This week we took the boys for the annual pumpkin farm trip. We arrive filled with excitement and took away some great pictures, a few pumpkins and endless family fall memories. C named his freshly carved jack-o-lantern Rooster. I’m not sure how this pet name came to be. He’s been telling us that one day when he gets a dog he wants to name it Rooster. Until then, a jack-o-lantern with the name will do.
Other than the lovely autumn festivities, fall usually means a brief mourning period for me. I know some folks enjoy this season. I love warm summer weather and don’t much care for the cold months of the year. This season only serves as a reminder of the impending winter. We have had some cold autumn rain that has sapped my energy. If you are like me this cake recipe is dedicated to you.
Cold rainy autumn weather makes me need a little bit of citrus-y sunshine treat. This lemon earl grey cake is the most tender, moist vegan cake thanks to the shredded coconut. Infusing the coconut oil with earl grey lets the richness of the bergamot shine through to compliment the lemon.
I hope you have the chance to enjoy the intoxicating aroma of this cake coming fresh from the oven. Please be sure to tag MamaSparrow on your social media pictures of this cake. I would love to see how your’s turns out.
Vegan Lemon Earl Grey Cake
The aroma of this cake coming out of the oven is intoxicating - bergamot, lemon and coconut. Hard to believe this treat is vegan. Tender, moist cake infused with earl grey.
20 minPrep Time
50 minCook Time
1 hr, 10 Total Time
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 ½ cups sugar
⅔ cup earl grey tea infused coconut oil, solid *
3 lemons, zested and juiced, separated
1 14oz. can full-fat coconut milk
¼ cup non-dairy “buttermilk” (1 tsp vinegar and non-dairy milk)**
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
1 ½ cup powdered sugar
2 ½ Tb. lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a standard size bundt pan.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir to combine and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the sugar and tea infused oil together. Stir in the lemon zest and ¼ cup lemon juice. Set the rest of the lemon juice aside for the glaze. Add the coconut milk, non-dairy “buttermilk”, and vanilla extract. Fully combine.
Sift the dry flour mix into the wet ingredients in 2 stages. Stir in between each addition. Careful not to overmix. Once the mix is fully incorporated, fold in the shredded coconut.
Pour the cake batter into the prepared bundt pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes.
Allow cake to cool slightly, remove from pan and finish cooling before icing. Mix ingredients together for icing. Adjust the wet to dry ratio based on preference. Drizzle over cake and allow to set a few minutes before cutting and serving.
Cake may be store at room temperature for a few days or in the freezer for 6 months.
*Directions for tea infused coconut oil
14 Tbs. or ½ cup + 2 Tb. coconut oil
21 tsp loose leaf earl grey tea
In a saucepan, melt coconut oil just until it becomes liquid. Mix in the tea leaves. Keep on low heat for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve squeezing the tea leaves to release as much butter as possible. Set coconut oil aside till it comes to room temperature. If your kitchen is warm it may be helpful to put it in the refrigerator, briefly, till it is solid.
**I’ve been using Good Karma flax milk. It is a great allergen conscious milk - nut and soy free. Use your favorite nondairy that suits your needs. Make as buttermilk with vinegar to help cake fluff up.
There are three kinds of baked sweets I can recall from my packed lunches as a kid – my mom’s homemade muffins, strawberry newtons and fig newtons. When it came to the newtons, the strawberry ones made sense to me, but I thought fig was a made up flavor. I had never seen or eaten a fig before.
Last week I had my first taste of fig and played in the kitchen with them. They look so beautiful photographed. When figs started showing up at my local grocer this season, I took them home on a whim. Not sure what to make with them, they sat overnight and were spoiled by the next day. Fragile little things, they are.
Determined to try them, I sketched out a jam recipe adapted from Tasty Yummies. As I cut and prepped the figs, I nerd-ishly explored their flavor and scent profile. The resulting jam was tasty. After popping it in the fridge, I had dreams of cinnamon rolls and honey plum jam dance in my head all night.
