Ella's Vegan Orange & Cardamom Cookies by Delme Thomas

So some of you may have noticed that there was no blog post last week. That's because it was my birthday - And at my age, one has to take a whole week to rest from everything...

One of the gifts I had for my birthday was Deliciously Ella's new book: With Friends. So after a week of scoffing all the goodies last week, what better opportunity to try out one of the healthy recipes from this new gift! Thanks RiRi ^_^

I don't know about anybody else, but when I'm trying to eat well, savoury food is not a problem. It's always that craving for the naughty stuff that gets me. So I always turn to Ella's books for these - they've really helped me to have healthy snacks that taste bad - and that's what we ALL want!

For the cookies you'll need:

3-5 cardamom pods to taste (depending on how strong you want it), 200g oat flour (I used brown rice flour), 100g oats, 6 tbsp honey, 1 lemon, 1 orange, 2 tbsp chia seeds, 3 tbsp melted coconut oil, 2 tsp cinnamon, 6 tbsp any plant milk (I used home-made cashew milk), 40g raisins/sultanas
Preheat the oven to 200 °C/180 fan, line a baking tray with parchment - Use the flat side of a knife to crush the cardamom pods (I used 5 because, you know me - I'm all about punchy flavour), pull out the seeds and grind them in a pestle & mortar - Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix together until well combined - Scoop 1 tablespoon of the mix out into your hands, roll into a ball, then place it on the tray and flatten - Carry on with this, I got 21 cookies altogether - Bake for 20-25 minutes, then leave on the tray to cool and firm. 

These are lovely little cookies; sweet, with a crispy outside and a soft, chewy middle. The cardamom comes through really nicely - they're really aromatic! 

Now comes the real challenge: to keep them for when I need a sweet fix and not eat them all at once............

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Gu's Cherry Loaf Cake by Delme Thomas

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Gu (sounds like ghee) is short for Mamgu, which is grandmother in Welsh. This cake is one of her recipes. It's one of those classic cakes that you taste, and it throws you straight back to your childhood. It's an old recipe, handwritten in a lovely book of baking recipes that I borrowed a few months back. I slightly adapted the recipe from using margarine to butter, from ounces to grams (hence the random quantity of ground almonds needed!) and also this cake would have been cooked in an Agar - so I had no temperature for cooking. I cooked it how I would cook a Madeira loaf cake, and that seemed to work out fine!

You will need:

170g margarine/butter at room temperature, 170g caster sugar, 3 eggs, 170g flour, 57g ground almonds, 170g glace cherries.
Preheat the oven to 150°C - Grease and line an 8" loaf tin - Cream together the butter & sugar - Add the eggs one at a time, beating a little in between each addition - Add the flour and almonds and beat until well combined - Halve the cherries, toss them in flour to stop them sinking in the mix and then stir into the batter - Put the mix into the loaf tin and bake for 1-1 1/4 hours until golden and a skewer comes out clean. 
Leave the cake in its tin for 10 minutes, then remove it and let it cool.

The cake is good to go as is, but I decorated mine a little with a drizzle of honey and some chopped pistachios. This is a lovely tea-cake, or a little snack to have when you want to feel that old home-comfort feeling. Give it a go and let me know what you think - Gu will be thrilled to hear her recipe is an online hit! ^_^

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My Dirty Chai Cake by Delme Thomas

"Delme, what the heck is a Dirty Chai?!" I hear you cry. Well, ponder no longer, for I am here to answer your question!

When I lived in the states a few years back, this was one of my go-to drinks. It's not really a thing over here in the UK for some reason, and I have no idea why, because it's DELISH. A Dirty Chai is a chai latte with a shot of espresso. Seriously, go try it. The sweetness of the chai latte, along with its aromatic spices, plus the earthiness of the espresso gives such a unique taste. I fell in love with it. You could also have a "Filthy Chai" which is with a double shot...Naughty.

So I decided to translate this into cake - why? Because everything should be cake. This recipe is a lovely, fluffy, coffee & walnut cake covered in a chai latte buttercream. If you're allergic to walnuts or just hate the sight of them, just replace them with a similar nut of your choice. Seeing as my first blog post was trying out someone else's recipe, I thought it only right to add my own as the second post!

This coffee cake has had a lot of experimentation - from instant coffee, coffee flavouring, espresso and instant espresso. I like punchy flavours, and a lot of the time for me, it hasn't had a strong enough coffee flavour. The recipe below is totally the one. I use two different types of coffee flavour to pack a nice espresso punch!

You will need:

175g unsalted butter (room temperature), 175g caster sugar, 3 large eggs, 175g self-raising flour, 1.5 tsps baking powder, 75g walnuts, 1.5 tbsps instant espresso mixed with 2 tbsps of strong espresso (I used my favourite Arpeggio from Nespresso)
Preheat the oven to 190°C or 170°C fan - Grease and line two 8" cake tins - Cream together the butter & sugar using a mixer/whisk - Add the eggs one at a time, mixing a little between each one - Add the flour & baking powder and mix until combined and smooth - Chop up the walnuts and add them to the mix along with the double-coffee mix - Something I learnt from Delia: stir it just 3 or 4 times, enough to get a marbled effect to the mixture - Divide between the two tins and bake for around 25 minutes until risen and golden: insert a skewer or cake tester into the sponge to check, if it comes out clean, you're good to go! 
Leave them to cool a little in their tins for 10 minutes, and while they do, make a coffee syrup: 1 tbsp instant espresso & 50g demerara sugar dissolved into 55ml espresso. After 10 minutes, prick the cakes all over carefully, and then brush the syrup over it, leaving it to sink in. Let the cakes cool fully in their tins

When it's time to frost the cakes, you will need:

220g unsalted butter (room temperature) - Chai spice mix (1&1/4 tsp each of cinnamon, ginger, allspice & cardamom) - 250g icing sugar

Now. I'm going to say something controversial. Whenever I make buttercream, I always start with the butter, give it a bit of a whip, and then add the icing sugar 4 heaped spoonfuls at a time. However, I don't follow an exact amount of icing sugar to butter. I do it by taste. For me, there's nothing worse than REALLY sweet buttercream, where all you can taste is sugar. I start with the 250g icing sugar and then take it from there. Once you've added all the butter, add the chai spices and give it a beat. If you can still taste butter, add more icing sugar a couple of spoonfuls at a time. If it tastes fine, you're good to go! You want to beat the hell out of it - you want it to go a very pale colour, almost white compared to the yellow of what it was. It should be light in texture so that you can spread/pipe it onto the cake. This can take some time and that's ok - let it do it's thing. When it's all combined it's time to decorate!

I like to sandwich the two sponges together with some of the buttercream, and then cover the cake in the rest of it and decorate it in a rustic way. I like to top it with walnut halves and chocolate-covered espresso beans for an extra coffee hit. This time I also topped it with some cacao nibs, which add a lovely, earth chocolate crunch. This is the perfect cake to have on standby for coffee time, or even with a lovely chai tea!

So there we have it! Blog number two. Let me know what you think and if you end up trying it out! Thanks for reading! x

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