Cakes without butter and refined sugar

I love baking, especially when I develop new recipes and try to perfect them. It takes time and patience but over the past few years I have developed a range of cakes and bakes with no added butter or processed sugar.

Cakes should be fluffy and light. The bulk of processed sugar and the flavour and consistency of butter is often needed to achieve the right consistency in cakes. I am sharing some of my favourite ones this week. I featured them first on television last winter and, to my delight, they were such a success with the audience that many who never made cakes before were sending us photos of their results.

The big secret to achieving that light and fluffy texture is not to overmix. You will not need any electric mixers or gadgets. Simply sift the flour and dry ingredients into a large bowl and the liquid ingredients into another bowl. Then, gently fold in the liquids into the dry mix and fold in firmly, yet gently, as though handling something very fragile, until the batter is barely mixed.

Then just pour the batter into your cake tin and place in the middle shelf of a preheated oven immediately. I use a 23cm cake tin. I have included some recipes using cup measurements… it speeds up preparation and it is a great investment to your baking equipment at home.

Chocolate Rose Cake

250g self-raising flour
2 tbsps cocoa powder
1 level tsp baking powder
1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp oats
1 tsp corn flour
A few drops vanilla essence

You do not need a mixer for this cake, gently fold in the dry ingredients into the liquids and, after baking it, pierce all over with a skewer and sprinkle with rosewater.

Sieve the flour and mix all the dry ingredients together until the appearance is consistent.

In another bowl mix:
4 eggs
1 tbsp apple organic vinegar
250ml ricotta
1 medium, cooked beetroot, peeled and chopped

200g dates chopped into small pieces, or stevia (check the jar for conversion and add equivalent to 200g of sugar)

Use a hand blender or liquidiser to bring the mixture to a very smooth paste. Fold in the dry mix into the liquid mix, gently, a little at a time and work fast. Pour the cake batter into a prepared cake tin. Bake in a preheated oven ay 160ºC for 35 minutes.

Remove from oven and, while still warm, pierce the surface all over using a skewer or a toothpick and sprinkle 5 tbsp rosewater. Allow to cool before removing from the cake tin.

Carrot Orange Cake #goodfoodeveryday

Carrot and Orange Cake

Mix these ingredients together in a large bowl:
200g self-raising flour
100g oats
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Mix these ingredients together in another bowl:
180g grated carrots
Grated zest of 2 oranges

Blend these ingredients together until the mixture is smooth and consistent:
100ml olive oil
200g golden raisins
4 eggs
Juice of 2 oranges

The cake is moist, sweet with natural sugars from carrots and oranges and laced with the flavour of cinnamon, it is simply divine.

Method

Preheat oven to 160C. Prepare a 23cm cake dish and grease it, if necessary. Add the carrot mix to the flour mix and combine making sure that the carrots are covered with the flour. Add the blended liquids. Fold in using a large metal spoon.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for 40 minutes without opening the oven for the first 25 minutes. Check with a wooden skewer and, if required, bake for a further five to 10 minutes.

Banana Coconut Cake #goodfoodeveryday

Banana and coconut cake

3 cups self raising flour
2 cups coconut
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Few drops vanilla extract or half a vanilla pod
1 cup ricotta
4 eggs, separated, egg whites beaten until they stand in peaks
4 bananas
Juice of one lemon
1 tbsp corn flour

Instead of processed sugar, use 1.5 cups golden raisins soaked in just enough water to cover for a few hours or overnight.

Then, simply use a hand blender to process to a pulp.In a large bowl sieve the flour and cornflour.

Add the bicarbonate of soda and coconut; mix.

In another bowl, use a hand blender to process the bananas, lemon juice, egg yolks, vanilla, ricotta. Add the puréd golden raisins.

Add the flour mixture a little at a time and mix in using a metal spoon. Finally, add the beaten egg whites. Fold in gently.

Immediately pour the cake mix into a prepared cake tin and bake in a preheated oven at 170ºc for 35 minutes.

Granny’s Fruit Loaf #Goodfoodeveryday

Granny’s Fruit Loaf

250g self-raising flour
100g ricotta
1 spoon olive oil
1 spoon cornflour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 apple, peeled and roughly chopped
Juice of half a lemon
3 eggs separated
6 tbsp stevia or 150g golden raisins soaked in water overnight and pureed
250g dried fruit (raisins, sultanas, candid peel, cherries, currants)
A few drops good vanilla extract or half a vanilla pod
Grated zest of a lemon
Grated zest of an orange
A pinch of mixed spice

Sift the flour. Add the ricotta chopped into pieces and olive oil and use the rub in method as you would do with butter. Add the vanilla, the citrus zest and mixed spice. Then add the dried fruit. Puree the apple with the egg yolks and lemon juice. Beat the egg whites until they are stiff. Add the bicarbonate to the ricotta and flour mix. Then add the apple and egg yolk mix and finally fold in the egg whites using a metal spoon. Pour the batter into a cake mould or loaf tin. Bake for 40 minutes at 170ºC.

