May 13, 2014

Mother's Day: Vegan and Gluten-Free Almond Funfetti Cake

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I made this lovely Funfetti cake which happens to be vegan and gluten-free for my Mother's Day day. But then my children decided to present me some gifts they bought with their own money (they sell chickens, pullets, chicks and eggs from our farm) a day earlier, so we all enjoy this cake that very day. They are precious little darlings to me.

I am rather proud of being a mother. If I can say, it is the highest achievement in my life. 

Indeed there are neither trophies nor money to be earned by a full-time mother for her 24/7 works and dedication, but being with my children is such precious a trophy itself.

I am happy to be with my children as much time as possible, before eventually they believe they are grown up enough to leave the nest. Someone said to me 'Yeah, kids this age are growing like mad, and then they'll stop growing, and then it seems they are growing too slow to leave home". Oh well. I'm sure she did not mean what she said. At the moment, I am enjoying having them at home.

My children present liveliness in my life, sprinkling happiness in my heart which I will be holding a lot more time in the future. Our bonding is genuine and it feels wonderful.

This cake represents the rainbow dusts that they have been sprinkling to my life since they were born. All those colours that paint my path life, with them close in my heart, are designed to make me happy. And I am.

This year's Mother's Day is a day to commemorate our love and companionship throughout the years in much more understandings, since they are growing much bigger and much more aware of their surroundings to enable them to understand my existence for them and them for me.

I am thankful they are here in this world to brightening my life and make my life much more meaningful.

I was inspired by Sally's Easy Homemade Funfetti Cake  of Sally's Baking Addiction and I have to alter the recipe to be vegan and gluten-free version. Here is what I do.

First thing first, I am using Healtheries Gluten-Free Baking Mix which is available at the supermarkets and health food shops here in New Zealand. I use rice bran oil for the cake and have to use Olivani margarine for the 'buttercream' (despite of their unhealthy content, so they say--I cannot see if I can use coconut cream since it will take away the vanilla flavour in the cake). I also need to increase the use of leavening agents since vegan baking does not use any eggs, therefore more acid-alkaline ingredients to be used. I use lemon juice, freshly squeezed.

So here we are.

Vegan and Gluten-Free Almond Funfetti Cake
I use three 18cm cake tins for this recipe, spray with cooking oil and line the bases with baking paper.

Cake
1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour
1/2 cup almond meal
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 1/2 cups caster sugar (NZ Chelsea Sugar company does not use bone char when process the sugar bleaching, so their products are all vegan, FYI--check their website if you like www.chelsea.co.nz)
2 cups almond milk + 2 teaspoons lemon juice, let stand for 5 minutes
1/3 cup rice bran oil
Egg replacer: 1 Tablespoon flaxseed powder + 3 Tablespoons water, mix well and let it be thicken
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2/3 cups hundreds and thousands or other sprinkles

Preheat oven to 160C.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and fine salt. Add in almond meal, mix well.
Combine the soured milk, oil, egg replacer, vanilla extract and sugar together, whisk until smooth. Fold in mixed flour. Mix well. Add in sprinkles, mix well. Divide into three tins.
Bake for 20 minutes or until each cake is golden brown and springy to the touch. Remove from tins, transfer to a cooling rack and peel off the baking paper. Let cool before icing.

Vanilla "Buttercream"
230g Olivani margarine (not the lite one, it is not vegan, so I was informed)
3-4 cups Chelsea icing sugar
1/4 cup almond milk
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Extra sprinkles to decorate

Beat the margarine until fluffy and smooth. Beat in the icing sugar a half cup of the time, until all used. Soften the icing with almond milk a little at a time until the desired spreading consistency. Add in vanilla extract, mix well. Use it for sandwiching and icing the cake. Sprinkle with extra 100s and 1000s or other sprinkles.

May 07, 2014

Sweet NZ: Healthy Vegan Cookies

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Nikki's Healthy Cookies

I first tried out Nikki's Healthy Cookies back in 2012, out of sheer curiosity. How can be a certain type of cookies filed under a 'healthy' group while others are 'not so'. What makes it different? 

It was beyond my expectation. 

Judging by the ingredients checklist, I was a bit skeptical on how I can produce a single cookie, without eggs as the filler or binder, or butter as the flavour enhancer. It must be some kind of magic tool to whip up some 'uncommon' ingredients to be a batch of cookies. I have never thought and then learned that butter and eggs are not everything. They can be left out and we still can eat cakes, cookies and even bread. 

Now, I was doubtful no more. It took me by surprise how delicious they can be. 

I am amazed how fruits, either dried or fresh, can be used as a substitute to sugar in baking, for there are adequate natural sugar in fruits anyway. They are modestly sweet. Impressive!


as shared on my IG @arfibinsted
You see, with a little training, we can always go back to use a natural sweetener. Taste the real thing. That fruits and vegetables have their own natural sugar. It's there for us to enjoy as is, without adding heaps more additional sweetness that tends to make us forget how it's supposed to be. Then, perhaps we will be living in an obese-free world.

This natural sweetener works like magic.

The cookies are sweet, sweet enough to my liking. But, perhaps you will expect them to be as crispy as a butter-and-sugar cookies, they are not. Mind you, there are no sugar crystal we are melting to harden the cookie structure here. These cookies are soft and chewy. They remind me of honey muesli slices although not as crunchy.

I am happy enough to revisit Nikki's Healthy Cookies again.

Healthy Cookies-1 (1 of 1)

And this time, I bake its similar cousin, 5-Ingredient Gluten-Free and Vegan Cookies. These gluten-free and vegan biscuits that Dana of the Minimalist Baker had produced in her kitchen will be my entry for Sweet New Zealand event, hosted by our very own lovely food blogger Sue Busch of Couscous and Consciousness. Hop on to Dana's blog to find the recipe and you might as well get more awesome recipes from her.


Healthy Cookies-2 (1 of 1)

I don't alter anything what the recipe calls for, accept using our local chocolate block, NZ's very own Whittaker's 75% Dark Ghana. Now, I have a doubt that this dark chocolate is vegan after all. I have searched some topics about vegan dark chocolate in NZ and some people said that Whittaker's Dark Ghana dark chocolate is accidentally vegan, but when I read the ingredients list, there it's said to have a trace of milk chocolate in it. So? I don't know. At least, I hope there's no animals to suffer in producing these blocks of chocolate. Maybe next time, I'll use Fair Trade 100% dark chocolate, just to make sure.