Vegan Upside-Down Apple Cake

It’s been about 2 years since I’ve first made this awesome vegan upside down apple cake, and since then I’ve been searching ways to improve the recipe. I’ve tried a gazillion recipes, each one with its own shortcomings and at one point it seemed like I would never find the perfect texture and taste. But at last my prays were answered and I might have achieved the perfect result: a generous layer of apples dressed in a decadent salted caramel, hiding a tender and fluffy vegan sponge.
This upside down apple cake is perfect in its own simplicity, and it’s so quick and easy to make. I bake it all year round, during spring I use strawberries, during summer I choose peaches, figs for fall and canned pineapple does the trick all winter long. Honestly, sky is the limit regarding the fruit base. Let’s get to business, shall we…

Ingredients ( for a 26cm tray):

⦁ 3 – 4 medium apples (I used Ida Red)
⦁ 2 Tbsp Muscovado sugar
⦁ 1 Tbsp coconut oil (melted)
⦁ 2 Tbsp almond flakes
⦁ 300g all-purpose white flour
⦁ 150g white granulated sugar
⦁ 1 satchet baking powder (about 2 1/2 tsp)
⦁ 1/4 tsp baking soda
⦁ 1/2 tsp salt
⦁ 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
⦁ 1 tsp vanilla extract
⦁ 300g soy yogurt
⦁ 120ml any mild vegetable oil
⦁ 3 Tbsp flax seed
⦁ 9 Tbsp water

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven and prepare the tray. Preheat the oven at 200°C / 400° F (gas mark 6). Line the tray with parchment paper.
  2. Prepare the ingredients. Weight each ingredient. Peel the apples, quarter them, remove the seeds and cut each quarter into 3. Grind the flax seeds (I used a coffee grinder, but you can also use a mortar and a pestle). Add the water and let it aside for about 5 minutes.
  3. Place the apples. Take the tray, add the sugar and melted coconut oil and give them a stir. Add a pinch of salted, sprinkle the almond flakes and arrange the apple slices.
  4. Prepare the dry ingredients. In a large bowl sift the flour. Add sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt (the remaining quantity), cinnamon and mix well.
  5. Prepare the wet ingredients. In a smaller bowl combine yogurt with oil, vanilla extract and flax seed mixture.
  6. Prepare the batter. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and mix with a spatula until just combined.
  7. Bake the cake. Pour the mixture into a parchment paper-lined tray and bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 180°C / 350° F (gas mark 4) and bake for further 30 -35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Allow the sponge to cool down on a wire rack.

Chocolate & Almond Babka (Vegan)



I can’t even begin to describe my passion for any kind of brioche. I simply adore them. I love the simple version, the chocolate one, the one with walnuts, or poppy seeds, or Turkish delight, or coconut meringue. Any kind, really. I’m not picky at all.  One of my favourite recipes is Babka, chocolate brioche with Polish origins. So I decided to make a vegan version and the result vas a fluffy golden brioche with a decadent chocolate-almond filling. A vegan brioche which is not only looks incredible but also tastes absolutely amazing.

Ingredients (for 2 loaves):

500g all-purpose flour

250ml almond milk

90ml safflower oil

1 satchel active dry yeast

120g powdered sugar

¼ tsp salt

1/8 tsp turmenic

1 tsp vanilla extract

zest of 1 orange

for the filling:

100g dark chocolate

100g ground almonds

60ml coconut oil

50g powdered sugar

30g cocoa powder


Method:

Mix sugar with lukewarm milk and stir until combined. Add yeast and leave aside for 15 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl sift the flour together with the turmenic powder. Add the milk mixture, orange zest and vanilla. Mix with a wooden spoon until combined. Add the salt and continue mixing until you form a ball.

Turn the dough on to a floured working surface and knead adding one teaspoon of butter at a time. Knead for 15 minutes adding flour if necessary. Put dough back in the mixing bowl, cover with a towel and let it rise in a warm place for about 90 minutes.

Prepare the filling by melting the chocolate and the coconut oil in the microwave. Ass the sifted cocoa and powdered sugar. Mix until well combined.

Put dough on a floured working surface and knead for 2 minutes. Divide it into 2 smaller balls.

Take the first ball and toll it out with a rolling pin until you have a 1cm thick rectangle making sure it has the same length as the tray.

Spread ½ the quantity of the chocolate cream over it, leaving a 2cm wide clean border. Sprinkle half of the almonds over the chocolate cream.

Brush the left border with almond milk. Begin rolling the loaf from right to left, making sure the left end sticks well. Take a sharp knife and divide the log into two halves. Take one end and begin twisting them. Place the loaf in a parchment paper- lined tray and proceed the same with the second brioche.

Cover them with a clean towel and leave the aside to rise for another 60 minutes. Bake them in the preheated oven at 180°C / 350°F (gas mark 4) for 25-30 minutes or until golden. Let them cool down on a wire rack for at least 2 hours until slicing.

Fried Zucchini Blossoms (Vegan)

With a crispy crust and a creamy center, these fried zucchini flowers are a stunning Italian appetizer. A budget-friendly, delicious and simple yet elegant treat. I first tried this recipe about 5 years ago and I remember it was love at first sight. Since that particular moment, I’ve been preparing this recipe at lest once a month. When I’m in my veggie garden, admiring my zucchini bush, it fills my heart with joy the fact that I’m able to create something extraordinary from an ingredient that I’d otherwise throw away. Regarding the batter, I’ve trying a lot of recipes that required whether baking powder, sparkling water or cold beer. Hands down, my favorite version was this simple three-ingredient one. It requires only flour, water and yeast, a pinch of sugar and a pinch of salt. These ingredients create a incredibly crunchy crust which hides a delicate and creamy filling.

Ingredients (for 6 servings):

15 zuchhini blossoms

150g all-purpose flour

220ml lukewarm water (38-40C)

15g fresh yeast

1 sugar

1 salt

 

Method:

  1. Activate the yeast. In a small bowl combine 1/3 of the water, sugar and yeast and whisk until well combined. Let aside for 5 minutes.
  2. Form the batter. In a large bowl sift the flour. Add the salt and a pinch of nutmeg and make a well in the center. Add the remaining water (2/3 of the quantity) and whisk until smooth. Add the yeast mixture and whisk until well combined. Cover with cling film and let it proof in a warm place for about 30 minutes.
  3. Clean the flowers. Meanwhile take each flower and remove it’s center, as well as those tiny outer leaves. Clean under cold water and place them in a colander to drain.
  4. Cook the blossoms. After 30 minutes heat the oil in a medium saucepan over high heat. One by one, dredge the blossoms in batter, shaking off the excess. Gently lay them in the oil, without crowding the pan. Cook, flipping once with a slotted spoon, until golden brown, 2-3 minutes total.
  5. Serve. Transfer to paper towels to drain and serve warm.

  1. Source: www.giallozafferano.it

Challah Bread

Challah is a braided bread made traditionally in the Jewish cuisine. This spectacular bread has a golden-brown, shiny crust and a airy and pilowy slightly sweet interior. It’s more than possible I’ve made challah more than two dozen times, in fact I bake it each and every time I want to surprise my guests. Beside the wow factor, this bread surprizes with its amazing taste as well.

Besides the usual ingredients, such as flour, water, salt, yeast and sugar, this bread is usually enriched with vegetable oil or melted butter and eggs,  which give challah a golden color and an unmistakable richness. These ingredients also allow this bread to remain soft for several days. If you’ve never tried to make challah before, I encourage you with all my heart to give it a try!

Ingredients (for a 45x15cm loaf):

  • 630g all-purpose flour (22 oz)
  • 225ml lukewarm water (8 oz)
  • 1 satchel active dry yeast (7g)
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar (30g)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt (8g)
  • 55ml vegetable oil (2 oz)
  • 4 egg (2 egg + 1 yolk for the dough and 1 egg for the wash)
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp poppy seeds

Method:

  1. Activate the yeast. In a small bowl combine water, sugar and yeast and let aside for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, the mixture should be frothy.
  2. Form the dough. In a large bowl sift the flour and make a well in the center. Add the yeast mixture (point 1) and the oil, 2 eggs and 1 yolk and mix with a wooden spatula. Add the salt and continue mixing until you form a ball.
  3. Knead the dough. Bring the dough on a floured working surface and knead it for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, the dough should be smooth.
  4. Let the dough rise. Place dough in the bowl, cover with a clean towel and let it rise in a warm place for about 90 minutes (or until doubled in size).
  5. After 90 minutes, place the dough back on the working surface and knead vigorously to knock out the air bubbles.
  6. Form the ropes. Divide the dough into 6 pieces. Shape each piece into a ball. Elongate each ball of dough with your hands until you form a 45cm rope. Proceed the same with the rest of the dough.
  7. Braid the loaf. For a six-rope braid, I’ll leave you below the step by step pictures, as well as a gif.
  8. Preheat the the oven at 180°C / 350°F (gas mark 4).
  9. Place the loaf on a parchment paper-lined tray. Cover with a clean towel and let it rise for about 45 – 60 minutes.
  10. After about 1 hour give the apply egg wash and sprinkle with poppy seeds.
  11. Bake it in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.
  12. Place it on a wire rack and let it cool down for about 30 minutes before slicing.

