RSS Feed

Category Archives: cakes

Carrot cupcakes

Posted on

Everyone who has spent some time at University has got a different memory of it.  To some people it was more like ‘Accepted’, to some more like ’22 Jump Street’ and to some like ‘Educating Rita’. I bet there are films which made a few young souls want to study at university so they could enjoy some of the perks featured in films.

My memory is more like ‘Wonder Boys’. Not because I went on a crazy rampage with my professor and stole some collectable possession from the dean, shot his dog and got high. It’s more the vibe, atmosphere of the film which makes me think of my student life. Long discussions lasting until the middle of the night, witty jokes, campus life. Yes, I had a very boring student life, but I was studying what I wanted, bringing up the Apple of My Eye, earning money by making crochet gloves and meeting a few exceptional people who became my best friends (I blurb about them here from time to time). Also meeting the most fascinating lecturers who inspired many generations of students and made me believe in myself. I met up with one of them years later and we got very, very drunk. Aaah, memories…light the corners of my eyes… But before that he changed my perception of many things and had a massive influence on my philosophical thinking (and detestation of postmodernism).

But back to the film.

‘Wonder Boys’ is filled with an amazing cast. Michael Douglas plays a college professor who smokes weed, doesn’t know who he loves – his 3rd wife who’d just left him or his mistress (breathtaking Francis McDormand), and who’s trying to write his second novel. His first published 7 years ago was a great success, with the second he’s not getting anywhere, although he is on the 2000th something page.

His troubled but talented student is played by Toby Maguire and his agent by the divine Robert Downey Jr. With a good script (based on a book) and magnificent cast you can’t really go wrong.

The film is wonderful, tender and a bit bonkers. If it was a dish, it would be something classy and lipsmacking. But if you watch it, have something wholesome, like:

Carrot Cupcakes:

carrot cupcakes

carrot cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

2 cups spelt flour

2 eggs

1 cup xylitol

1 1/3 vegetable oil

5-6 carrots, grated

2 tbsp cinnamon

1 cup raisins

1 cup chopped pecans

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

For the frosting:

1 1/2 cup Greek yoghurt

3 tbsp agave syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Line muffin tin with paper liners.

2. Beat eggs, xylitol and oil together until light yellow. Add vanilla. In another bowl sift together flour, cinnamon and baking powder.

3. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, add raisins, pecans and carrots. Mix well.

4. Scoop the batter into the muffin cups. Bake until the toothpick comes out clean. Cool.

5. Mix Greek yoghurt with agave syrup and vanilla extract. When cupcakes are cool, frost them.

carrot cupcakes

carrot cupcakes

carrot cupcakes

carrot cupcakes

carrot cupcakes

carrot cupcakes

 

 

Advertisements

Almond and Polenta Victoria Sponge

Posted on

Boyfriend really likes Victoria sponge, which is a very British type of cake. I am not really fond of it, can’t see the allure of a spongy cake with jam and lots of cream.

Last week it was Boyfriend’s birthday, and it was really supposed to be about him. But relationships are all about compromise, so I managed to combine healthy version with his favourite things and make it work.

Firstly, for breakfast there were pancakes. A bit different to your usual type – buckwheat and buttermilk ones. You can find the recipe here.

buckwheat and buttermilk pancakes

buckwheat and buttermilk pancakes

buckwheat and buttermilk pancakes

buckwheat and buttermilk pancakes

And then for Victoria Sponge I made gluten free Almond and Polenta cake as a base. Here’s the recipe.

I divided the cake into two tins. When the cake cooled down, I spread strawberry jam on the top of the one cake ( I used sugar free St. Dalfour jam). Then I replaced cream with Greek yogurt. You have to use proper Greek full fat yoghurt to have the right thickness. I mixed 1 1/2 cup of yoghurt with 3 tbsp agave syrup, spread half of it on the bottom of the other cake, put it together with the one with jam. Then spread the remaining yogurt on top of the cake and decorate with strawberries. And voila! Gluten free, sugar free so called ‘Victoria Sponge Cake’.

Almond and Polenta Victoria Sponge

Almond and Polenta Victoria Sponge

Almond and Polenta Victoria Sponge

Almond and Polenta Victoria Sponge

Almond and Polenta Victoria Sponge

Almond and Polenta Victoria Sponge

Almond and Polenta Victoria Sponge

Almond and Polenta Victoria Sponge

Almond and Polenta Victoria Sponge

Almond and Polenta Victoria Sponge

And you wouldn’t believe what we watched it with….

