Tuesday, 2 March 2021

Vegan Prosecco and Pink Lemonade Cake | 4 Layer Celebration Cake

I dreamt this cake up in my mind, knew exactly how I wanted it to look, and was curious to experiment with cake flavours I'd never tried before. Something about celebrating my birthday during lockdown made we want to go all out with my cake this year. Sure, I could have looked up vegan bakeries in my city and had something delivered, but I had the unquenchable urge to take on this cake project myself. Not only because baking is my idea of fun, but because I had all the ingredients I needed to bring this to life. 

If you try this cake at home, please share your feedback and pictures with me over on Instagram. Tag @vegannigerian for a repost!


Flavours, Textures and Inspiration

When you think of Prosecco, you think sparkles and bubbles and having a flipping social life. I miss attending those in-person events where copious glasses of Prosecco are handed out while you make awkward conversation with groups of people you just met. Sigh. A vegan Prosecco cake certainly has that air of sophistication about it, wouldn't you agree? 

Just as sophisticated as pink lemonade. I first came to know about this drink from watching The Sound of Music as a kid. There's a scene where the elegant Baroness Scraeder, Captain Von Trapp and Uncle Max sip this rose-tinted concoction on the terrace of the Von Trapp mansion. Très chic...though Uncle Max seemed to be put off by the colour. Seeing as lemon cake happens to be one of my all time favourites, I thought I'd elevate it slightly with this rosy twist, which includes whole fresh strawberries, fragrant lemon zest and lashings of freshly squeezed lemon juice. 

Once baked, the sponges were doused with their corresponding liquids to intensify the flavours and keep them moist during the decorating process. The cream-coloured layers were soaked with more Prosecco. The pink layers were soaked with more fresh lemon juice. 

The sponges are incredibly light, delicate, fluffy and aromatic. Each mouthful had me wanting to waltz across a bunch of soft, puffy clouds. 

The rich chocolate ganache drip topping and fresh berries are a beautiful addition. Think sparkling wine served with chocolate dipped strawberries, and you get the luxurious intention of this cake.

4-Layer Cake

The cake is ambitiously made up of four alternating layers of Prosecco and pink lemonade sponges, held together with thin layers of vanilla buttercream. If you are looking to make a more respectable two-layer version, simply halve the ingredients below.

The pink layer contains fresh lemon juice and strawberries. You can certainly stop there and have a pale pink coloured sponge, but I wanted to intensify the colour slightly, so I added a few drops of red gel food colouring.

Timing

I recommend giving yourself two days to make this cake. One day to bake the sponges, the second day to decorate. You could technically do both on the same day, but it will be a lot of work. Furthermore, refrigerating the cakes overnight help the sponges become a bit more solid, preventing them from potentially falling apart or splitting whilst decorating. Remember that these are going to be extremely moist, fluffy and delicate cakes when straight out of the oven.

Gluten-Free Version

I can't say for sure how this cake will turn out using gluten-free flour, but I would certainly encourage you to experiment. Try using a blended gluten-free self-raising flour such as this one. I would also recommend adding some xantham gum (2 tsp per cake batter) as a stabiliser.

Equipment

To execute this cake, you'll need two 20cm sandwich cake tins. If you only have one at home, that's okay, but you'll have to do 4 rounds of baking instead of two if you're making four layers. 

Also handy to have an immersion hand blender to make the strawberry milk for the pink lemonade layer. 

Then your life will be a whole lot easier if you have a hand mixer for the buttercream, but you can use a good old wooden spoon to beat the margarine and sugar together instead. 

An offset spatula will make the decorating process a breeze.

Ingredients

For the Prosecco sponges

- 4 cups self-raising flour (or all-purpose flour mixed with 3 tsp baking powder)

- 3 teaspoons baking soda

- pinch of salt

- 1.5 cups caster sugar

- 2/3 cup vegetable or sunflower oil

-2 cups Prosecco (plus extra 1/4 cup)

For the Pink Lemonade sponges

- 4 cups self-raising flour (or all-purpose flour mixed with 3 tsp baking powder)

- 3 teaspoons baking soda

- pinch of salt

- 1.5 cups caster sugar

- 2/3 cup vegetable or sunflower oil

- 1.5 cups vegan milk (such as almond, oat or soya)

- 8 fresh strawberries (topped and roughly chopped)

- 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

- 2 tablespoons lemon zest (plus extra 1/4 cup)

- few drops of red gel food colouring (optional)

For the buttercream frosting 

- 2 cups vegan margarine 

- 4 cups icing sugar

- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 

- 2-3 tablespoons Prosecco or vegan milk

- 3-4 drops red gel food colouring (optional)

For the chocolate ganache and fruit topping

- 2 cups dark or vegan chocolate buttons

- 1/2 cup vegan milk 

- 2-3 cups of fresh fruit such as strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, sliced mango, raspberries, etc.

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C. Lightly grease two round 20cm sandwich cake tins with some vegan margarine and line the bottom of each cake tin with a round of parchment paper.

2. To make the Prosecco cakes, add all the ingredients to a large bowl and gently fold until the mixture is well combined and smooth. Do not over mix and do not stir too vigorously - this is to ensure a light, fluffy sponge. Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared cake tins, smooth out the tops and bake in the middle shelf for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Once baked, allow to cool in the cake tins for 15 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely. Once cool, spoon the extra 1/4 cup of Prosecco over both sponges to soak them slightly.

3. To make the pink lemonade cakes, start by blending the vegan milk, fresh strawberries and lemon juice together in a jug using an immersion blender. You can also use a regular blender for this. Then add all ingredients into a large bowl, including the strawberry/lemon milk and fold gently until well combined. Do not over mix or stir too vigorously - this is to ensure a light, fluffy sponge. Transfer the cake batter into two prepared 20cm cake sandwich tins, smooth out the tops and bake in the middle shelf for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool in the cake tins for 15 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely. Once cool, spoon the extra 1/4 cup of lemon juice over both sponges to soak them slightly.

4. Gently wrap all 4 sponges individually in cling film and refrigerate overnight. 

5. Make the vanilla buttercream by combining all the buttercream ingredients in a large bowl with a hand mixer. If you have a stand mixer, that works great too. I wanted a pinkish streak to my cake frosting and so I added a few drops of red gel food colouring to about a quarter of my frosting - this is entirely optional.

6. Assemble the cake on a cake stand or cake board by sandwiching the sponges with thin layers of buttercream. Frost the sides and top of the cake with a large offset spatula. The top doesn't need to be too perfect as you will be covering it with chocolate ganache, but make it as smooth as you can to avoid too many lumps. I don't like a lot of icing on my cakes, so the buttercream was spread pretty thinly around, almost resembling a semi-naked cake. (Note: if you want more buttercream frosting around your cake, by all means double the buttercream ingredient quantities)

7. To make the chocolate ganache topping, melt the dark chocolate in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring the chocolate after each interval. When you see it starting to melt, add the vegan milk and heat for another 30 seconds. Stir well until the chocolate is completely melted (you may need to give it an extra 20 seconds or so). You should have a smooth, shiny, thick but pourable ganache. Allow to cool for 2-3 minutes before pouring over the top of your cake. Use an offset spatula to gently spread it over the top, allowing some to naturally drip down the sides to create a drip effect. 

8. Decorate the top of the cake with chopped or whole fresh fruit. You can even sprinkle on some desiccated coconut or chopped nuts and seeds for added decoration. Totally up to you!

Enjoy! Remember to share your creations with me on Instagram



Monday, 1 March 2021

Savoury Rice and Cassava Pancakes | Vegan and Gluten-Free

 

For pancake day last month, I thought I'd switch things up with this savoury pancake recipe. I've shared multiple sweet pancake recipes over the years, from sweet potato to banana to hemp to plantain to pounded yam pancakes. It's fair to say that I love my pancakes.

