Vegan Saffron & Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

These toasted meringue cupcakes are fluffy, tender, moist and SO delicious! I’m sorry for using the “M” word. I’m told it’s okay when you’re talking about cake.

When it comes to baking, the more lemon that’s involved, the better as far as I’m concerned. I’ve never met anyone who didn’t go weak at the knees for a slice of lemon drizzle cake or three. Have you?

Saffron & Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

One of my favourite flavour combinations has to be lemon and saffron. The humble, sharp lemon against the heady fragrance of saffron is such a winner. Whether you’re cooking something sweet or savoury, the two ingredients together are the perfect marriage of colour, taste and aroma. Sweet is most certainly my preference because once baked, they mingle with the smell of toasty flour and fill the house with the most gorgeous baking scent. It’s pure and strong, unlike if you were making a savoury dish with 10 other spices.

In the past, I’ve successfully combined the two to make cheesecakes and seeroh (sweet semolina) which were both delicious. This time, I wanted to give a simple cupcake recipe a special makeover. They’re light, fluffy and so moreish.

Each fluffy sponge is filled with a golden-hued saffron lemon curd which I veganised with cornflour, coconut oil and coconut milk in place of eggs and butter. Use unrefined coconut oil to ensure the flavour of coconut doesn’t overpower the rest of the ingredients. It’s the saffron that gives it a pretty daffodil colour. If you have any leftover lemon curd, pop it in a jar and spread it on toast or scones for a special tea-time treat. It really is spectacular.

Saffron & Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

The cupcake recipe is a little riff on the Vanilla Birthday Cupcakes I posted a while back. It’s a straightforward one using almond buttermilk to give the cupcakes lift. If you have any questions about the cupcake baking process, check here for lots of detail (can you tell I could talk about baking forever?).

The meringue might seem daunting at first, but once you’ve got all your ingredients laid out in front of you, it’s very simple. You’ll need a stand mixer with a whisk attachment or robust electric hand beaters to get that meringue whipped up perfectly. Reducing the aquafaba and adding agar-agar will give it more stability and the cream of tartar and sugar will help it whip into a sweet cloud of fluffiness. I used a kitchen blowtorch to toast the tops but if you don’t have one, you can pop them under the grill for a 15-20 seconds — just be sure to remove the cupcakes from their paper cases first!

These are perfect for parties, bake sales and for when you just want to eat a cupcake or three, alone, on your kitchen floor.

Saffron & Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

Vegan Saffron & Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

Fluffy vegan cupcakes filled with a sharp, golden saffron lemon curd and topped with toasted aquafaba meringue. These cupcakes are little bites of heaven.

For the fluffy lemon cupcakes:

  • 225 g extra-fine self-raising cake flour
  • 160 g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp cornflour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp fine salt
  • 250 ml almond milk ((room temperature))
  • Zest of 1 large lemon
  • 30 ml lemon juice
  • 110 ml rapeseed oil ((or any flavourless oil of your choice))

For the vegan saffron lemon curd:

  • 50 ml lemon juice
  • Zest of 3 large lemons
  • 75 g icing sugar
  • 20 g cornflour
  • 30 g refined coconut oil
  • 50 ml full-fat coconut milk
  • Pinch of saffron

For the vegan aquafaba meringue:

  • 200 ml aquafaba, reduced to 100ml and chilled
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 25 ml water
  • 25 ml agave
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp agar-agar powder
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 175°C/350°F/gas mark 4.

  2. Line a 12-hole cupcake tin with paper cupcake cases.

For the vegan saffron lemon curd:

  1. To make the saffron lemon curd, combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and give everything a good whisk. Cook over a medium heat, whisking all the time until the mixture has thickened to the consistency of custard. The saffron will start to turn the lemon curd a beautiful shade of daffodil yellow. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

  2. Once the lemon curd has cooled for 10 minutes, directly cover the surface with cling film to stop a hard skin forming. Refrigerate until needed.

For the fluffy vegan cupcakes:

  1. Mix together the almond milk and lemon juice in a jug. Allow to stand for ten minutes, until slightly thickened. Stir in the oil.

  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the cake flour, caster sugar, cornflour, baking powder, salt and lemon zest.