Honey fig jam rolls are born of sophisticated, sweet dreams. They are a little like a mash-up of honey buns and fig newtons. Here you have honey fig jam tucked into blanket-y sweet roll dough and drizzled with velvety lemon frosting,
Honey Fig Rolls
Yields 9 rolls
Honey fig jam tucked into blanket-y sweet roll dough and drizzled with velvety lemon frosting.
25 minPrep Time
20 minCook Time
45 minTotal Time
2 ¾ cup flour
2 Tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
1 package instant yeast
½ cup water
¼ cup milk
2 Tb butter, unsalted
2 Tb butter, melted
1 cup honey fig jam* (recipe in notes)
½ - ¾ cup confectioners sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
warm water, if desired - a little to achieve consistency and tone done zestiness
Prepare the jam. The recipe makes 2 cups. Only one is needed for the rolls so make two batches of rolls, make a second batch of rolls soon or use your jam for other goodies.
Mix all the dry dough ingredients together in a medium size bowl. In a microwave safe bowl, combine the water, milk and butter. Heat for 45 seconds, or until the butter is melted. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry mix. Stir the egg in. Knead the dough for 4 minutes. Dough should get smooth, have a bit of grip and bounce. Rest the dough in a lightly greased bowl for 5 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.
After the dough has rested, roll it out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle about 9x15 inches. Spread the melted butter over the dough. Then spread about 1 cup of fig jam over top the butter on the dough. Leave 1 inch without jam on one of the long sides of the rectangle; this will be the seam. Starting at the long, not seam side, begin rolling the dough jelly roll style. End the log roll with the seam side down. Use a sharp, floured knife to cut the log into 9 sections to make rolls.
Place rolls into a 9x9 inch pan lightly greased and covered with greased parchment paper. Cover the pan with aluminum foil. Turn off the oven and place the covered pan of rolls in the oven to rise for 20 minutes.
After rising, remove the aluminum cover from the rolls and leave in oven while turning on to 375 degrees F. Bake 16-20 minutes until the rolls just start to get golden. Remove from oven and top rolls with drizzle.
To make frosting, combine sugar and lemon juice in a bowl. Whisk together and add in warm water to adjust consistency and taste.
Honey Fig Jam* - recipe makes 2 cups jam
Adapted from Tasty-Yummies.com
15 figs, stems removed and quartered (1 Lb),
¾ cup honey,
⅛ cup water,
¼ cup lemon juice,
1 tsp lemon zest
Place figs, honey and water in a medium saucepan. Let sit and soften for 20 minutes.
Then place over burner on medium-high heat. Bring to a boil for 3 minutes. Reduce to low and keep on a simmer for 45 minutes. Stir often. Mash figs with a spoon while they cook.
After 45 minutes, keeping pan on the heat, stir in lemon juice and zest. Simmer an additional 3 minutes.
Remove from heat and allow to cool. Place cooled jam in jars. Store in the refrigerator for 3 weeks or the freezer for 3 months.
Today is the first day of preschool for my oldest. I just dropped him off. The flood of emotion hit me strongest as I walked away from the school pushing my littlest bub in a stroller. I’m excited for him to enjoy this milestone. I’m also anxious for him to be comfortable and confident in his new environment. Fear is another part of this complex of emotion. Having a child with a food allergy makes trusting him in someone else’s care unnerving. The last feeling has only been heightened by the rawness of an serious reaction he had at a family potluck a couple of weeks ago.
While sending him off to school, several questions are bouncing around my mind. Will he inadvertently be offered food he shouldn’t have? Will classroom staff recognize a serious allergic reaction? Will he always be with someone who knows how to use his EpiPen? I have worried of being perceived as neurotic and rude. Naturally, it feels like a hassle to insist on reading the label oneself, inquire about the ingredients, ask if someone has washed their hands, used a different knife, if toys have been cleaned etc.
I can only speak from the experience I have had and understand that my experience may not be the same as yours. Perhaps this all does sound crazy to you or perhaps you may be able to relate. I am fine with either reaction. Today I am sympathetic of all parents sending their children off to school. Extra hugs go out to parents of children with allergies.
All this talk of emotion needs a little comfort food, I think. I am sharing a tomato basil sauce that is versatile and capitalizes on the peak season of tomatoes. The sauce is nice and light if made by the recipe. For a “meatier” version, toss in a bit of fennel seed. This sauce can been made in bulk and stored in the freezer for later use in the coming months.