This particular recipe was a challenge. I've been on an oil-free kick and so frying was out of the question. Tough when you're working with a messy, sticky batter. So these are baked instead. Can they even be called pancakes anymore??

The cassava in this recipe is in the form of garri (grated, dried, fermented cassava) but I can see this working with fine cassava flour as well. If you try it this way, please share your feedback with me. Click here for the brand of garri I like to use.

Enjoy the recipe video above!

Ingredients

- 1 cup jasmine rice

- 1.5 cups garri (plus extra for dusting)

- 1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced

- 1 small red onion, finely chopped

- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

- 1 small aubergine, finely chopped

- 1 cup shredded cabbage

- handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped

- 1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs

- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

- pinch of salt

Method

Pre-heat your oven to 200C.

Cook the jasmine rice with 4 cups of water until completely soft and most of the water has been absorbed. Allow to cool.

Blend the cooked rice in a food processor with one cup of water until smooth. Pour into a large mixing bowl. Add the garri, along with all the other vegetables and seasonings. Stir until well incorporated.

Prepare a baking tray by lining with some baking paper or foil. Scoop one heap tablespoon of the batter into into clean palm, dust with a little extra garri and gently shape into a medium-sized pancake. Place on the baking tray and repeat the process with the rest of the batter.

Bake for 30-35 minutes then leave to cool slightly before serving. I served mine with some Efo Riro (spinach stew), chopped parsley and more shredded cabbage. 

Sunday, 10 January 2021

Chewy Chocolate Banana Cookies | Vegan | With Plantain Flour

I made these gooey chewy chocolate banana cookies for breakfast, but these are also great for when you want to reach for a healthy snack. The cookies are free from gluten, refined sugar and oil, making it suitable for several dietary requirements. 

For more recipe inspiration be sure to follow me on Instagram and Facebook. I would love to see your recipe creations too, so do tag me and let's connect :)

  

Ingredients 

Makes 12 

- 3 heap tablespoons plantain flour (or other gluten-free flour) 
- 1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds 
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder 
- 2 large ripe bananas, mashed

Preheat your oven to 200C.

Place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and combine. Leave to stand for 5 minutes so that the plantain flour can become more hydrated.

Spoon the cookies onto a lined baking tray, using the back of a spoon to smooth out the top. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Leave to cool for 20 minutes before removing from the tray. Enjoy with a cup of tea!

My Go-To Lentil Soup | Easy Vegan Recipe


During these winter months, cosy soups are the name of the game. Whenever I fancy something quick and nutritious, I always seem to turn to this recipe or some variation of it. It's budget-friendly, easy to make and packed full of flavour.

At the moment I'm trying to reduce the level of sodium in my food, so you'll notice that I left out salt in the ingredient list below. My taste buds have certainly developed over the last few years to the point where I don't like super salty meals. I also find that the spices in this really provide a decent flavour kick. Having said that, feel free to add a dash of salt to yours. 

You'll also see that I do the cheat thing of using frozen mixed vegetables but if you've got some spare veg lying around that needs using up, go ahead and chop them up and add to this dish. Soup is very forgiving. You can play around with it, customise to your heart's content, so don't hold back.

Ingredients
Serves 2

- 1 cup split red lentils
- 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables
- generous handful shredded cabbage
- 1 tablespoon hot curry powder
- 1 tsp crushed chilli flakes
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- approx 4 measuring cups hot water

Method

Place all the ingredients in a pot/saucepan. Cook on medium-high heat for 10-15 minutes until the lentils are soft. Serve hot with an extra dash of chilli flakes over the top.

Wednesday, 6 January 2021

Nigerian 'Meat' Pie - Vegan, Meat-Free

Hands up if meat pie was the snack of your childhood in Nigeria. I know it certainly was for me!

After going vegan, it was imperative to develop a plant-based version that I and my family could still enjoy. No holding back on taste and texture. 