  3. Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and beat with a whisk for 1-2 minutes, until you have a smooth batter.

  4. Pour or scoop the batter into the paper cupcake cases, filling to about ¾ of the way up. Give the base of the tin a quick succession of taps on the work surface to remove any large air bubbles.

  5. Place the tin into the pre-heated oven and bake for 18 minutes, or until golden on top and springy to the touch. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.

For the aquafaba vegan meringue:

  1. To make the meringue, place the reduced and chilled aquafaba in a clean stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Add the cream of tartar and whisk on high speed for 3-4 minutes until frothy.

  2. Combine the water, sugar, agave, vanilla and agar-agar in a saucepan and mix until dissolved. Cook over a medium heat, stirring often to stop the syrup catching and burning at the base of the pan. Use a sugar thermometer to check the temperature of the syrup. Once the syrup reaches 120°C/250°F, remove it from the heat and quickly pour it into the still running bowl of the stand mixer. Whisk the mixture for 15 minutes until white and meringue-like in texture.

  3. Use a teaspoon or straw to remove the centres from the cooled cupcakes and pipe or spoon 2 teaspoons of the chilled lemon curd into the centre. Fill top of the plug with a few cake crumbs.

  4. Fill a piping bag fitted with a large, round tip with the meringue mixture. Pipe the meringue on to the cupcakes. I chose to do a simple pillowy blob but you can also use a star piping tip if you like. If you don’t have a piping bag, you can also spoon the meringue on top.

  5. For a toasted finish, use a kitchen blowtorch to toast the tops of the meringues before serving. I do not recommend placing the cupcakes under a grill when using paper cases. If you don’t have a kitchen blowtorch and would like to toast the meringue, remove the cupcakes from their paper cases before placing under a preheated grill for 15-20 seconds.

Storage: Keep these cupcakes covered, at room temperature for up to 24 hours. Storing them in the refrigerator may cause the meringue to weep liquid and deflate.

 

Pin it for later!

Saffron & Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

 

Love Sanjana




Vegan Raspberry Jam Doughnuts with Cardamom Sugar

I have a soft spot for doughnuts. Doesn’t everyone? My allegiance lies with the pillowy, jam-filled variety with a light sugar coating. It has to be caster sugar as opposed to powdery icing sugar and the jam *must* be raspberry. It’s the law.

The smell of fresh doughnuts frying is like nothing else. If they bottled it, I’d wear it as perfume, leaving a faint whiff of “funfair” trailing behind me everywhere I’d go. You’d smell me coming a mile away and know I’d been around hours after I’d gone. From a purely practical point of view (and not at all a gluttonous one), this would also make me a very hard person to kidnap. I should probably stop watching so many Netflix true crime shows.

Vegan Raspberry Jam Doughnuts with Cardamom Sugar

Back to doughnuts.

My vegan doughnut dough has a stretchy-smooth quality, as well as a slight sweetness which I find hopelessly irresistible once fried. Despite being made up of flour, sugar and oil, each pillowy puff is lighter than air. A combination of almond milk, lemon, yeast and baking powder give them an ethereal weightlessness that you only get when you eat them hot, as soon as they’re made. I defy anyone to spot the lack of eggs and dairy in this recipe.

In my book, no variety of cakey baked doughnut comes close to the utterly fuzzy feeling you get from eating a yeasted, fried doughnut. It of course, involves hot oil and for you to set aside a bit of therapeutic baking time but there are moments you can break away to catch up on your favourite TV show, drink wine and/or have a power nap. The results are special and not at all cake like. The dough needs to be left to rise and this is when the magic happens. Keep it in a warm place like an airing cupboard or even in the oven with just the light left on inside.

Swap almond milk for soy milk or oat milk if you want to make a nut-free version of these doughnuts — both work beautifully. Over the years I’ve realised you can add most of the ingredients to the hot milk mixture with little to no compromise on results, which makes the dough-making process much easier. There’s no adding of butter in stages involved either. Reserve the salt and baking powder and add them to the flour mixture. Once the warm-ish milk hits the flour, all of those lovely raising agents join forces to work their magic as the gluten in the flour develops through the kneading process. You can use your hands to knead the dough if you have arms of steel and the stamina to do it for 25 minutes or so. I do not have such superpowers and my stand mixer is my friend.

