Vegan Cherry Bakewell Cake

Is there anything more Christmassy than the sweet smell of toasted almonds and cherries wafting through the house? It’s an aroma that transports me to my happy place. Were it a fragrance I could wear as perfume, I’d purchase bottles by the dozen. However, standing in front of the oven will have to do for now.

Vegan Cherry Bakewell Cake

If you love all things cherry bakewell, marzipan or frangipane, this is the cake for you. It’s a light and airy vegan sponge with nothing more than a dusting of icing sugar and a crown of fresh cherries. No buttercream, no fuss.

Serve it with masala chai for a hint of spice and all the cosy vibes.

My sponge is made with super fine self-raising cake flour, ground almonds and a little bit of cornflour to hold everything together without eggs. Almond milk, apple cider vinegar and almond oil give it lift and moisture.

Vegan Cherry Bakewell Cake

I’m a sucker for a glacé cherry and I think they work wonderfully in this recipe. Fresh cherries will also work but bear in mind they will seep juice as they bake and this could make the sponge a bit soggy. I recommend baking this cake a day in advance. The flavours and textures get better after 24 hours. You might find it a little claggy if you eat it straight away and the almond flavour won’t be as prominent.

I wrap the cake in cling film or non-stick foil as soon as it comes out of the oven (let it sit in the tin for 5 minutes and then turn it out and wrap). This keeps the outside of the cake nice and soft.

Vegan Cherry Bakewell Cake

Vegan Cherry Bakewell Cake

Light and airy vegan sponge, sweet almonds and juicy cherries make for the ultimate afternoon tea cake. No dairy, no eggs.

  • 340 g extra-fine self-raising flour
  • 300 g caster sugar
  • 40 g ground almonds
  • 30 g cornflour ((cornstarch))
  • 1/4 tsp fine salt
  • 480 ml almond milk, room temperature ((you can also use soy milk))
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 180 ml almond oil ((you can also use rapeseed, sunflower or any other flavourless oil))
  • 60 g glacé cherries ((tossed in 1 tbsp plain flour))
  • 2 tsp pure almond extract
  • 1 tbsp flaked almonds
  • 80 g fresh cherries ((to decorate))
  • 2 tsp icing sugar ((to dust))
  • Gold leaf ((to decorate, optional))
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C/320°F. Line the base and sides of a 6-inch x 3-inch cake tin with oil and non-stick baking paper.

  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, ground almonds, cornflour, sugar and salt.

  3. In a separate jug or glass, mix together the almond milk, almond extract and apple cider vinegar. Set aside for 5 minutes, undisturbed. After 5 minutes, give it a brief whisk.

  4. Add the oil and milk mixture to the dry ingredients and gently whisk for 40-60 seconds until smooth. Don’t overbeat the cake batter or you could end up with a tough cake.

  5. At the last minute, fold in the flour-coated glacé cherries with a spatula. Be gentle and swift.

  6. Pour the batter into the cake tin. 

  7. Bake the cake in the centre of the oven for 70 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of a cake comes out clean. The cakw should be springy to the touch.

  8. Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool in the tin for 5 minutes. Carefully turn the cake out and wrap in foil or cling film. Allow to rest overnight at room temperature.

  9. Decorate with fresh cherries, a dusting of icing sugar and the optional gold leaf.

 

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Vegan Cherry Bakewell Cake




Double Coconut, Lime & Cardamom Cheesecake

So I ate a lot over the festive Diwali period. The kitchen was practically overflowing with mithai boxes and tubs of chakri, chevdo and gathiya. It was bloody brilliant but I’m glad to be back to my everyday Gujarati daal, bhaat, shaak and rotli (daal, curry, rice and chapattis). I definitely need a bit of normality in my life before Christmas feasting commences.

Double Coconut, Lime & Cardamom Cheesecake

A new dessert I made this year was this coconut, lime and cardamom cheesecake with exotic flavours galore. It’s a bit of a play on the traditional Diwali favourite, Coconut Barfi or Kopra Pak. Coconut is one of my favourite flavours in a dessert and there’s nothing quite like freshly-grated coconut in cakes, cookies and cheesecakes. I’ve used it as a topping and in the biscuit base for a double coconut hit.

This is an eggless baked cheesecake and the filling is made with a combination of ricotta, cream cheese and lime. It’s gloriously decadent with a hint of sharpness to cut through the richness of the coconutty cream. The edges of the cheesecake caramelise beautifully and the centre rises and falls just a little for a melt-in-the-mouth dessert that’s best served cold.

Double Coconut, Lime & Cardamom Cheesecake

Start making this cheesecake at least a day ahead to give it time to cool and set properly. You can make it up to three days in advance and keep refrigerated (the base may lose some crunch though) or make and freeze in an airtight container for up to three months.

Double Coconut, Lime & Cardamom Cheesecake

This is the ultimate dream of an eggless cheesecake for coconut lovers. With fresh lime and cardamom, it ticks all the boxes when it comes to exotic indulgence.

For the base:

  • 200 g coconut biscuits ((I use NICE biscuits))
  • 60 g sweetened desiccated coconut
  • 85 g unsalted butter ((melted))

For the cheesecake filling:

  • 500 g full-fat cream cheese
  • 500 g ricotta
  • 300 g caster sugar
  • 80 ml freshly-squeezed lime juice
  • 300 ml double cream
  • 2 tbsp cornflour ((cornstarch))
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 green cardamom pods ((seeds removed and crushed))
  • 150 g fresh toasted coconut, to decorate

For the base:

  1. Combine the crushed biscuits, desiccated coconut and melted butter and firmly pat it into the bottom of a 24cm springform tin. Make sure it’s even and tightly compacted. Cover and refrigerate.

For the cheesecake filling:

  1. In a large bowl, beat together all of the ingredients until it becomes thick like softly-whipped cream. Don’t overmix.

  2. Spoon the mixture on top of the chilled biscuit base. Smooth the top down.

  3. Place this in a preheated oven at 160°C/320°F for 90 minutes, until golden. Don’t open the oven door at any point during cooking. It will drop the oven temperature and the cause the cheesecake to sink or crack. Once the cooking time is up, switch the oven off and leave the oven door closed until it is cold. The cheesecake will still be very wobbly at this stage. Just leave it in the oven.

