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.
Vegan Oast Cakes Recipe
Author: Cathy @ Planet Veggie
- 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:
Welsh Pancakes by Tin and Thyme (vegetarian)
Cornish Splits by Tin and Thyme (vegetarian)
Bara Brith by Natural Kitchen Adventures (vegetarian)
I love halloumi. I love the saltiness, the squeakiness and the oh-my-god-it’s-just-so-fucking-delicious-ness of it. In the fridge languished half a block that needed to be used up and instead of stuffing it in the portobella mushrooms that are also languishing in the fridge needing to be used up, I decided to batter the halloumi, like they do in my local chippy.
I’ve made Yorkshire Puddings and battered tofu before, but I’ve never made a chip shop type batter. I whisked up the flour, milk and baking powder and seasoned it with salt and pepper but I felt it was missing something. The Meat Eater said it wasn’t and said that was how batter is made so I took his word for it, even though he couldn’t tell me how he knew how to make batter. He also assured me that it’s supposed to be the texture of wallpaper paste.
This battered halloumi was so, so good. It was even better than the chip shop’s. The halloumi had softened and lost its squeak and weirdly developed the texture of fish.
I don’t have a deep fat fryer, so I used the Tefal wok-type pan I use for almost everything. I’ve had it over ten years and I still think it’s brilliant and you can buy one here. (This post isn’t sponsored by Tefal, I just wanted to tell you how much I love my wok.)
Now I want to batter all the things.
Author: Cathy @ Planet Veggie
- ½ block halloumi, sliced into 4 pieces
- 60g plain flour
- 30ml water
- 30ml milk
- 1 tsp baking powder
- salt and pepper
- Oil for deep frying
- Heat the oil in a large pan or deep fat fryer if you have one
- Whisk together the flour, milk, water and baking powder and season with salt and pepper
- Check the oil is hot enough by dropping in a bit of batter. If it floats and sizzles, the oil is hot enough
- Dredge the halloumi in the batter and fry for 5-10 minutes, until golden, turning over a few times
If you like the look of this battered halloumi, you may also like these beer battered mushrooms from Amuse Your Bouche.
I did one of those quizzes on Facebook last night. This quiz was ‘What ridiculous food day is your birthday?’ My friend Helen got some weirdy meat thing so I wasn’t feeling too hopeful I’d get anything decent but I was happy when ‘date nut bread’ popped up for my birthday as I thought that sounded suitably vegetarian.
Helen said ‘you should make it’ and I agreed, so today I scouted around the internet looking at a few recipes, then came across one for which I already had all the ingredients. Sorted.
Apparently, the flavour improves after standing for 24 hours but I can’t imagine how it could be any nicer – it’s absolutely blinking delicious. I’m going on a 45 mile charity bike ride tomorrow, and the date nut bread will be coming with me to keep me going (if there’s any left by then).
I’m going to post below how I made it, as I somewhat deviated from the original recipe, as I didn’t have a sieve, so I just stirred the ingredients and hoped I’d got the floury lumps out; I didn’t add the egg and sugar to the dates, alternatively with the sifted ingredients, as I didn’t know what they meant by ‘alternatively’ (yes, I know what ‘alternatively’ means, I just didn’t know what they meant here); I didn’t dredge the nuts in flour, and I forgot to add any salt at all. Also, it said to let it rise, but mine didn’t rise at all, so you could probably skip that bit – unless there’s some scientific explanation to do with the baking powder that means it should sit for a while.
If you want to follow the proper instructions, you can see the original recipe at Food.com.
Date Nut Bread
1 cup dates, pitted and chopped (I used soft dates)
1 cup boiling water
1 tbsp butter (I used Flora)
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup nuts, chopped (I used cashews)
- Combine the first three ingredients in a bowl, cover and let cool.
- Grease a loaf pan.
- Beat sugar and egg together and add to the dates.
- Add the flour and baking powder and mix thoroughly.
- Pour into prepared pan and let rise for 20 minutes.
- While batter is rising, preheat oven to 160C.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes.
- Turn out onto cooling rack to cool.