Sunday, 11 April 2010

Rich flapjacks and quick vegan chocolate cake

A couple of quick recipes I did for the cake stall at the triathlon club's duathlon today:

Date and walnut flapjack - or any variations!
(based on a plain recipe from a member's post on the old Delia Smith forums, now deleted)

  • 250g butter (I use salted)
  • 75g light muscovado sugar
  • 75g dark muscovado sugar
  • 2 tbsb (ish) golden syrup (about 40g)
  • 2 tbsp (ish) treacle (about 40g)
    I measure the syrup and treacle into the pan with the sugars and butter, so weighing is easier than measuring spoons. If you use a spoon then oil it first so the syrup/treacle won't stick.
  • 400g oats (but see below)
  • 150g (ish) dates
  • 100g (ish) walnuts
  • splash of boiling water
  1. Melt the butter, sugar and syrup together in a large saucepan and allow to boil for a couple of minutes.
  2. Stir this mixture into the oats. If it seems too dry, don't worry, wait a few minutes and let the liquid soak the oats, and stir again. If it's too dry (can depend on your oats), quickly heat a bit more syrup and stir it in.
  3. Press just over half the mixture into a 9" (or so) square tin.
  4. Roughly chop the dates and place into a saucepan with a splash of water from the kettle (100ml or so, but it will depend on your dates). Heat gently and stir until you get a jammy consistency.
  5. Spread the "jam" onto the flapjack layer.
  6. Blitz the walnuts in a food processor, or chop finely, and stir into the remaining flapjack mix.
  7. Spread the walnut flapjack roughly on top of the date layer.
  8. Bake at 190C for 15-20 minutes, depending how crispy you like the top.
  9. Cut into 16 pieces.
These went down really well, and were moist in the middle but just a little toasted on the top and at the edges. It's really up to you how much date "jam" you make and how nutty you make the topping. I also used a bit more than the stated 2 tbsp each of syrup and treacle.

The original recipe said 500g oats but I find this a bit dense. You can vary it according to taste, if you want stickier flapjacks then go for 350ish, or increase the amount for more solid ones.

Of course, you can vary the filling/inclusions as you like, and it doesn't have to be sandwich style. Just beware that chocolate chip flapjacks don't really work as the hot syrup mix melts the chips when you mix them in... but they do work well sandwich style (half the oats, 100g dark choc chips sprinkled over, then the rest of the oats). The choc chip sandwich goes nicely with crystallised ginger (finely diced) and a teaspoon of ground ginger in the oat mix. Grated (chilled/frozen) or sliced marzipan in the middle and chopped cherries in the mix is another winning combination.

Six-minute chocolate cake
From the Moosewood Book of Desserts

  • 1.5 cups plain flour
  • Half cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Two thirds cup sugar (I used golden caster)
  • Half cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup cold water or coffee
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar

  1. Mix the dry ingredients together.
  2. Mix the wet ingredients (except the vinegar) together.
  3. Mix the wet and dry ingredients and beat until smooth.
  4. Add the vinegar, stir well until just mixed (work quickly - the longer you take and the more you stir, the more air you lose from the mix).
  5. Divide between 12 cake/muffin cases in a tin.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 190C until springy to the touch and a skewer comes out clean.
For an even quicker cake, don't faff about with muffin cases but bake in a larger tin (20-25 minutes) - or even mix the ingredients directly in the tin. Very little washing up - excellent! These cakes are vegan and very tasty, and wonderfully light in texture. The mixture is strong enough to hold chocolate chips without them sinking, and you can do all the usual stuff with the finished cakes, like butterfly buns (with vegan spread "butter"cream if needed) or coring out a little space for some marmalade or cherry jam.