  4. Once the cheesecake has cooled down completely (8+ hours), top with the fresh coconut and cover with cling film. Next, cover and refrigerate the whole cheesecake for 8-10 hours before cutting and serving.

  • Keep refrigerated for up to 5 days.

 

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Double Coconut, Lime & Cardamom Cheesecake




Birthday Cake Burfi

I’m thrilled to have received so many success stories from you all about the Eggless Birthday Cupcake recipe I posted a few weeks ago. You’ve shared them across Facebook, Instagram and via email and like a proud mum, I fill up with joy every time I see your recipe remakes.

Today is my 30th birthday and I’ve been sharing recipes here for 10 years. Can you believe it?! With each year, I’ve grown as a person, learning more about myself than I ever thought I would through a medium as lighthearted as a recipe blog. Exploring my cultural heritage through food has helped me get to grips with my own personal identity. With this I’ve understood and embraced what “home” really means to me. It’s where my family are; My husband, my son, my parents, my brother and sister-in-law, and their children, all sitting around a dinner table eating great food and just being… well, a family.

Many of you know that I was born in Britain, the daughter of immigrants with Indian and East African roots. I was raised as a vegetarian Hindu so the food I ate growing up was a mishmash of spices, starches, vegetables and pulses. Learning to cook from my mum and her haul of Gujarati and Swahili cookbooks was both a pleasure and a privilege. I’m so glad I was able to extract happiness from those things early on because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to share so many of my favourite recipes with you all today.

Birthday Cake Burfi

I feel honoured to be connected with so many fans and readers. Together we are a community of 60,000 people from around the world across social media, each of us passionate about vegetarian Indian and East African food. Whether it’s a comfort classic or a modern take on an old favourite, we all appreciate a plate of food cooked with love. I hope to continue to grow, learn, explore and share recipes with you for years to come.

Being an oversharer, you probably know a tonne about me, but for a bit of fun, here are a few things you may not have known…

  1. I’ve never been to India, yet Indian food is one of my biggest passions in life.
  2. I’m a pyjama-holic. I’d live in loungewear if I could. Don’t let styled food and good photography fool you. Developing recipes and spending a lot of time covered in flour means that fancy clothes are off the cards and comfy joggers and vest tops are the norm. After a hard day’s work I’ll have butter in my hair, icing sugar on my top and and a smile on my face. An Insta-perfect life doesn’t exist and in today’s world of social media overload it’s important we don’t measure ourselves against someone else’s online persona – most of it is make believe anyway!
  3. I’m an avid and life-long wrestling fan. But we’ll leave that story for another day.

Now let’s eat Birthday Cake Burfi and celebrate this old gal’s 30th.

Birthday Cake Burfi

My eggless Birthday Cake Burfi is a fun twist on classic Indian milk fudge. Usually flavoured with ground spices and nuts, this recipe forgoes the traditional and embraces the kid in us all. You’ll first need to make a batch of my Eggless Birthday Cupcakes for the cake layer that’s sandwiched between the burfi layers. Get the recipe in my notes below.

  • 400 g full-fat milk powder
  • 200 ml double cream
  • 2 x 397 g tins sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 unfrosted eggless birthday cupcakes ((see below for recipe link))
  • 150 g white chocolate
  • 2 tbsp sprinkles ((to decorate))
  • 2 tsp oil ((for greasing the tin))
  1. Crumble up the birthday cake cupcakes with clean hands, making sure you have fine crumbs. Don’t use a food processor for this and ensure the cupcakes are have been allowed to cool completely. I like to make the cupcakes the day before so they’re completely cool and ready to crumble.
  2. Grease a 9” x 6” brownie tin with oil.
  3. Combine the milk powder, cream and condensed milk in a pan. Cook on a low heat, stirring all the time until the mixture starts exuding oil and begins to come away from the sides of the pan. If you have a sugar thermometer, the mixture should reach 116°C/240°F (this is known as the soft ball stage). Keep stirring to ensure the mixture doesn’t burn as it can catch quite easily. Don’t worry if you do not have a sugar thermometer. You can check it’s ready by first spreading a little mixture on a cold plate and if you can roll it into a soft ball between your thumb and finger, it’s ready. Time to work quickly!
  4. Remove from the heat and spread half of the mixture inside the greased brownie tin. Even the mixture out with the help of a spatula. Top with the birthday cake crumbs immediately, making the layer as even as possible. Top with the rest of the Burfi mixture and again, use a spatula to even it out. You need to make quick work of this to ensure the Burfi mixture is still hot when you’re spreading it. You don’t want it to start setting or it will be hard to work with.
  5. Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Ensure the bowl isn’t touching the water. Pour the chocolate over the Burfi layer and spread it out evenly. Scatter with sprinkles and allow to sit at room temperature until set, about 8 hours or preferably overnight. Slice into squares and serve.

Get the recipe for the Eggless Birthday Cupcakes used in this Birthday Cake Burfi here.

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Birthday Cake Burfi




Sanjana’s Fluffy Eggless Vanilla Cupcakes

“Ping!” My ears pricked up like those of a famished fox on bin day. That was the sound of the oven telling us our quick eggless sponge cake was ready. I was seven years old and obsessed with baking with my mum in the little kitchen above our corner shop. It was our home for the first ten years of my life and the place where I first fell in love with food and the idea of cooking.

Cakes eluded me as I never indulged in them at friends’ birthday parties. Like many Gujarati Hindus, we are a family of lacto-vegetarians so don’t eat eggs. My mum never wanted us to miss out so she would test recipes for the perfect fluffy eggless sponge cakes for us at home. A hundred iterations of cakes made with everything from condensed milk and sour cream, to custard powder and buttermilk. I’d watch intently the whole time, soaking up the baking smells and tips. We baked them in the oven and cooked them in the microwave, in silicone liners and traditional tins. No stone was left unturned in the eggless cake department. Of course, each experiment came with its own set of unique results; Sometimes they were good, sometimes they were a total flop. The fun part was always in the time we spent with one another rather than in getting the recipe totally right. For a kid my age, any cake was good cake. Weighing out the ingredients, mixing the batter and sitting in front of the oven waiting for it to “ping” was just one part of the mother-daughter bonding experience. We’d talk about all things food and she’d tell me about her childhood, learnings and lessons for life. We still do this now, almost 25 years and hundreds of cakes later.