If you have the chance to this sauce, please photos and tag mama_sparrow on social media. I would love to see how you use the sauce in your home. Enjoy!
Tomato Basil Sauce
Yields 2 - 2 1/2 cups or 8 servings
Fresh stove top roasted tomato sauce with fragrant basil, oregano and marjoram. Enjoy on your favorite noodles, vegetables or pizza. Preserve in the summer to freeze and enjoy through the winter.
5 minPrep Time
20 minCook Time
25 minTotal Time
1 Tb olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced small
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp sea salt
¼ tsp black pepper, ground
¼ tsp fennel seed, optional for richer, darker sauce - best for “meat” or spaghetti use
¼ cup tomato paste
5 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
1 Tb fresh oregano, finely chopped
Warm the olive oil in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add onion, garlic, marjoram, salt, pepper and optional fennel seed if using. Saute for 3 minutes.
Add the tomato paste and stir to incorporate. Stir in the tomato, turn heat to high until it simmers. Reduce the temperature to medium and simmer uncovered for 10 - 15 minutes.
Remove pan of sauce from heat. Pour into food processor and blend till desired consistency. Add in the herbs and pulse a couple of times until they are incorporated.
Serve sauce immediate or store. May be kept in refrigerator for 4 days, 3 months in a standard freezer or 6 months in a deep freezer.
Recently, my little ones and I had an opportunity to travel and see family. Time with loved ones is cherished and seems to pass too quickly. While visiting, I made an observation. There are several trees in my folk’s yard that we planted as children. My favorites are the willow trees. This visit, they displayed noticeable growth indicative of trees, no longer saplings.
Since I have not stayed long enough in one place the last 10 years to observe nature’s progression, this observation of the trees was an impactful experience. I was struck with an awe of nature’s cadence. Well into adulthood, the marching of seasons has taken on the perspective of occurring at a rapid pace. The ripple of years has become a more visible breathing of nature. The rough intricacies of nature’s pattern provide a certain comfort and joy – perpetual and dependable.
While on the journey of eating fewer processed foods, I’ve been more attentive to what the earth provides in seasons. Eating the bounty of each season draws us into the cadence of Mother Earth. There is something deeply beautiful about this concept.Conscious eating is an extension of conscious living.
Peaches are rich with flavor, right now. This tart was inspired by my hope of making berry jam from the fleeting summer supply. The smashed raspberry layer is reminiscent of jam. No refined sugar here, the fruit layers are sweetened with honey. Topping with sliced peaches allows the star of the dessert to shine. These peaches were bursting with flavor.
I will leave you with the encouragement to live present, playful and peaceful days. Hopefully your present or near future will include enjoying late summer harvests that bring you true bliss. If you get the chance to make this tart, be sure to drop me a line and share your results on social media with MamaSparrow tagged.
Peach Raspberry Honey Tart
Wheat shortcrust with fresh smashed raspberries and honey drizzled prime season peaches. Enjoying the late season berry bounty, this tart is summer on a plate.
1 cup whole wheat flour
⅓ cup all purpose flour
½ cup powdered sugar*
10 Tbs butter**
1 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen (add a little more cornstarch if using frozen berries)
2 Tbs honey
1 Tb flour
1 Tb cornstarch
1 Tb lemon zest (zest from one lemon)
Stone Fruit Topping
3 medium/large peaches, peeled, pitted and thinly sliced
More honey to drizzle over top
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Mix together the flours and powdered sugar. Slowly add in the butter while mixing. Use a pastry blender or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle. Blend until the dough forms together.
Press the dough out by hand in a 9 inch round pie pan lined with parchment paper or tart pan. Sometime I like to make rustic free-hand formed tarts. Use fork to prick several holes in the bottom of the crust that will be covered with filling later. Place pressed out crust into the refrigerator for 5 minutes to help the butter in the crust keep shape. Bake the crust alone for 15 minutes or until crust is firm on the outside and slightly puffed.
Place ingredients for berry layer in a small bowl, mixing them together. Set the bowl aside while slicing the peaches.
Turn oven down to 350 degrees F. Spread the berry layer evenly over the prebaked crust. Arrange the peach slices over the berry layer. Bake the tart for 25 minutes or until the peaches are fork tender. Drizzle honey over the tart while still warm. Enjoy either warm or room temperature. Store at room temperature for a day or a couple of weeks in the freezer.
*to make refined sugar free, use coconut sugar ground to powder in a food processor
**to make dairy free & soy free, use Earth Balance soy free buttery sticks or your other favorite alternative
I have a spicy confession to make. Are you ready for it?
Cardamom spice is my new love. It has been added to most of the baked goods I’ve made the last few months.
Anyhow…the weather has been so hot and humid lately that today’s moderate weather felt surprising. We also spotted some fallen leaves this afternoon. Gasp. I cannot believe that summer has so quickly neared the end.
This is the first year we are prepping back to school things for our oldest’s first day of school. Another kind of turn in seasons. It seems like crazy talk when one’s babies are little and other parents say, “it goes so fast.” With little ones, each day seems an eternity. Now I understand “the days are long, but the years are short.”
Because I am not ready for this change in seasons, I am sharing a blooming cookie recipe with you. These spiced shortbreads with earl grey cream were one of those happy kitchen accidents. I tossed some spice in my cookies. While prepping the cookies I was savoring a spoon of lemon earl grey cream.
The flavors were perfect together, these cookies were born and I am urging to make a batch this weekend. In fact, don’t even wait till the weekend. Drop everything and run to the kitchen now. Then be sure to drop me a line and share your results on social media with MamaSparrow tagged.
Spice Shortbread Cookies
Peppery butter cookies with cardamom deepened flavor - hint of honeyed floral.
10 minPrep Time
13 minCook Time
23 minTotal Time
1 stick butter
3 Tbs granulated sugar
¼ tsp vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1 ⅛ cup all purpose flour
In a medium bowl, cream the butter with the first 3 Tbs of granulated sugar. Blend in the vanilla extract, black pepper, and cardamom. Mix in all the flour just until dough forms. Use hands to form dough into a log shape. Cover or wrap the dough and chill in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Once dough has chilled you can either cut cookie rounds directly from the cookie log or roll the dough out with a rolling pin and cut with a cookie cutter.
Place cookies 1-2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake cookies for 10-15 minutes just until they set. Allow to brown lightly on the edges.
Tips for Cutting Cookies
Log cut: if dough is firm enough, simply cut with a butter knife creating 1/4 inch thick cookie rounds. If dough is on the softer side, use a 6 inch piece of plain dental floss to cut the rounds. Slide the floss under the log about 1/4 inch in from the end. Grip each end of the floss. Cross your hands in opposite directions over the dough to create a "cut." Repeat until all dough has been cut into cookie discs.
Not only is earl grey satisfying as a cup of hot tea. It is incredibly tasty when paired with lemon in food. I enjoy typing questions into a google search just to see the results. Recently I typed, “why is earl grey and lemon so good together”. An astounding number of pages filled with lemon earl grey recipes flooded by results page. So, if you are also a fan of this combo, you will be pleased to know there are many explored culinary treats to be found.
Today, I am adding one more lemon earl grey goody to the list – lemon earl grey curd. I have been dying to share this recipe with you. I urge you, I implore you….make this cream. It will change your life.
Lemon Earl Grey Curd
Zesty sweet lemon curd infused with earl grey tea
6.25 TB unsalted butter, softened
12.5 grams or 9 tsp loose leaf tea
½ cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed + 2 TB
1 ⅜ cup sugar or 1 ¼ cup honey
2 egg whites
Pinch of salt
In a saucepan, melt just until it becomes liquid. Mix in the tea leaves. Keep on low heat for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve squeezing the tea leaves to release as much butter as possible. Set butter aside till it comes to room temperature.
Cream the butter and honey together in a stand mixer. Add the eggs and egg whites one at a time mixing well. Blend in the salt. Slowly add the lemon juice as the mixer is going.
