Tag Archives: apples

Recipe: Vegan Gingerbread Cupcakes with Spiced Apples

Wow, I’ve finally caught up with all the pre-programmed posts and here I am… in, it must be said, a rather less auspicious space than I would prefer to be at this time of year.

It’s been a difficult year for me.  I’ve lost a lot of people to cancer, several of them friends who were close to my age.  Our cat, Mayhem, went into acute kidney failure in May and had to be put to sleep.  I have been having ongoing problems with my wrists and now also my knees, which might be arthritis, and basically there is always some part of me that is hurting.  And work has been in the throes of a restructure which has been extremely stressful and is now reaching the pointy end.  It looks like I’m going to find out on the day of the Christmas party whether I still have a job, whether it is still with my scientists or somewhere totally different, and whether my workload is going to double in the new year.  (And also whether I win an Institute award, which is… an interesting combination.  I mean, it would be sort of hilarious if I won an award at the same time as I lost my job, but I think that’s a form of hilarity I could do without.)

So I’ve been kind of depressed.  Though the Employee Assistance Program chappie who came in to talk to us at work this week says it sounds to him less like I’m depressed and more like I’m having an entirely congruent reaction to a deeply shitty year.  (And then he suggested that maybe one reason I’ve had trouble writing recently is that the ‘voice’ I use for writing no longer reflects my reality, which… may be true.  On the other hand, does anyone really want to read recipes by someone who is alternating between depression and fury? Let’s find out!)

Anyway.  These are the kind of cupcakes I make for a work fundraiser when I am actually really fed up with everyone and everything and also wondering why men who grow moustaches for Movember can’t bake their own cupcakes if they want to do a morning tea fundraiser.  But since some of the men in question are my very own scientists who I want to support, and since I know full well that even if they did bake, they probably wouldn’t bake vegan cupcakes, and since I like my vegan colleagues and feel that they deserve morning tea, I pretty much have to bake vegan cupcakes.

But – and I want to be clear about this – I absolutely refuse to ice them.

Yes, that’s where my hard line is.  I will, apparently, bake cupcakes in my spare time and when I don’t have to even when I am feeling angry and miserable and let down, because my scientists are the ones fundraising and I still love them (none of this is their fault, after all, except the moustaches), and also because everyone knows that vegan cupcakes are pretty much at the bottom of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, so it would be unethical not to provide them. 

Icing, though?  Icing is way up at the top of that pyramid, in the land of faffing around and spending lots of time on things, and that is something I reserve for organisations who actually value me.

So instead of icing, these cakes are topped with sliced apples and Viennese Christmas Sugar, which tastes good, and also is a really fast way to make a cupcake look pretty without putting a lot of effort into it.

That’ll learn ’em.

Your shopping list

1/4 cup glacé ginger
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
4 tsp ginger )
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup molasses
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup soy yoghurt
zest of 1 lemon
2 apples
2-4 tablespoons Viennese Christmas Sugar (this is a really coarse-grained white sugar – sanding sugar, I think, in US terms – mixed with pieces of star anise, hibiscus, rosehips, nutmeg, coriander, cassia and probably a few more things.  You could make something similar with demerara sugar and whatever appeals to you in your spice cabinet) (also, this measurement is a complete guess, sorry.) Continue reading

Recipe: Very Nearly Good For You Oaty Cookies with Raisins and Apricots

closeI’m strangely lethargic this week.  I think I’m still recovering from the intense concentration of last week’s course.  Anyway, I’ve been mooching around on my last week of leave, not doing very much, and not even having the energy to feel properly guilty about it!  I did, however, do a little bit of baking this morning.  You see, a friend of mine has just had keyhole surgery, and is at the bored-out-of-her-skull-but-too-weak-to-do-much phase of recovery, so I’d arranged to bring lunch and spend the afternoon.

Lunch did, of course, need to be somewhat healthy, so I made quinoa tabouli, augmented it with falafel from the excellent Half Moon Café and zaatar bread from the equally delightful Zaatar, and added a tub of tzatziki which had been lurking in the fridge.  Delicious, healthy, and hopefully sufficiently gentle for a stomach recovering from surgery and not very tolerant of fatty, rich foods.

Which is all very well, but some sort of sweet was clearly required.  I mean, yes, we all like to be healthy, but sweets are what I *do*.  My first thought was to make my choc-chip oatmeal cookies, on the grounds that they are, in fact, the best cookies ever.  But, while they are certainly not the most unhealthy cookies out there (I am firmly convinced that the presence of oats in any food renders it instantly healthy), they do contain quite a lot of chocolate, as well as butter and canola oil and an egg.

