When a Vegan came to tea……

Sticky Vegan Orange Marmalade cake

I'm only socialising with my vegan friends. It's seemed that way this week as 2 friends in 2 days visiting were Vegan.  Thankfully my new years' resolution to educate and add more vegan recipes to my repertoire was well founded.

But had you told me though that 2/3 blog posts this year were going to be vegan and I'd be discussing my thoughts on Veganism on BBC Radio Bristol yesterday, I would have thought otherwise!

My standpoint on the radio was that if I was single and only had my self to think about I do actually think I could tolerate being Vegan! Maybe even enjoy it!! There is so much more available to be Vegan these days. Let's face it, experimenting with new foods sounds like great fun!

But add 2 children into the mix who've so far been brought up eating meat, and a husband with 4 decades under his belt....I'm not sure I'm up for that task.

But the presenter argued if we took the -ish off selfish.....why wouldn't your family want to support you in your endeavours? I guess if it was a question of health, then I guess it would force my hand and I would have to make that change.

However, as I'm not a big milk drinker or egg eater I am quite happy to eat veggie, vegan and all other foods.  We don't buy mass-produced meat and quite often have meat-free days.....so, for now, I feel in balance with the way we eat. I wouldn't want to feel that there were things that I couldn't eat. To be honest ......I just want to have my vegan cake and eat it too!

I challenge you to make this cake and not love it! EVERYONE who tried this cake this week has been amazed its vegan.....I'm off to make another one...

Let me know how you get on at The Fuss Free Foodie FB group and if you want to see what I get up to when I'm not in the kitchen don't forget to follow me on my FB page. Lisa. 

Sticky Vegan marmalade cake
        • 380g plain flour
          85g dark brown sugar
          285g caster sugar
          12g bicarb
          5g salt
          Zest of 1 orange
          480ml orange juice
          335g vegetable oil
          25g cider vinegar
          5g vanilla extract
          3/4 cup of marmalade
          I used Seville orange marmalade from last week! The bitterness works really well

          1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C. Prepare x2 24cm springform cake tins. Oil lightly and place a parchment disk in the bottom.

          2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugars, baking soda, salt, and orange zest. Whisk until thoroughly combined, crumbling the brown sugar with the tips of your fingers if necessary.

          3. In a separate bowl whisk together the orange juice, vegetable oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Quickly mix the wet ingredients into the dry mix and whisk thoroughly. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. If there is a small area that is uncooked in the middle, but the cake is browning, place tin foil over the top and bake for 5 more minutes until it is firm in the middle.

          4. Let the cakes cool for about 20 minutes in the cake pans, then run a knife around the inside of the pan to release each layer. Turn the cake layers out onto cooling racks. Glaze while the cakes are still warm, but not hot.

          5.To make the glaze, put the marmalade in a small saucepan. Warm over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, until the glaze is bubbling and hot. If it gets too thick add a tablespoon of water. Turn off the heat and immediately glaze the cake.

          6.Place one cake layer on a cake plate. Pierce the top with a toothpick a few times.
          Pour about half the liquid into the saucepan over the first cake layer. Place the second layer on top of the first, and repeat. Spoon the solid bits of marmalade peel on top of the cake.

          If you want to check out the original recipe in 'cups' click here...


Made TV-Sticky Gingerbread

Sticky gingerbread

This is another of my go-to Christmas recipes, that I have made to hand out to the children's nursery teachers or taken to a childrens party!  It's another classic from the Nigella Christmas book, which is my seasonal bible!

Have a go and let me know of the FFF Facebook page what you think.  Remember to check out the other recipes that Jamie and I made: Christmas Rocky Road, Mince Pies,  Honeycomb and the edible gifts I made on the Hairy Bikers recently ...including cream free truffles and stained glass window biscuits!

