Sunday, 28 April 2013

Living Below The Line, followed by Carrot Cake!

This week has been a strange one for me. I took part in the Live Below the Line challenge for UNICEF, where you are meant to eat for £1 or less per day for five days. The aim is to raise awareness for those who live below the extreme poverty line (which is scaled to £1 a day to cover food, transport, housing, medicine, etc, etc) and to raise a bit of cash at the same time. So going from eating lots of fruit and veg to only having £5 to spend on a working week's shop was an experience! Not a particularly enjoyable one but I'm glad I did it. My friend and I have managed to raise £355 between us so far and we're both putting in an extra £50 on payday so I think that's quite a good result! If I do this again next year, I'm definitely planning my meals in advance and hopefully joining up with someone to share resources. For more info, please visit my profile page on the Live Below The Line website:

My Profile

Closely following living below the line, I made a carrot cake! It's my mother-in-law's birthday this weekend and apparently she likes carrot cake so that was what I went for! It worked out quite well, although I think it could have done with being a bit more moist. I used ground flax seeds again in place of eggs to veganise the recipe.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Gluten Free Banana Bread and Cherry Surprise Cupcakes

I tried two experiments this week.

The first was based on my tried and tested banana bread recipe that I've had since before I was vegan. I veganised it a awhile ago by using ground flax seeds in place of the egg. This week I had a go at creating a vegan AND gluten free version using a gluten free flour blend and xanthum gum, which is something I've wanted to test out for a while but not really had the occasion. I was very pleased with the results (which is handy since I was selling it as part of my part in the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale), and the friend I baked it for seemed happy since I received this feedback: "Damn Jess this nana bread is delish!!! Thanks mate, I will want more in the future ;) xx" - yay!

Gluten Free Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips

My second experiment was another order for the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale - this time for a fellow vegan who asked for cherry cupcakes. Since I know she doesn't like to have too much sugar, I thought this would be the perfect time to play around with an agave syrup cupcake recipe I've had for a while. I even added my own extras to it, adding a spoonful of jam to each one before cooking - creating the surprise filling! I just wish I'd made a few extra to keep...

Cherry Surprise Cupcakes

This week has been quite busy in terms of Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale orders, which had been nice. I like it when I have a reason to bake but I then don't have to try to eat/freeze everything I make...

Lemon Drizzle
Mini Lemon Drizzle
Mini Parkin
More Lemon Drizzle...
Large Olive Foccacia
Abundant Small Olive Foccacia
And these were for the bake sale from last week, but I didn't post them up...

Lemon Drizzle... again!
Mini Tomato Foccacia

Monday, 15 April 2013

Eggless Royal Icing

This weekend, I tried my hand at eggless royal icing on sugar cookies. Having never made royal icing with or without eggs I wasn't quite sure what to expect!

I replaced the egg with a vegan egg substitute powder that I've used a couple of times for cakes and once to attempt meringues as it had a meringue recipe on the box. (That was a failure...) I managed to pipe the outlines out fine but when it came to flooding them with runny icing, I think I made mine just a little too runny (or maybe the hole in my piping bag was too big!) as it overflowed a couple of times. It seemed to set alright once I'd managed to fill in all the outlines but I think perhaps next time I'll use a different egg substitute. I've read that you can use a combination of cornflour and lemon juice to make the icing set so perhaps I'll use that for my next attempt. My icing wasn't rock hard like royal icing sometimes is, it had a bit of softness when you bit / squished it, but it stayed on the cookies which is the important thing I guess! As it turns out, one of the feedback comments I received was that softer icing was preferred anyway :)

Sunday, 14 April 2013


Last Saturday I visited the Cake & Bake Show in Manchester. It was amazing. So many beautiful cakes; there must have been so much time spent decorating them and everyone there seemed as excited as I was!

There were a lot of cakes there that just blew me away but there were also some that made me think "wait, I could do something like that...". I've wanted to start a baking blog for a while and being there seems to have given me the push I needed to put myself out there! Because, let's face it - it's a scary thing putting yourself out in the world. "What if people don't like my baking?" "What if my cakes aren't as good as XYZ's?" "What if some of my creations don't work out?"

Well, I've finally decided that I don't care! I bake because I love doing it and I'm going to blog about it because I want to keep some sort of record of what I'm doing. If people want to read it and find it interesting then that's a bonus ^_^

I'm also realising that when I'm made redundant in September I really would like to be able to make some money out of baking. I would LOVE a job I can really get stuck into and be passionate about, and I just don't get that from office work. Working for myself doing something I really enjoy sounds like the perfect job if I can make it work. Not sure I'll be ready in time for September since I can't drive at the moment but I can at least get the ball rolling...

For anyone who has somehow stumbled upon my blog and doesn't already know me: My name is Jessie and I'll be your baker for this evening. I'm vegan so everything I make is 100% animal-free, and I have a coeliac friend so I'm experimenting with gluten-free baking as well. I do like a challenge!

Some inspirational photos from the show: