Dairy, egg and nut free banana and date loaf

I discovered this recipe several years ago. I was busy googling dairy and egg free cake recipes and I came across this. Now, this was back in the day when a mobile phone was just that, which meant the search was carried out on my PC and I had to print the recipe out and stick it in my recipe folder (which is still going strong today). I have no idea where the recipe came from, but this is what it looks like:

I pretty much follow the recipe as written, but the more alert reader will note there are two lots of oil in the recipe. I use 4 tablespoons of light olive oil and it works every time. Please don’t put a third of a cup of sunflower oil in as well, you’ll end up with a goopy oily mess. Yuk!

I add a little bit extra bicarbonate as I found that the loaf didn’t rise particularly well. I also amended the temperature and cooking time as 200 c for 30 mins just didn’t work in my oven. I have a fan assisted oven and I do it on 160 c for 45-50 mins.

I always bake it in a silicone loaf mould and the cake pops out easily when partly cool.

When you take the loaf out it might initially seem a bit dry, but it’s one of those tea breads that gets better with time, and will moisten up.

Once the loaf is cool, I slice it, put it in a freezer bag and freeze it. As and when I want a slice for work I take one out in the morning and wrap it in cling film. By the time I want to eat it it’s nicely defrosted and perfect with a cuppa!

Because there is no added sugar the loaf is a lovely little treat that isn’t too naughty. It also makes a great alternative to energy bars when exercising. A loaf of this got me through the Three Peaks Challenge in 2011, and it was an ideal snack to take on each hike.

The recipe is easily modified to change the flavour. For example you could swap one of the bananas for a carrot or courgette and add a bit of cinnamon. It’s also really nice topped with Betty Crocker’s cream cheese style icing and sprinkled with chopped pumpkin seeds.

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Tried and tested: Lola’s Cupcakes vegan chocolate cupcake

Whilst on a Festive trip to the capital last weekend to sing along with carols at the Royal Albert Hall, I found myself walking past a Lola’s Cupcakes stand on the way from the Jubilee Line to London Waterloo.

I fancied something sweet to keep me going until I got home, so I treated myself to a Vegan chocolate cupcake, which is dairy, egg and nut free.

It’s not the first time I’ve purchased one of these beautifully presented cupcakes, but last time I was so excited to have found something that I wasn’t allergic to that I wolfed it all down and forgot to get a picture.

The previous purchase was at Westfield Shopping Centre, Stratford. On both occasions I was impressed by the way the cake looked and the packaging. The little carry handle is handy for getting your cake to the train in one piece, if indeed you can wait that long (and the first time of testing at Stratford I most definitely didn’t need the carry handle)!

Upon opening the box the cupcake is sat there snugly, a little chocolatey gift waiting to be devoured.

The cake is topped with a rich, gooey frosting, with a slight bitterness of dark chocolate. The bitterness helps it not be too sickly sweet, which is good as there’s so much of it you need a spoon or fork to handle it. I made this mistake the first time around and tried to eat it from the cupcake case, chomping right into it. I ended up with gooey chocolate all around my face, which is adorable when you’re six years old, but not so much when you’re thirty-six!!

I learnt from my mistake the second time around, however, being on a train with no tray table (how inconvenient), I had to try and balance it on my lap whilst not getting crumbs and frosting everywhere. I was partially successful. As I ate further and further through the cake, it started disappearing down the hole in the middle of the box until I could no longer get to it. I would suggest this wouldn’t be a problem if you’re eating it on a plate or can take it out of the box, but not so convenient on the train (and after all, Lola’s are situated at the station, so they must be expecting some muppet like me to try eating it whilst balancing it on their lap).

The taste of the sponge was nice, again, cocoa-y without being too sweet. However, for me they haven’t got the texture quite right and I found it a bit too dry and crumbly. I was hoping that the first time around was just a blip but unfortunately it was the same both times. With a little bit of tweaking on the recipe this could be a very good cake, but for me I prefer my own recipe. It wouldn’t put me off buying one again if I’m in urgent need of cake, but given the choice and time to bake, I’d choose my own every time.

If you’d like to try my recipe, check out my Basic dairy and egg free sponge recipe and look for the option of adding chocolate flavour. Here are some of mine:

Happy baking!!

Warning: Contains Nuts

I had a very narrow escape yesterday. Following a training seminar near Fleet Street (where an Allergy Girl friendly lunch of ham salad with balsamic vinegar was provided), I decided to detour back to Waterloo via Le Pain Quotidien near the Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank. Le Pain do a very nice Cocoa and Pear cake, and I thought I’d treat myself to a slice to indulge in during my commute home. On entering Le Pain, the conversation went like this:

Me: Do you have any of your vegan cocoa and pear cake?

