Who knew that cakes made from veggies would be so sweet!
Author, gardener, and cook Ysanne Spevack’s “Vegetable Cakes” has already seen major success is the UK, and America demanded a release so they could enjoy the mouthwatering deliciousness for themselves.
Whip up these “Vegetable Cakes” from Ysanne Spevack.
MAKES 8 LARGE OR 12 SMALL SLICES
Nicki Dowey | “Vegetable Cakes”
These rustic scones use buckwheat as an enticing dark setting for vivid green beans and purple blackberries.
I wrote this recipe when I was still living in a brownstone Victorian house in Bushwick, a leafy neighborhood in Brooklyn known for its high concentration of artistic people and for its wonderful multi-cultural culinary culture. Many of the independent cafés put a creative spin on classic European favorites, Don’t be fooled – the word ‘scone’ means something completely different in American English than in British English. Both are perfectly acceptable, but don’t expect a British scone from this recipe; it’s more like a British rock cake, but with a triangle shape instead of a rocky blob shape. The buckwheat flour makes for dark scones, which become even darker from crushed blackberries that provide bursts of purple. Dotted with dark green beans, these have an artisan-urban sophistication that epitomises Brooklyn. And the almond flour and coconut cream give a super-rich and velvety texture. They’re unusual in the best way. I like to serve them with whipped coconut cream.
- 100g/3 3/4oz/3/4 cup green beans
- 15ml/1 tbsp flaxseed meal
- 200g/7oz/2 cups ground almonds
- 200g/7oz/1 3/4 cups buckwheat flour, plus extra for dusting
- 120g/4oz/1 cup potato starch
- 15ml/1 tbsp baking powder
- 2.5ml/1/2 tsp pink or sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling
- 400ml/14fl oz can of coconut cream, chilled (see step 5)
- 60ml/4 tbsp maple syrup
- 5ml/1 tsp vanilla extract
- 75g/3oz/1/2 cup blackberries
- Top and tail the green beans. Steam the beans in a steamer basket for about 5 minutes, then set aside to cool. Alternatively, boil for 3 minutes, and plunge in cold water.
- Preheat the oven to 220ºC/425ºF/Gas 7. Lightly dust a baking tray with flour.
- Mix the flaxseed meal with 45ml/3 tbsp warm water, and leave to become a gel.
- Combine the ground almonds, buckwheat flour, potato starch, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl using a whisk.
- Drain off the liquid from the refrigerated can of coconut cream, then measure out 175ml/6fl oz/1 cup of the solid cream (this is most of the can) into a bowl and add the maple syrup and vanilla. Mix well, using your hands and palms to knead together.
- On a lightly floured surface form the dough roughly into a circle. Crush the blackberries and gently knead them and the green beans into the dough, maintaining the circular shape. Cut the dough into 8 triangles.
- Sprinkle with some extra salt and bake for about 25 minutes, until they are a lovely golden brown.
- Allow to cool for 3 minutes in the baking tray, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, This recipe makes 8 USA-sized scones or 12 UK-sized ones.
FENNEL PISTACHIO CHEESECAKE
MAKES ONE 23CM/9IN CHEESECAKE, SERVES 8–10
A luscious vegan cheesecake with delicate fennel and almond butter swirl, decorated with pale fennel fronds and pollen. Perfect for a special occasion, the pistachio base and absinthe make this cheesecake luxurious enough to be placed on a pedestal as an artisanal wedding cake, served with absinthe or a glass of champagne. Fennel pollen, made from the dried heads of the flowers, is nicknamed the spice of angels. There’s not enough absinthe in this cake to do anything more than flavor it, so I don’t think it’s a problem for children to have a sliver at a wedding, for example. Vanilla extract probably has an equal amount of alcohol in it as this teaspoon of absinthe, but the flavor is special and unexpected, and lifts the fennel notes to a whole new level. You can also make this cheesecake with peanut butter, and I also really like sunflower butter, with its lighter feel.