Source: www.thekitchn.com

Homemade Noodles with Sauteed Cabbage (Vegan)

My heart fills with joy when I remember my grandmother’s recipe of cabbage noodles, those fragrant and peppery noddles she used to make for me every Friday afternoon. I used to barge into the kitchen, throwing my backpack on the old, wooden armchair and she used to greet me with a warm smile and a simple bowl of cabbage noodles. That’s all I’ve ever needed, for that matter!

For these delicious noodles with sauteed cabbage you only need about a handful of budget-friendly ingredients and a spare 20 minutes. If you decide to make the noodles from scratch, it shouldn’t take more than 1 hour. For this recipe I used my pasta machine but a simple rolling pin and a sharp knife did the job brilliantly for years (and the proof lays here). Whenever I make them plant-based, I replace the eggs with olive oil and lukewarm water. Since I can’t say I find pale noodles appealing, I add a pinch of turmenic to the flour, which gives the noodles a lovely golden color. So let’s get to work!

Ingredients (for 4 servings):

for the pasta:

  • 300g all purpose flour
  • about 160ml liquid (115ml water + 45ml olive oil)
  • 1 + 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp turmenic

 

for the sauteed cabbage:

  • 1/2 kg white cabbage
  • 1/2 Tbsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 tsp pepper

 

 

Method:

  1. Pasta dough. In a large bowl sift the flour. Add salt and turmenic and mix well.
  2. Make a well in the center, add water and olive oil and mix with a fork, until you form a ball of dough.
  3. Bring the dough on a floured working surface and knead it vigorously for 10 minutes, or until the surface becomes smooth and elastic.
  4. Wrap it in cling film and let it rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  5. Sauteed cabbage. Take the cabbage and discard its outer leaves. Give it a wash and pat it dry with a paper towel.
  6. Cut it in 4 and chop it finely. Place the cabage ribbons in a colander and place the colander in a large bowl. Sprinkle the salt over the cabage and masaage it for a minute.
  7. Cut the onion in half and slice it finely. Heat 2 Tbsp of oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute it until translucent.
  8. Remove the liquid from the cabbage ribbons using your hands. Add the cabbage to the saucepan, give it a stir, cover with a lid and reduce the heat to minimum. Saute the cabbage until tender (for about 15 – 20 minutes). When it becomes tender, season with salt (only if necessary) and plenty of black pepper and leave aside.
  9. Cutting the noodles – If you don’t own a pasta machine, you can use a rolling pin to roll the dough and a sharp knife to cut the noodles, like I did in this recipe. Take the dough out from the fridge, cut it in 4 and form 4 balls of dough. Take 1 ball, flatten it with your fingers and fold it in half. Set your pasta machine to the thickest setting and feed it through the pasta roller. Repeat the step. Change the setting to mark 2. Fold this piece of dough into thirds, and press it with your fingers. Pass it through the pasta machine. Repeat the step. Continue passing the dough through the machine until the desired thickness. For these noodles I like to stop after the 5th mark.
    Recap: fold, mark1x2, fold, mark2x2, mark3x2, mark4x2, mark5x1
  10. Run each sheet of pasta through the pasta cutter.
  11. Take a large pot, fill it with water and add a handful of salt. Cover with a lid and let it boil. When the water starts to boil, put the noodles into the pan and let them cook for about a minute and a half (90 seconds). Drain pasta and rinse them with cold water. Toss them over the sauted cabbage and give it a gentle stir.
  12. Serve immediately.



















Česnica with Homemade Phyllo Dough – Traditional Serbian Christmas Pie

Cesnica is a wonderful dessert made in the Serbian households on Christmas Eve. Two years ago I prepared it using store bough phyllo pastry, showing you an easy, no fuss way to make it. This year I decided to step up my game and make it old school, from scratch, just like my beloved grandmother used to. The person who prepares this delicious dessert always hides a coin inside it. The coin brings luck to whomever finds it.

