“I don’t think you have to be so skilled as a baker [to make it], it’s a pretty straightforward recipe – but it’s very time-consuming,” Ptak explains.
“You need to have patience, and I always say, read the recipe through a couple of times before you get started.”
Vegan chocolate chip cookies
1tbsp ground flaxseeds
60g oat milk
455g plain flour
60g rolled oats
1¼tsp baking powder
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tsp fine sea salt
250g plant-based butter
250g soft light brown sugar
150g caster sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
250g vegan chocolate, broken into 1cm pieces
Flaky sea salt, to finish
1. Soak the ground flaxseeds in the oat milk and set aside.
2. Whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder, bicarb and salt in a bowl and set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the vegan butter and both sugars until creamy. Beat in the flax mixture and vanilla, then add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Finally, add the chocolate and mix once again.
4. Use an ice-cream scoop to portion out 18 cookies onto a tray. Chill or freeze for at least one hour. (You can also store the unbaked cookies in the freezer and bake as needed.)
5. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 170°C fan/190°C/375°F/gas mark 5. Line one or two large baking sheets with baking paper and arrange the dough evenly on the trays, leaving enough space between each one so they have room to expand during baking (they almost double in size). If you are baking from frozen, allow the cookies five minutes out of the freezer before placing in the oven.
6. Sprinkle a few flakes of sea salt over the top of each cookie and then bake for 12-14 minutes, until the centre of each cookie is slightly soft and underbaked but the edges are crisp and golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the tray for 10 minutes before eating.
Basil, Parmesan and pine nut scones
400g plain flour, plus more for rolling
1tbsp caster sugar
2½tsp baking powder
½tsp bicarbonate of soda
¼tsp freshly ground black pepper
180g unsalted butter, chilled, cut into cubes
200g sour cream
100g good fresh pesto (from a deli)
50g pine nuts
Freshly grated Parmesan
1 egg or egg yolk, beaten with a little water
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/200°C/400°F/gas mark 6. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.
2. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and pepper into a bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or a round-bladed knife (or use a food processor) until crumbly. Whisk the egg, sour cream and pesto together and add to the mix, then stir to combine. Pat the dough into a cube and place on a lightly floured surface.
3. Let the dough rest for five minutes then flatten it to about 2½cm thick with a rolling pin. Scatter the pine nuts over and then fold it in half, like you are closing a book, so that you have a rectangle. Then fold it in half again, so that you have a small square. Rest for seven minutes and then roll into a square about 5cm thick. Use a sharp knife to cut the square into three long pieces. Cut each log into two and then each square into triangles. Chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes (at this point you can freeze the unbaked scones to bake another day).
4. Place the chilled scones on the lined baking sheet and brush with the egg and water mixture. Grate each scone with fresh Parmesan and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden. These are best eaten on the same day.
Coconut pudding cake
(Makes one 20cm round cake, to serve up to 12)
For the coconut filling:
400g coconut milk
100g caster sugar
2tbsp cornflour dissolved in 3tbsp cold water
⅛tsp fine sea salt
½tsp vanilla extract
1½tbsp white rum
For the coconut soak:
50g coconut milk
50g caster sugar
½tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
2tsp white rum
For the sponge:
250g plain flour
2tsp baking powder
3⁄4tsp fine sea salt
85g unsalted butter, softened
250g caster sugar
60g vegetable oil
160g coconut milk
1½tsp vanilla extract
For the coconut icing:
190g softened unsalted butter
750g-1kg icing sugar
5tbsp coconut milk
1tbsp vanilla extract
2tsp white rum
Pinch of salt
Desiccated coconut, to decorate
1. First, make the coconut filling. Put the coconut milk, sugar and water into a saucepan. Place over a medium heat, stir to dissolve sugar, then turn up the heat to high.
2. Add the cornflour and water mixture to the pan with the salt and whisk until thick. Pour into a bowl and stir in the vanilla and rum. Let cool then chill for at least four hours.
3. Now make the soak. Put the coconut milk, sugar and vanilla into a pan and cook until just about to come to the boil. Leave over a medium heat for five minutes, then turn off the heat, add the salt and rum and leave to cool. (This and the filling can be prepared the day before to save time.)
4. Preheat the oven to 150°C fan/170°C/340°F/gas mark 3 1⁄2. Grease and line either one deep or three shallow 20cm cake tins.
5. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl and set aside.
6. Put the butter, sugar and oil into the bowl of a stand mixer and cream until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time until combined.
7. Add half of the dry flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar, and mix well. Then add the coconut milk and vanilla and mix again. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the remaining dry ingredients to the bowl. Mix well to incorporate all of the ingredients, but do not overmix or this will make your cake tough.
8. Divide the batter between the cake tins and bake for 45-50 minutes, depending on which size tins you are using. The cakes should be starting to turn golden, feel springy to the touch and a skewer inserted should come out clean.
9. While the cake is baking, make the coconut icing. Put the butter and 500 grams of the icing sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until smooth. Stir together the coconut milk, vanilla and rum and gradually add this to the bowl and mix again, scraping the bottom of the bowl as needed. Add another 250 grams icing sugar. Cream together on a low speed for at least three minutes (set a timer as three minutes is longer than you might think). Add the salt. Gradually add more sugar as needed until you get the right consistency – you want a spreadable and creamy icing that is simultaneously as light as can be. Put a third of the icing into a piping bag with a round nozzle (or use a ziplock/resealable bag and then snip off a corner for a makeshift piping bag). Set aside at room temperature until ready to use.
10. Leave the cakes to cool in their tins, then turn them out onto a wire rack. Wash the tins and line one with a large piece of clingfilm that hangs out over the sides.
11. If you baked the cakes in individual tins, place one layer into the bottom of the lined tin. If you baked the cakes in one deep tin, split it into three layers with a large serrated knife, and put the bottom layer into the clingfilm-lined tin.
12. Soak the bottom layer with a few tablespoons of the coconut soak. Pipe a thick ring of coconut icing around the perimeter of the bottom layer to create a dam for the filling. Fill the middle of the ring with half of the coconut filling.
13. Pipe a couple of stripes of icing across the filling (this serves as a glue for the layers).
14. Add the second cake layer on top of this and then repeat the previous steps before adding the third and final layer of sponge on top. Bring up the overhanging cling film and pop in fridge to chill for a few hours, or overnight.
15. When ready to finish the cake, unwrap it, turn out onto a turntable or cake plate and cover the top and sides with the remaining coconut icing, then lightly press desiccated coconut to cover.
Love Is A Pink Cake by Claire Ptak is published by Square Peg