For the base:
- 115g/4oz 1 cup shelled unsalted pistachio nuts
- 1.5ml/1/4 tsp pink or sea salt
- 200g/7oz 1 cup stoned (pitted) firm dried dates (not medjool)
For the filling:
- 1 small fennel bulb, bottom only, chopped roughly
- 180g/6 1/4oz / 1 ½ cups unroasted cashew nut pieces, soaked overnight in the refrigerator
- 80g/3 1/4oz / 1 ½ cups coconut oil, melted, plus extra for greasing
- 120ml/4fl oz ½ cups maple syrup
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 400ml/14fl oz can of coconut cream, chilled (see step 4)
For the fennel swirl:
- 30ml/2 tbsp almond butter, or other seed or nut butter
- 5ml/1 tsp absinthe, alternatively Pastis, Sambuca, or Ouzo would also work well
- Pinch of pink or sea salt
- Fennel fronds, roughly chopped
- 5ml/1 tsp olive oil
- 5ml/1 tsp fennel pollen
- Grease a 23cm/9in springform cake pan.
- To make the base, process the pistachio nuts and salt together on low until ground into a flour. Next process the dates in a food processor on low until it forms a ball, but not a paste, with the little rice-sized pieces still visible.
- In a bowl, combine the dates and pistachio mixtures together using your fingers to squish and form a dough. Press into the bottom of the springform pan, and put in the freezer while you prepare the filling.
- Process the fennel bulb, drained cashew nuts, coconut oil, maple syrup, lemon juice and zest in a blender. Remove the can of coconut cream from the fridge and drain away the liquid (you can keep this in the fridge for another use), then measure out 160ml/5 1/2fl oz of the solid cream – this will be most of the can. Add this to the blender, and blend again to combine all the filling ingredients. Transfer this mixture to the cake pan, and smooth over the base using a spatula.
- Next, make the swirl dressing by combining the almond butter, absinthe and salt in a bowl or cup using the back of a fork. Add the chopped fennel fronds and olive oil, and combine with the fork to make a dressing. Pour the mixture over the centre of the cake, and swirl with the fork, making sure not to mix it in too much, but allowing it to look decoratively rough.
- Cover the cheesecake with baking parchment, being careful to cover the whole cheesecake, but not so firmly that the filling is displaced.
- Freeze for 4–6 hours, then remove the parchment, remove the springform pan, and set on a serving platter. Bring to room temperature before serving, which will take about an hour set on the counter.
- Finish by sprinkling the pollen on top, concentrating it roughly on the centre, graduating out less and less towards the edges.
MAKES ONE 20CM/8IN CAKE, SERVES 6–8
Nicki Dowey | “Vegetable Cakes”
A round coconut cake with a whole Romanesco baked inside, so that the top of it emerges like a creature from a prehistoric lagoon. The slices are wonderfully graphic and striking!
Is this a cake, or a sculpture? Is it a dessert, or a B-movie? When it comes to looks, no vegetable beats Romanesco. This Italian staple is an heirloom variety of brassica that tastes pretty much the same as a cauliflower, but has the great visual attribute of Fibonacci spirals. Rising out of this flourless coconut cake, the vegetable is like a magnificent monster – hence the name. Beautiful, alien, and utterly comic-book, this sweet creation is a winner for anybody who enjoys sci-fi movies, graphic novels, or mathematics. I have never met anyone who didn’t gasp in wonder.
- 100g/33/4oz/1/2 cup/1 stick butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
- 50ml/2fl oz/1/4cup coconut oil, for greasing
- 1 Romanesco cauliflower
- 120g/41/4oz/21/4cups desiccated raw (dry unsweetened macaroon-cut shredded) coconut
- 120g/41/4oz/2/3cup coconut sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2.5ml/1/2tsp ground cinnamon
- 2.5ml/1/2tsp ground cardamom
- 5ml/1 tsp baking powder
- 1.5ml/1/4tsp pink or sea salt
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 50g/2oz/1/2cup cornflour (cornstarch)
- 50ml/2fl oz/1/4cup maple syrup
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas 4. Grease a 20cm/8in springform round baking pan with the extra butter, and set aside.
