Put to one side.
- Pour the wet cake ingredients into the dry and mix thoroughly and quickly to combine. Make sure you've scrapped up all the flour from the bottom of the bowl.
- Spoon half the mixture into the bottom of the prepared cake tin and spread it out. Carefully pick up the rolled out marzipan on the silicon mat or baking paper, turn it over above the tin and carefully peel it off to cover the cake mix. Don't worry if it breaks a bit as it won't get seen!
- Spoon the remaining half of the mix over the top of the marzipan layer and spread it out to fill the tin. Tap the tin on the work top a couple of times then transfer it to the oven.
- Bake in the middle of the oven for 40 minutes. Check to see if the cake it baked by piercing it with a skewer - if it comes out clean it's done. If not, return to the oven for a couple of minutes and check again. Be careful not to over cook - the cake continues to firm up once out of the oven.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then remove and transfer to a rack to cool completely.
- Finish decorating the cake once it is completely cold. Roll out the remaining marzipan and place over the top of the cake. If you're making marzipan balls, you'll need extra (see note below) or decorate with mini eggs or chicks as you desire.
With only a two weeks until Easter, the supermarkets are full of seasonal goodies, most of which are a no-go area for me! It’s not really an issue as I can make most things at home myself or do without. But there is one particular treat I really missed for years – hot cross buns. Continue reading “Vegan sourdough hot cross buns”
I am a big fan of all vegetables. Well, most of them! There is still the odd one or two I’m not keen on. Globe artichokes is one mainly because they just seem to be a bit too complicated! The other is celery. Continue reading “Celery soup”
As its St David’s Day today (1st March), it seemed only right that I share something connected to Wales. Apart from stunning scenery and lush green countryside, the three things that spring to my mind are daffodils, sheep and leeks. And there’s only one of those that can feature in one of my recipes, so leeks it is! Continue reading “Quick leek, mushroom and broccoli pasta sauce”
It’s nearly a year since the Covid19 Pandemic forced us into a series of lockdowns. With many of our normal every day activities taken away, there’s been a surge in home activities. Ranging from gardening, home exercise classes, learning a language to an increase in baking. One of the most prominent ones – certainly on social media – has been bread making. Continue reading “Your daily bread”
Having an intolerance to yeast means that most bread items are off the menu for me. Yeast pops up everywhere in most cuisines, so finding an alternative can be a challenge – and rather restrictive. Continue reading “Sweet potato flatbread”
It’s Shrove Tuesday – Pancake Day. Of course, pancakes are not just for one day of the year – that would be too sad – but it’s a good day to post about them! In fact, it’s only now that I realised I haven’t shared my favourite pancake recipe – it’s time to remedy that!