Server: No, the only vegan cakes we have are the salted caramel and passion fruit cakes.

Me: Do they have nuts in them? I’m allergic to nuts.

Server: I don’t think so, let me just check.

She gets a typed piece of paper out of the folder, looks at it.

Server: There’s no nuts.

Me: Can I check?

I look at the typed list of ingredients in the salted caramel cake, and 2nd or 3rd on the list is cashews (not in bold type).

Me: There are cashews in it.

Server: Oh sorry, yes I didn’t see that. What about this one? (Pointing at the passion fruit and beetroot one)

At this point we both read through the list of ingredients, which seemed to be mostly coconut based. I purchased a slice of this for a whopping £5.95, and carefully carried it to the station for fear that a hurrying commuter might knock it out of my hand.

It got there in one piece.

On the train I opened the little box. The cake looked pretty and inviting and I was looking forward to trying something new.

I stuck my fork on the pointy end, and as soon as it reached my mouth my spidey senses were telling me that something was not right. I’m lucky that when I eat something I shouldn’t I get strange taste in my mouth, usually accompanied by a tingling feeling. My alarm bells were now ringing.

I quickly went onto Le Pain’s website to find their allergen information, but there wasn’t any. I then did an internet search for “Le Pain Quotidien Allergen Menu.” This came up with allergy menus from January and March 2017. I searched the menu and there were no passion fruit and beetroot cakes listed.

I then did a more general search for “Le Pain Quotidien passion fruit cake recipe.” This took me back to their website, and the menu, but no ingredients. The only passion fruit and beetroot cake I could see was a Passion fruit and Beetroot raw nut cake. Uh oh! The clue’s in the name. Interestingly the menu doesn’t say that this item contains nuts and there is no allergen information present at all. I thought by law they had to inform people if there are allergens present?

Anyway, just to be on the safe side I called them (from the Quiet Zone, I must add. I wouldn’t usually do this and I’m the first to tut and roll my eyes but at this point I was getting concerned that I might have a full blown allergic reaction on a train that was an hour away from home).

The lady I spoke to was very nice. She started reading the recipe; passion fruit, coconut cream, cashews…. Hang on!! Cashews?

You haven’t eaten any have you? Yes!

She offered a refund next time I’m in. I was less bothered about the refund than why both the server and I had missed the crucial piece of information that the recipe contains nuts. I’ll probably never know the answer, and can only assume it was missed off the recipe when it was typed up, or somehow we both missed it as it wasn’t in bold type. Had I known the name of the cake before purchasing it, I wouldn’t even have considered purchasing it, but unfortunately I didn’t see a menu and the full name of the item was never mentioned in the conversation I had with the server.

In a mild panic, I promptly swallowed three antihistamines and guzzled an entire bottle of water (the idea is to flush the allergen out). I then located the train guard and told him I was having an allergic reaction and where my epipen was kept just in case.

It turns it that apart from being extremely dozy from the antihistamines I was ok. It’s great that my body warns me that something isn’t right, and I’m able to catch it early. Had I eaten the whole thing it could have been a very different story. Le Pain Quotidien really need to sort out their allergen information. It needs to be clear and readily available, and I will be writing to them to this effect.

I think the moral of the story is check the ingredients. Then check again. Or just don’t buy the cake in the first place. It’s better for the wallet and the waistline!

Update

I saw the manager this morning. She was very apologetic and gave me a refund. She will raise the issues of training and allergen information with their food standards people.

She also pointed out that it’s called a “Nut Cake” for a reason!! Lesson learnt, I will always look at the menu in the future!

Tropical Island cupcakes 

Aloha!! I made these fun little cupcakes a couple of years ago for a summer fundraiser at my church.  They use my Basic dairy and egg free sponge recipe.  They would be great for a Hawaiian themed party or a fun thing to make with kids during the summer holidays. 

To give the cakes that tropical flavour I used a bit of lime juice into the mix and used coconut milk instead of soya milk.

Decorating was the really fun part. I used Betty Crocker’s vanilla icing and added a little bit of blue food colouring. I swirled the blue colour into the icing, making sure not to completely mix it so there were still white bits that looked like little waves.

I used crushed ginger biscuits to make the sand and added little jelly bears and cocktail umbrellas, and my little tropical island was complete!


To make a sunbathing bear I used Fizzy strawberry belts, cut them just larger than the bear, then laid the bear on top. 