I'm excited to share this recipe with you, which I created for Upfield. Whet your appetite with the images below, then click here to access the full recipe. I do hope you give it a try! Be sure to share your creations with me over on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter!





Sunday, 27 December 2020

Sticky Toffee Christmas Fruit Cake

 

It began with a jar of raisins that my mum had been soaking in brandy for a whole year. Entrusted with this jar of gold (if you know, you know) I set to making this recipe. I don't even have the words to explain just how incredible it is. You'll have to make it yourself to understand. 

If you love sticky toffee pudding and fruity christmas cake, this hybrid dessert is dedicated to you and your superior taste buds. The sponge is best eaten the day after when it has had time to soften further. By some miracle or magic it becomes even more toffee-like and delectable. Store the cake in an airtight tin/container and consume within one week.

I've included a few notes below in case you need any substitution recommendations or clarity on any aspect of this recipe.

If you do make this, be sure to share your pictures and feedback with me on Instagram :)

Dried Fruit

I used dried raisins in this recipe. Nice and simple. Sultanas would also do the trick if that is all you have. You may want to switch things up by adding some dried cranberries for an extra festive feel. You may also want to throw in some candied peel. For a more basic sticky toffee pudding, using just dates takes the toffee factor to another incredible level. In this case, you will need to blend all the dates together with the black tea.

As I mentioned, my dried fruit was soaked in brandy for a whole year! This is a good tradition to get into if you know you plan to make Christmas cake every year. Of course, I don't expect you to have a jar of year old soaked fruits just lying around, so I recommend soaking your fruit for 24 hours to allow them to plump up. If you're really impatient and want to make this recipe ASAP, then soak your fruits for at least two hours before you start baking. 


Alcohol or No Alcohol?

I used brandy to soak my raisins, but you can also use rum or whisky (or even a blend of all three). For an alcohol-free version, you may choose to soak your dried fruit in a fruit juice such as orange or apple juice. Unless you avoid alcohol for a special/specific reason, I highly encourage you to use it for this recipe. The warmth and flavour is unparalleled. 

Flour

Self-raising flour is more common here in the UK. If you cannot find it easily, you can make your own at home by combining plain (or all-purpose) flour with baking powder. The ratio is 2 teaspoons of baking powder for every 150g / 1 cup.

Toffee Sauce

The blended fruit in this cake gives it the sticky, toffee-like taste and texture. In my opinion, there is no need to make an accompanying toffee sauce. Instead, serve the cake warm with a scoop of vegan vanilla ice cream or sweet, silky custard.

Ingredients

Serves 8

- 1 and 1/2 cups self-raising flour 
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 nutmeg
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup cold vegan margarine
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup black tea
- 2 cups raisins, soaked in brandy
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Method

1. Preheat your oven to 180C.

2. Place the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, cold vegan margarine and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl. Use your fingers to combine the ingredients until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. 

3. Drain the raisins from the brandy, retaining the brandy in a jug for later use.

4. Brew some black tea in a saucepan. Half a cup of water with one teabag (which you can discard after 2 minutes of brewing). Add 1 cup of the soaked raisins (drained). Once the tea comes to a boil, add the bicarbonate of soda. The tea will get foamy and frothy at this stage. Take off the heat. Allow to cool for 5 minutes then place the entire mixture, including the raisins, in a food blender and blend until smooth.

5. Add the smooth tea/raisin blend to the large mixing bowl with the other ingredients, along with 1/2 cup of brandy (drained from the soaked fruit) and the remaining 1 cup of raisins. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to mix until you have a luscious cake batter. Do not over mix.

6. Prepare a round 18cm cake tin by brushing the inside with a generous amount of vegan margarine. Pour the batter into the cake tin, place in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes. A skewer stuck in the centre should come out clean. if this is not the case, bake for a further 5 minutes. 

7. Allow to cool slightly. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or sweet custard. If you can wait one day before serving, even better, as the cake will get softer and stickier and more indulgent the day after.

