Bits & pieces 9: Coconut yoghurt & baked oats

I've written here before about my love of breakfast. I don't understand those people who rush out the door with nothing in their bellies. Lately, I've gotten into preparing my breakfast the night before so I just need to assemble in the morning. While I love a berry or green smoothie as much as the rest of the smoothie-drinking world, at the moment I just want oats. Be it porridge made with soaked steel cut oats, raw with nut milk or yoghurt, or baked the night before into a delicious cakey goodness. Baked carrot cake oats

Above is my adaptation of Baked Carrot Cake Oatmeal from the wonderful Green Kitchen Stories. I omitted the nuts, added desiccated coconut and poppy seeds to the topping, and made it with chia seeds instead of eggs. Delicious. It's definitely good enough for both dessert and breakfast.

This week I'm going try out this recipe for homemade coconut milk yoghurt for the second time. My first attempt at making it a couple of weeks ago, failed miserably for some unknown reason. It kinda curdled. Ew. I'm determined to make it work though as I love yoghurt but, like most dairy products, I don't really eat it much as it brings me out in eczema. Secondly, we actually have an Easiyo yoghurt maker that I bought the boyfriend a couple of years back. He got bored with it though and would rather spend his kitchen time perfecting a loaf of sourdough than faffing around with yoghurt. Said yoghurt maker is sitting unloved on top of our kitchen cupboards so I'm determined to use it by making my coconut milk version.

Have you ever tried making your own coconut milk yoghurt? How do you like oats? Baked, raw or cooked stove top?

X c

Boozy spelt Christmas cake and Chickpea magazine

Vegan Spelt Christmas cake See ya 2014! You've been a good-un. I'm in bed with a rotten cold and am trying cheer myself up with this stack of brilliant inspiration from friends and family, near and far. My bedside reading today includes the gorgeous and brilliant vegan quarterly magazine, Chickpea. And it features a recipe for boozy spelt Christmas cake - written by me! (Hooray). Soon I'm going to drag my sorry self from my sickbed and whip up some coconut oil frosting for said cake which is now nicely boozy with brandy. It's become a bit of a tradition to cut my Christmas cake on New Year's Eve over the last couple of years, and while I'm not a fan of traditional Christmas cakes, I do like making my own version. We're planning on staying in this evening and cracking open the bubbles - should mix well with the cold and flu tablets. It's the first time in a very long time that I haven't gone out partying on New Year's Eve and I'm looking forward to it. Fingers crossed I can keep my eyes open 'til midnight. Wishing you all a wonderful 2015. x Photo for Chickpea magazine by Arthur Ravenscrag

Sunday bake off: When I made a vegan wedding cake...

I will never understand people who say they don't really like cake. I mean, really? What is not to like about gooey, sticky, double-chocolate fudge cake? Or light-as-air sponge cake dripping with passion fruit icing, layered with jam and cream?

But then again, maybe it's just me. Cake. I love cake. I think I like baking cakes even more than I like eating them. Now that the other half and I live on our own I have more space to bake. Away from the busy kitchen of my previous flat, filled with gin-drinking and wine-drinking, chatting, fabulous girls. Cakes are being baked far more frequently. I have space for several types of flour. And sugars. My Kitchenaid mixer is not packed away in its box and now has a permanent spot on the bench. Baking is good for the soul (if not so good for the hips).

It's not even the taste that does it for me (don't get me wrong I'll always have at least one slice) - it's the visual feast of cakes that I enjoy the most. Icing, berries, cream, little people toppers, mini bunting and then flowers on top. And cake plates and cake stands (which I don't love as much as my sister but I still have more than I need). Then there's cake forks and cake tins... I won't go on. You see, I just really like cakes.

My old friends Louise and Dan got hitched at the end of last year in a lovely low key ceremony at Islington Town Hall. Guess who had volunteered to bake the wedding cake? Yip, me. (I took care of hair flowers and button holes too but that's for another day).

I didn't want a structured, iced to strict perfection wedding cakes like these. No, I like cakes to look baked, and although it sounds cheesey, that they have been baked with love. Not carved from polystyrene.

It was a very busy week and I hadn't had enough time for a trial run. To make matters more complicated, several of the guests (and my best buddies) are vegan. So no cream, eggs or butter could be included. I've made quite a few vegan cakes before, but I wanted something special. Then I was told about this recipe for Raspberry Blackout cake. I adapted it slightly and baked it in two different circular cake tins so I could create tiers. The final touch was just lashings of vanilla icing and fresh raspberries.

That's me above putting on the finishing touches at their house after transporting it in pieces by taxi. Topped off with baby bunting I made earlier. And I'm pretty pleased to say not even crumb was left the next day.

Image 1: Sweet Dee Design on Etsy Image 2 & 4 by Luke Image 3, iPhone pic by me.