Sunday, 15 April 2018

Granny Cake (Gluten-free, Vegan, Nut-free)

Lemon Granny Fruit Cake

Have you ever been asked to make a cake that was gluten-free AND vegan? Once you start looking for recipes for such bakes, they are few and far between. This cake is based on an old-fashioned cake known as "Granny cake". It's a fruity sponge/bread, perfect with a cup of tea, and contains no dairy, eggs and is easy to make gluten-free (without the addition of nuts).
To make the cake extra special, I added a lemon syrup to the cake once it came out of the oven, which worked really well I think!
If you aren't gluten-free, normal self-raising flour would be totally fine to use.
This makes one traybake, but could be baked in a loaf tin (you would need to add about 20-25 minutes to the baking time to account for the extra depth of the cake however).

The cake can be frozen, and will keep in an air-tight tin for around a week.

Makes around 16 squares (fills a 20 x 20cm square tin)


For the cake:

  • 450g (3 cups) gluten-free self-raising flour (or normal self-raising flour if not making gluten-free)
  • 65g (1/3 cup + 1 tsp) soft light brown sugar
  • 60g (1/4 cup + 2 tsp) caster sugar
  • 1 tsp gluten-free baking powder (or normal baking powder if not making gluten-free)
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 450g (2 & 1/2 cups) mixed dried fruit (I used a combination of raisins, sultanas, glace cherries and mixed peel - use whatever your preference is)
  • 125g (1/2 cup) vegan margarine/butter (I used Trex)
  • 250ml (1 cup and 2 tsp) unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tsp oil, and 1 tbsp gluten-free flour (for greasing)
For the topping:
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 30g (2 tbsp) icing sugar


1. Preheat the oven to 160c (150c fan)/325f/gas mark 3. Grease the base of a 20 x 20cm square cake tin with oil and dust with the flour.

2. Pour the flour, brown sugar, caster sugar, baking powder and spices into a bowl and mix well, ensuring there are no clumps of brown sugar.

3. Rub the vegan margarine/butter into the flour mixture with your fingertips, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

4. Add the milk and the dried fruit, and stir until well combined.

5. Pour into your prepared tin and bake for 40-50 minutes, until the top is golden and springy.

6. Whilst the cake is baking prepare the syrup by pouring the lemon juice and icing sugar into a saucepan. Place on a low heat and cook until it thickens slightly and turns clear.

7. When the cake has finished baking, take out of the oven and set aside. Gently reheat the syrup until it is easy to stir. Skewer holes over the cake and pour over the syrup. Set aside to cool fully.

8. Once fully cool, turn out of the tin and cut into squares.

9. Enjoy!

Lemon Granny Fruit Cake
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Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Peanut Butter, Blackberry and Spelt Blondies

Peanut Butter, Spelt Blondies

These blondies are strange but delicious! They are free from refined sugars, and the peanut butter makes the blondies taste amazing. The secret ingredient is an odd one, but believe me, it works! Cannellini beans make the blondies lovely and moist, and I promise the end result tastes nothing like baked beans. We've made them to keep us going on long hikes, and they were the perfect treat.

These are best kept in the fridge if not eating them straight away (due to the fresh berries and beans). If kept in the fridge, they will last for about a week.

Makes around 16 squares (fills a 20 x 20cm square tin)


  • 130g (1/2 cup) crunchy peanut butter
  • 180ml (3/4 cup) maple syrup
  • 80ml (2/5 cup) coconut oil (melted), plus a little extra for greasing
  • 2 eggs
  • 160g (1 & 1/3 cups) spelt flour, plus a tbsp for dusting
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 150g (1 cup) fresh blackberries


1. Preheat your oven to 200c (180c fan)/ 400f/gas mark 6. Grease the base of a 20 x 20cm tray with a little oil, and dust with flour.

2. Beat together the peanut butter, maple syrup and coconut oil. Whisk in the eggs.

3. Add the spelt flour, salt, baking powder and berries, and gently fold in.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 20-25 minutes, until lightly golden on top and the mixture shakes very slightly in the centre when you shake the tin.

