Vegan Mini Christmas Cake Bars

This is not Aesthetic Vegan Recipe Blogging. This is Vegan Recipe Blogging when you live in a one-bedroom flat above a shop that’s slowly disintegrating and you have a kitchen the size of a postage stamp, which I feel is a far more realistic representation of the true cooking experience for many of us.

Ingredients:

An image of a white breakfast bowl, empty, and three smaller bowls containing the ingredients below, followed by a banana. The bowls are lined up in a narrow strep between piles of groceries, and a hob top.
I don’t usually take mis-a-place photos because this is the amount of space I have to work with in my kitchen. Which I deep-cleaned for the purpose of this photo. Please feel honoured.

A post-it note with the ingredients listed on it.

Makes 3.

21g/3 tsp date syrup (if you don’t need this to be vegan feel free to replace with honey. Probably also works with golden syrup or molasses, but don’t use sugar, you need the viscous moisture).
1 medium banana
1 tsp of baking powder
1 tsp of pumpkin spice mix if you’re American and mixed spices (the kind you put in cakes) if you’re anywhere else.
53g (ish) / 2oz mixed dried fruit (which dried fruit is entirely at your discretion, I used Morrisons Luxury Mixed Fruit because it’s got glace cherries and lemon peel in it and I’m a child)
21g / 3 tsp pea protein isolate (you can also use soy protein isolate, or if you want a more protein-heavy, chewy bar, vital wheat gluten)
21g / 3 tsp unflavoured, unsweetened Huel. If you can’t get Huel, try another meal replacement powder, but make sure it’s unsweetened/unflavoured or the cake will be weird.

Method

Image of a small sieve with pea protein powder in it, over an empty white bowl

Image of baking powder in a small tub being tipped into a bowl Image of mixed ground spices in a small tub being tipped into a bowl

 

Image of a digital clock from the front of a cooker, showing the numbers "180C"
I did not, however, clean the readout on my cooker

First, mix the dry ingredients in the bowl (you can sieve them or not sieve them, I don’t think it makes a huge difference), and pre-heat your oven to 180C. I would say “180C fan-assisted”, but the fan in my oven is more of a hindrance than an assistance. I also have no idea which gas mark this is, but it’s 355 F.

Image of a bowl with slightly mashed banana chunks in it, sitting on top of dried cake ingredients

Image of a bowl full of dried cake ingredients and banana chunks with a small tub of date syrup being tipped into it.

Next, add the banana – chopped or torn up into chunks – and the date syrup, which will be reluctant to come out of the dish fully.

Then mix (I used a spoon, and I regret this, so if you’re in the position not to use a spoon, use a mixer).

A bowl full of cake mix, which is light brown and a little fluffy

It should end up looking like this.

Then get some mini loaf baking trays (or muffin cases or whatever, I’m not your boss), and give them a grease. I did mine the lazy way, with FryLight.

Image of three grey silicon mini loaf baking "tins"

An image of a hand holding up a bottle of Fry Light cooking spray

Slap your mixture in there and stuff it in the middle shelf of the oven for 10 minutes (or longer if you want a less soft, moist texture and more of a dry, cakey one)

Image of the cake mix divided into three cooking trays

Image of a timer screen from a phone, set to 10 minutes

Image of the three cakes in their trays, now cooked and darker/less moist
Let them cool a bit first. You’ll see why.

Time’s up! Extract your cakelettes!

Image of two small loaf-shaped cakes sitting on a chopping board. Half of a third sits beside them, the other half still in a baking tray.
Whoops.

Fortunately, they still taste delicious in pieces. Coming in at 156 calories each (if you care about that sort of thing) they’re a perfectly good snack, and thanks to the Huel, pretty replete with vitamins and minerals and all that stuff.


The blogger is bearing down on his 36th birthday like a tonne of bricks. If you’d like to help him celebrate, or just enjoyed this recipe, why not fling some coffee this way?

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Recipe: Huel and Daikon fritters

Correct! You have not, in fact, heard the last of this stuff. I am having less frequent fun with it because I’ve been (altogether now, children), “busy”, but I have had the chance to figure out this tasty addition to a meal.

Vegetable fritters are an old staple of mine, especially the kind that are literally just a flavoursome type of flour (besan, for example) and a grated fibrous, water-full vegetable, especially as my “grater” is a microplane which readily turns most things into paste. Like having a food processor but without using electricity and creating a mountain of washing up.

How do you make daikon fritters with Huel?