More ideas: You can switch the cardamom sugar for cinnamon sugar and fill these with your favourite thick vegan custard instead of jam. Or better yet, fill them with both jam and custard. I’ve done this before and I don’t want to say everyone liked me more that week, but they definitely did. Vegan lemon curd is also a noble choice of filling and it works particularly well with cardamom sugar. I have also successfully steeped my warm milk with saffron strands for a saffron flavoured doughnut and it was dreamy, like the best marriage of Indian mithai and a classic funfair doughnut. Be creative and report back with your results. I’d love to hear from you.

Vegan Raspberry Jam Doughnuts with Cardamom Sugar

These lighter-than-air vegan doughnuts are oozing with raspberry jam and coated with a delicate cardamom sugar.

  • 500 g strong white bread flour ((plus 20g extra for rolling out))
  • 12 g fast-action dried yeast
  • 40 g caster sugar
  • 100 g vegan butter
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp fine salt
  • 250 ml unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 L rapeseed oil, for deep frying

For the filling:

  • 200 g your favourite raspberry jam ((seedless))

For the cardamom sugar:

  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 4 green cardamom pods, seeds removed and crushed
  1. Place the flour, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment.

  2. Next, add the milk, butter, sugar and vanilla to a saucepan and heat over a low heat until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool at room temperature to about 38°C or just warm. Add the lemon juice and yeast and stir. Set aside for ten minutes.

  3. Add the milk mixture to the stand mixer and switch it on to slow. Once the mixture has come together, knead on medium-high speed for 15 minutes. Keep an eye on your mixer to ensure it doesn’t overheat or climb its way across the worktop (I speak from experience here). Once the dough is soft and smooth, the dough is ready to proof.

  4. Remove the dough from the bowl and grease the sides of the bowl with a tablespoon of oil. Return the dough to the bowl and cover with a clean, damp tea towel. Allow to rest in a warm place for 60 minutes, until it has doubled in size.

  5. Knock the risen dough back to remove large air bubbles but do not knead it again. Dust your work surface with flour and roll the dough out until it’s about 2cm in thickness. Use a round cookie cutter to stamp out circles of dough and arrange on a tray lined with parchment paper. Leave some space between them, as you don’t want them to stick together while they prove again.

  6. Cover loosely with cling film and leave in a warm place for for 30 minutes.

  7. To make the cardamom sugar, mix together the sugar and ground cardamom in a bowl.

  8. Fill a heavy-based saucepan halfway with oil. Heat the oil to 175°C.

  9. When the oil is heated, carefully slide the doughnuts from the tray using a floured spatula. Taking care not to deflate them, put them into the oil. Do 2-3 per batch, depending on the size of your pan. Don’t overcrowd the pan. I did 2 at a time.

  10. Fry for 2 minutes on each side until golden brown. They will puff up and float to the top of the oil, so you will need to gently move them around the pan to ensure they colour evenly.

  11. Remove the doughnuts from the fryer and place them on kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil.

  12. Place the jam in a bowl and microwave on high power for 20 seconds. Stir well to loosen slightly.

  13. Fit a piping bag with a medium, round tip. Using a straw, make a small hole in the side of each doughnut, about halfway until it reaches the centre. Fill the doughnut with the warm raspberry jam through this hole, about two teaspoons of jam per piece. Repeat for the remaining doughnuts.

  14. Gently roll the doughnuts in the cardamom sugar until evenly coated. Serve warm.

Store the doughnuts covered and at room temperature. Best consumed within 24 hours. Will they all be eaten before then? Definitely.

 

Pin it for later!

 

Vegan Raspberry Jam Doughnuts with Cardamom Sugar

Love Sanjana




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.

 

Pin it for later!

 

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.

 

Pin it for later!

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.

Pin it for later!

Birthday Cake Burfi




Indian-Inspired Rocky Road

When special occasions are fast approaching and I’ve run out of time to whip up something sweet, it’s Indian-inspired Rocky Road to the rescue! It’s truffle-like chocolate studded with pistachios, almonds, dried mango, crystallised ginger, Turkish delight, mini marshmallows and spiced shortbread biscuits. Dried rose petals top the Rocky Road off beautifully.