Sanjana’s Fluffy Eggless Vanilla Cupcakes

You’ll be pleased to know that after years of testing and more cake fails than I can count, we did finally nail the perfect eggless vanilla cake recipe. Here it is, in cupcake form, ready to see in my 30th birthday this month. Yep, I’m T-H-I-R-T-Y now. And a mum to the most lovely little boy. How times have changed since starting this blog as a carefree, party-loving twenty year-old student.

My eggless vanilla birthday cupcakes are light, white, fluffy and super moist with lots of vanilla flavour. I’ve baked sprinkles into the sponge because there’s nothing more exciting than funfetti. It just screams, “Happy Birthday!” and I’d have freaked for these cakes when I was a kid. The best thing is that the recipe uses simple, easy-to-obtain ingredients rather than commercial egg-replacers (I have tried every egg replacer under the sun and none of them produce a better cake than this recipe, regardless of how expensive they are). You don’t need a fancy mixer either. Use a bowl, a regular whisk and a spatula for the recipe for the best results.

Sanjana’s Fluffy Eggless Vanilla CupcakesThe frosting is a simple, American-style crusting buttercream which is easy to pipe/spread and sets up beautifully. I kept it a plain ivory colour but you can colour it to your favourite shade if you like. I recommend using gel or paste food colours such as Wilton, Sugarflair or Americolor. These will ensure the frosting doesn’t become too slack which can be a problem with liquid food colours.

Watch the recipe video to see exactly how I make these at home. The recipe has been tried and tested dozens of times and I always get perfect results. You’re going to love them!

I get so many eggless baking questions through the blog and my cake business, Maharani Cakery. Here are some of my best learnings from baking a million eggless cakes over the years for both weddings and just for the family at home. I’ve tried to answer as many as I can here but if you can’t see the answer to a question you have, drop a comment below and I’ll get back to you.

Sanjana’s Fluffy Eggless Vanilla Cupcakes

Q. Is there a single egg replacer that works for all baking recipes?
A. There’s not a one-size-fits-all answer as the techniques and make-up of different bakes all require different approaches and ingredients. E.g. Mashed banana, flax eggs  and applesauce are fine for eggless bakes like banana cake, dense muffins and crumb cake but they don’t work so well in vanilla cakes. The eggless cake would end up tasting of those ingredients rather than having the light, white, fluffy texture we all want in a good vanilla cake. I also tend to stay away from using these in vanilla cake baking because the results can be a bit too unpredictable.

Q. Can I swap the sugar in the recipe for honey/coconut sugar/agave/sweetener? Can I reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe?
A. No. Sugar helps proteins bind and form a good structure in cakes. In the absence of eggs, sugar plays a vital role in binding proteins, forming a good crumb and holding the cake together. Using liquid-based ingredients like honey will change the texture of final cake. Coconut sugar and sweetener have a different make-up to regular sugar too and swapping them in place of sugar will also change the final result of the eggless cake.

Q. My eggless cake is tough. Where did I go wrong?
A. Overworked batter can produce a dense, tough cake. This is the case with all cakes, not just the eggless kind. If you overbeat a cake, the in the flour gluten develops to unwanted levels and this will result in tough, stodgy eggless cakes.

Q. Can I swap the white cake flour for wholemeal flour?
A. Technically yes, you could. Having said this, your eggless cake will be darker in colour and heavier than if you were to use a refined white flour. I’ve found that extra-fine self-raising sponge flour produces the best results by a country mile if you’re looking for a fluffy, white eggless cake.

Sanjana’s Fluffy Eggless Vanilla Cupcakes

Q. Why do you use full-fat milk powder?
A. Sugar bonds with proteins to give the cake batter a strong structure. Milk powder contains protein which will bind with the sugar to give the eggless cake a strong, fine crumb, helping it rise in the oven and most importantly, hold its shape. The cornflour and raising agents also help these along.

Q. Can I veganise your eggless cake recipe?
A. Yes, you can but again, the texture and flavour of the finished cake may vary slightly. Increase the flour by 1 tbsp, switch the milk for unsweetened almond milk (at room temperature), and use 2 tbsp aquafaba (reduced from 4 tbsp and chilled) in place of milk powder. If you’re making this funfetti vanilla cake recipe, please ensure your sprinkles are suitable for vegans. The butter in the frosting can be swapped with your favourite vegan spread (the soft kind in a tub, not a block). Swap the milk in the frosting for unsweetened almond milk at room temperature.

Q. My cakes are dry. Where did I go wrong?
A. They are overbaked. Ensure you’re baking them for the stated time at the correct temperature. Most domestic ovens tend to be a few degrees out but an internal oven thermometer can help ensure your oven is set at the right temperature. If you don’t have an internal oven thermometer you could also increase or reduce the cooking time depending on whether your cakes are overbaking or underbaking.

Q. Can I use condensed milk in place of sugar and milk in this recipe?
A. I wouldn’t. I’ve baked so many cakes with condensed milk before and whilst they smell amazing in the oven, they are caramelising in the oven and produce dark brown crusts and sponges that are pretty unpleasant to eat. They’re often dense and heavy too (fine for some cakes but not if you want fluffy white eggless cakes).

Q. Can I add cocoa powder to make this a chocolate cake?
A. The make-up of eggless vanilla cakes and eggless chocolate cakes are super different and although some ingredients may be the same, the proportions are not. I’d recommend using a chocolate cake recipe, such as this Eggless Malted Chocolate Whipped Ganache Cake if you want to make a chocolate cake. Adding cocoa powder (as it is a dry ingredient) to this recipe will change the texture and you would then have to adjust the liquid ingredients to make up for the increased quantity of dry ingredients.