I couldn’t have been more than seven when I saw my grandmother make the dough from scratch for the last time (it is quite labor intensive). But those images are still alive in my memory like an old black and while movie that goes on and on in my mind. This charming old movie marked my childhood more than anything else. I still remember vividly all the steps, sifting the flour, melting the lard, kneading the dough, leaving it to rest, grinding the walnuts, placing the tablecloth, pulling the dough, making the walnut filling, placing that shiny coin, cutting the pie, baking it to perfection…

Since it’s been quite a while since I last saw my grandmother making it from scratch, there was a solid chance that my memory could play some tricks on me, so I interviewed several women from the Serbian community, so this recipe is a fusion between my personal knowledge and their wonderful tricks learnt from a lifetime experience.

 

Ingredients (for a 30x22cm tray, which means 20 servings):

for the pastry:

  • 500g strong bread flour
  • 255ml lukewarm water (beetween 36 – 38°C)
  • 75ml any neutral vegetable oil / melted pork lard
  • 10ml vinegar
  • 1/8 tsp salt

 

for greasing the pastry sheets:

  • 45ml any neutral vegetable oil / melted pork lard – 3 Tbsp
  • 45ml milk 3 – Tbsp
  • 3 Tbsp honey (optional)

 

for the filling

  • 300g walnuts
  • 225 white granulated sugar
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 3 coins (washed with water and soap and sterilized by boiling)

Method:

  1. In a large bowl sift the flour and salt and make a well in the center.
  2. Add the oil, water vinegar and mix with a fork until you form a ball. Knead the bowl of dough in the bowl for 3 minutes, or until the surface is smooth.
  3. Place the dough on a working surface and knead it vigorously with your hands. Slap the dough down to the working surface for 50 times.Wrap the dough in a plastic bag, cover it with a clean towel and and let it rest for 1 – 2 hours (resting the dough is vital for relaxing the gluten).
  4. Sterilize the coins by boiling them in hot water for 30 minutes.
  5. Grind the walnuts and zest the lemon. Take two bowls. Mix walnuts, sugar and lemon zest in a large bowl. In another bowl mix the oil with the milk.
  6. Take a large tray and line it with parchment paper.
  7. After the dough has rested I divide it into 3 relatively equal pieces. Leave one piece of dough on the working surface and place the other two in the same plastic bag.
  8. Place the first piece of dough on the floured working surface and roll it with the rolling pin until it gets about 1/2 cm thick.
  9. Cover the table with a clean table cloth (a clean sheet does the trick as well). Place the back of your hand under the sheet of dough and I begin stretching it from the center to the outer edges, working your way around the sheet of dough. If you don’t feel the sheet moving, let it relax for a few moments. It is ready when it’s so thin that you can read the newspaper under it. Take a knife or a pizza cutter and cut it into 4 equal pieces.
  10. Take one sheet, place it in a tray, remove the thicker outer edges with a knife and grease it with the milk mixture. Place the second sheet on top and grease it as well.
  11. Over the second sheet sprinkle about two handfulls of walnut mixture.
  12. Cover the walnut mixture with the third sheet, grease it as well and sprinkle a handful of walnuts.
  13. Continue with the layers until you place the sixth sheet. Grease it, sprinkle a handfull of walnuts and place the coins.
  14. Proceed the same until you reached the 10th sheet, grease it and sprinkle it with the remaining walnut mixture.
  15. Cover it with the eleventh sheet, grease it  cover with the last one. Using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter, cut the surface of the pie into 20 squares. Grease it with the milk mixture and bake in the preheated oven at 375°F/190°C (gas mark 5) for 30 minutes or until golden.
  16. Remove it from the oven and pour on top of it a mixture made form 3 Tbsp honey and 1 Tbsp water. Cover it with a towel and let it cool. This step is totally optional, some households prefer it moist, while other households love it dry.

 











Vegan Lavender Shortbread Cookies

If I have to imagine an ideal snack, I’d definitely pick a large cup of tea and some homemade biscuits. Simple as that! I love cookies so much, I love them in every shape, size or flavor, so it was impossible for me not to fall in love with these amazing lavender shortbread rectangles. Shortbread is a Scottish biscuit traditionally made from one part sugar, two parts butter and three parts flour. I followed these proportions but instead of butter, I used old-fashion margarine, to make them suitable for a plan-based diet. They turned out amazing, so crumbly that they simply melted in my mouth.