I’ve been known to leave things to the last minute at Diwali time when it’s customary to gift Indian sweets to your nearest and dearest. This recipe is a quick and easy raid-the-cupboard workaround that hits the spot when Pendas, Jalebis, Gulab Jamuns and Burfis are all too time consuming to make. It’s also great for people who aren’t too keen on Indian sweets.

Rocky Raasto (Indian-Inspired Rocky Road)

I’ve added all the things I love to this (namely pistachios, Nankhatai from the wonderful Chins’ Kitchen and Turkish delight) but you can swap any of these for what you like best. Other delicious mix-ins would be candied pineapple, coconut cookies and chopped dates. If you’re after a more authentic Indian sweet taste, add 1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom or cinnamon. This is your sweet treat to customise.

Freeze the Turkish delight pieces and mini marshmallows for about 2 hours before you start making these. This will help them keep their shape so you’ll get beautiful pink and white- studded pieces when you cut the Rocky Road.

This Indian-inspired Rocky Road looks stunning when boxed up for gifting and even make a great after-dinner treat when you feel like dessert but are short of time. Store them in an airtight container in the fridge and they’ll keep well for up to 10 days, although I doubt they’ll last that long.

After receiving a tonne of requests for Indian sweets through my latest Instagram Q&A session, I have a handful of Indian-style sweet recipes lined up, all in time for Diwali. I hold these Q&As regularly so make sure you’re following my Instagram Stories to tell me what you’d like to see next.

Indian-Inspired Rocky Road

Truffle-like chocolate studded with pistachios, almonds, dried mango, crystallised ginger, Turkish delight, mini marshmallows and spiced shortbread biscuits. Dried rose petals top this Rocky Road off beautifully.

  • 300 g milk chocolate
  • 300 g 70% dark chocolate
  • 140 g unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp golden syrup or agave
  • 100 g Turkish delight ((cut into 2cm pieces))
  • 100 g Nankhatai, broken ((I use orange & ginger from Chins’ Kitchen))
  • 60 g gelatine-free mini marshmallows ((I use Freedom Mallows))
  • 40 g pistachio nibs ((toasted, plus more for sprinkling on top))
  • 20 g flaked almonds ((toasted))
  • 20 g dried mango ((cut into 2cm pieces))
  • 20 g crystallised ginger ((cut into 2cm pieces))
  • 2 tbsp dried rose petals
  1. In a freezer-safe container, freeze the Turkish delight pieces and mini marshmallows. This will help them keep their shape for pretty slices.
  2. Place the chocolate, golden syrup and butter in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water. Give it a gentle stir every 5 minutes until melted and well combined. Set aside and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Add the broken Nankhatai, Turkish delight, nuts, dried mango, crystallised ginger and mini marshmallows. Combine to coat.
  4. Spread the mixture into a 9” x 6” brownie tin lined with greaseproof paper. Flatten the top and scatter with extra pistachios and dried rose petals.
  5. Cover and allow to set in the fridge for 6-8 hours.
  6. Slice however you like (big, small, bars, squares) and serve with masala coffee.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 10 days.

Pin it for later!

Indian-Inspired Rocky Road

Truffle-like chocolate studded with pistachios, almonds, dried mango, crystallised ginger, Turkish delight, mini marshmallows and spiced shortbread biscuits. Dried rose petals top the Rocky Road off beautifully.




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.

Pin this recipe for later!

Sanjana’s Fluffy Eggless Vanilla Cupcakes




Eggless Pistachio-Rose Macaroons

Hand me a rose-flavoured dessert over a bouquet of roses any day. I’m a sucker for rose-flavoured everything. It all started back when I was around seven years old when my dad would take our family to our favourite Indian restaurants. Even before looking at the menu I’d know what I wanted to drink – classic Falooda. A sweet rose milkshake with basil seeds, grass jelly and vermicelli noodles. Some may argue that it’s a dessert and not a drink you’d have with a full three-course meal but that never stopped me. My dad would laugh and always made sure I got one, even ensuring it came with cocktail umbrellas for added pizzazz. I still love an ice cold falooda to this day but I can no longer get away with ordering one with my dinner.

Eggless Pistachio-Rose Macaroons

These days I love to add rose to lots of dishes from sweet to savoury, but mostly sweet. I’ve got a tonne of rose recipes on the blog, some of my favourites being Strawberry Cheesecake Falooda, Eggless Rose Custard Creams, Pistachio and Rose Bombay Halwa, Cardamom Wreath with Rose Drizzle and Candied Lemon Peel. A dash of rose water also doesn’t go amiss in biryani, ice cream and of course, cake.

Eggless Pistachio-Rose Macaroons

Here I’ve dunked chewy toasted coconut macaroons in a simple rose icing made with icing sugar and rose syrup – the bright pink kind you find in Indian shops. One of my pregnancy cravings has been rose milk reminiscent of my falooda-crazy days. I add a dash to cold milk and stir for a strawberry pink milkshake that’s so refreshing without the faff of having to make a true falooda.

Eggless Pistachio-Rose Macaroons

The macaroons are eggless, switching in a trusty can of sweetened condensed milk instead of egg whites. The result is a delicious, toasty coconut cookie with a coconut ice-like centre. After they’ve cooled, the bottoms get dunked in the rose icing and chopped toasted pistachios. Pistachio and rose are a flavour combo I’d like to eat every day for the rest of my life – I’m obsessed.

If you’re looking for a quick and easy 6-ingredient cookie that’s both egg and gluten free, this one’s for you.

Dust with icing sugar for a pretty snow-topped peak. So pretty!

Eggless Pistachio-Rose Macaroons

Eggless Pistachio-Rose Macaroons
Makes 25 macaroons

For the macaroons:
1 x 397g tin sweetened condensed milk
300g sweetened desiccated coconut
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the rose icing:
140g icing sugar
4 tbsp rose syrup

Icing sugar to dust, optional

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/320°F. It’s really important you do this. The oven needs to be HOT or the cookies will melt into flat puddles. Grease and line 2 large baking trays with greaseproof paper and butter.

2. In a large bowl, combine the coconut, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract and bicarbonate of soda until you have a thick pliable mixture.

3. Divide the mixture into 25 equal balls and shape each one into a teardrop shape. Arrange on the pre-lined baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden and toasted on the outside. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

4. To make the icing, mix the icing sugar and rose syrup until you have a thick, drippy pink icing. Dip the bottom of the cooled macaroons in the icing and then into the chopped pistachios. Sit them back onto a lined baking tray. Allow to set at room temperature for a few hours.

5. Dust with icing sugar and serve.

Eggless Pistachio-Rose Macaroons

The macaroons will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for a week. Although I doubt they’ll last that long.




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 Turmeric Milk Tart

Shove over overpriced Turmeric Latte and Golden Milk. It’s Haldi Doodh and it always has been!

Ever since I heard about the South African Melktert (Milk Tart) I knew I had to try it. It’s creamy, custardy and packed with delicious cinnamon flavours on top of a shortcrust pastry base. What’s not to love?

Much like a British custard tart, the Melktert is made with egg yolks for that famous custard-like wobble. As you know, yolks are not my setting agent of choice – I’m going rogue and using my own blend of cornflour (cornstarch) and wheat flour blended with milk.

I was inspired by Paul Hollywood’s show City Bakes on Food Network, where he makes an Earl Grey Melktert in Cape Town. The show is fantastic and you can watch the episode tonight, 15th May on Food Network. Give it a watch and try out a take on the famous Melktert.

Turmeric Milk Tart

Since it began, I’ve boycotted the rise of the turmeric milk fad that seems to have infiltrated every coffee shop and café in sight. It should be simple, a feel-good tonic to make you feel better after a rough day, not flashy, expensive and inaccessible. After all, the ingredients are basic. Haldi Doodh is a healing tonic Indian mums stir up for children when they’ve got sore throats and coughs. As a natural antiseptic, turmeric (either fresh or dried and ground) was always in the kitchen. As a child I would reluctantly down mugs of hot Haldi Doodh because it didn’t taste like the banana milkshake I’d hoped for it to be. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t Nesquick. As much as I now love haldi doodh and the soothing properties it carries, I don’t believe in paying a shed load for it when I can make it at home.

