Vegan baking gluttony: Lemon bars, smore's, and scary apple cake
Do you ever have days when everything you touch in the kitchen goes right? No? Me neither. So when I had one of those the other day, I was absolutely astounded. Let me tell you about it.
I'm a sucker for a fruit or vegetable that I've never seen before. If it's a new plant, I can't resist taking it back home to try it out. If you labelled carrots as 'orange parsnips', I'd think 'I've never had an orange parsnip, I'm totally buying half a kilo for Sunday lunch'. When the place I buy my veg from was advertising bergamot lemons, I bought a packet.
Bergamot lemons are very close in appearance to normal lemons, but dinkier and with a divot near the end. You're probably most used to them as the thing that gives Earl Grey tea its distinctive taste. I'd never seen the actual bergamot before, so I was intrigued to give them a try.
After a quick thumb of my cookbooks, I stumbled on the lemon bars from Veganomicon. After a bit of reservation about making a separate biscuit and lemon curd top, I knuckled down and got on with it.
Biscuit mixed, cooked, cooled, curd made, poured on top, stuck in the fridge for a while, while you check your watch and wish the bloody thing would hurry up and set. Final stage: stand and admire handiwork.
Here's what it looked like:
The curd top was so pretty! I used annatto rather than turmeric to colour the top, and it turned out like blown glass.
And the bergamot? It had all the tangy citrus glory you'd expect from a lemon, but with a really floral background note. It was moreish, and the lemon bars didn't last long.
The next baking extravaganza wasn't really much in the way of baking at all. I thought I'd experiment with some Rore's (I coined that name for something half way between raw and smore's, and I'm sticking to it.)
Something I probably should mention - smore's just don't exist in the UK. We don't have them. If you stopped 100 people in the street and asked them what a smore was, you might get one who knew the right answer. It's only because I hang around on American vegan blogs that I've seen smore's before.
I know you're meant to use Graham crackers for the smore's, but Graham crackers don't exist over here either! So, I thought why not make something raw to balance out the toasted marshmallows? I blended some oats, banana, walnuts, and dates and dehydrated a bit. Well, about 12 hours in the end, I think. Then got some chocolate chips, toasted some marshmallows and sandwiched them all in between my dehydrated biscuits.
I was happy with the result!
Bear in mind I've never seen a proper smore up close (nor do I know whether the singular for smore's is smore), so I've no idea if this looks like it should, but it tasted mighty fine. When the biscuits ran out, I just took to toasting the marshmallows on my gas stove and sticking them straight into my mouth.
OK, you might need to sit down for this next photo, because things get a little weird.
My other half brought me news that vegan cake had been sighted in our particular corner of South London - and not only that, he had brought some back home to try. Needless to say, I was fairly excited at the prospect, and a great chunk of apple cake was laid before me.
I tucked in.
The Nanaimo bar in particular was warmly received by the friend. No surprise there - a great big chocolatey, coconuty base with a river of custard and a topping of chocolate thick enough to need a pickaxe to get through. They may not have been overly photogenic when I got them home, but tasted amazing nonetheless.