Create a double boiler by filling a saucepan with about an inch of water. Place the mix in a stainless steel bowl that will fit atop of the saucepan or leave in your stand mixer’s stainless steel bowl. Bring the water in the saucepan to a simmer. Place the stainless steel bowl with the mixture atop the simmering saucepan. Constantly stir* mixture until the honey or sugar is completely incorporated and the curd thickens. This should take about 10 minutes.
Remove the bowl from heat and place on a hot pad holder. Continue stirring the mix for several more minutes as it cools. The mixture will thicken more as it cools.
Your curd will keep in the refrigerator for about 1 week and in the freezer for 1 month.
*Note about stirring
Stir constantly. Use a spoon or spatula. Avoid using a whisk as that would create air in the mixture.
**Dairy Free Option:
Substitute the butter with Earth Balance soy-free vegan "buttery" sticks.
Recently I have been relearning the word effective.
What does effective mean to you? I think of accomplishing goals and checking things off a list. This thought process started when I stumbled upon a blog post by Abundant Mama titled “10 Habits of Highly Effective Mamas”. In a striking statement she says, “Effective simply means being able to joyfully show up in a peaceful, playful and present way each day for those we love.”
This is not the kind of effective that keeps a clean house and dinner at 5pm. It is not being on-time and meeting every deadline. This is the effective that releases tension, embraces one’s own personality and is in the moment. This is choosing to set aside our priorities for the present interest of our loved ones – playing trucks with our child, engaging our friend’s favorite discussion topics, or watching our significant other’s favorite genre movie.
On a lighter note, living in summer’s present is eating all of her delicious fresh produce. Crisp is a simple way to enjoy a variety of plentiful fruit.
This is a clean-ish version of crisp. Fresh cut fruit is lightly sweetened with pure maple syrup and topped with a crumbled oatmeal crisp. A hint of spice brings out the fruit flavors.
Feel free to swap out the maple syrup with agave or honey, if you like.
Pear Blackberry Crisp
3 ripe, but still crisp small/medium pears
1 ½ - 2 cups of blackberries
1 1/2 Tb maple syrup
1 Tb wheat flour
1/8 tsp ginger, ground
1/2 cup wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats, old fashioned
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/4 cup maple syrup
Preheat the oven to 350F. Peel, core and thinly slice the pears. Half the blackberries.
Place the prepared pears and berries in a 2 quart baking dish or 9x9 inch metal pan.
Add the 1 1/2 Tb of maple syrup and 1 Tb of flour, stir till fruit is evenly coated. Sprinkle the fruit with the ginger.
In a medium bowl, combine the 1/2 cup flour, rolled oats and salt. Cut the cold butter into the oat mix. Stir in the 1/4 cup maple syrup.
With hands, crumble the oat mix evenly over the pan of fruit.
Bake for 35 minutes.
Let cool for 5 minutes. May serve warm or cold.
If your crisp survives past dessert, it makes a great breakfast the next day.
Have you ever had one of those kitchen fails that so derailed your day that you shirked all other responsibilities and watched a stupid movie? That happened to me this week. My first batch of coconut cream must have had some residual liquid so it did not whip. I tried to save it by adding a plethora of things – cornstarch, powdered sugar, greek yogurt. It remained a stubbornly liquid cream that was offensively overly sweetened. Dinner was also cooking in the process. Unfortunately the pan of cooked potatoes missed the colander and all went down the sink. To top it off my nap striking toddler was writhing and howling at my feet as all existence had become objectionable to him.
A more successful second attempt at dinner and a few deep breaths helped to power through bed time for the little ones. Then we enjoyed a stupid movie and an improvised dessert. Instead of coconut cream, we slathered slabs of sugar cookie crust with honey sweetened yogurt and fresh berries. It was good. If you do not use this recipe with coconut cream, I hope you go with the yogurt topped route.
The coconut cream is what makes this fruit pizza really special.The sugar cookie crust is reminiscent of Potbelly’s sugar cookies – chewy and vanilla forward. Top that with honey sweetened coconut cream and fresh berries. We have a dessert pizza that will please a crowd and is vegan to boot. If you happen to have left overs because you make extra, I won’t judge you for eating it for breakfast.
