There's been a few recipes that I've found in the past that will stick with me forever, the fudge recipe from my Nan's 1950's Good Housekeeping book, the brownies from the Hotel Chocolat 101 book and this vegan cake recipe. I found it on The Guardian's readers recipe swap and never looked at another vegan cupcake recipe again. I've made some awful vegan cakes in my time, (the first involved cider vinegar and apple sauce, needless to say, they were gross) but these are truly amazing, soft and spongy with a proper cupcake taste. So this is basically adapted from that recipe and when I say adapted I mean I added a bit of rose and lemon and a bit of vegan frosting. I also brought some kind of fancy duo icing kit from Lakeland so that I could have 2 tone icing, but immediately broke it with my heavy hands so had to improvise.
Makes around 8 cupcakes:
250g vanilla soya yoghurt
80ml sunflower oil
1 tsp lemon extract
2 tsp vanilla extract
150g caster sugar
150g self-raising flour
¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp baking powder
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, and fill your cupcake tin with cupcake cases.
2. Whisk together all of the wet ingredients, including the lemon extract then sieve the dry ingredients in to the mixture and whisk it all together until well combined.
3. Spoon mixture in to the cases until they are 3/4 full (any more and it will 'explode' over the sides) and pop in to the oven for 20-25 minutes until lovely and golden brown all over.
4. Remove from the oven, pop on to a wire rack and leave to cool completely before icing them.
5. Cream together the margarine and icing sugar until light and fluffy and then split the mixture between 2 bowls.
6. Add the lemon extract and yellow food colouring in to one bowl and mix well, then add the rose extract and pink food colouring to the other bowl and mix well.
7. Either use a fancy duo piping bag and add each colour to one side and pipe the icing on to the cakes to your hearts content or if you don't have one or broke yours like I did, just stick alternate spoonfuls in to a piping bag and pipe on to the cakes which still gives you pink and yellow swirls.
8. Put in your mouth.
Afternoon tea is my favourite past time. I'd have one every day if I could. There's so much to like about them; sandwiches are better when they're tiny, cakes are better when their tiny and scones with clotted cream and jam are just good all the time. Really, really good. So a couple of weeks ago when I went on my latest Canopy and Stars adventure (I am literally addicted to this website, this will be my 4th adventure, you can check out the others here, and here) we decided that afternoon tea was a must. We were pretty much in the middle of nowhere in Pembrokeshire, but after a little drive we arrived at a beautiful hotel called The Grove. We sat outside as it was a sunny day, the view was beautiful and made even better by a visit from a super curly dog that we named Mini Dougie (there was an even better St Bernadoodle who was actually called Dougie who lived where we were camping).
The afternoon tea was beautiful, stacked on two slates with the most delicious cake selection. We started with finger sandwiches, I had a vegetarian selection of cucumber, egg and cress and cheese and pickle. Everything on the menu was locally produced and made to such a high standard, which made it even better. We then moved on to the sweet part which included, mini scones with clotted cream and jam, lemon cupcakes, caramel profiteroles, some kind of coffee cake that I've forgotten the name of, banoffee macaroons, bara brith (we were in Wales after all) and panacotta (which I gave to Georgie to eat, because I'm not too sure if it was veggie).
It was the perfect setting to sit in the sun, sip Darjeeling tea and stuff our faces with lots of treats. I can safely say it was one of the best afternoon teas I've had! After we'd finished, we walked some of the cake off in Narberth (and somehow ended up buying more food from an amazing deli).
Then it was back to Matilda, the converted BT truck for the last night of our adventure. We played with the farm animals, went on a ramble through sheep fields and made dream catchers. A lovely little adventure.
It's been just over 3 years since I left uni. THREE YEARS. I miss being a student, I miss staying in my pyjamas all day (who am I kidding, I still do that) and I miss my beautiful housemates. If there's any food that reminds me of uni it has to be jalapeño poppers. I used to live in a student area called the Polygon and pretty much every time we went for a night out, we walked down a road called Bedford Place, which was basically a road of takeaways, a few shops and a few bars. Every trip down this road after a night out ended with jalapeño poppers, they were the perfect antidote for the drunken munchies (I remember my house mate Annie crying once because someone stole hers). I don't think I've had them since I've been back home, because I never go out and I don't drink any more. But when the lovely people at Manomasa sent me some of their tortilla chips to try I knew exactly what to do with them! I used the Chipotle and Lime chips because they are a little bit spicy, a little bit smoky and totally delicious. They say that their chips are 'a delicious blend of Guajillo chili and sweet bell peppers, finished with rich, smoky chipotle chili and the fresh zing of lime'. Perfect for wrapping around fresh jalapeños and cream cheese.
100g Manomasa Chipotle and Lime tortilla chips
170g cream cheese
100g grated cheese (I used a mix of Monterey Jack, mozzarella, cheddar and edam, but any cheddary cheese is fine)
8 jalapeño peppers
150 ml milk
50g plain flour
Lots of vegetable oil for either a deep fat fryer or heavy based pan
1. Start by blitzing the tortilla chips in a food processor, until they resemble bread crumbs, then pop in to a bowl.
2. Cut the stalks off of the jalapeños, slice length ways then scrape all of the seeds out in to a bowl (be careful not to get it all over your hands/in your eyes/on your boyfriends face or wear gloves) and pop them on to a chopping board.
3. Tip the cream cheese and grated cheese in to a bowl and mix up well, then fill your jalapeño halves with the mixture.
4. Put the milk in to one bowl and flour in to another, the start dipping the jalapeños in to the milk, then the flour, one by one, making sure they are well coated, then tap off any excess flour and pop back on to the chopping board.
5. Once all of the jalapeños are coated with flour, dip them back in to the milk, covering the whole thing, then roll it in the tortilla crumbs until it is completely covered. Repeat until they are all coated.
6. Turn your deep fat fryer on to 170 degrees, or heat your oil in a heavy based pan until it reaches 170 degrees, then fry the poppers for a couple of minutes, until golden brown.
7. Carefully remove them from the hot oil and place on a plate covered with kitchen roll to drain the excess oil.
8. Once slightly cooled, enjoy! You can also reheat them in the oven.