The beautiful thing is that when fresh turmeric is combined with milk, cardamom and black pepper, you get the most miraculous flavour and aroma of fresh mango. Just a little bit, not too much, blitzed with the milk for a pretty yellow colour. Once cooked, the colours will transform from daffodil to deep amber.

This tart is as sweet and flaky as it is fruity, spicy and ever so slightly bitter. Each element is perfectly balanced, just how I like it.

Turmeric Milk Tart

Eggless Turmeric Milk Tart
Serves 8-10

Ingredients

For the sweet pastry:
240g flour
140g unsalted butter, frozen and grated whilst still frozen (this helps incorporate it faster and keeps everything cold)
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp cold water

For the turmeric milk filling:
415g evaporated milk
395g can condensed milk
50ml whole milk
3cm piece turmeric, peeled (this will stain so wear gloves!)
3 cardamom pods, seeds lightly crushed
6-8 black peppercorns, seeds lightly crushed
1 tsp vanilla extract
40g flour
40g cornflour
50g salted butter
Ground cinnamon to dust

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

2. To make the pastry, place the flour, salt and brown sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Add the grated butter and pulse until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the cold water and pulse until the mixture just comes together. Wrap the dough in cling film and allow to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

3. Take a 25 x 3.5cm loose bottomed tart in with fluted edges. Roll the pastry out to about 35cm wide, 4mm thick. This will ensure you have enough overhang at the edges. Place the roll dough into the tin and allow it to hang over the sides. Use a spare ball of dough to gently press the dough into the corners and sides to line the tin. Don’t worry if you make a tear, just patch it up.

4. Place a piece of greaseproof paper over the dough and fill with baking beans, rice or any dried lentils you have. Bake for 10 minutes.

5. Carefully remove the baking beans, greaseproof paper and prick the pastry all over with a fork. Turn the oven down to 120°C and bake for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and dries out completely.

6. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Put the oven back up to 160°C

7. To make the filling, place the flour and cornflour into a large bowl. Add 50ml whole milk and stir to make a thick paste.

8. Place the evaporated milk in a blender (I used a Nutribullet), and add in the fresh turmeric, cardamom, peppercorns, vanilla and condensed milk. Blend until super smooth, about a minute.

9. Slowly whisk the evaporated milk mixture into the flour paste until smooth. Pour the mixture into a pan and cook on a medium-low heat until slightly thickened (think cheese sauce consistency). Add the butter and whisk.

10. Pass the mixture through a sieve and into a jug to remove any lumps.

11. Place the tart shell on a baking tray and place it in the oven. Pull the shelf out and pour the filling into the shell. Push the shelf back in gently and close the oven door. Bake for 30 minutes.

12. Crack the oven door open and allow the tart to cool in the oven.

13. Dust the tart with ground cinnamon and decorate as you wish. Serve warm.

Turmeric Milk Tart

Love Sanjana




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




Sweet and Salty Chevdo Chocolate Chip Cookies

At first, I thought this might be it; the moment I’d officially lost the plot. I was ready to bring two of my favourite things closer than they’ve ever been. Turns out I haven’t gone insane. It worked.

So, I united chevdo and chocolate chip cookies and their baby turned out to be a goddamn champion.

Sweet and Salty Chocolate Chip Chevdo Cookies

Imagine this – the perfect balance of sweet, salty, spicy, crunchy and chewy in one little disc of happiness. The edges are slightly crisp, while the middle is soft, chewy and studded with chocolate chips, peanuts, potato chips, corn flakes, puffed rice and crispy lentils. If you love salted caramel or chocolate with chilli or sea salt, you’re going to go doolally for these egg-free cookies.

The moment when you sit down to masala chai and ‘naasto’ (snacks) is the instant your troubles and stresses fizzle away. The soothing, milky masala tea erases the furrows in your brow and the crunchy, savoury, sweet and spicy snacks fill you with the feeling of home comforts. It’s a simple pursuit that inadvertently becomes an occasion without even trying. Flawless.