These lavender biscuits are so delicious and extremely easy to make. You shape the dough into a log, you refrigerate it and you cut it in thin rectangles, so you don’t need a cookie cutter to make this recipe. It’s simply fascinating how just a few basic ingredients can create something majestic.

 

Ingredients (for 20 biscuits):

  • 115g margarine / vegan butter / coconut oil refined or unrefined (unrefined coconut oil will give the cookies a subtle coconut flavor) at room temperature
  • 130g white flour
  • 30g powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp chopped dried culinary lavender flowers
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt



Method:

  1. Preheat the oven at 180C / 350F (gas mark 4).
  2. Place the butter in a large bowl and use a mixer or a spatula to beat it until fluffy. Sift the powdered sugar, add it to the bowl and beat until smooth and creamy.
  3. Add the salt, chopped lavender flowers and vanilla extract and mix until combined.
  4. Sift in the flour and stir until the mixture resembles to wet sand. Mix with your finger until you form a ball of dough.
  5. Place the dough between two cling film rectangles and shape in into a log. Press gently on the top with a cookie sheet to flatten the log slightly, then turn the log on its side and press again. Begin smoothing the sides of the log with your fingers until all the sides are as flat an possible. Refrigerate the log for 15 minutes.
  6. After 15 minutes use a sharp knife to cut the log into 20 pieces. Place the biscuits on a parchment paper-lined tray and refrigerate for further 10 minutes.
  7. Bake the biscuits in the preheated oven for 13 – 14 minutes, or until they become light golden brown at the bottom.
  8. Place the lavender shortbread cookies on a wire rack to cool down and store them in an air-tight container for up to 7 days.





Fast One-Hour Buns




I love everything that remotely resembles to bread, but if I’d have to choose between a slice of bread and a bun I’d choose the latter. And I have 2 main reasons:

  1. I’m the “crust” type of person, the crunchier, the better.
  2. I’m incapable of evenly slicing a bread. And I’ve tried. A lot. And don’t get me started on the cake-slicing topic.

These being said, I think I found the perfect buns. They are dense without being tough and they have a wonderful crunchy crust. Oh, I almost forgot the best part. These buns are made in 40 minutes.

Ingredients (for 10 Buns):

  • 250g strong white flour (+ extra 10g for kneading)
  • 25g beaten egg (1/2 egg)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 120ml lukewarm water (36-38°C)
  • 35ml Tbsp olive oil
  • 15g granulated sugar (I used packed brown sugar)
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast (7g)
  • Method:

    1. Preheat the oven at 400°F/204°C (gas mark 6).
    2. In a small bowl combine water, oil, sugar and yeast and let aside for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, the mixture should be really foamy (picture).
    3. In a large bowl combine white flour, oat flour and salt and make a well in the center.
    4. Add the yeast mixture and ½ an egg and mix with a wooden spatula until you form a ball.
    5. Bring the sticky dough on a floured working surface and knead it for 2 minutes.
    6. Place dough in the bowl, cover and let it rise in a warm place for 10 minutes.
    7. After 10 minutes, place the dough back on the working surface and knead vigorously to knock out the air bubbles.
    8. Divide dough into 10 pieces and shape them into 10 balls (I had 10 balls x 53g).
    9. Place them on a tray lined with parchment paper, give them a quick egg wash, sprinkle some cumin seeds and bake them for 12 minutes or until golden.


    Source: www.kitchemeetsgirl.com

Homemade Flour Tortilla

 


I can’t remember last time I had a store-bought tortilla. I always make my own tender and delicious tortillas. These flatbreads are so easy to make, they taste incredible and they are also budget-friendly. I usually use olive oil in this recipe because I love its flavor but any other vegetable oil works just fine.
Continue reading Homemade Flour Tortilla

Cherry and Almond Crumble

Sometimes, I’m simply not looking for symmetries, geometries and flawlessness. Sometimes, a rustic dessert chaotically dropped on a white plate creates for me an ecstatic state of mind, a genuine satisfaction that no other form of perfection could ever bring. Moments like that tell me it’s time to make a crumble.

Fruit crumble isn’t the most aesthetic dessert that you could think of, I give you that, but the taste is simply divine. Those fresh fruit that bake in their own juice, creating a silky, flavorful sauce go wonderfully with the crunchy buttery crust. For this particular crumble I used meaty June cherries, I flavored them with rose water (vanilla or almond extract work beautifully too) and I topped them with a buttery almond flake mixture. A delicious madness! Continue reading Cherry and Almond Crumble