Spiced Orange and Chia Seed Cake with Coffee Ice Cream

Baking, coffee, Desserts, Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian

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Makes: 12 portions
Preparation & cooking time: 3 – 3 1/2 hours (including freezing time for the ice cream) 

Hi guys! This post is my entry for PETA’s Great Vegan Bake-Off 2014. I only found out about the competition a few days back and I immediately thought that I had to enter for two reasons. Firstly, I think that PETA is an amazing organisation that has done a brilliant job of educating numerous amounts of people on the important issue of the treatment of animals within our society and I am sure their efforts will be seen even more in the future and secondly, it has given me a chance to practice my vegan baking! Since becoming vegan, baking really hasn’t been my strong point, however, I hope that you like my entry, a spiced orange and chia seed cake with a coffee ice cream! I decided to go for this combination as I love the partnership of orange with powerful spices as I think they really compliment each other and I had to follow one of the main elements of my blog by adding a coffee ice cream with it. For those of you who haven’t had the combination of orange and coffee before, you should definitely give it a go as they really do go well together! If anyone enjoys vegan baking then click on the link above and enter a recipe, it is great fun and for a great cause. I hope you like the recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 4 Oranges
  • 300g ground almonds
  • 300g light brown soft sugar
  • 1 heaped teaspoon chia seeds
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Orgran No Egg (a natural egg replacer), (7 teaspoons egg replacer to 14 tablespoons of water)
  • Dairy free chocolate (for decoration)
  • 2 Frozen bananas (peel and slice the bananas before freezing)
  • 2 shots of the best quality espresso you can get/make

Method:

1.   Place 3 of the oranges into a large deep pan and cover them with cold water. Bring the water to a boil, then place a lid over the pan, turn the heat down and leave the oranges to simmer for 2 hours. To check if the oranges are finished, slide a knife into the skin of the orange and if it goes in really easily and the inside of the orange has broken down then they are definitely done. Once the oranges reach this stage drain and leave them to cool in a colander.

2.   Whilst the oranges are cooling, you can prepare the ice cream. This is such a simple way of making really tasty (and healthy!) ice cream and it can be made into whatever flavour you fancy! Put the frozen banana slices and the 2 shots of espresso into a food blender and blend until you have a really silky smooth mixture. You can add whatever flavour you like to the banana base; I really like adding frozen berries to the mixture. Once the ice cream is silky smooth, pour it into a container, cover it with a lid (or cling film) and put it into the freezer. Simple!

3.   Once the oranges have cooled, slice each of them in half and remove any seeds. Roughly chop the oranges (skin an all!) and place them into a food processor and blitz until you have a smooth orange mixture. Preheat the oven to 160 C, then line an 8 inch (20cm) cake tin with grease proof paper and then grease with vegetable oil just to be sure that your cake will not stick to the tin.

4.   Put the orange mixture into a bowl and then place 450g of the mixture back into the food processor (you can then discard the rest, or keep it for another recipe) along with all of the dry ingredients (except for the chia seeds) and the 14 tablespoons of water and blend until you have a nice smooth batter. Once the mixture is smooth, mix in the chia seeds with a spoon. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and put into the oven for 1 hour – 1 1/2 hours. Check the cake every now and then to make sure that it isn’t burning. If you feel the cake is colouring too quickly on the top, cover the tin with tin foil for the remainder of the baking time. To check if the cake is done, pierce the cake with a skewer and if the skewer comes out clean (without and cake mixture on it) then the cake is done. Keep the cake in the oven until it has reached the point where the skewer comes out clean. Once the cake is cooked, place the tin on a wire rack and once the cake has cooled completely, remove the cake from the tin.

5.   Now you are ready to plate up! Take a generous slice of cake and place it in the middle of the plate, then put a nice spoonful of the ice cream on the top of the cake and top this with the zest of the remaining orange and some chocolate shavings!