Hope you get an opportunity to make this and enjoy a safe, fun weekend!
Vegan Fruit Pizza
Yields 24 slices
A Potbelly reminiscent sugar cookie crust topped with whipped coconut cream and fresh berries. Beautiful enough to work for an occasion and tasty enough that the whole crowd will love them.
15 minPrep Time
10 minCook Time
25 minTotal Time
1 ⅔ cups flour, all purpose
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
4 ½ Tb coconut oil, room temperature
1 ⅛ cup sugar, white or cane
3 Tb greek yogurt, can use non-dairy
3 Tb vegetable oil
1 Tb cornstarch
1 Tb milk; I used flax milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 can of full fat coconut cream*
⅛ cup honey, or agave nectar for strict vegan
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cups of red and blue berries; raspberries, blueberries, strawberries
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a medium bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together - flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In a large bowl, cream the sugar into the room temperature coconut oil. Add in the yogurt, vegetable oil, cornstarch, milk and vanilla mixing thoroughly.
Add in dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and combine into a dough. If the dough is a little on the dry side add a tiny splash more milk. Form the dough into a disk, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Roll or press dough out onto a 12 inch pizza pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10-14 minutes - just until browning on the edges. Cool cookie completely.
Whip the coconut cream in a stand mixer or by hand until it creates peaks. Stir in the honey and vanilla extract.
Spread the whipped coconut cream on the cooled cookie. Decorate with berries.
*Refrigerate the can of cream overnight. Open can from the bottom side and carefully remove the solids. Save the liquids for a smoothie or other later use.
My Minnesotan roots are feeling pretty good right now. I have wild rice soaking. There is a strawberry rhubarb dessert baking in the oven. Presently, I am shucking corn for tonight’s dinner.
As I shuck the corn, the tactile and olfactory experience ushers in fond childhood memories. I feel myself in the backyard of a small river town. I am sitting on a white plastic swing of a bright blue children’s play set. I shuck ear after ear of corn, discarding the silk and husks into a brown paper grocery bag. There is a chorus of birds and the odd rhythmic beat of insects. The air is thick with the smell of sweet ripening vegetation and a hint of lilac from the shrub around the side of the house.
Summer’s rich joy of freshly harvested food is an experience I enjoy every returning season. Strawberries and rhubarb are a magical combination. These bars have a buttery shortbread base. The strawberries and rhubarb are sweetened with honey – cooked into a sweet compote and spread over the crust. The compote is topped with spiced oatmeal crumble.
The smell when these emerge from the oven is too much to not enjoy a few nibbles. The bars are best chilled in the refrigerator they are more set up for serving.
I hope you enjoy these as much as we do!
The pan getting raided while I snap pictures
Strawberry Rhubarb Bars
Yields 24 bars
Shortbread crust with honey, strawberry and rhubarb compote and topped with spiced oatmeal crumble. These sweet and tart bars are tasty when served chilled.
10 minPrep Time
60 minCook Time
1 hr, 10 Total Time
2 cups strawberries; hulled and quartered
2 cups rhubarb; thinly sliced
1 Tb lemon juice
4 Tb honey
4 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
2 ⅔ cup flour
1 cup powdered sugar
1 ⅓ cup butter
⅛ tsp ground ginger
⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
⅛ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ cup rolled oats
Combine ingredients for compote in a medium saucepan mixing well so fruit is covered in rest of ingredients. Cook over medium heat for 6-8 minutes. The fruit should be tender and the liquids thickening into a compote texture (medium bodied shiny syrup). Set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Mix all base crust ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Use forks or a pastry blender to combine until a ball of dough forms. Once the ingredients are mixed, but still crumbly, I like to use my hands to finish the mixing process. Roll the dough into a tube shape and pull of ¼ the dough to leave in the mixing bowl. Place the other ¾ of the dough into a 9x13 inch cake pan. Bake 350 F for 15 minutes. The crust should just begin to puff and slightly color.
While the crust is baking, add the ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon to the remaining crust in the mixing bowl. Gently work the spices into the dough with hands. Once the spice are worked in, add the oats to the bowl and work them in, as well. Set the topping dough into the freezer.