Chevdo

Of course, there is no naasto time without chevdo. A crunchy, savoury Indian snack in which every ingredient is fried to golden perfection before being tumbled together with salt, turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, sugar and chilli. The ingredients vary from recipe to recipe but the essentials include: potato sticks, whole mung beans, corn flakes, puffed rice, chana daal, peanuts, curry leaves and sultanas.

So you’re probably thinking that this sounds similar to that notorious bar snack, Bombay mix? Yeah, well it’s definitely not the same as that.

However, Bombay mix is a derivative/form of chevdo in the sense that it’s a whole load of sweet, spicy, salty, crunchy ingredients fried and combined for a snack sensation that’ll set your taste buds alight.

Sweet and Salty Chocolate Chip Chevdo Cookies

Chevdo can come in a variety of forms. My favourite is the mild kind with a decent ratio of crunchy ingredients to nuts and spices to sultanas. Perfectly balanced chevdo is a tough thing to come by but once you find your brand, you’ll always be able to count on it.

You can buy it from the supermarket in the Indian snacks section, from speciality shops that are probably still using the family recipe, perfected over decades or order it online.

Sweet and Salty Chocolate Chip Chevdo Cookies

For my recipe, I went for a mild corn flake chevdo mix but you Kenya chevdo (mild and not spicy in the slightest) is also a delicious option. The only thing I’d say is steer clear of commercial Bombay mix packets or really spicy chevdo mixes. They will overpower your cookies and the balance of sweet, salty and spicy will be all out of kilter.

These cookies are bonkers-awesome and you should definitely make them. Your friends and family will welcome the surprise of flavours and let me tell you now, they are the most addictive things that will ever come our of your oven.

Sweet and Salty Chocolate Chip Chevdo Cookies

Sweet and Salty Chevdo Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 18-20 cookies

Ingredients

225g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g caster sugar
80g soft light brown sugar
150g milk chocolate chips
130g unsalted butter, room temperature
100g mild chevdo mix (regular or Kenya chevdo)
30g dehydrated potato powder
40g liquid from a can of chickpeas (aquafaba)
½ tsp vanilla extract
Melted dark chocolate, for dipping (optional)
More chevdo for decorating (optional)

Method

1. Whip the butter in a stand mixer until light, fluffy and pale. You can also do this by hand or use a hand-held electric mixer.

2. Add the caster sugar and brown sugar and whip for 3-4 minutes until super light.

3, Add in the dehydrated potato powder and chickpea liquids (this is the egg replacer and will make your cookies super soft, chewy and delicious – you won’t taste them in the finished cookies). Add the vanilla extract and beat for a few minutes.

4. Combine the flour, baking soda and baking powder. Gradually add this in to the butter mix in two stages. Do this slowly so you don’t overwork the mixture.

5. Fold in the chocolate chips and chevdo and use your hands to bring the cookie dough together. It should be soft, not sticky.

6. Pre-heat the oven to 160C. Line three large baking trays with non-stick baking paper and roll the dough into ping-pong ball sized rounds using your hands.

7. Space each cookie dough ball onto the trays, leaving space around each one – they will spread in the oven. Place the trays in the fridge for 10 minutes.

8. Bake the cookies for 7 minutes, remove them from the oven and use the back of a teaspoon to press them down gently. I find this results in a chewier middle. Return to the oven and bake for a further 7-8 minutes until golden. If you prefer your cookies cakey, skip the flattening step and bake for 14-15 minutes.

9. Remove the cookies from the oven – they will be super soft and delicate so leave them to cook on the trays for 10 minutes.

10. Gently lift the cookies onto a wire rack using a spatula and allow to cool completely.

Sweet and Salty Chocolate Chip Chevdo Cookies

Once cooled, you can serve them as they are but if you want to be fancy, dip each one in melted dark chocolate and sprinkle with more chevdo. Chill until the chocolate sets.

Store the cookies in an air-tight container at room temperature. They are best eaten fresh but will keep for 3-4 days.

Sweet and Salty Chocolate Chip Chevdo Cookies

I doubt they’ll last that long.

Love Sanjana