Serendipity (hot cross) buns

It’s Good Friday morning and Marc is making hot cross buns like his Mum used to when he was a kid. Only they’re not quite the same; no eggs, no milk and he had a brain fart and forgot the sugar. I reckon we should call them Serendipity buns because they are bloody lovely! You really don’t need the sugar. He adapted his recipe from one his Mum gave him that was photocopied from the Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook – Mary Berry’s first cookbook originally published in 1970. I would love to get my hands on the original edition of this!

Here’s the recipe:IMG_8452

  • 12oz white bread flour
  • 1tsp salt
  • ½ tsp mixed spice
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 2oz vegan margarine
  • 4oz currants

For the yeast mix:

  • 1 packet (7oz) dried yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ¼ pint warm soya milk
  • ¼ pint warm water
  • 4oz plain flour
  1. Blend yeast with mixed warm milk and water, sugar and flour and leave until frothy – about 20 mins.
  2. Sift flour, salt and spices.
  3. Mix the marg into the yeast batter and add the flour and fruit.
  4. Mix well and knead dough on a floured work surface for 10 mins.
  5. Dived dough into 12 pieces and shape into buns.
  6. Place on a floured baking sheet – spaced apart.
  7. Place inside a greased bag or slightly warm oven or other warm place and leave to rise for 45 mins.
  8. Remove bag and make a cross on each on with a very sharp knife – just breaking the surface.
  9. Bake in a hot oven (220°C) for 15-20 mins.
  10. Cool on a wire tray.
  11. To make the glaze, boil 2 tbsp soya milk and 2 tbsp water with 1 ½ oz sugar. Brush the hot buns twice.
  12. Voilà!
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Every now and then, we pick up a bargain box of tomatoes for a few quid from our local greengrocer. You can only eat so much tomato soup so my friend Ruth gave me her passata recipe. Much nicer than tinned tomatoes, this can be used in any tomato-based dish such as Bolognaise, pizza topping, with spaghetti and meatballs or I reckon, it would be pretty good in a Bloody Mary!

This quantity should make about 1 litre.

  • 2kg toms (halved)IMG_8015
  • 200g shallots
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1tsp salt and pepper
  • 1tsp sugar
  • A few sprigs of herbs – I use thyme
  • Splash of olive oil
  1. Roast at 170°C for 1 hour (the house will smell fantastic)
  2. Push the tomatoes though a mouli or sieve
  3. Boil in a saucepan until thick (10-20 minutes)
  4. Store in sterilised jars
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Party Baked Olives and Chipotle Almonds

A few years ago I visited an old friend who had spent some time in Greece. We sat in her Somerset garden drinking cider from a mini gallon container like it was the old days! It was a lovely evening, we had many years to catch up on. She kept disappearing into the house and reappearing with little plates of interesting and delicious things to eat. I guess it’s the Mediterranean way of drinking, eating and chatting the night away with friends. We should learn a thing or two from that!

Here’s to Kirstie xxx

“From quiet homes and first beginning, out to the undiscovered ends, there’s nothing worth the wear of winning, but laughter and the love of friends.” Hilaire Belloc

I’m bored of putting crisps and salted cashews on the table but I do like to soak up the wine with a few nibbles. Both recipes are adapted from the book Vegan Finger Foods. You can easily make both at the same time – the olives need a bit longer cooking time so start them first.

Party Baked Olives

  • 1 jar of pitted olives (I used Spanish Pitted Green Olives from Waitrose – 340g but mixed ones IMG_8368work well)
  • 4-5 shallots peeled and halved (if you don’t have shallots chop up a small red onion)
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
  • 1 small handful of hazelnuts
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp port
  • 1 tsp harissa (spice mix or paste)
  1. Heat the oven to 170°C
  2. Combine all the ingredients in a small oven dish
  3. Bake for 30 minutes or so until all the liquid has gone and the olives are sticky
  4. Serve at room temperature

Chipotle Almonds

  • 1 tbsp maple syrupIMG_8369
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp chipotle paste (if you don’t have any you can make your own version with 1 tbsp tomato puree, 1 tsp chilli powder and 1 tsp liquid smoke)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 200g blanched whole almonds
  1. Heat the oven to 170°C
  2. Combine the maple syrup, olive oil, chipotle paste, cumin and salt in a bowl and mix
  3. Throw in the almonds and stir until completely covered
  4. Line a large baking tray with baking paper
  5. Spread the almonds out on the paper and bake for 10 minutes
  6. Move them around uncovering the uncooked sides and bake for a further 10 minutes
  7. Remove from the oven and leave to cool – they will harden when cooled
  8. They are supposed to keep for two weeks but they’ve never lasted out the night in my house




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3-ingredient vegan Snickers!