Q. Why do you add oil instead of butter?
A. In eggless cakes, an oil-based batter will result in a moist, fluffy cake. I’ve found that using butter results in a much firmer cake with a larger crumb.

Q. Why does the milk need to be at room temperature?
A. Room temperature milk will ensure the milk and vinegar mixture curdles quickly and adequately. If you’re short of time, microwave cold milk from the fridge on high power in 15 second intervals for a total of 30 seconds, stirring in between.

Q. Why add the additional baking powder if you’re using self-raising flour?
A. After a lot of testing, I’ve found the extra leavening from the baking powder gives the eggless cakes an extra lift for a super fluffy result.

This recipe makes 12 standard-sized cupcakes or 9 if you’re using muffin cases).

Sanjana's Fluffy Eggless Vanilla Cupcakes

My eggless vanilla birthday cupcakes are light, white, fluffy and super moist with lots of vanilla flavour. I’ve baked sprinkles into the sponge because there’s nothing more exciting than funfetti. 

For the fluffy eggless vanilla cupcakes:

  • 170 g extra-fine self-raising cake flour
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp whole milk powder
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp fine salt
  • 240 ml whole milk ((room temperature))
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 90 ml sunflower oil ((or any flavourless oil of your choice))
  • 2 1/2 tbsp colourful sprinkles ((not nonpareils – I use Classic Rainbow Crunchy Jimmies by Fancy Sprinkles))

For the vanilla frosting:

  • 150 g unsalted butter ((cubed, room temperature))
  • 300 g icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp whole milk ((room temperature))
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp fine salt

For the fluffy eggless vanilla cupcakes:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C/340°F. Line a 12-holds cupcake tin with 12 paper cupcake cases or 9 muffin cases.

  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, milk powder, cornflour, sugar and salt. 

  3. In a separate jug or glass, mix together the milk, vanilla extract and apple cider vinegar. Set aside for 5 minutes, undisturbed. After 5 minutes, give it a brief whisk.

  4. Add the oil and milk mixture to the dry ingredients and gently whisk for 40-60 seconds until smooth. Don’t overbeat the cake batter or you could end up with tough cakes.

  5. At the last minute, fold in the sprinkles with a spatula. Be gentle and swift. Too much mixing will cause the colour from the sprinkles to bleed into the batter. 

  6. Pour the batter into the paper cases, about 3/4 of the way full. Bake the cupcakes for 18-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of a cake comes out clean. They should be springy to the touch and not too brown on top.

  7. Remove from the oven and allow the eggless cupcakes to cool in the tin.

For the vanilla frosting:

  1. To make the frosting, beat butter until pale. Add the icing sugar and beat until fluffy and pale, about 5 minutes. Add the vanilla extract, salt and milk. Beat for a further 5 minutes until thick, light and creamy.

  2. Frost the cooled cupcakes however you like. I love using the Wilton 1M tip fitted in a piping bag for cute, simple ruffles and rosettes. You could also just spread the frosting on using a spatula if you like. Top with extra sprinkles (as many as you like). Candles are optional, but make any cake infinitely more fun. 

  • If you’re eating the cakes on the same day, know that frosting is the best way to preserve your cakes and keep them from going stale. If you’re keeping them for the another day, store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Remove from the fridge an hour before serving to soften the cakes and frosting.

 

  • Alternatively, you can bake this cake in a greased and lined 6” round tin (3” deep) at 160°C/320°F for 45-50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in to the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then flip it out onto a wire rack to cool before decorating.

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Sanjana’s Fluffy Eggless Vanilla Cupcakes




Eggless Malted Chocolate Whipped Ganache Cake

I have a soft spot for a hot drink before bed. Something sweet and milky usually does the trick. It has to be poured into a large mug and I need to be able to see gentle waves of steam dancing off the surface. I’m truly comforted if the steam is robust enough to reach my nostrils quickly, the familiar smell bringing instant comfort. When it’s warm enough to hold, I like to clutch the mug with both hands, tight enough to feel my arms tense up a bit, rather like embracing an old friend.

Malted Chocolate Whipped Ganache Cake

That goes back to the days I’d refuse to go to bed until I’d had a mug of saffron, cardamom and almond milk. Yorkshire diva. It was a treat reserved for special occasions or following on from particularly terrifying nightmares. I’d watch my mum preparing it, her skilled hands flaking each almond, one at a time. She’d then use a brass pestle and mortar to bash a cardamom pod with the satisfying clang, not unlike the sound of a temple bell ringing after arti. The Spanish saffron strands would stain the warm milk a sort of daffodil yellow, making it appear rich and luxurious, like clotted jersey cream. Once simmered together, the kitchen would be filled with the sweetest smell which in itself was soothing enough to send me to the land of nod, even before it reached my lips.

Another hot drink I fell in love with at a young age was that old classic, Milo. I had my first taste aged four in Mombasa, Kenya. All us cousins would have hot Milo made for us at breakfast and before bed and Milo time was my favourite time of the day. Some of us were such fans that the granules were good enough to be munched straight up, by the spoonful.  And when I say some of us, I mean me.

Malted Chocolate Whipped Ganache Cake

That faux choco malt flavour tastes like all the comforts of home. It’s sweet but not overly so and somehow you feel like you’re replenishing your body’s energy stores with it. Just as well too because we used to spend a hell of a lot of time running around the agasi (roof terrace), throwing things down below and shouting for the man from the shop across the road to fetch us the bubblegum that had stickers under the wrapper.

But I had to grow up from being that Milo-drinking, bubblegum-chewing kid from the roof one day. Now I’m preparing to welcome a fresh new little person into the world and quite soon I’ll be the one preparing those warm bedtime beverages.

Malted Chocolate Whipped Ganache Cake

So this post is an ode to the old times of being comforted and feeling loved throughout my entire childhood. I’m ready to pay it forward to someone else now. And what better way to celebrate them than with a cake that has all the flavours of Milo?

Baby K.O. Due April 2018.

Malted Chocolate Whipped Ganache Cake

“Balle Balle” topper for the ultimate celebration cake.