Sunday, 20 December 2020

3 Easy Vegan Festive Side Dishes

If you're in need of some last minute ideas for side dishes this Christmas, then look no further. These three recipes are simple to make, packed full of nutritious, colourful fresh produce, and will be sure to brighten up your dinner table. The great thing about these recipes is that they can be made a few days in advance, frozen and reheated on the day. This is particularly appealing if you don't want to waste half of Christmas day cooking!

There is a lot of flexibility with the three dishes. For the mulled red cabbage, you can use green cabbage instead, or you can replace the pears with apples. For the roasted root vegetables, you can add or subtract vegetables based on what you have available at home. For the Brussels sprouts in peanut sauce, you can use sunflower or pumpkin seeds if you have a peanut allergy, or leave it out altogether.

I hope you enjoy these recipes and give them a try, even beyond the holiday season. Have a wonderful Christmas and I'll catch you in the new year!

Keep up with more bonus recipe ideas over on Instagram or Facebook.


1. Mulled Red Cabbage and Pears

Serves 8

Ingredients

- 1 large red cabbage , quartered, cored and thinly sliced 
- 1 large red onion , sliced 
- 250ml red wine 
- 1 large cinnamon stick 
- 5 cloves 
- 2 star anise 
- 5 cardamom pods 
- fresh ginger
- 2 tbsp soft brown sugar 
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar 
- 3 large pears, diced
- fresh coriander

Method
Place all the ingredients (except the pears) in a large pot and cook, covered, for one hour on low heat. Add the pears and cook for another hour and a half until the cabbage is very soft. 

Serve warm with some fresh coriander scattered over the top.

2. Nutmeg Roasted Root Vegetables

Serves 4

Ingredients

- 3 large carrots, cut into batons
- 1 large parsnip, cut into batons
- 200g new potatoes, halved
- 8 whole garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp dried mixed herbs
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/4 tsp salt
- fresh parsley

Method
Preheat the oven to 180C. Place the cut vegetables on a lined baking tray and add the mixed herbs, nutmeg, oil and salt. Toss until the veg is well coated. 

Roast for 45-50 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Serve hot with fresh parsley to garnish.

3. Brussels Sprouts in Chilli Peanut Sauce

Serves 4

Ingredients

- 500g brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
- 1 tin plum tomatoes
- 1 large red onion, roughly chopped
- 1 scotch bonnet chilli
- 125g roasted peanuts (plus extra for garnish)
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- fresh coriander

Method

Place the plum tomatoes, red onion, chilli and roasted peanuts in a food blender and blend until you have a thick puree. Pour into a saucepan, add the curry powder. mixed herbs, paprika, chilli powder and salt. Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes. 

Add the Brussels sprouts and cook for a further 15-20 minutes, until the Brussels sprouts have softened. Serve warm with some fresh coriander and extra roasted peanuts on top to garnish.

Saturday, 19 December 2020

How to Make Mulled Wine

 

Fill your home with the wonderful smells of Christmas. This mulled wine recipe is easy to make and absolutely delicious.

For a non-alcoholic version, use cranberry juice or apple juice or blackcurrant juice instead. You can also play around with the spices. I've gone for the classics such as cinnamon and cloves, but have added a little extra touch with hibiscus and ginger. 

Wishing you a wonderful and safe holiday!

Ingredients

- 750ml red wine
- 4 tablespoons caster sugar
- 2 large oranges, one sliced and the other juiced
- 1 whole cinnamon stick
- 3 star anise
- 5 green cardamom pods
- 15 whole cloves
- 1 tablespoon dried hibiscus flowers
- fresh ginger, sliced

Pour about 250ml of wine into a saucepan and add the sugar, along with the orange juice, orange slices and all the spices. Bring to a boil and allow to cook for 10 minutes. Add the rest of the wine and heat for a further 5 minutes. Take off the heat and allow to cool slightly before serving. Use a ladle to pour the wine into glasses and garnish the drinks with an orange slice, a star anise and/or cinnamon stick.

mulled wine

mulled wine

mulled wine