Since making these I’ve discovered that edible sand can also be made using a combination of granulated light brown sugar and crushed rich tea biscuits, which is great if you don’t like ginger biscuits.

As always, let me know how you get on with making these, I’d love to hear from you. 

Dairy, egg and nut free Cinnamon doughnut cupcakes

I like cinnamon. I like doughnuts. I like cupcakes. Therefore I like cinnamon doughnut cupcakes!  

I’ll get the disclaimer out of the way early. These are not doughnuts. They just remind me of the hot cinnamon doughnuts I used to get at Bognor Regis beach when I was younger.   As no frosting is required they’re quick to make and are super yummy whilst still warm from the oven, just like the doughnuts from my childhood. 

The recipe uses my Basic dairy and egg free sponge recipe. 

Ingredients 

As per Basic dairy and egg free sponge

2-3 tablespoons ground cinnamon 

Approx half a cup of light brown granulated sugar

1-2 tablespoons Olive oil

Method

1. Make as per Basic dairy and egg free sponge recipe.  At step 3 add 1 tablespoon of cinnamon with your flour.

2. While the cakes are baking, mix together the light brown sugar and 1-2 tablespoons cinnamon in a small dish or bowl (must be larger than the circumference of your cakes). These amounts are approximate and you can add more or less cinnamon depending on how you like the taste.  If I end up mixing too much cinnamon sugar, I keep the leftovers in a Tupperware container ready for next time.  Pour the olive oil into a small dish or bowl. 

3. Once baked and still warm, brush the olive oil onto the top of each cake with a pastry brush, then dip into the cinnamon sugar mixture. 

4. Leave to cool or eat straightaway!! 

I’d love to know how you get on and what you think of these little gems (that are my 87 year old Nan’s favourites).  Happy baking!! 

Dairy, egg and nut free lemon and poppyseed drizzle cake

This recipe uses my Basic dairy and egg free sponge.

I usually make these little lemon cakes in Mini loaf cases from Sainsbury’s.  You can also make it in a standard loaf tin.  If I’m baking a large loaf I prefer to use a silicone loaf mould as it’s easy to get the cake out. 

Method

1. Make as per my Basic dairy and egg free sponge.

2. At step 3, add poppyseeds to the bowl,  and mix with the flour.

3. At step 4, add lemon essence.

4. While the cake is baking, mix some granulated sugar and lemon juice in a bowl.

5. When the cake is baked, remove from the oven. While still in the loaf tin/mould, drizzle the lemon juice and sugar mix all over the top of your cake. If making mini loaves, drizzle the mixture over, ensuring it completely covers to top of each cake.  As the mixture cools it will crystallise into a yummy citrusy topping. 

If you fancy, you could swap the lemon essence and juice for orange. It works equally as well. 

Happy baking!!! 

Basic dairy and egg free sponge cake

This recipe came from Allergy Mum. She’s had it for years (and I have absolutely no idea where it came from). Allergy Mum used to make Allergy Boy and me the most amazing cakes for our birthdays.
This has to be the easiest cake recipe ever. It uses mostly normal ingredients that you’d find in any store cupboard. The texture is quite open and it does have the tendency to crack, but no one will ever know if you slather on enough frosting!!
Basic dairy and egg free sponge cake (makes approx. 12 cupcakes or one large cake)

4oz caster sugar
4oz dairy free margarine (Pure works very well in these as well)

1 tablespoon golden syrup

8oz self raising flour

1/4 pint soya milk

Method

1. Preheat oven to 160c

2. In a mixing bowl add the sugar, margarine and golden syrup and cream together (I prefer to do this by hand, but it can be done in a mixer)

3. Add the flour and gently mix until you get a bread crumb like texture.

4. Slowly add the soya milk and mix until light and fluffy.

5. Bake for approx. 20 mins for cupcakes (or just slightly longer if making one large cake)

Adding flavours

Vanilla or other essences – add essence at the same time as the soya milk

Chocolate – add 1oz cocoa powder and reduce flour by 1oz. Add at the same time as the flour. You can also use chocolate flavoured soya milk, which adds some more flavour, or Cadbury’s drinking chocolate (which is dairy free) in a small amount of boiled water, which is added at the same time as the soya milk.
I make the basic sponge all the time and it’s great because the golden syrup binds the ingredients and acts as a raising agent so you don’t need to add egg replacer.
Icing

I often cheat and use Betty Crocker icing as it’s dairy free and tastes really good. If I’m making vegan buttercream I just replace butter with dairy free margarine and mix it with icing sugar and sometimes a little drop of soya milk.
I’d really love to know how you get on with this recipe, so please feel free to leave comments!