I really hope that you like this recipe and give it a go! 🙂

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How to brew coffee with the AeroPress

#ViniDrinks, coffee

Using the AeroPress is such a good way of brewing amazing coffee at home. The AeroPress creates a wonderful rich flavoured coffee with lovely acidity but minimal bitterness; all of this is done within two minutes as well; AMAZING! This method is a form of total immersion brewing, meaning that there is a uniform extraction of the coffee during the brewing process. The AeroPress eliminates issues found in drip coffee methods, where water is dripped over the centre of the grounds, creating and over extraction of the coffee in the centre of the filter and leaving the grounds at the edges of the filter under extracted. The extraction of coffee during the brewing process is vitally important, over or under extracted coffee really affects the way that your cup of coffee will taste; this really is where the AeroPress excels, as it is so easy to to make a perfect cup of coffee at home that is extracted evenly! All that you need get right is the temperature of water, the water to coffee ratio, the ground size and the brew time; all this information can be found here ‘What Makes a Great Coffee? . Another brilliant aspect of the AeroPress is that is is so cheap! For the quality of coffee that you get when using an AeroPress, the price is just unbelievable! It is so durable as well, so once you you have bought one you will have it for life! I really do urge you to buy an AeroPress as it will completely change hoe you make coffee at home!

I thought it would be really fun making videos for the brewing methods that I will show you as it may be easier watching how to use the AeroPress (and the other brewing methods ) instead of just reading a list of instructions which can be quite confusing and not really helpful to be honest! So, here it is, a video demonstration of how to use an AeroPress, I hope you like it :):

I hope you liked the video; if you would like me to post a step by step instruction of how to use the AeroPress then just let me know.

Thank you 🙂

What coffee are you buying?

#ViniDrinks, coffee, General, Information

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Buying coffee can be a somewhat stressful affair when you are bombarded with words such as robusta; single origin; Kenyan; blend etc.! I used to get so overwhelmed when I went into a supermarket and looked in the coffee isle; I saw endless options with descriptions that I just didn’t understand, so in the end I just went with any old coffee! I really do understand that the insurmountable descriptions associated with the word ‘coffee’ can be extremely off putting, however, the topic of coffee is very interesting and once you get to grips with with the basic principles, you will be able to buy the best coffee and have the most enjoyable coffee experiences that you can just through enhancing your knowledge a little. So without further a due, I am going to take you to the absolute bare bones of coffee to help you understand exactly what you are buying!

Is there more than one type of coffee bean?

Simply, yes there are. There are different species of coffee bean, however, there are only two that you will need to know about and these are the Arabica and Robusta beans.

Robusta Beans

Robusta beans have a much more aggressive flavour and contain twice as much caffeine than Arabica beans do. When you have a cup of coffee made from Robusta beans you will generally get earthy and nutty qualities. Robusta beans are much easier to grow than Arabica beans as they flourish at much lower altitudes and because of the high yield, Robusta beans are cheaper than Arabica beans. Robusta beans are considered inferior to Arabica beans, however, they are sometimes desired to make espressos due to the rich and intense flavour and for the velvety crema (the golden foam on top of the espresso) that it produces.

Arabica Beans

In comparison to Robusta beans earthy and nutty qualities, Arabica beans have a a much softer, sweeter, fruitier and floral flavour that is accompanied by a high level of acidity. Arabica beans are much more popular and widely consumed of the two species and accounts for the majority of the coffee production around the world. The main producers of Arabica beans are Ethiopia, Colombia and Brazil.

Due to the topography and climate, some coffee producing countries are able to grow both species, such as Brazil, whereas Colombia only produces Arabica beans.

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Where does your Coffee come from?

On a global scale there are three main continents from where your coffee is likely to come from, namely from countries within South America, Africa or Asia. Now you can narrow the coffee down to the specific origin, i.e. the farms that your coffee will come from. Again, I will try to make the terminology as easy to understand as I possibly can. Here I will explain what  Single Origin, Estate, Micro-Lot and Blend coffees actually are.

Single Origin

Single Origin coffee, as the name describes, is a coffee that comes from a single place. Single Origin coffee is often desired as it is a good way of achieving a consistent flavour, making Single Origin coffees a popular choice for independent coffee shops, roasters and cafes.

Estate

Estate coffees are beans that are grown on a single farm.

Micro-Lot

Even more specific than estate coffees, micro-lot coffees are from a single field within a farm, harvested on a specific day or even from a small range of altitude.

Blends

Blends are coffees that have been crafted by roasters to create a coffee that encaptures all of the qualities that they desire e.g. the perfect combination of sweetness, bitterness and acidity. Some single origin coffees may have some flavour imbalances so creating a blend is a great way to remedy these issues. Once you have tried a lot of different coffees from different countries, different farms, estates, micro-lots and different beans creating your own blend at home is great fun and is definitely worth giving a go. All you need to do is combine different measures of different single origin coffees until you get a coffee that has  your favourite flavours.

