A few weeks ago my dad turned 60. Many would view this as an excuse to party and celebrate, but my dad loathes being the centre of attention. Knowing he would hate a surprise party, we decided to opt for a simpler affair and took him out to lunch instead. Behind his thinly veiled protests that he didn’t want to do anything lay an actual excitement at getting to spend time out with his immediate family. If there was any doubt as to his desire to mark the occasion, his incessant talking since about how much he enjoyed it enough to put that to rest.
Amidst all his protestations, I did manage to get him to decide on a cake. In fact, the cake was the one thing he agreed to with no hesitation. His cake choices are usually fairly predictable: either sponge or mudcake, but mostly mudcake. I couldn’t even feign surprise then when he asked for a mudcake.
The recipe I used is one I reserve for special occasions as it’s a comparatively expensive cake to make. I made it for an order once: the 35cm version has a whopping 2 and a half kilos of chocolate in it. So when I say this cake is chocolate heavy, I really mean it. But the result is completely worth it.
I’ve been meaning all year to properly get back into the Daring Bakers Challenge… I can’t believe it’s taken me this long! I had a few months there where I even baked the challenge but just never get around to blogging about it. I was determined for this month to be different.
And what a month to jump back in: The August Daring Bakers’ Challenge took us for a spin! Swathi of Zesty South Indian Kitchen taught us to make rolled pastries inspired by kürtőskalács, a traditional Hungarian wedding pastry. These tasty yeasted delights gave us lots to celebrate!
There’s a number of challenges I’ve fallen off the bandwagon with lately. My favourite of which is the Daring Bakers Challenge. Last month I was absolutely determined that I’d jump back in. Well, I did the challenge. But I didn’t get around to getting the blog done in time. ‘Better late than never’ has been my motto lately, so I figured I’d pop these recipes up belatedly. Cinnamon is certainly one of my favourite things on this planet, so skipping it felt like a crime.
The challenge was of course cinnamon rolls. Shelley from C Mom Cook dared us to create our own dough and fill it with any filling we wanted to craft tasty rolled treats, cinnamon not required! They are one of my favourite things on the planet. There are so many varieties it was so hard to choose any given one. So in the end I went with one very traditional, and the other not so traditional.
A lot of people have a childhood affinity with pop tarts. I have a childhood affinity with pop tart commercials. It was something I always saw on the television, wanted to try but my parents weren’t interested in buying them. A common story from my childhood. My parents seldom had the money to pay the bills so anything non-essential was a giant no. Every time someone in my generation freaks out about something we had as kids, I freak out too but from an I-remember-those-ads perspective. Pop tarts are on that list.
Then one day they just kind of disappeared. I remember the ads disappearing, Cameron remembers them disappearing from the shelves as well. That childhood treat seemed determined to remain in our childhood only.
A few months ago I was grocery shopping with Cam and we came across them. His eyes lit up and he launched into the same nostalgic tales most people do when they hear the words ‘pop tarts’. I decided it was time I grabbed a packet not just to satiate his nostalgia, but also so I could finally see what all the fuss was about.
This was a cake I made when I needed an alternate vegan option alongside my very not vegan birthday cake some time ago. I wanted something that didn’t feel like the vegan option, just something that’s accidentally vegan. Substituting most ingredients in a cake is usually fine, but there’s two I sometimes struggle with: eggs and butter. I deal with the first one by avoiding any cake recipe that relies on eggs for its structure. But butter can be harder. Non dairy spreads are hit or miss sometimes, and I sometimes feel like they give an odd flavour to the cake. It just kinda tastes fake. But one awesome way of substituting butter (or even non-dairy fats) is with a fruit or vegetable puree.
Veggie purees can be used in most cakes to substitute out half the fat content (or all if you’re trying to be super health conscious). Once I’d made the decision to go the veggie puree route, the choice was immediate: pumpkin cake.
I hope you all had a wonderful Easter holiday. I spent mine with my partner and his family, eating way too much food and trying not to eat all the chocolate too. His brother and sister-in-law hosted us all on Good Friday, and on Easter Sunday his parents did. Both his mother and sister-in-law put on an amazing spread of food that we all ate too much of, and that was before we even thought about dessert.
I bought along a couple of baked goods for the occasion, baking most of it vegan so everyone could eat some. I made a batch of hot cross buns to bring because they’re lots of fun to make, but also because it’s next to impossible to find any here that don’t contain palm oil, especially not vegan ones. And then there was this Easter-themed cake.
Making chocolate cake vegan is so easy. There’s so many recipes that are already incidentally vegan or an easy substitute away from it. This time I decided to spice things up a little with a Mexican chocolate cake.
Easter baking is some of my favourite kind of baking. Perhaps it’s because around this time of year everything is starting to get colder. The woolly jackets find their way from the depths of our closets, the heaters and electric blankets gets their first work out in months, and we start to crave comfort food. Warm dinners and mugs of hot drinks we can curl up with, while nibbling on hot cross buns fresh out of the oven. Everything just feels cosier. And then, of course, there’s all the chocolate!
Amongst all the Easter baking I’ve been planning the cake. I decided I wanted Easter egg-shaped macarons on top, so these little guys are destined to be a garnish, but they’re a delicious treat in their own right.