Eggless Malted Chocolate Whipped Ganache Cake
Makes one 3-layer, 10-inch cake

Ingredients:

700g plain flour
510g caster sugar
150g cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
180ml buttermilk
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
6 tbsp Horlicks (malted bedtime drink) dissolved in 320ml hot water
300ml sunflower oil
1 tsp salt

For the whipped ganache:
450g dark chocolate, chopped
450g double cream
3 tbsp malt extract
Pinch of salt

Dark and white chocolate curls, to decorate

Method:

1. For the chocolate cake, preheat oven to 160C and butter and line three 20cm diameter cake tins with baking paper. Whisk together all the dry ingredients. Combine all the wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry. Whisk until smooth. Divide among prepared tins, bake until a skewer inserted comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool in the tins for 10 minutes, loosen around the edges with a knife and turn onto wire racks to cool completely.

2. For the whipped ganache frosting, heat the cream in a saucepan until hot but not boiling. Add the malt extract and chopped chocolate. Stir gently until melted and smooth. Allow to cool to room temperature and then cover and refrigerate until it has thickened slightly but is still soft. Beat with an electric whisk until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes. It will become paler in colour, too. Use immediately.

3. Trim the cakes if the tops have domed a little. Sandwich each layer with the whipped ganache frosting. Spread the frosting on the outside and smooth out. I used a Wilton 1M open star tip for the ruffled swirls on top. Decorate with chocolate curls.

Love Sanjana + bump




Eggless Cardamom Carrot Cake with Orange Blossom Frosting

I’ve been thinking a lot about my grandparents recently. I never really knew them, two of them not at all, and for that I feel utterly cheated. I’ve always known it. I guess this is just the first time I’ve ever put it into words. I think about what they were like, their interests, loves, hates and of course, what they cooked. My ears ache to hear the stories behind Cauliflower and Cashew Curry, 7-Vegetable Khichri and Dhilo Mohanthal. I know they were famous in our family but where did my grandparents learn to cook them and most importantly, who or what inspired them in the first place? Nanabapu and Bapuji were chefs with the best kind of training – doing apprenticeships in hotels and restaurants, and later cooking their family recipes for other families. I think we’d have been great friends and I, an excellent student. I wonder if they’d teach me the skills I need to pipe Ghatia (fried chickpea snacks) and Jalebi (syrup-soaked spirals) the way they did in India and Kenya? I’ve learned a lot from my mum who was taught much of what she knows by them, and today in my own kitchen I practice my weekends away with Pink Floyd, Led Zep and Fleetwood Mac for company. Tip from my experience: You’re likely to make rounder Chapattis if you roll them to the tune of Stevie Nicks’s voice. Fact.

Cardamom Carrot Cake with Orange Blossom Frosting

Sometimes I find myself having conversations with Baa and Bapuji, Nanabapu and Nanima in my head. Call me crazy but I’m quite sure that my Nanima (who passed away when my mum was just seven) is my spirit guide. She pushes me to get stuff done, tells me not to overthink when I’m stressed and that I should always strive to be like my mum… resilient. I update them all on my ambitions and like most grandparents, they’re supportive, practical and full of sound advice. To me they’re here, even though the things I hear back when I share my thoughts with them is “all me”, if you know what I mean.

In six weeks I get to see my oldest friend from school get married. We grew up in the same town, went to the same college and did everything together. She used to make me the most gorgeous birthday cards and presents and today she’s an incredibly talented, award-winning artist. Back in the day I used to cook during school holidays so I could get her opinion on my latest edible creations and now I produce content at Food Network. Today, some 20 years later I get to bake her a wedding cake, as well as be her bridesmaid and that lights up my heart. Nanima will be with me at every step, of course. The night before she’ll tell me to get it together and do my friend proud. It’ll be a kick ass cake.

Cardamom Carrot Cake with Orange Blossom Frosting

If I was baking this cake for my grandparents, I’d describe it as Gajar Halwa cake. It’s got all the flavours of the traditional Indian dessert made with carrots, cardamom and nuts. It’s an ultra-moist (my work colleague and friend Jo’s Clothes says it’s okay to use that word in reference to cake), four layer beauty. Lauren wants an elegant naked cake with very little icing on the outside so I saw this as the perfect opportunity to practice my decorating skills for this kind of cake. Decorated with fresh tulips (which I grew in my garden, btw!) this is one of my more refined creations. The flavours are just as spellbinding as the presentation, and by god is this look easy to achieve! Follow my recipe below and you’ll have your very own wedding-inspired naked cake to devour.

This makes enough to fill 2 8-inch cake tins. Once the sponges have cooled, I split each one into two layers and fill with fluffy orange blossom cream cheese icing. The fragrance is unbelievable and is so good against the slightly sharp tang of cream cheese.

So it’s a short one today but I think bawling on the train once is enough for me this week and anyhow, it’s all about the cake. Bake it for someone you love.

Cardamom Carrot Cake with Orange Blossom Frosting

Eggless Cardamom Carrot Cake with Orange Blossom Frosting
Serves 12-14

Ingredients:
450g flour, sifted
30g ground pistachios
1 tbsp coarse semolina
2 tsp ground cardamom
1 heaped tbsp ground cinnamon + 2 tsp
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
Zest of 1 large orange
Water from 1 can chickpeas
100g milk powder
140g sour cream
480ml sunflower oil
1 tbsp vanilla extract
420g grated carrots
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
300g caster sugar
120g brown sugar

For the frosting:

250g unsalted butter, softened

300g cream cheese, room temperature

550g icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp orange blossom water

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 160C/gas mark 4. Grease and line two deep 8-inch wide cake tins and set aside.

2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ground ginger.

3. Add the ground cardamom (at this stage because it needs to be coarsely ground unlike the other spices.

4. Add the semolina and ground pistachios.

5. Peel and grate the carrots on the large side of a grater.

6. In a stand mixer briefly combine the chickpea water and milk powder. Add the oil, brown sugar, caster sugar, orange zest, sour cream and vanilla extract. Beat for 2 minutes.