‘Saving Mr Banks’.

I think there is no better way to celebrate someone’s birthday than to watch a story where the main character has issues caused by turbulent childhood, charismatic , alcoholic father, who constantly looses one job after another and then – spoiler!- DIES.

If you haven’t watched it, it’s a story about the author of ‘Mary Poppins’ traveling to Los Angeles from London to meet Walt Disney. Mr Disney tried for 20 years to get the rights to her book, she kept refusing until her finances became a bit strapped. The author – Mrs Travis is played brilliantly by Emma Thompson and for that reason you should watch it. To me Emma Thompson can read a directory and it would be magnificent. I love the fact that her character in ‘Saving Mr Banks’ is a right bitch for the first hour. What can I say, I can’t resist a bitchy women, they are the best!

My Sister’s Cheesecake

Posted on

You know what this is??… No, I’m not going to quote Kaye West’s ‘Celebration’ lyrics, although it is in a way celebration time b****s….

It’s this time of year again, when you watch ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ and listen to the soundtrack while cooking or baking. Easter time.

It was my sister’s and mine tradition to always do that every year. My sister always used to make for Easter the most delicious and moist cheesecake, total indulgence and no apologies…

And we have to keep the tradition going, even when we are parted by the English Channel (called by French and Poles La Manche). So there it is, put your apron on, and ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ soundtrack on and get baking.

And by the way, ‘Superstar’ is the one of five musicals I can watch, I’m allergic to musicals otherwise….

cheesecake

cheesecake

My Sister’s Cheesecake

1 kg quark

6 eggs

60g unsalted butter

1/2 cup xylitol

1 vanilla budyn (Polish thing, you can replace it with 3 spoons of potato starch or cornstarch)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 vanilla pod

1 cup raisins

1 cup almonds

1. You have to start by soaking almonds in hot water for 3-4 hrs, then peeling the skin off and chopping them.

2. Quark needs to be smooth. I have got handy small mincer which people use to mince meat and I use for mincing pulses and quark. Twice. If you can’t buy quark or don’t have a mincer, you can replace it with 1/2 kg ricotta and 1/2 kg mascarpone (but don’t kid yourself, it won’t be the same).

DSC06882

3. Melt butter and let it cool. Mix eggs with xylitol, vanilla extract and vanilla seeds scrapped from the pod. Add quark, and butter to egg mixture. Add budyn or starch, raisins and almonds. Mix well.

4. Bake in 170 C until golden brown. Let it cool. Enjoy.

cheesecake

cheesecake

cheesecake

cheesecake

cheesecake

cheesecake

cheesecake

cheesecake

Halloween – vanilla cupcakes with raspberry preserve and peanut butter icing

DSC06564

Halloween is one of my favorite pagan holidays… It’s just dark and depressive enough for me to feel at home. In Slavic tradition you’re supposed to have a feast for lost souls who are very active at that time.

From time to time I make a feast and invite people round. We eat, drink and sometimes watch films suitable for the occasion (depending on participants and how we feel).

My top Halloween films list consist of:

1. Sleepy Hollow – classic, beautifully shot, Depp at his best.

2. Beetlejuice – well, Tim Barton again, but he’s the man. I could put more of his films on the list but I’m going to refrain myself. I just say six  words: Corpse Bride and Nightmare Before Christmas…

3. Misery – King again is the man, just like Burton, and this is one of his best adaptations. There are only two that compete and that’s the original Carrie directed by Brian De Palma (remake was not so good I’m afraid) and The Shining. Delicious…

4. Night of the Living Dead – I’m sorry but Romero kicked asses before Walking Dead.

5. The Exorcist – I’m drooling even thinking about it…Owen Roizman did a brilliant job as a cinematographer, eerie soundtrack gives me chills even now, the whole ‘curse’ surrounding the making of the film…what else would you ask for?

6. Most of the Hitchcock’s films. Bow to the master.

7. The Ring (Japanese original) – after watching it I couldn’t stay in a dark room on my own. I also used to freak out my sister by creeping up on her in the darkness with my hair down, or hiding behind the door, waiting for her to find me there…good times, good times…

8. Rosemary’s Baby – again, the music – lullaby by Krzysztof Komeda is the most haunting, atmospheric soundtrack ever. The film is also not too shabby…

I could go on and on, because there are so many good Halloween films, but there are lost souls to be fed…

So, when you are feeding souls, you can’t just go healthy, gluten free and wheat free. After all you have to make sure that the visiting souls are happy, high on calories and satisfied enough to go away. My proposition for this year’s feast are cupcakes filled with raspberry preserve and peanut butter icing.

vanilla raspberry cupcakes with peanut butter icing

vanilla raspberry cupcakes with peanut butter icing

Raspberry preserve and peanut butter cupcakes:

For the cupcakes:

120 g butter (room temperature)

1/2 cup xylitol (or sugar if you like living dangerously)

2 free range eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cup spelt flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

2 tbsp milk

raspberry preserve or jam (I use the sugar free St Dalfour’s one)

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C. Line muffin tin with cases.