I really hope that you enjoy this post and that it has helped you to really understand the coffee that you buy in the future. I hope that it helps you enjoy coffee more and makes you feel more relaxed as you enter the coffee isle at the supermarket! Please let me know if you attempt (or if you have attempted already) to make your own blend as I would love to hear about what you create and come up with.

Thank you 🙂

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What makes a great coffee?

#ViniDrinks, coffee

It wasn’t until recently that I began to really understand what really affects the way that a cup of coffee tastes. Simply, I thought that you just got some instant coffee out of the jar, poured boiling water over the top and added sugar and milk to taste; how wrong I was! I can imagine that this is the way a lot of people think a cup of coffee should should be made, but don’t worry, that is why I am writing this post, in an attempt to help all of the coffee lovers (and potential coffee lovers!) out there to understand how to make the most amazing cup of coffee in the comfort of your own home.

As one of the most popular drinks across the globe, I feel that everyone deserves to know how to make the most of how amazing coffee can be. I remember the cup of coffee that really opened my eyes to what coffee should really taste like. I was in London with a friend and I remembered that my brother (who is also a coffee lover, find him on Instagram and twitter @Essexcoffeeboy) had told me about this great coffee shop called Taylor St Baristas and what a good recommendation it was! I was used to the usual coffee houses that you find everywhere (like Starbucks) which is practically identical in every country all of which serve the same terrible coffee in each of them, so it was such a pleasure to go to an establishment that takes real pride in every cup of coffee that they make. Taylor St Baristas use coffee beans that have been roasted by Union Hand-Roasted Coffee to make the most amazing cups of coffee (I have since used Union Roasted coffee beans at home and they have all been AWESOME!). On that day I ordered my first ever flat white (a double espresso topped up with steamed milk) and a large americano (a double espresso topped with boiling water) and it was this order that changed my view on coffee and how complex and flavourful it can be, it was that very day that has led me on this journey with the ambitions I have for my future! It is crazy what can happen over a cup of coffee!

Ever since my experience in Taylor St Baristas, I have been on a mission to try and create better coffee at home than I could buy in a regular coffee house. After a lot of research and experimentation I have comprised a list of 5 key elements that when followed can help you produce amazing coffee at home. I hope the following list helps better your understanding of coffee and how to treat it to get the best possible cup that you can:

Coffee Beans

Starting with the obvious, buying the best coffee beans that you can get your hands on will improve your coffee by leaps and bounds. There are a lot of amazing roasteries out there that produce wonderful coffee beans that have been sourced from all of the world, tried, tested and then roasted on their own sites. As mentioned earlier, Union Hand-Roasted Coffee are an amazing roastery based in London, that offer an array of coffee that they have sourced and roasted themselves. I recommend purchasing whole beans and grinding them yourself as the shorter the time between the coffee being ground and the coffee being used the better your coffee will taste, but if you do not have a burr grinder (see further down the page) then try to use up the ground coffee within a week. Good coffee roasters will usually state the date that your bag of coffee beans were roasted on (on the packet), this is really helpful as you should use your coffee within a week of it being roasted and to help keep it as fresh as possible store it in the freezer between uses. I tend to buy smaller bags of coffee more frequently (than large bags less frequently) just so that my coffee keeps as fresh as possible. Buying from high quality roasteries will more than often mean that the trade of this coffee has been done under Fairtrade conditions. This is of utmost importance to me and I urge you to always buy Fairtrade coffee and support the hard work the farmers do to produce the coffee and to make sure that they are not being exploited as coffee plays such an important role in the economy of some of the least developed countries in the world.

Filtered Water

I know that this is probably stating the obvious again, but using filtered/bottled water will really help the taste of the coffee to come through properly. Just think, water is the main ingredient in a cup of coffee so it is important to use water that will have as little impurities in it as possible.

Water Temperature

The temperature of the water used is vital to how your cup of coffee will taste. If the temperature of the water is too low then the water will not extract the coffee properly leaving a weak taste and a temperature too high will burn the coffee which results in a very bitter taste and a very unpleasant coffee experience. I have found that using a water temperature of between 90-95 C extracts the coffee fully without burning the grounds. You can use a thermometer to be very accurate but, alternatively you can boil the kettle and leave it to sit for 30 seconds to a minute to allow the water to cool down to the required temperature. These days you can get kettles that regulate the temperature of your water which makes things much easier!

