Blueberry upside-down cake {vegan, gluten-free}

I haven’t done a lot of baking for the past 10 years. I think it’s from many vegan and gluten-free recipe inventions that haven’t gone so well. Substituting one core ingredient? Easy. Substituting three? Thirty-times more likely to fail from my experience.

Recently, I’ve been educating myself on the magic of white vinegar. And it all started as an accident when I ran out of surface cleaner for the kitchen. (I mean, who knew vinegar, baking soda, water and a touch of eucalyptus made for a great all-purpose cleaning solution? You probably all did. I know I’m late to the party, but it’s changed my life).

Then I stumbled across a recipe that called for vinegar as a way to make a cake airy and moist. Airy and moist are terms few home bakers can describe a vegan and gluten-free creation (unless you’re some kind of baking unicorn). Apparently it was a ‘thing’ during the Depression when eggs and dairy products were difficult to come by.

Turns out, it was the missing ingredient in this recipe for blueberry upside-down cake that I’d been sitting on for months. My faith in gluten-free vegan baking has been restored *raising hands emoji*.

Blueberry upside-down cake {vegan, gluten-free}
Makes a 20cm cake

2.5 c frozen organic blueberries, rinsed
270mL (1 small can) full-fat coconut milk
1 tbsp distilled white vinegar
1 1/2 c gluten-free plain flour
1/2 c coconut sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
1/4 c coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C.

Whisk coconut milk and white vinegar in a small bowl and set aside while preparing the remaining ingredients.

Lay the berries out on some absorbent paper towel and gently press on them to dry them off after rinsing and stop the colour from bleeding.

Line a spring form cake pan with some baking paper. Transfer the berries to the bottom of the tin and spread out evenly, trying to cover the entire base of the tin.

Mix the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl, then add the coconut milk with vinegar, as well as coconut oil and vanilla. Stir to combine.

Pour the batter on top of the blueberries and smooth out. You want to make the top of the cake as flat and even as possible because this will end up being the bottom of the cake when it is flipped.

Cover the cake with foil and cook in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Then, remove foil and cook for a further 10-15 minutes, or until top is browned and a skewer comes out of the middle clean.

Let the cake cool before releasing the sides of the pan. Carefully flip onto a cooling rack to cool further, or flip onto a serving dish. Slice and eat on its own or with some dairy-free vanilla ice cream.

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Gluten-free vegan savoury breakfast muffins | Zucchini and tomato muffins

A couple of weeks ago I tried imitation Tim Tams that were gluten-free and vegan. Sadly, they were a disappointment. The real thing was always my weakness growing up. I wouldn’t be able to control myself around them; my sweet tooth took over.

Fast forward to now, my sweet tooth has been cured. Case in point when it comes to sweet muffins. I’m spending my days dreaming of savoury muffins, something the old me would have scoffed at.

These gluten-free, vegan, savoury breakfast muffins are the most moist I have ever come across. This is all thanks to almond meal, zucchini, tomatoes and – most importantly – caramelised French shallots.

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Gluten-free vegan savoury breakfast muffins | Zucchini and tomato muffins
Makes 6-8

3 large French shallots, finely sliced
1 1/2 cups almond meal
1 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup arrowroot flour
1 tsp bicarb soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 flax eggs (2 tbsp ground flax + 6 tbsp water)
1 cup water
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
Juice of half a lemon
Zest of a whole lemon
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 zucchini, grated
1 handful basil, roughly cut
1 bunch of chives, roughly cut (optional)
1 tsp sumac
1 tsp beetroot powder

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C.

Heat oil in a wide pan and add French shallots. Let cook over a medium heat until shallots are starting to catch on the bottom of the pan. Add 1/2 tsp water and continue to cook until onions turn golden brown and caramelise. Set aside.

Mix almond meal, brown rice flour, arrowroot flour, bicarb soda, baking powder, flax eggs, water, coconut oil, and lemon zest and juice until lumps-free. Then add tomatoes, zucchini, basil, chives, sumac and beet powder and mix until combined. Make sure the zucchini is evenly mixed throughout the flour and not sticking together in clumps.

Evenly scoop mix into an oiled muffin tin. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes. Knife should come out clean and top crust should be golden brown. Let cool slightly then carefully remove muffins from tins with a spoon and place on a cooling rack until ready to eat.

Raw lemon and raspberry cheesecake

Changing your diet to be one that is gluten-free, vegan and mostly refined sugar free when you have one helluva sweet tooth is one crazy thing to do. I didn’t know how to reward myself for what felt like the longest time (OK, turns out it wasn’t that long).

But one day, I discovered raw desserts and boy, am I glad I did.

Yes, it’s a raw cheesecake as in uncooked, but stay with me ’cause this is not like the cheesecake you know, it’s SO much better (as well as being SO much better for you than regular cheesecake). I usually turn up to family gatherings with this bad boy in tow and let me tell you, this gluten-free vegan raw raspberry cheesecake is a crowd pleaser.

If you’re familiar with raw desserts and cringe at the thought of the long list of ingredients that usually accompanies them, don’t fret, I have you covered. This one won’t have you traipsing all over town to find a long list of unfamiliar ingredients. In fact, you’ll be able to get everything from your local supermarket. I’m good like that.

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Raw lemon and raspberry cheesecake
Serves 12

1 cup raw walnuts
1/2 cup raw hazelnuts
5 medjool dates, soaked for 5 mins
2 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked for 4-8 hours
1 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup coconut water or 1/2 cup filtered water with 1 tbsp coconut water powder
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup frozen raspberries
Grated dark chocolate (optional)
Grated lemon zest (optional)
Shredded fresh mint (optional)

To start, blend walnuts and hazelnuts with the dates in a food processor until nuts are small pieces and binded together by the dates.

Press the mixture into the base of a cake tin or mould that you would like the cake to set in. Try to make it as even as possible, then pop it in the freezer while you make the filling.

Add cashews, water, coconut water, maple syrup, lemon juice, coconut oil and vanilla to a high-powered blender and blend until completely smooth. Pour into a bowl and gently fold in the raspberries.

Remove base from freezer and pour cashew filling on top, spreading it out evenly.

Pop the cheesecake in the freezer for 4-6 hours. Refrigerate for one hour before garnishing with chocolate, lemon zest and mint, then serve.