Remove the pre-baked crust from the oven and reduce oven temperature to 325 F. Spread the fruit compote over the hot crust. Pull the topping dough out of the freezer. Crumble the dough evenly over the compote topped crust. Some the fruit layer should still be showing. Return to oven and bake 40-45 minutes. Cool and cut into bars.
This Memorial Day was our wedding anniversary. I baked a cake to celebrate. There was a to-die-for cupcake recipe I found from ConnoisseurusVeg. Eager to try it, but wanting a cake for the occasion I converted the cupcake recipe into a vegan double layer cake. Since the cake and frosting was flavored with orange, I made candied orange slices to top the cake.
We had a lovely celebration as a family. We hiked at a nature preserve just minutes from our house. It was our first visit. I was surprise to learn there was such a wildlife escape near our urban home. We could still hear a basketball game happening just beyond a hill as we hike near the pond. Yet, we stood face to face with a deer calmly munching on a shrub while the children shrieked with delight. It is safe to say we have found a new family favorite destination at the local nature preserve.
Hope you all had a lovely holiday weekend! Read on if you are familiar with candying oranges. I am hoping to learn from your experience. Otherwise, hop on down to the recipe to make the cake yourself.
Question on Candying Oranges:
When I candied the oranges, I set them on a cooling rack after removing them from the cooking pan. I wanted them to cool and to allow the juices to drip. They didn’t appear to be dripping anymore so I stored them in an airtight container with wax paper between the slices. I stored them overnight till I frosted the cake. When I took them back out they were leeching more juices. Should I have left them out longer to set or would dehydrating help to keep them from leeching. If you have any orange candying tips, please share in the comments.
Deliciously rich complex chocolate wine cake. Chocolate orange ganache frosting and candied orange slices are a perfect complement.
Spiced Wine Chocolate Cake*
2 tsp ground flax seeds
6 Tb water
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 ground cloves
1 tsp orange zest
1/2 tsp salt
2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cup red wine
2/3 cup canola oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
Chocolate Orange Ganache Frosting
3 - 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
3/8 cup coconut cream, canned**
4 1/2 Tb orange juice
1 1/2 tsp orange zest
Candied Orange Slices Topping
1 medium navel orange
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 9in round layer cake pans with a circle of parchment paper. Lightly grease the pan sides and paper with coconut oil (melted or solid).
Whisk flax seeds and water together in a small bowl. Set aside while preparing the dry ingredients
Stir together the brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, orange zest and salt in a large bowl or your stand mixing bowl, if using. Sift in the flour.
Add flax mixture, red wine, canola oil and vanilla extract. Beat with electric mixer for a couple of minutes. Pause a few times to push mix down the sides of the bowl. Divide the batter between two cake pans.
Bake 24 minutes or until toothpick comes out mostly clean. Allow to cool in pan a few minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.
Beat the coconut cream with an electric mixer until velvety. Add in 3 cups of powdered sugar and all other ingredients. Mix until thick and creamy. It additional powdered sugar is needed, add 1/4 cup at a time.
Candied Orange Topping
Slice the orange crosswise, into 1/4 inch thick slices. Discard the ends.
In a medium skillet, combine 1/2 cup sugar and water. Bring mixture to boil. Add the orange slices and cook over medium heat about 20 minutes - until thin syrup develops and slices become translucent. Turn the slices occasionally.
Reduce the heat to low and simmer about 10 minutes - until the sauce thickens, but the slices are still sturdy. Again, turn slices occasionally.
Transfer the cooked slices to a drying rack above disposable paper or a cutting board to allow the slices to cool and juices to drip. Save the syrup for another use.
Place remaining 1/2 cup of sugar on a platter, Dredge candied orange slices in the sugar to create a sparkly effect.
*Increase the recipe by 1/3 to create a third layer to the cake for a fancier occasion. The cake layers are thin, but dense and rich. I was satisfied with the double layer because of the richness and density of the cake.
**Place can of coconut milk in refrigerator overnight. Open can from bottom and pour off watery part of the coconut milk. Measure out the thick cream for the frosting. Store extra in refrigerator. The thiner milk is great in smoothies.