Here’s a recipe I stumbled on but I can’t remember where – happy to credit someone if they can tell me who made this up! It’s a really quick and easy way of making little chocolates that taste like Snickers. Medjool dates taste like caramel and one friend who tried these didn’t realise he was eating a date!


  • 60g vegan dark chocolate
  • 10 large Medjool dates
  • 10 small tsp crunchy peanut butter


  1. Break up the chocolate into a glass bowl standing in an inch or two of boiling water
  2. Leave for a few minutes to melt then gently stir
  3. While the chocolate is melting, cut the dates down one side and remove the stones
  4. Gently spoon is a small teaspoon of crunchy peanut butter into the space left by the stone in each date
  5. Squeeze each date back together so it resembles its original shape
  6. Dip each date in the melted chocolate using a wooden skewer or a toothpick to hold it and place on greaseproof paper to set
  7. Cut each one in half if you are a nibbler or just throw them into your mouth whole!
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Chocolate Mousse Cake with Ginger

IMG_8205.JPGThis cake packs a double chocolate punch with its creamy chocolate mousse filling which tastes best if it is served from the fridge. If you don’t like ginger, you could put strawberries or chocolate-covered coffee beans on top – or anything else you fancy!

Recipe adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by the wonderful Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.


  • 1 ½ cups soya milk
  • 1 ½ tsp cider vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup rapeseed oil
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups plain flour
  • ½ cup cocoa
  • 1 large tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt

For the mousse:

  • 100g dark chocolate (I used two bars of Seed & Bean Extra Dark Chocolate currently on sale here)
  • ¼ cup of coconut cream (nearly a whole small tin from here)
  • ½ cup aquafaba (the liquid strained from a can of chick peas)
  • ¼ cup caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • A pinch of salt

For the ganache:

  • 200g chocolate
  • 125g soya cream

For decoration:

  • Crystallised ginger, goji berries and chopped toasted hazelnuts (or whatever you like!).

Make the cake:

  1. Heat the oven to 180°C and grease two 20cm cake tins.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the soya milk and vingar and let sit for 5 mins.
  3. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder and add the salt.
  4. Into the soya milk, whisk the sugar, oil and vanilla.
  5. Add in the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth then dived into the two cake tins.
  6. Bake for 25 mins until a toothpick inserted comes out dry.
  7. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool.

Make the mousse:

  1. Melt the chocolate and coconut cream together in a glass bowl over a pan of boiling water.
  2. Remove from heat and stand the bowl on the side to cool. If the chocolate splits and you get dark clumpy chocolate and clear fat, add a small amount of water (a few teaspoonfuls) and stir – it will go creamy again.
  3. Whisk the aquafaba in a clean glass bowl with a balloon whisk until stiff peaks form.
  4. Then slowly add the caster sugar whisking all the time.
  5. When the chocolate has cooled a bit gently fold it into the aquafaba with the vanilla extract and salt, stir gently – you don’t want it to collapse.
  6. Spread carefully one half of the cake and leave to set in the fridge for at least 4-6 hours.

Make the ganache:

  1. Place a glass bowl in a pan containing an inch or two of boiling water.
  2. Break up the chocolate into the bowl and leave to melt for a few minutes.
  3. Stir in the cream and mix well.
  4. Allow to cool a bit (not too much) then assemble the cake – carefully put the second half on top of the mousse-covered half.
  5. Spread the ganache over the entire cake and decorate with ginger, goji berries and hazelnuts.
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Seitan Bacun


I made seitan (pronounced satan!) bacon this morning to see how easy it was. Admittedly it’s been a while (34 years) since I ate bacon but I have to say, this stuff smelt like a bacon-butty van or a greasy spoon café – but in a good way! Without the sickly death stench that comes from those places…

Meat-eaters often say ‘I couldn’t give up my bacon’ but this recipe has had great reviews from former meat-lovers who say the flavour and crispy texture work great – especially in a BLT…

My reason for trying this is that Viva! have launched a new campaign called Face Off! asking the British public to ‘Face Off’ with the UK meat industry on the shocking realities of pig farming. My amazing, brave and intrepid friend and boss Juliet Gellatley (founder and director of Viva!) took a film camera into normal British pig farms to reveal the horrors the animals are forced to endure. The film reveals the typical conditions these fun-loving, sensitive and intelligent animals are kept in, in order to produce 90 per cent of the country’s pig meat. The animals shown in the film are kept in completely legal conditions under UK Government and EU-set welfare standards. 10 million of them were killed here last year! The film includes pigs from a typical UK pig farm as well as on one that is Red Tractor approved and supplies supermarket Morrisons.

It is tough-viewing, even with more than 30 years’ experience campaigning on animal issues, Juliet finds some of what she sees hard to take. Viva! is now asking the public to join her by watching the film and see what the meat industry would rather keep hidden behind closed doors.