- Remove the leaves from the Romanesco. With coconut oil, grease the bottom of another baking pan that’s big enough for the Romanesco to stand in, and place it in, on its flat base. Oil the Romanesco liberally, rubbing into the crevices, and put into the hot oven to bake for 25–30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the cake batter by adding the desiccated coconut, coconut sugar, eggs, spices, baking powder, salt and lemon zest to the butter in a food processor. Process the ingredients, starting on the lowest speed and slowly raising the speed as high as the batter will allow, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. After a few minutes, when everything is smooth, add the cornflour and process again to combine.
- Remove the Romanesco from the oven, and transfer it to the center of the springform cake pan. Pour over the oil that’s left in the bottom of the pan it’s been cooking in, so the Romanesco is basted.
- Transfer the batter from the food processor to the cake pan, pouring it around the Romanesco to carefully avoid getting any batter on the vegetable top, but to cover the base of the pan. The Romanesco will rise out like Godzilla.
- Bake for 25–30 minutes, until golden brown and the edges are starting to brown.
- Remove from the oven and immediately pour the maple syrup over the Romanesco top that’s still revealed in the center of the cake.
- Allow to cool completely before running a knife around the sides of the pan, and then removing the springform sides. Place on a platter or cake stand to serve it whole at the table, with a pitcher of pouring coconut cream alongside. The effect is most dramatic with a super-large Romanesco!
MAKES 12 MUFFINS
Waldorf Salad is named after the hotel in New York, a grand Victorian edifice that opened on Fifth Avenue in 1893. It was built by the Astor family, who hailed from the town of Waldorf, in Germany. The maître d’hotel was Oscar Tschirky, and in 1893 he invented the salad for a charity ball, after which the recipe became an enduring classic of the era. Over the years, there have been many tweaks and changes, as different ingredients have come in and out of vogue. Endless permutations have graced tables, all presented as Waldorf Salad, so it seems perfectly acceptable to recreate it as a muffin, and a vegan one at that! Apple sauce is the secret binding ingredient – it’s a double-action winner, replacing the need for both eggs and sugar. There’s a touch of coconut sugar to bump up the sweetness, but overall, the apple sauce plays a big role in these little muffins. To make your own apple sauce, simply cook peeled and cored apples with a little water until soft, say 10 minutes, then purée or press through a sieve. It’s an invaluable ingredient to keep in the fridge.
- 300g/11oz/2 1/2 cups wholewheat flour
- 70g/2 1/2oz/1/3 cup coconut sugar
- 10ml/2 tsp baking powder
- 10ml/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1.5ml/1/4 tsp pink or sea salt
- 4 large and 12 baby lettuce leaves
- 25cm/10in stick of celery
- 50g/2oz/1/2 cup walnut pieces
- 375g/13oz/1 1/2 cups apple sauce
- 120ml/4fl oz/1/2 cup olive oil
- 12 apple pieces
- 30ml/2 tbsp canned coconut cream to drizzle, optional
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas 4. Place 12 paper cases into a muffin tin (pan).
- Stir the flour, coconut sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together in a bowl.
- Tear the large lettuce leaves. Chop the celery into pieces, roughly 8cm/3in.
- Place the celery, torn lettuce and walnuts in a blender with the apple sauce and olive oil and blend on low, raising the speed to medium over about 30 seconds. It’s ready when you can still see chunks of vegetables, but it’s more like a chunky smoothie.
- Pour the smoothie into the dry ingredients, and stir to combine. Fill the muffin cases until nearly level, and top with a piece of apple and a small lettuce leaf on each.
- Put into the oven and bake for 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool in the baking tin. If you like, drizzle over a little coconut cream for contrast and additional sweetness.
To continue the Waldorf theme, add 50g/2oz/1/2 cup golden raisins to the dry ingredients. I also sometimes add a little raw cacao powder. For another frosting idea, combine one ripe avocado with one medjool date, blending well to create a paste. Spread on top of the muffins and serve immediately.
“Vegetable Cakes” is available for purchase in the U.S. on January 22nd.
All recipes are courtesy of “Vegetable Cakes” by Ysanne Spevack. Copyright