On the other hand, I did have some rather glorious dried fruit from my market visit, which sounded more like it.  And replacing butter with apple-sauce in a recipe this prone to being chewy and moist was probably not going to be a problem.

It wasn’t.  These cookies are soft, a little bit chewy, and very, very comforting to eat.  They practically beg for a glass of milk (or soy milk, if that’s the way you groove) (no, I don’t know why I just typed that either) and a nice book to read while you curl up on the sofa.   Actually, summer is entirely the wrong season for this kind of biscuit, but what can you do?

As a bonus, they are even quicker to make than the choc-chip cookies.  You can’t ask better than that, now can you?

Your Shopping List

100 g brown sugar
75 g raw caster sugar or ordinary caster sugar
75 g apple sauce (pick a brand that really is mostly apple, with as little sugar or other stuff as possible)
60 ml canola or sunflower oil
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
100 g rolled oats
150 g plain flour, or a good gluten-free flour mix
1/2 tsp bicarb of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
10o g raisins
75 g chopped dried apricots

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Recipe: Half-baked Fruity Muesli

closeupI just couldn’t resist the pun in that title.  Sorry.  But it really is half baked, because I did toast about half of what went into this muesli while leaving the rest untoasted.  The reason for this is that we are about to have a houseguest who has expressed a preference for cereal for breakfast, and has diabetes.  I’m nowhere near as knowledgeable about diabetes as I should be, but to me this sounds like something low-GI is called for, and oats are pretty much the definition of low-GI.

Except that if I’m making muesli, I’d like to make a kind that I’ll eat myself, and I do rather like my muesli toasted.  But toasted means you have to toast it with something, generally either fat of some kind or sugar of some kind, neither of which are particularly diabetes-friendly. 

So I’ve compromised.  I haven’t used any fat, and have used a small amount of apple juice and agave nectar to crisp things up.  And then I’ve added extra, un-cooked and un-sweetened oats at the end, along with the dried fruit, to dilute any inappropriate sweetness.  I know I’ve created something delicious; the question will be whether it is both delicious and something my guest can eat…

Your shopping list

250 g rolled oats, plus 100 g rolled oats for later (proper oats, not the quick kind, please)
100 g flaked or chopped almonds
80 g raw unsweetened pistachios
85 g sunflower seeds
1/4 tsp cinnamon
30 ml agave nectar (or honey, of course)
60 ml unsweetened apple juice (which, lets face it, is plenty sweet already)
60 g dried cherries
60 g dried cranberries
60 g dried apples
60 g dried apricots

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Recipe: Apple and Berry Crumble

This is my favourite weeknight dessert.  It’s hot and fruity and tastes healthy and the leftovers are lovely for breakfast.  And it makes heaps, which means you have breakfast for *days* afterwards.  It’s not really a standard crumble recipe – I think it started off as my mum’s recipe and then developed all the Anzac Biscuit sort of elements in a bid to convince Andrew to eat fruit crumble.  Andrew now claims he always liked fruit crumble, but that’s not what he told me when I first tried making it for him eleven years ago.  I think what he actually meant is that he doesn’t like the kind of fruit crumble people write recipes for, which means that he’s pretty safe because this is definitely not how most people make fruit crumble.

You see, while I make this crumble about once a week,  never make it the same way twice and I never measure anything.  This is a problem, because people ask me for my crumble recipe probably more often than they ask for any other recipe I’ve made, and I don’t know what it is.  Tonight I actually resorted to weighing the boxes containing things like oats, flour, sugar, golden syrup and so forth before and after making the recipe, and then finding the difference.  And then when it was all done and in the oven I realised I had forgotten the almond meal (which was not something that used to go into this recipe, but has become a frequent and valued participant of late), so I’ve guessed that part…  So this is not a perfect recipe, but it is probably as good as I’ll ever get it. If you’ve ever asked me for my crumble recipe, this is a good starting point.

Your shopping list

2 kg apples (a mix of cooking and eating apples is nice)
50 g raw sugar
250 g berries – I used strawberries today, but blueberries, raspberries or blackberries all work.
75 g butter
100 g golden syrup
50 g flour
50 g brown sugar
100 g almond meal
300 g rolled oats
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