7. Add the flour mixture in two stages, still beating the mixture slowly. The batter should be relatively smooth but take care not to over beat.

8. Stop beating. Squeeze the juice from the carrots into the batter and fold. Finally, fold in all of the grated carrots.

9. Divide the batter between the two pans and slam the base of the pan onto the work surface to remove any unwanted air bubbles which may cause the cake to rise unevenly.

10. Bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

11. To make the icing: Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment affixed. Beat at high speed until pale. Gradually add the icing sugar in batches until it’s all incorporated. Add the vanilla, orange blossom water and a pinch of fine salt. Beat until very light and pale, about 6 minutes.

12. Add the cream cheese and whip until just combined. The frosting should be off white, thick and creamy.

13. Trim the tops of the sponges if they’re not totally flat and split each one through the middle. I use a cake wire like this one for even layers. You could also use a large serrated knife.

14. Place the first sponge on a cake board and fill with 2 ice cream scoops worth of icing (this is an easy way to ensure your layers have the same amount of icing in between). Spread it evenly.

15. Top with another sponge and repeat for the next layers.

16. Once your cakes are stacked, top with the remaining icing and cover the cake. You don’t have to be neat.

17. Use an offset spatula to scrape the icing from the sides of the cake to create a “naked” effect.

18. Decorate with swirls of icing using a regular piping bag and large swirl tip. Decorate with your favourite flowers.

Cardamom Carrot Cake with Orange Blossom Frosting

Love Sanjana




Alphonso Mango Pavlova Cheesecake (Eggless Recipe)

‘Tis the season to eat mangoes! I had my annual fix of Indian Alphonso mango this weekend and they were flawless, as always.

Alphonso Mango Pavlova Cheesecake (Eggless and No-Bake Recipe)

I was so desperate to get my mitts on them, I immediately went on a mango hunt after leaving work on Friday. Stepping into the Indian shop closest to my London train station, my eyes darted from shelf to shelf. There were rows upon rows of lentils, spices and green vegetables, but alas, there was not a mango in sight. My heart sank.

As I meandered through the tiny, yet unfathomably packed shop, my nostrils filled with the smell of ajwain, dried turmeric, fenugreek… and then finally, the sweetest scent of fresh mango. There they were, a pile of mango boxes lying in wait like treasure in Aladdin’s cave, except better.

I pounced on them faster than Shere Khan on Mowgli, the man child in Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book. As usual, the two mango varieties were Alphonso and Kesar. When given the choice, I get Alphonso. They have more fragrance and a super-lush orange colour.

They were only sold in boxes of twelve so I got the whole lot. The only glitch was that I had to carry the entire box back home. The entire train carriage was filled with the heavenly scent of fresh mango – a welcome change from the stench of somebody’s hot Burger King dinner *shudder*. You’re welcome, fellow commuters. You’re welcome.

After eating three of twelve mangoes, I figured I better whip up one of my favourite desserts before they all disappear. This egg-free Alphonso Mango Pavlova Cheesecake is a true showstopper.

It’s a malted milk biscuit base, sweet mango and vanilla mascarpone cheesecake filling topped with eggless pavlova, fresh cream and all your favourite fruit. This pavlova cheesecake is rich, decadent and unashamedly two of the most awesome desserts ever stacked to make one epic masterpiece.

If you’re a lover of Indian Alphonso mango, this is a glorious way of celebrating it.

Here’s how I did it.

Alphonso Mango Pavlova Cheesecake (Eggless and No-Bake Recipe)

Alphonso Mango Pavlova Cheesecake (Eggless Recipe)
Serves 12-14

Ingredients

For the pavlova layer:
1 x 400g tin chickpeas in water (left in the fridge overnight)
280g golden caster sugar
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
½ tsp arrowroot or cornflour
3 tsp vanilla extract

For the cheesecake base:
260g malted milk biscuits (you could use ginger biscuits or NICE biscuits too)
100g unsalted butter, melted

For the Alphonso mango cheesecake filling:
500g mascarpone cheese
300g full fat cream cheese (I used Philadelphia)
200ml double cream + 100ml extra
450g icing sugar
Juice of 2 lemons
2 tsp vanilla extract
300g Alphonso mango, blended (this was approx. 3 mangos for me)
2 tbsp agar agar powder

For the decoration:
Whipped cream
Mixed fruits of your choice (I used more mango, kiwi, strawberries, grapes, physalis, blackberries and figs)

You will also need a 24cm spring form tin.

Method

1. First, you’ll need to make the pavlova. Preheat the oven to 120C.

2. Take a piece of non-stick baking parchment and draw a circle on it, using the removable base from your cake tin. Flip the paper over and place it on a large baking tray. You now have the perfect outline for your pavlova.

3. Drain the can of chickpeas and reserve the water. Put the chickpeas in a container and use it to make Channa Masala or Hummus later.

4. Pour the chickpea water and vinegar into the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the balloon whisk attachment. Make sure your bowl is really clean and grease free. Any oil could cause your meringue to deflate.

5. Whisk on a high speed for 4 minutes. Mix together the sugar and cornflour. Gradually add the sugar mixture a tablespoon at a time and continue to beat until you have stiff glossy peaks. Congratulations, you’ve just made your own vegan marshmallow fluff! But right now, we’re making pavlova.

6. Dollop the meringue mixture onto the piece of baking paper, staying inside the circle you traced. Even it out using the back of a spoon, creating a little crater in the middle for your cream and fruit later. I like to keep it looking craggy and rustic so don’t fuss over it looking too perfect.

7. Place into the middle shelf of the oven and immediately turn the heat down to 100C. Bake for 2 hours 30 minutes. Once this time is up, crack the oven door open a little and leave it to cool completely. You’ll then be able to peel it away from the non-stick paper.

8. Next, make the cheesecake base. Blitz the biscuits in a food processor until they resemble the texture of sand. Stir in the melted butter. Press into the base of the tin, making sure it’s even and packed tightly. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

9. To make the cheesecake filling, beat together the mascarpone, cream cheese, 200ml double cream, vanilla, icing sugar and lemon juice. Don’t overwork it.