Sticky Gingerbread

  • 150g butter
  • 200g golden syrup
  • 200g black treacle
  • 125g dark muscovado sugar
  • 2 tsp finely grated ginger
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, dissolved in 2 x 15ml tablespoons warm water
  • 250ml full-fat milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten to mix
  • 300g plain flour

1 Preheat the oven to 170°C/gas mark 3 and line a roasting tin or ovenproof dish (approx. 30cm x 20cm x 5cm) lined with baking parchment (I grease it as well!)

2 In a saucepan, melt the butter over a low-medium heat with the sugar, syrup, treacle, fresh and ground gingers, cinnamon and cloves

3 Take off the heat, add the milk, eggs and dissolved bicarbonate of soda in water

4 Sieve the flour into a bowl and pour in the liquid ingredients, beating until well mixed. The batter will be a very liquid, but that's OK, it will be what makes it sticky later. Give a quick whisk if there are some lumps of flour

5 Pour it into the prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes until risen and firm on top. Try not to overcook, as it is nicer a little stickier, and anyway will carry on cooking as it cools

6 Transfer the tin to a wire rack and let the gingerbread cool in the tin before cutting into 20 squares, or however you wish to slice it!

Buttermilk and Maple

Buttermilk and Maple

I was invited last week as a guest to the opening of newly launched Buttermilk & Maple which is located on Welshback in the Mercure Brigstow Hotel. Showcasing their brunch menu, I was welcomed warmly by the front of house and seated in the stylish yet relaxed restaurant. The idea is mixing a vibe of Melbourne cafe culture with NYC nightlife which to me looked great for daytime and evening eating and drinking!

Brunch is available until 4pm, and has something for everyone... from English breakfasts to chia fruit bowls. With many egg-based dishes, there are some great vegetarian options, and my favourite being an opulent poached truffle eggs dish served in a skillet; A fondue of Gruyere cheese, truffle cream and sauteed mushrooms with giant toasted sourdough soldiers... it did not disappoint! It was definitely my dish of the day!

There was a great choice of benedicts with kale, spicy pastrami or lobster, my favourite being the pastrami, helped by the 'oh so light' homemade buttermilk biscuits (savoury scones). If you wanted to keep it more simple there is avocado, dukka and poached eggs on sourdough toast, classic maple bacon sandwich, french toast, granola or pancakes. Although they do not have a children's menu, a half-sized portion can be requested or just some eggs on toast.

Dessert ranged from seasonal crumbles, sundaes, doughnuts and carrot cake....of which I tried the latter. Made onsite it was deliciously light and a great balance of cake vs frosting and spices vs sweetness.

The main courses are available from midday until 10 pm which looks fabulous too, not to mention the selection of in-house baked bread, salads and snacks. These will go alongside the extensive drinks menu of craft and draught beer and cider, gins, cocktails beautifully..... and the fiery bloody Mary could serve as an awesome hair of the dog!!

Thank you to all the staff at Buttermilk & Maple for hosting me last week, I think you have crafted a beautiful menu to cater for all tastes in a relaxed and stylish environment and wish you well .....I look forward to trying out the dinner menu very soon!

Which dish would you try? Remember to let us know if you've been or want to go!! Lisa

Folk House Cafe

Folk House Cafe

Have to recommend the Folk House Cafe for lunch if you’re near Park St. Bristol. (3/4 way down) Met an old colleague from Bordeaux Quay and talked all things food! Great mix of soups, salads, posh toasties, nibbles and filling plates and tremendous cakes and pukka tea and coffee. Loads of space and few outside tables too!! Now you know why the blog will be late today…..😁

Seasonal delights: Rhubarb and blood oranges

Rhubarb and blood orange cake

One of the things I love about food and cooking is its seasonality. Just as you are ready for a shakeup, something new seems to come in and changes what you are doing in the kitchen. Now I know that not everyone has time to be influenced down at the veg shop or chat to the fishmonger for 20 minutes, but that is the whole spirit in which I started the fuss free foodie: I am here to be the voice to steer you in the right direction!