5. Remove from the oven and leave to cool before slicing.

6. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter, Spelt Blondies

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Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns

It's so close to Easter, and FINALLY I successfully baked some hot cross buns. Light, fluffy and fruity, these buns are like the upgrade of a current teacake. I've always had them at Easter but in the past, the sweet dough has never quite worked to plan. However, on Valentine's day, I received the amazing gift of a stand mixer, which works perfectly for kneading enriched doughs such as these. The dough needs to be fairly wet and sticky and so kneading by hand is a messy job. If you don't have a stand mixer, don't be tempted to add more flour to de-stickify the dough - just cope with having dough covered hands for 10 minutes :)

My hot cross buns are fairly traditional with mixed dried fruit containing raisins, sultanas and mixed peel, and spiced lightly with cinnamon. I added a glaze to give the shiny look that's so appealing - you could add some orange zest in this glaze for a fruity twist, but that's up to you (as it's not that traditional!) However, you can add whatever dried fruit or spices you like, or why not go crazy with the recipe - try adding chocolate chips, nut pieces, or even (though I haven't tried this myself), after the first proving stage, you can roll each dough ball around a ball of chocolate truffle, then prove and bake.

They turned out beautifully and, if left in an airtight container, will stay fresh for a few days.
My favourite way to eat these is halved, toasted, and then slathered with butter.

I hope you enjoy making these as much as I did.

Makes 12 big buns


For the buns:

  • 300ml (1 & 1/4 cups) skimmed milk, warmed until it is tepid
  • 7g (1 packet, or 2 tsp) dried, fast-action yeast
  • 1 egg
  • 500 grams (3 cups) plain flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 90g (1/3 cup + 1/2 tbsp) softened butter or margarine
  • 300g (2 cups) dried mixed fruit (I used a mixture of raisins, sultanas and mixed peel)
  • 65g (1/4 cup) caster sugar 

For the cross:

  • 80g (2/3 cup) plain flour
  • 60ml (4 tbsp) water

For the glaze:

  • 60ml (4 tbsp) skimmed milk
  • 30g (2 tbsp) caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp orange zest (optional)


1. Pour the warmed milk into a bowl and sprinkle over the yeast. Leave for 5 minutes in a warm place until it is getting a bit frothy.

2. Whisk the egg into the milk/yeast mixture and set aside.

3. Sift the flour into a bowl of a stand mixer, and add the salt, caster sugar, cinnamon and softened butter. Start the stand mixer on a low setting (with the dough hook). If not using a stand mixer, rub the butter into the flour mixture with your hands until it resembles breadcrumbs.

4. Slowly pour over the milk mixture, then turn the speed of the mixer up slightly to ensure it is picking up all of the mixture from the sides of the bowl. Leave kneading for 7 minutes. If kneading by hand, knead for 10-12 minutes.

5. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave in a warm place for at least 90 minutes, until it has at least doubled in size.

6. Lightly dust your surface with flour and tip out the dough. Knock the dough back by flattening it. Pour over the mixed dried fruit and knead in until well incorporated.

7. Lightly grease a rectangular baking tray (around 20 x 25cm) and dust with flour. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll each dough piece into a ball and place, evenly spaced, in the tray. You want there to be around a 1 inch (2.5cm) gap between each ball of dough.

8. Cover the tray with cling film and leave to rise for a further hour.

9. Preheat the oven to 190c (170c fan)/375f/ Gas mark 5.

10. To make the cross, pour the flour into a bowl and pour over the water slowly, beating with a wooden spoon. Once the mixture is smooth but moveable around the bowl (the consistency of thick buttercream), pour into a piping bag. 

11. Cut the end off the piping bag around 1 cm from the tip. Pipe crosses across each bun (I did these by going across the length of all the buns, then across the width of all the buns).

11. Bake the buns for 15-18 minute, until well risen and golden on top.

12. In the last five minutes of baking, prepare the glaze by pouring the milk, orange zest (if using) and sugar into a saucepan. Heat on a low heat for 3-4 minutes until bubbling and slightly reduced.

13. As soon as the buns are out of the oven, use a heat-proof pastry brush to brush some of the glaze onto each bun.

14. Leave to cool.

15. Enjoy!

Hot Cross Buns
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