10. Place the agar agar in a small bowl. Add 2 tbsp cold water and stir to dissolve. In a small saucepan, combine the agar agar and 100ml double cream. Heat gently, stirring all the time until the mixture comes to a boil. You will notice it will begin to thicken. Boil for a minute or so and then switch off the heat. Add the mango pulp and stir to combine. This will lower the temperature of the cream mixture.

11. Add the mango mixture to the cream cheese mixture and whip until fully combined. It should thicken very slightly.

12. Pile the cheesecake filling onto the cooled biscuit base and smooth out the top.

13. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.

14. To serve, run a knife around the edge of the cheesecake and remove the sides of the tin. Place onto a cake plate or stand and place the pavlova on top. Fill the crater in the middle with whipped cream and fresh fruit. I recommend more mango, obviously.

Devour immediately.

Note: Wrap your cooled pavlova in foil overnight to ensure it stays crisp for serving the next day.

Alphonso Mango Pavlova Cheesecake (Eggless and No-Bake Recipe)

Love Sanjana




Vegan Peanut Butter and Cardamom Brownies

I’m obsessed with brownies; rich, chocolatey, fudgy, incredible brownies. I’ve also got a soft spot for peanut butter and in case you hadn’t noticed, I cannot possibly go a day without eating cardamom.

It’s not often I go in to the kitchen completely sure of what I’m going to produce. I’ll have something in the fridge or cupboard I know I want, then I forage about until I find the perfect partners for what I fancy and they could be totally bizarre combinations I’ve never tried before.

If I’ve learned anything from all my years of experimental cooking is that you have to be fearless. FEARLESS. Yeah sure, sometimes things don’t turn out the way you plan but that’s what takeaway pizza is there for. I’ve rescued even the most disastrous of dinners and 98% of the time, the antidote consists of lemon, salt and sugar. They are like magic for repairing even the spiciest of curries.

Baking is different. As sweet as it can be, baking can also be very cruel – especially eggless and vegan baking. I’ve had more disasters than successes and too many slabs of sunken cakes and burst macarons to count on two hands, presuming I had the arms of the goddess Laxmi. Having said this, I’ve made countless batches of eggless and vegan brownies over the years… It’s finally safe to say I think I’ve nailed it.

Vegan Peanut Butter and Cardamom Brownies

So when I wandered in to the kitchen on this particular day, I was fully prepared for what was going to happen and even though I was about to step in to that baking danger zone, I was f e a r l e s s.

What was about to happen was something truly beautiful, btw. It was the coming together of super-moist dark chocolate heaven, creamy-salty peanut butter and the deeply-aromatic flavours of cardamom which I cannot imagine life without.

Blended black beans give these brownies an incredible texture and allow them to retain even more moisture, which produce perfect brownies without the need for eggs, or any dairy products. This makes these brownies 100% vegan and egg free. What could be better?

Vegan Peanut Butter and Cardamom Brownies

Vegan Peanut Butter and Cardamom Brownies
Makes 18-20 brownies

Ingredients

For the Brownie Batter:

250g plain flour
60g good-quality cocoa powder (not drinking chocolate)
40g black beans, drained, rinsed and blended until smooth
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
150g light brown sugar
100ml groundnut or sunflower oil
320ml soy milk (or regular full-fat milk for a non-vegan brownie)
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

For the Peanut Butter and Cardamom Swirl:

100g crunchy peanut butter (you can use smooth if you prefer)
50g non-dairy spread such as Pure (if you’re not vegan, use unsalted butter – I’ve tried both ways)
50g light brown sugar
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp cornflour (cornstarch)

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 160C/320F.

2. Line a 34 x 20 x 3cm H. (13 1⁄2″ x 8″ x 1″) brownie tin with greaseproof paper and oil. I add an extra long sheet of greaseproof paper lengthways to make handles for easy lifting out later. It really makes it much easier to remove from the pan.

3. To make the peanut butter and cardamom swirl, mix together all the ingredients until smooth. Place in the fridge until later.

4. To make the brownie batter, sift together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

5. Whisk together all the wet ingredients including the bean paste and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Whisk again.

6. Gradually add the dry brownie batter ingredients in to the wet and whisk briefly until well combined. It’s really important not to over beat the batter.

7. Pour the batter in to your prepared brownie tin and smooth out the top. Next text your peanut butter swirl mixture from the fridge, give it a quick beat and dollop teaspoon-sized nuggets on top of the brownie batter. Use a butter knife or spoon to swirl it through.

8. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes. It will still be a bit wobbly but this is good. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes before running a knife around the edge of the tray to loosen up any brownie stuck to the edges. Using the clever little handles you made with greaseproof paper earlier, carefully lift the brownie out and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

9. Slice in to squares or rectangles. Enjoy with a cold glass of almond or hazelnut milk.

Love Sanjana




Eggless Pistachio and Raspberry Buttermilk Cake

If you’d have told me before today that there’s something quite beautiful about making your own pistachio paste from scratch, I’d have probably told you you’re a mug.

Turns out it’s only bloody brilliant.

I’ve been nuts about pistachio desserts ever since my taste buds got their first fix of the gorgeously-green ice cream as a kid. That sweet fragrance of pistachios and just a hint of almond reminds me of both Indian sweet shops with their rows upon rows of Pista Halwa and cherry-topped Bakewell Tarts. It’s what I imagine heaven for sweet-toothed food bloggers smells like. Also present in said heaven would be Mr Kipling (the master of baked goods), Lionel Ritchie (with his smooth-as-buttermilk voice) and Madhuri Dixit (with her timeless beauty). So like all the components of this, my dream cake… all the greats.

Eggless Pistachio and Raspberry Buttermilk Cake

To get the perfect green pistachio paste, the pistachios should be unsalted, shelled and skinned. If you have the good fortune to encounter them in all their emerald-green glory in a shop, buy them. If, like me, you can’t find them, you’ll need to remove the outer shells, blanch them in boiling water for three minutes, drain and refresh under cold water, then slip the skins off. Finally, give them a quick toast in a hot oven.