I use ingredients by Good Earth Distributors

Homemade Oat Milk and how to use the oat pulp

oat milk george.jpg

Homemade Oat Milk, this photo was taken by George Aquilina during a live tv show.  Handmade sweets by Deyma Shop Gzira, kitchenware by Tescoma

‘Homemade, dairy-free oat milk last for three to five days when refrigerated in an airtight glass container. It provides a very good and creamy nut-free dairy alternative.  The left-over pulp can be used as an ingredient for other recipes.’

You will need:

1 cup oats
3 cups filtered or bottled water and more for soaking
1 date or 1 tbsp agave
A pinch of salt

Making oat milk george a.jpg

Making oat milk during a live tv show, photography George Aquilina  Appliances by Kitchenaid at Forestals, professional wear Chefworks, nails by Jessica Camilleri using Max Factor Noisette No 145

 

Soak the oats overnight in plenty of water. Drain and discard the soaking water and place the oats in a blender. Add the filtered or bottled water and the rest of the ingredients. Strain the oat milk by pouring it through a strainer covered with a clean tea towel. Use your hands to wring the tea towel to squeeze all the milk out. Refrigerate for up to 3 days. Stir the milk thoroughly before using it. This milk can be used to thicken a soup or dessert simply by adding heating it as it becomes thick and gelatinous.

oat-pie-crust-illumina-media

Use your left over oat pulp to make pie crusts for tarts.  Photography Illumina Media during a live tv show.  Fresh fruit by Big Fresh Mosta

Use the oat pulp to make an oat flour crust for tarts.  Place the oat pulp on a flat ovenproof dish covered with baking paper and bake it in a cool oven at 150°C for an hour.  Allow to cool down completely preferably overnight, then place in a food processor and grind to a fine texture.  Then add it to your recipe to make a tart crust.  Ingredients: 200g flour, 200g oat flour, 100g ricotta,  1 tablespoon agave or honey, a few drops vanilla, zest of half an orange, 1 egg and cold water.  Method: Sieve the flour and add the oatmeal.  Add the ricotta and rub it into the flour and oatmeal using your fingertips
Add the other ingredients except the water and eggs and mix. Now add the beaten eggs, mix using a knife. Then add the cold water, start with one tablespoon and mix, then add a spoonful at a time until you form a dough. Wrap in cling film and leave in the fridge for half an hour. Roll out onto a lightly floured surface.

Lea’s Good Food Everyday airs daily on Smash TV.  Lea’s new book is available via Midsea Books

Ingredients by Good Earth, Big Fresh Mosta and Deyma Shop Gzira

 

Kwarezimal for Lent


The word ‘kwareżimal’ is derived from the latin word quaresima referring to the 40 days of Lent, and the ingredients of this sweet reflect the simplicity of food during this period. In fact, during this time, traditionally there is no use of eggs and fats.

This recipe is based on the book by Helen and Anne Caruana Galizia L-Ikel u t-Tisjir ta’ Malta (The food and cookery of Malta) and to me this book is a genuine reference for typical Maltese cookery. I find this kwareżimal more attractive and I like the practical bite sized portions. I have reduced sugar in this recipe and use honey and stevia as an alternative source of sweetness.

You will need:

  • 200 g ground almonds
  • 200 g plain flour, sifted
  • Stevia, check label on jar and use equivalent of 150g sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange flower water
  • Grated zest of one lemon, one orange and one mandarin
  • 3 tablespoons honey and 2 tablespoons stevia
  • Crushed pistachios, almonds and grated orange zest to decorate.

Combine all the ingredients and add just enough water to make a tough dough.

Knead lightly into an bite-sized oval shape.

Place on a baking dish and bake at 180°C for 10 minutes.

While they are still warm, coat with thyme honey and sprinkle crushed pistachios and almonds and grated zest.

For My mini kwarezimal of last year click here.

Converting processed sugar to natural sugar: banana coconut cake

I featured a new cake on TV this week that proved to be a great success, not only in the taste and texture but also in the response from our audience.

In a Mediterranean Diet we go back to old traditions to the days when processed food was not around.  I have been testing a line of new recipes for the last 5 years and here is one of my favorite ones.

For the banana and coconut, nearly-all-in-one cake with no butter and no sugar you wil need:

3 cups self raising flour
2 cups dessicated coconut
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
a few drops good vanilla extract
1 cup ricotta
4 eggs, separated, egg whites beaten until they stand in peaks (optional, you can also add the eggs as they are)
4 bananas
juice of one lemon
1 tablespoon cornflour (optional but adds firmness to the cake texture)

and instead of the processed sugar:
1 1/2 cups golden raisins  soaked in just enough water to cover for a few hours or overnight.  Then simply use a hand blender to process to a pulp.

Method:
in a large bowl sieve the flour and cornflour.  Add the bicarbonate of soda and coconut.  Mix.
In another bowl use a hand blender to process the bananas, lemon juice, egg yolks, vanilla, ricotta.
Add the flour mixture a little at a time and mix in using a metal spoon.
add the beaten egg whites.  Mix in gently.
Immediately pour the cake mix into a prepared cake tin and bake in a preheated oven at 170c for 35 minutes.