Like this (makes 2):

Ingredients

  • about 2 to three inches of daikon root, grated into a paste
  • 1 scoop (as provided in the bags) of Huel
  • A splash of soy sauce
  • Spices/salt/pepper to taste
  • Some cooking spray or oil.

Equipment

  • non-stick frying pan
  • spatula
  • mixing bowl
  • thing for making your pan hot (like, a hob, or a hot plate, or a primus stove, I am not the boss of you, if you have a tame dragon that is also fine).

THING YOU DO

Mix your Huel slowly into your daikon until it is a thick paste, and add the soy and spices etc at some point. It should look like this:

paste

Oil/spray your pan and make the pan hot.

Then spread out your paste on the hot oil with the spatula, and fry it on both sides, until it looks like this:

20160418_184734

Congratulations, you have fritters.

Sci Fi Nutriglop BakeFuture: Huel Experiments.

Before I begin explaining what the hell I’m talking about I just want to say that if anyone from Huel.com is reading this (give me free stuff), phrases like “orthorexic health filth”, “scific nutriglop”, etc, are just me making fun of my own preoccupations. As you’re about to find out, I’m very excited by this thing and the possibilities inherent in it, and so are a surprising number of my friends.

Health Filth

The deal with Huel appeals to be that it’s a powder that contains your entire nutritional needs which you mix up into shakes and then you don’t have to turn into a ball of neurosis about whether not eating fish for two days mean your eyes are going to implode or, if you’re me and work on night shift, if failing to eat eighty pieces of fruit and a thousand yogurts means you’re going to crumble into a scurvy-ridden bowl of osteoporophic dust.

The Story

A friend who engages in pastimes such as punching bears and running up hills recently alerted everyone in her internet vicinity to the existence of a miraculous substance. Quoth she: “The science fiction trope of a nutrient gruel so ubiquitous that it has its own TV Tropes page is now a reality”; and I, obsessive maker of increasingly tiny food and hopeless slave to new gadgetry, proceeded to shriek “I WANT THIS AND I’M EMBARRASSED” on every social media platform upon which I routinely reside.

To my surprise, instead of calling me a weenie and pointing out that just because something uses Helvetica does not make it true, several of my friends responded:

  • Oh yes I’ve got some of that it’s good for days when I can’t decide what I want to eat.
  • I’ve been meaning to buy this, I think it will help when I’m too exhausted from [list of horrifying chronic health conditions, full-time work, and child-rearing duties in various combinations] and don’t want to resort to eating crap.
  • Got some for when I have surgery to recover from and won’t be able to eat properly.
  • Would you like to go halves on some? My lunch breaks are too short for me to actually get to the shops and I think this might help me to actually eat lunch.

I dithered a bit. My house is already a museum to weird food fads, not least the unceasing tide of Paketsu, whatever delights TokyoTreat have sent me that I haven’t managed to actually eat yet, and currently about ten types of no-calorie energy drink, not to mention the array of bizarre flours, powders, and stock cubes I insist on collecting (look, it’s not hoarding if it’s not perishable).

“It’s sort of like liquid porridge,” quoth friend, “and you get a free t-shirt.”

Well, I thought, I really do not need any more t-shirts.

But I like porridge, and after a concerted reading session of the website when I probably should have been engaged in, say, work, or sleeping, or looking where the hell I was going while walking somewhere, I found that someone had already considered the possibility of baking with it.

The Games Begin

The fun starts with the drop. As in, I had to take two buses into deepest, darkest Tower Hamlets to get to the friend I’d gone halves with, and an exchange of a SACK of nutritionally complete dubious powder took place on a windswept, rainy corner in an inconspicuous carrier bag.

Then I brought home a Very Nicely Designed Sack with a scoop and a zip seal that hasn’t had as thorough engineering as the logo (I have resorted to rolling and pegging to keep it closed) and began the important work of finding out what I can do with this weird shit.

Doing It Properly

There are two types of people in this world when faced with a new concept they have to interact with/learn to use in some way. Those who decide they are going to follow the instructions and get it exactly right, thus achieving the peak of the on-label use of an item, and the people who see something and go “I wonder what entirely unrecommended use I can put this to, I must experiment with every single one of them immediately and never actually bother learning how to use it for the intended thing”.

I am the latter, which is why I made a cake in my rice-cooker the first time I used it.

However, occasionally this approach has led to, well, things going “bang” or catching fire (often those things are me)… sometimes one likes a guinea pig.

Fortunately someone among my friends had already guinea-pigged it just before I got my hands on the stuff.