January can be a bleak time in the growing stakes, so by the end of the month, like glowing ruby red jewels, we get rhubarb! At this time it's forced (grown in the dark), usually from Yorkshire, so a great British product! It's more slender, and tender than its field counterpart that grows outside in April, although the late season rhubarb can have more flavour. However, grateful for something new I was excited to see it, along with blood oranges, and funnily enough they work together beautifully!

Rhubarb and blood orange cake Mark 2
So after many attempts to make something tasty and fuss free, I am really happy with this final recipe, which is a beautiful Victoria style sponge with sharp rhubarb and sweet orange drizzle. I made 3 different cakes to be precise; The cake picture is mark 2 and this final recipe has the fruit inside the cake, but I gave it away and forgot to picture it! I was so over cake!!

It's a quick cake to make and one that children could help with too. I keep it fast by throwing all the cake ingredients into my blender and just whizzing it up until they are just mixed together. If you have all your ingredients to room temperature (especially the butter), the batter can be ready within a few mins, and then it cooks for 30 minutes.....pretty fuss free! I chose to do a little blood orange drizzle just to infuse a little more sweetness to the sponge, and build the orange flavour.

If a cake isn't your thing, but you still fancy a bit of rhubarb and orange to have with some yoghurt, weekend pancakes or porridge (like my eldest) why not try making this fuss-free rhubarb and blood orange compote. This will also freeze really well, so if you divide it up into portions you could pull it out as and when you need some.... any time of year!!

As always please let me know what you make in the Fuss Free Facebook group or drop a comment below. Happy cooking! Lisa.

Rhubarb and blood orange cake

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees, 23cm springform cake tin, buttered and lined

225g unsalted butter, soft
225g caster sugar
225g self-raising flour, save 2 tbsp to one side
4 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
300g rhubarb, chopped into 1-inch pieces
Zest of 3 blood oranges
Juice of 2-3 blood oranges
100g icing sugar sieved

    1. Have your oven preheated at the right temperature, and cake tin ready, as this comes together very quickly!
    2. Place the butter, caster sugar, self-raising flour, baking powder, eggs, orange zest and 5 tablespoons of blood orange juice into a blender or food mixer.
    3. Mix all the ingredients until they are just incorporated. Dust the rhubarb in the remaining flour, and then fold through the cake batter. Place the batter into the lined tin and cook in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until a skewer/cocktail stick comes out clean.
    4. Whilst the cake is cooling slightly, mix 40ml of blood orange juice with the icing sugar until smooth.
    5. Once cooled for 5 minutes, turn out the cake on your cake stand (the right way round; I turn mine onto a plate and then onto my cake stand)
    6. Prick the cake with a cocktail stick, and pour over the orange drizzle to soak into the cake. Serve however you like...just enjoy!

Forget the fuss...

  1. Mixture curdled? Don't worry, your cake will be fine
  2. Butter not soft? Chop it into cubes and place in a bowl in the oven (or top oven if you have one) to warm slightly.....just don't forget about it!
  3. No blood oranges? Just use clementines, or whatever oranges you can find
  4. Cake browning too quickly? Always wait 20 minutes before you open the oven, but if it is browning on the top too fast cover with a piece of tin foil
  5. No blender or food mixture? Go old school: Cream together the butter and sugar, add eggs one at a time with a spoon of flour, fold in the rest of the flour, zest and juice and leave out the baking powder. Bake as above

Rhubarb and blood orange compote

400g rhubarb, cut into chunks
100g granulated or light brown sugar
100ml blood orange juice

  1. Place the rhubarb chunks in a saucepan. Add the sugar and orange juice.
  2. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 25-30 minutes until the rhubarb has reduced. Stir occasionally to avoid it sticking.
  3. When most of the juice has reduced, cool and then refrigerate. Separate into individual portions and freeze if you want to store for another day!