Is that bacon sandwich really worth all this suffering?

Seitan Bacun

Based on an original recipe from Chef Skye Michael Conroy aka the Gentle Chef.

There are quite few ingredients and several steps to this recipe but don’t be put off, it’s actually very easy to make and the results are well worth the effort. Once you’ve got all this stuff in your cupboards you can knock up some bacun whenever you fancy it…

Two batches of differently coloured dough are mixed to create the bacon.

Dry ingredients for Dough 1:IMG_8296

  • 1 cup vital wheat gluten flour
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp ground white pepper

Liquid ingredients for Dough 1:

  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tbsp dark brown sugar or maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp tamari
  • 2 tbsp liquid smoke (available online or in fancy shops like Harvey Nichols)
  • 1 tbsp red miso paste or tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp vegan Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Dry ingredients for Dough 2:IMG_8321

  • ⅓ cup vital wheat gluten flour
  • 1 tbsp gram (chick pea) flour
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

Liquid ingredients for Dough 2:

  • ⅓ cup water
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Dough 1 method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C.
  2. Mix together the dry ingredients for Dough 1 in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Stir together the liquid ingredients for Dough 1 in a separate bowl or measuring cup until the brown sugar and miso dissolves.
  4. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well.
  5. Divide the dough into 3 pieces and set aside.

Dough 2 method:

  1. Whisk together the dry ingredients for Dough 2 in a small mixing bowl.
  2. Stir together the liquid ingredients for Dough 2 in a separate bowl until the salt dissolves.
  3. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well.
  4. Divide the dough in half and set aside.

Now you begin the layering process which will create the marbling effect for the bacun:


  1. Tear off a large sheet of 18-inch wide aluminium foil and place it on your work surface.
  2. Take a piece of Dough 1 and flatten and spread the dough on the foil until it is about ¼-inch thick. Don’t worry about the shape.
  3. Next, spread ½ of Dough 2 over the dark layer of dough pushing it down with your fingers.
  4. Flatten and spread another piece of Dough 1 over the light layer.
  5. Spread the remaining portion of Dough 2 over the dark layer.
  6. Finally, flatten and spread the last piece of Dough 1 over the top.
  7. If the layers don’t stack perfectly, that’s good, because if you are too precise the bacun will look like it was made by a machine!
  8. Shape the dough into a rectangular slab about 1-inch thick. Don’t worry about being too precise.
  9. Wrap the slab of bacun in the foil creating a flat package. Fold in the sides of the foil (like wrapping a gift), pinching to seal the foil as you fold.
  10. Place the package seam side down directly on the middle oven rack and bake for 90 minutes.
  11. Cool the bacun in the foil until the package can be handled comfortably before opening.
  12. Slice the bacun thick for chewy bacun or thin for crispy bacun.
  13. The bacun can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 10 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  14. Fry the bacun slices in a skillet with a generous coating of cooking oil until lightly browned and crisp around the edges (avoid overcooking or the bacun will be dry and hard, I burnt it a little bit but it was still good).
  15. Serve hot with a fry-up or in a sandwich.


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St Patrick’s Day Cupcakes



It’s St Guinness Day soon! Unfortunately Guinness isn’t vegan yet but earlier this year they announced it soon will be! In the meantime, there are loads of vegan-friendly stouts: Samuel Smith’s Imperial, Harwich Redoubt Stout, Tennent’s Sweetheart Stout, Blackjack Stout, Outstanding Stout, Meantime London Stout, Brixton Windrush Stout, Fourpure Oatmeal Stout, Tollgate Old Rasputin Stout, Hawkshead Organic Stout, Stringers Dry Stout, Hoggleys Solstice Stout… If you want to check one go to Barnivore. Of course, you could just drink Irish whiskey!

Recipe adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

Makes 12 cupcakes

  • ¾ cup soya milk
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar
  • 1 cup, plus 2 tbs white flour
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup stout
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup rapeseed (canola) oil
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
  1. Whisk together the soya milk and vinegar in a large bowl and let stand.
  2. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. Add stout, sugar, oil and vanilla to the milk and vinegar mix and beat until foamy.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in batches and mix well.
  5. Pour the cake mix into cupcake liners, just over half full.
  6. Bake for 20-22 minutes and cool on a rack completely before frosting.

Orange Buttercream

  • ½ cup vegan margarine
  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • A few drops of orange extract
  • 1 tbs finely grated orange zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Cream the margarine until smooth and creamy.
  2. Add the icing sugar bit by bit.
  3. Add the orange extract, zest and vanilla and beat until smooth, creamy and fluffy.
  4. Frost the cakes.

I made little shamrocks with some icing and sprinkled green edible glitter on them for an extra St Patrick’s Day sparkle.


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