Marzipan gives the paste a delicious nutty edge and liquid glucose brings it all together like a dream.

In this recipe, I use a combination of sweetened condensed milk, milk powder and buttermilk as an egg replacer and it really works wonders in helping the cake hold its structure once risen which I find is the trickiest part of egg-free baking.

Finish the cake with a slathering of cream cheese frosting, raspberries and extra pistachios. A few white chocolate curls are also welcome to join the party.

Eggless Pistachio and Raspberry Buttermilk Cake

Eggless Pistachio and Raspberry Buttermilk Cake
Serves 10-12

Ingredients

For the pistachio paste blend together:
200g pistachios, shelled and skinned
150g white marzipan
220ml liquid glucose
A drop of green food colour, if required

For the cake:
1 x 397g tin sweetened condensed milk
180g caster sugar
320ml buttermilk
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
190ml groundnut oil
3 tbsp pistachio paste
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tbsp skimmed milk powder
450g cake flour

For the frosting:
250g unsalted butter, softened
250g full-fat cream cheese
300g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract

To decorate:
400g raspberries
Pistachios
White chocolate curls

Method

1. Grease and line two 10-inch wide x 4-inch deep cake tins.

2. Pre-heat the oven to 160C.

3. In a stand mixer, combine the condensed milk, milk powder, cider vinegar, buttermilk, oil, pistachio paste and sugar. Beat on high speed for 5 minutes.

4. Sift in the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda in three stages, folding in gently between each. Don’t overbeat this.

5. Divide the cake batter between the two prepared tins, smoothing out the tops.

6. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a sharp knife inserted into the middles comes out clean. It’s really important not to open the oven door for the first 30 minutes – your cakes will almost certainly collapse if you do.

7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Leave to cool completely.

8. To make the cream cheese frosting, in a stand mixer beat together the butter, vanilla and sugar (add the sugar gradually) for 5 minutes or until pale and fluffy. Next, add in the cream cheese and beat in very briefly. If you overwork this, the frosting will become runny. Keep in the fridge until ready to use.

9. To decorate, sandwich the cakes together with half of the cream cheese and an even layer of raspberries. Top with the remaining frosting. Scatter with pistachios and white chocolate curls.

Enjoy with your favourite people or all by yourself.

Love Sanjana




Eggless Mint Chocolate Fondants & Fennel Seed Crème Fraîche

There are some flavour combinations that just shouldn’t be messed with. Mint and chocolate is one of them.

The Mr isn’t a fan of desserts. I’ll often spend hours in the kitchen trying to perfect eggless and vegan cakes, cheesecakes, cookies and brownies. Yet no matter how happy I am with how one might have turned out (which, I’ll be honest, doesn’t happen often), he still won’t touch it. Unless it’s mint chocolate.

I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like ice cream. That changed when I met my husband. I’ll be honest, I thought it was super weird. The one exception to his no-ice-cream rule is mint chocolate, it has to be totally frozen (soft serve is never an option), topped with strawberry syrup and hazelnuts.

Just. So. Weird.

So here I am. It’s Valentine’s Day – which for the record, I think is a load of old bollocks. We don’t do presents and ridiculous extravagant gestures – we never have and never will. However, it isn’t very often he doesn’t work weekends so when we get the chance to spend time together, we make the most of it. Why do people need to ‘prove’ to the world they love each other on one day of the year? Usually it’s for the benefit of their Facebook ‘friends’. People should treat their other halves with love and kindness every day. Full stop.

Okay, that’s my little rant over.

This is one of those weekends where we’re both home so we decided to spend the day cooking. I love it when we do this.

Our ultimate menu of Paneer Butter Masala, Garlic and Coriander Naan, Gujarati Kachumbar and these Eggless Mint Chocolate Fondants and Fennel Seed Crème Fraîche is complete. The latter because it’s the only dessert he’ll eat.

I’ve been working on this recipe for a long time and now I’m finally ready to share it. The ingredients required are very different from a conventional chocolate fondant but the result is spectacular. A combination of things including baking powder, milk powder and cornflour work to do the job of eggs in my recipe. The batter recipe is perfect and provided you follow all the rules (because making chocolate fondants, a.k.a Moelleux au Chocolat ain’t a joke), they’ll be crisp on the outside and gooey in the middle.

Once baked for just 10 minutes, they need to be turned out and served immediately. If they’re not, they’ll carry on cooking and the middles will be light and fluffy rather than having the lava-like centre you really want.

Mr Patel, this one’s for you… but not because it’s Valentine’s Day.

Mint Chocolate Fondants Fennel Seed Creme Fraiche Recipe Image

Eggless Mint Chocolate Fondants & Fennel Seed Crème Fraîche
(serves 6)

Ingredients

200g sweetened condensed milk
100g sour cream
80g melted butter
200g melted mint chocolate (use one with at least 70% cocoa solids – I like Green & Blacks)
2 tbsp milk powder
1 tsp cornflour
5 tbsp plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 bag Mint Aero Bubbles (these are great melters)

For the Fennel Seed Crème Fraîche:

200g crème fraîche
1 tsp toasted fennel seeds, ground

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C.

2. Grease 6 dariole moulds and place a disc of greaseproof paper in the base of each.

3. In a stand mixer, combine the sour cream, condensed milk, melted mint chocolate and melted butter until smooth and light.

4. Add in the milk powder and continue to whip until fluffy.

5. Next, add in the flour, cornflour, and baking powder.

6. Beat until just incorporated – do not overmix.

7. Fill the moulds to just under half way. Pop in two (or three) Mint Aero Bubbles and cover with more batter. The moulds should be filled ¾ of the way up. Repeat for the next 5.

8. Place all of the fondants on a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes exactly.

9. Remove from the oven and immediately turn out onto a plate.

10. For the Fennel Seed Crème Fraîche, whip 200g Crème Fraîche with 1 tsp freshly-ground fennel seeds. Serve alongside the fondants for a lovely, fresh balance against the rich chocolate + a hint of spice.

The perfect way to round off any Indian meal.

Love Sanjana