Annie, a mother to two young children who was diagnosed with breast cancer. I'm pleased to report that after extensive treatment; chemo, surgery and radiotherapy, she is well on the road to recovery. She came to visit last week and forewarned me in the event I planned on serving some cake with our tea, that she was now on a dairy-free diet.
Always one to relish a culinary challenge, I began looking around for vegan cake recipes. The ones I saw online seemed a bit unispired until I came across the Dan Lepard series of dairy, soya and egg-free baking in the Guardian, which included some tasty looking creations like these walnut black cherry cookies and mocha fig muffins.
Time ticked on and I hadn't sought out any special ingredients I might need to make any of the recipes I had seen. I ended up turning to Gwyneth Paltrow's cookbook and made her 'healthy blueberry muffins', which were not only vegan but also sugar-free. I had all the ingredients in my cupboard, they were quick to throw together and tasted good.
When Annie was here, I asked her about the dairy-free diet and whether she found it particularly challenging. (The reason she has omitted dairy from her diet is to reduce the amount of hormones in her body). She has always loved baking herself (and eating cake in general!) and told me the hardest thing was going out for tea and the cakes on offer containing butter and therefore being unsuitable.
She has experimented with different butter substitutes in her own baking at home and told me sunflower spread was the best substitute, as it doesn't effect the taste of the finished product in the way that soya can for example. She can still follow all her favourite cake recipes, using sunflower spread in place of butter. Good to know!
When I began looking into vegan baking, I thought to myself, there's no way it'll taste as good as cake made with dairy ingredients but I'm pleased to say I was proved wrong!
Have you ever made any vegan cakes or muffins that were especially yummy or do you have a book or website to recommend for vegan baking?