2. Cream butter and xylitol or sugar till pale. Add 1 egg at the time and mix. Add vanilla extract and milk. Sieve flour with baking powder into the mixture and fold gently.

3. Spoon the mixture into the cases until they are half full. Pipe raspberry jam or preserve into the cupcakes.

4. Bake for 10-15 minutes till they are golden brown. Set aside to cool.

For the peanut butter icing:

1 cup of smooth peanut butter

2 tbsp cream cheese

1/3 heavy cream

1/2 cup agave syrup

1. Put all the ingredients into a bowl, beat together.  Spread onto your cupcakes.

vanilla raspberry cupcakes with peanut butter icing

vanilla raspberry cupcakes with peanut butter icing

vanilla raspberry cupcakes with peanut butter icing

vanilla raspberry cupcakes with peanut butter icing

DSC06567

Chocolate muesli cake

Recently I’ve had a written conversation about Jack Tati and his most remarkable film, ‘Mr Hulot’s Holiday’. It made me realize how lucky I was when I was a child (or young teenager).

I saw that film first time when I was about 12. In the cinema. Yes, how amazing is that.

I was born and brought up in the most boring area of Poland. Beautiful, but boring as hell. Especially in winter. The nearest city (which is still small) is 100 km away, there are just forests and lakes. It is called Masurian Lake District.

Masurian Lake District

Masurian Lake District

Masurian Lake District

Masurian Lake District

 

Pisz, my hometown,Masurian Lake District

Pisz, my hometown,Masurian Lake District

In summer it was completely transformed, there were tourists everywhere, called warmly by locals ‘Potato Beetles’. Because it is only 3 hrs drive from the capitol, a lot of prominent people as well as establishment and artists were buying or building lake houses there, and coming every summer, bank holiday, Christmas, etc. Locals got quite nonchalant about it, which I always found funny. Once there was a famous actor making a fuss in a shop and trying to skip the queue asking with disbelieve: ‘Do you know who I am?’ to which one local person responded: ‘You have to figure out who you are on your own, you can do it while waiting in line, now get back to the queue!’ Whenever someone mentioned Polish writer Hlasko or Czeszko, my mother was recalling on how many occasions she drunk vodka with them.  You could say it was almost like our little communistic Hamptons, haha….ha.

But the best part was that the place was always full  of  filmmakers, writers, film critics, Igor Newerly lived there, John Steinbeck used to visit him. Roman Polanski filmed ‘Knife in the Water’ there. He made it in the 60s but people in the 80s still remembered how the crew liked to party after hours…

Which brings me to the ‘being lucky’ statement. I don’t know if out of boredom or to ‘bring the light of enlightenment to peasants’ , establishment from the capitol had decided to cooperate with local officials and organized annual Summer Festival. We had two cinemas in my humble little town back then (different times and don’t be blinded and forget the censorship). One was open all year round, and the second one was in a place resembling a Community Centre. But in deep communism it was called Culture Place and was supposed to educate the masses, in reality, control their activities and show them how amazing socialism was and how rotten the Western world is. There was an advantage to it, because in a small town if you found an open minded person, art blossomed – there were dance, theatre, music, painting lessons, you name it. And that’s were the Festival was taking place for a week. It was a different theme every year; comedy one year, SF another, etc. You could get a pass giving you an entry for the whole week for peanuts. There were lectures given by film critics and unofficial after parties.

And there I was, spending the whole week watching morning, afternoon and evening shows with my sister. I watched for the first time ‘Mr Hulot’s Holiday’, L’auberge Rouge’ with Fernandel, ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ , ‘Sleeper’. It was like living in a dream…Unfortunately after a successful 3 years of running, it ended. There was probably a film screened which wasn’t allowed to be shown by communistic officials or maybe it was more trivial…I wouldn’t know, I was only 13 at the time. But I will never forget those hot summer evenings when my sister and I were going back home, visually charged.

Which brings me to an adapted version of an old  summer afternoon delight; something I called…

Chocolate Muesli Cake:

chocolate muesli cake

chocolate muesli cake

Ingredients:

3 cups water

120g butter

4 cups rolled oats

1 cup honey

1 cup shredded coconut

1 cup chopped dried dates (or figs, apricots, prunes)

1 cup almond flakes

1 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup pecans

2 eggs

1. Boil water. When the water is boiling, lower the heat. Add oats, cocoa, butter and honey, simmer for 3-4 minutes, take it of the heat.

2. Add the rest of your ingredients, mix well. Spread in a brownie type of baking tin lined with parching paper. Bake for 20-30 min in 170C. Leave it to cool completely before cutting it into squares.

Enjoy!

chocolate muesli cake

chocolate muesli cake

chocolate muesli cake

chocolate muesli cake

Vegan Brownie

vegan brownie

vegan brownie

I’m looking for an inspiration everywhere, especially if it is something, which might benefit my health.

I try to eat clean, I hardly use sugar.

If you ever feel like eating healthy, I highly recommend a blog,  Deliciously Ella. Especially if you want to cut out of your diet dairy, gluten or sugar. I tried few of Ella’s recipes and the ones I like the most are Raw Brownie and Kale Salad.

There’s only one thing I can’t stand in sweet recipes. It’s  the sweet potato. In savory dishes, yes, absolutely. But making me eat sweet potato in a dessert is like making me watch ‘English Patient’. Disastrous effect….

So neither Ella or Gwyneth with her muffins from the book ‘It’s All Good’ couldn’t convert me.

I started looking for something I could use in baking, bring everything together, and in a way replace eggs.

And you know what does the job best? Good old bananas! They are brilliant.

So here’s the recipe for vegan brownie:

Vegan Brownie:

3 ripe bananas

2/3 cup of ground almonds

1/2 brown rice flour

1 cup dates

4 tbsp cocoa

1/2 agave or maple syrup

2 tbsp espresso

1 cup whole toasted hazelnuts

pinch of salt

Slice bananas and put them into a food processor with the rest of the ingredients, excluding hazelnuts. Line your baking tray with the parching paper. Spread your batter and distribute hazelnuts on top. Bake in 180C for 20-25 minutes (till the toothpick or knife comes out clean).

vegan brownie

vegan brownie

vegan brownie

vegan brownie

vegan brownie

vegan brownie

 

Vegan Coconut Cupcakes: how to be good and naughty at the same time

Posted on

Let’s face it, sugar is bad for you. Very bad. It’s almost as bad as villains in Sergio Leone films. But you’re thinking YOLO, I’m young and crazy, I can let my hair down and eat a pack of Oreos, Galaxy chocolate and Twix in one go! DON’T! There is a way of having your cake and eating it, without going down the hill and feeling low, when your insulin level drops after digesting all that sugar. And if you are a vegetarian, remember that sugar depletes your body of vitamin B, so next time you are feeling down switch to eating natural sugars. You can bake something healthy, like for example:

COCONUT CUPCAKES

To make them you will need:

2 cups of spelt flour (it’s better for you)

2 teaspoons of baking powder

2-3 overripe bananas

1/2 cup of oil (can be olive oil or any neutral in taste oil)

2/3 cup agave syrup

2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

1 cup of coconut flakes

 

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Line muffin tin with paper liners.

2. Sieve flour and baking powder into a bowl, add coconut flakes.

3. In a separate bowl whisk together chopped bananas, oil, agave syrup, almond milk and vanilla. Thoroughly combine the wet and dry ingredients, try not to overmix it. The best way is to use a rubber spatula and fold it like you fold egg whites when you are making souffle.

4. Divide the batter into muffin cases, bake for about 20-25 min, until the toothpick comes out clean.

Leave them to cool. In the meantime make the frosting.

Your cupcakes are vegan, so if you want to have vegan frosting you will need:

1 1/2 cup coconut spread

1 tsp vanilla extract

2-3 spoons of almond milk (depends how thick and workable your spread is)

1/3 agave syrup

1 cup of toasted coconut shreds (spread coconut shreds onto a baking sheet and toast them in a hot oven for a few minutes)

If you are not bothered about sticking to vegan, mix cream cheese with agave syrup and vanilla extract.

Spread your frosting onto cupcakes using a long spatula, sprinkle toasted coconut shreds on top and you are done!

Eat it like a boss!

vegan coconut cupcakes

vegan coconut cupcakes

vegan coconut cupcakes

vegan coconut cupcakes