“It’s watery,” he said, referring to the recommended 5:1 ratio of water to Huel, “and it doesn’t taste very nice.”

Shortly after this my purchasing co-conspirator noted that hers had been made “claggy” by the addition of peanut butter. Forewarned, forearmed, and adequately fireproofed, I fetched down my safety goggles, and went to work.

doing it properly 2

First, I decided to, in a departure from my wont, follow the instructions.

Well, sort of.

Instead of a 5:1 ratio of water and unadulterated Huel what I actually did was sift Huel through a dusting sieve and add two scoops of coconut “drink” (thanks, M&S, that’s not at all ominous) that happened to be lying around, and three scoops of hot water, producing a pleasantly warm glop which I then attacked with a hand blender. I rather imagine that if I hadn’t insisted on sifting into a milkshake glass I could just have put it in the knock-off Nutribullet thing and mixed it that way. At any rate, the end result wasn’t too watery, and thickened up fast enough, as my peanut-butter experimenting friend had promised.

In the interests of making it taste of something (it does, in actual fact, taste faintly of unsweetened, unsalted porridge, but I appreciate that’s quite unnerving for an entire milkshake’s worth of drink), I lobbed in two teaspoons of Walden Farms caramel dip, which is a boon to the calorie-obsessed as it contains nothing even slightly approaching food.

doing it properly

This is how it ended up looking. Breakfast with a cup of tea (spot the peg); accounting for the coconut milk it came in at 190 calories and kept me full until lunchtime. Texture: rather like a bircher had a baby with an anemic smoothie.

Then I went to town, in a limited way. Adding no flavours (well one, in a cheat you’ll see at the end), and experimenting solely with structural additions:

what i used

WATER!

HUEL!

BAKING POWDER!

ORGRAN NO EGG NATURAL EGG REPLACER

OLIVE OIL

The first order of business was to reduce the water to Huel ratio to even, and get something more malleable:

ratio of 1 to 1

This is a 1:1 ratio of Huel and water. It’s basically cake batter.

Fried in a pan with minimal cooking spray, it comes out a bit like a chapati:

chapati

I love a chapati, and I think with a little less water a more workable/rollable dough could be produced.

However, I also love a pancake, and I know from my socca experiments that you can make them with just flour and water. So I did. Well, with a small cheat.

pancake

2:1 Water/Huel
1/4 tsp Orgran egg replacer
Pan fried.

Apart from the slight oaty taste and the reduction in flexibility that comes from not including an egg this was not really noticeably different from yet standard pancake (British iteration, not American).

I also know from besan/socca experimentation that pancake batter on a sheet in the oven makes biscuit.

cookie2

1:1 Huel/water

185C fan oven 15 minutes (on silicon baking parchment).

Bit inchoate. I mean, it held together and everything but felt fragile. I thought I’d fortify it, so went with what I would call more cake batter next:
cookie

1:1 Huel/Water
1/4 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp Organ egg replacer
1/4 tsp water

185C fan oven 15 minutes.

And lo, a perfectly serviceable savoury cracker did appear.

But what I was really interested in was the noble, humble, neglected Savoury Cake:

cake

1:1 ratio of Huel and Water (tbsp)
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp Orgran egg replacement
1/4 tsp water (for the Orgran)
1/4 tsp olive oil.

185C fan oven for 15 min.

In cake form – I suspect Orgran won’t cut it if you want something spongy, as this fragile and crumbly construction (not too fragile and with some integrity and bubbles, although definitely not a sproingy mattress of softness either) was the result of a standard amount of baking powder. Interestingly it puffed up immediately, producing a kind of foam-batter which was very light. Perhaps I’ll try frying that like a hot cake in future rounds, and certainly EGGSPERIMENTS are indicated in the cake line (I am so sorry, I blame Easter for turning me into Pun Dad). Perhaps gluten free bakers could suggest how to use xanthum gum here to achieve a more satisfactory bind, as I have never laid eyes on the stuff and have NO CLUE WHAT I’M DOING. As is probably evident.

I doubt bread is going to work with this but pfft, I don’t actually like bread very much…

Then I got full of myself, and made soup:

tomato soup

Well, sauce. Using the 5:1 ratio of Huel and water recommended for the shakes, plus a Kallo tomato stock cube, resulted in something quite intense and reasonably thick. Possibly a bigger batch to improve the stock to Huel ratio next time.

Final reckoning:

final reckoning

Chapati, two biscuits, a pancake/crepe, and a cake, plus soup.

I’m wondering if I can use this to make muhallabieh.