Use a Burr Grinder

A burr grinder is a grinder that uses two abrasive surfaces to grind your coffee to the desired grind size. Burr grinders are the best way of grinding your coffee as it produces much less friction and heat whilst grinding in comparison to a blade grinder; this is extremely important in retaining all of the flavour from the fresh beans. Also, a burr grinder will give you the most uniform grind for all types of coffee extraction, again in comparison to a blade grinder which creates a very uneven grind. Consistently sized grounds will allow for even extraction whereas an uneven grind will produce bitter and sour notes in the coffee as each ground size will have been extracted differently. You can purchase electric burr grinders but also handheld grinders (for a small amount of money) which are perfect for making coffee at home. To get the best out of your coffee, I highly recommend purchasing a burr grinder.

Water – Coffee Ratio

The water to coffee ratio used is important in producing the most delicious tasting cup of coffee possible. I have found that using a ratio of 1:17 (1g coffee to 17ml water) is a great starting point for brewing coffee at home. For example, for a regular cup of coffee I will use 17g of coffee and 289ml of water (17×17=289). The easiest way of achieving this is by using a set of scales; I know it may seem over the top, but trust me, it will really make a difference to the taste of your coffee. Once you have gotten more experience with making coffee in this way and using different brewing methods, you can play around with this ratio to get different flavours from your coffee, but the 1:17 ratio is a great place to start.

 I hope this guide helps you make the best coffee that you can! Let me know what you think and how you love to make your coffee. 🙂

 

Welcome to my new blog!

General, Information

Hi everyone!

I thought that an introductory post to describe why there has been a total change to my blog was necessary, so here it goes.

I haven’t written a post in a long, long time because I have felt that my blog lacked direction and wasn’t really representing myself and the things that I love properly. Whilst I have been away from blogging I have had a long, hard think about what it is that I want to do and what I want to write about and what to share with you all. After many weeks brainstorming and going back and forth with ideas with my girlfriend about what I wanted my blog to focus on, I realised that the answer was hitting me in the face the whole time. All I had to do was match up my passions with what my goals are for the future. Once I realised how simple it was, my decision was made.

Firstly, what are my passions and what do I really enjoy blogging about?

This is such an easy question for me to answer. My passion (for as long as I can remember) is food. Everything about food excites me as there are literally no boundaries for where your creativity can take you and also because I have the best time when I am with my friends and family talking over a great meal. The food I will blog about will be based around my diet. I am a vegetarian but I will also be posting vegan recipes as I cook a lot them because my girlfriend is a vegan. I am new to vegan cooking, so it is an exciting adventure for me to take on and try to learn as much as I can to produce amazing vegan meals.

As well as food, over the last few years I have become really interested in amazing coffee. I was really shocked about how wrong I was making my coffee and how little I knew about what affects the flavour of your coffee. Once you understand the little details about coffee and how to treat it correctly you will have a completely different view of it and experience a drink that is as complex as wine with so many amazing flavour notes. There are so many ways in which you can brew your coffee, all of which create a different flavour and consistency; this really excites me as you can have one bag of coffee beans but you can brew them differently to create a noticably different cup each time! I will be blogging about all of the coffees that I am drinking as well as all of my favourite brewing methods in the search for the perfect cup of coffee! I hope that my simple tips and recommendations inspire you to try and create your very own perfect cup of coffee.

Secondly, what is the that one thing that I would love to do in the future?

I have always had a love for food and I always thought that a career in the kitchen would be for me, even whilst I was completing my masters degree in Economics! People may have thought it was a terrible idea and a waste of four years of hard work to forgo a job related to my degree and pursue a job that I had a real passion for. To cut a long story short, I pursued my dream of becoming a chef and ultimately realised that it just wasn’t for me! I tried working in many different restaurants with the hope that I would overcome this feeling of utter dissapointment that the career I dreamt about just wasn’t for me, but unfortunately nothing helped no matter what restaurant I worked in. It was a definite kick to the plums (pun intended) but in no way did it affect my passion for food! I do not regret my decision for pursuing my dreams (or doing my degree for that matter, as I am now using what I learnt every day!) as my whole experience has helped me realise what I want to do and what environment is perfectly suited for me.

With my passion for food and coffee and my experience of business, I would love to one day be able to combine all three and open a coffee shop that serves the most amazing food and coffee. The food that I will blog about will be the food that I would love to offer in my very own coffee shop; so you can expect a large range of seasonal sandwiches, pastries, cakes, exciting twists on classics and exciting recipes that would offer a unique experience that I aim to offer people in the future.

I hope that you enjoy what I will be posting about from now on and I cannot wait to share all of my ideas with you.

Thank you,

Thomas