At the end of last year, I took part in a wonderful free food photography course – 30 Days to Better Food Photos. When it ended, I didn’t want to lose motivation, so I created the Beginner’s Food Photography Critique Group on Facebook so those of us who wanted to, could keep sharing our photos and get feedback on them (it’s not just for people who took the course – anyone can join). Each month we set a challenge to photograph something on a theme and this month’s theme was regional/local.
I googled for traditional Kent recipes and fancied making a gypsy tart but decided that with evaporated milk being the key ingredient, it wouldn’t easily be veganised. Then I came across a recipe for oast cakes, which are named after the round pointy-topped hop-drying houses you can see all over the Kent countryside and the oast cakes were eaten after the crop had been gathered. I’d never heard of oast cakes but, as I’m from London, not Kent, maybe that wasn’t too surprising, so I asked The Meat Eater if he’d heard of them but he hadn’t either.
As you can see from the photo, they’re similar to Welsh Cakes and taste like them too, although oast cakes don’t contain spices or egg. What oast cakes do traditionally contain is lard but that’s easily veganised by using vegetable shortening instead. I’ve got to admit, I didn’t know what shortening was but a quick investigation told me that I could use suet or Trex. I thought Trex was something from the 70s but you can still buy it in Tesco, which is what I did as Trex is pure fat, while suet is a mixture of fat and flour.
These vegan oast cakes are fried, but I can’t see any reason why they couldn’t be baked instead.
- 225g plain flour
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 50g vegetable shortening (e.g. Trex), diced
- 40g caster sugar
- 75g sultanas or currants
- 45ml vegetable oil
- 25g dairy-free spread (I used Vitalite)
- Put the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl, then rub the vegetable shortening in thoroughly
- Stir in the sugar and the sultanas or currants, then mix with 3-4 tsbp water to make a soft dough
- Roll out on a lightly floured surface until 1cm thick. Cut out 12 rounds using a 5cm cutter
- Heat the oil and dairy-free spread in a frying pan and fry each oast cake for about 3 minutes on each side until golden, then drain on kitchen roll
Here are some more traditional dishes from my fellow food bloggers: