German damson cake

What I love about Germany is that they really celebrate seasonal food. During white asparagus season little stalls pop up everywhere. Trays and trays of white asparagus are brought out each morning and are gone by the afternoon. The stalls are often little more than a road side table and carry only the prized white stalks and occasionally a packet of Hollandaise sauce and the odd homemade jar of jam. As strawberry season arrives, the stalls make room for the berries and then they seem to disappear until the next year. Here, close to the Alps, mushroom season is a huge deal and the first of the chanterelles have just started to appear. Kale is only around after the first frost but before the ground thaws.

Being that Germans love cake you can also follow the seasonal foods via what cake is in the bakery windows. Right now it is damson cake. Up north this is called ‘Zwetschen (damson) Kuchen (cake)’ but down here is ‘Zwetschgendatshi’. In Bavarian the word datshi means to squish. Traditionally when you make this cake you squish the damsons onto the cake base to allow the juice to soak in before baking. I buy this cake a lot just to sit and eat the roasted damsons off the top (the dog gets the cake base…which isn’t helping his diet). Damsons are in season now and at their most delicious but you could replicate this cake with greengages or plums. In a few weeks the damsons will be gone and in their place will be apricots (at the stalls and the bakery) and then come apples. I really appreciate that local seasonal food is embraced and enjoyed. And also that it then disappears until the next year when once again its arrival is celebrated with much fanfare.

When my good friend arrived at my doorstep with a huge punnet of damsons from her Aunty’s garden I knew that I wanted to try and replicate this delicious cake. You could layer it onto a thinly baked sponge, but keep the marzipan as it stops the cake from getting too soft. As with all things, this cake is best shared and even better enjoyed with a cup of coffee and a good chat.

Ingredients (base)
2 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup honey

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cardamon

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/4 plain flour

Place the oats and flour into a blender and blend until the oats are finely chopped

Add in the spices and oil blend briefly

Add in the honey and blend until you have a thick sticky ball of dough

Place the dough onto a piece of baking paper and place a second sheet on top

Roll out the dough between the paper sheets into a rectangle until it is approx 2cm thick

Bake for 12-15 minutes

Once almost cool cut into 4 rectangles

Ingredients (Marzipan)
100g ground almonds

2tsp maple syrup

1 tsp rose water

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and mix until you have a dough

Roll out on baking paper into a thin layer and cut into rectangles to fit onto the base rectangles

Place onto the biscuit base whilst the base is still slightly warm and allow to melt

Ingredients (damsons)
14 – 16 damson (halved and de stoned)

2 tbsp water

Place the damsons cut side up into a baking dish with the water

Roast for 30 mins until soft

Allow to cool then layer onto the base


YNBO Vegan genoise cake with a chocolate glaze

Did you watch it? You know what I’m talking about right…. The magic that is Great British Bake Off is back and I for one could not be happier. Obviously I already have my favourite: Benjamina but I’ve got a soft spot for Val. I spent the entire hour glued to the show, looking away only to text my Aunty & sister who were also watching. Last night we had the joys of drizzle cake, Jaffa cakes & of course a genoise sponge with a mirror glaze as the show stopper. I have two things to say – firstly who bakes Jaffa cakes???? And secondly I have decided to enter the GBBO this year, or rather I have decided to set myself the challenge of baking a plant based healthier version of the show stopper for you each Thursday.

Welcome to YNBO – Yolanda’s Natural Bake Off

This morning was a little bit stressful. Genoise sponge is a type of sponge that doesn’t use a raising agent. To get volume you whip up egg whites and sugar. When you set yourself the challenge of plant based it means no eggs and you have to think hard about alternatives. In my panic I turned to chickpeas, no seriously, this cake uses chickpeas.

I had heard about chefs using Aqua faba as an alternative to egg whites when making meringue. Aqua faba is the water in a tin of chickpeas. This unassuming liquid is magic and despite the fact that I had to whip it by hand (bicep ache!!), it really did allow me to make an egg less sponge.

For the mirror glaze you traditionally use gelatin to give it the shine and so I crossed my fingers and used agar-agar. My cake is certainly not super smooth and polished but if you want yours to be, you can either cover it first in a cream and then allow it to chill before glazing or you can trim the top of the cake to get a perfectly flat surface.

This cake is two very simple flavors but you could get creative. Pistachio & lemon cake or orange & rose water would be delicious. You could also infuse your cream in the glaze with rooibos tea, ginger or elderflower.

I have no idea what is coming up each week or even if I will manage to recreate a plant based version each Thursday….but for now here is my (chickpea) vegan genoise with a chocolate mirror glaze.

Ingredients – makes one 6inch sponge
2/3 cup chickpea water

3/4 cup raw unrefined sugar

1 cup plain flour

1/4 coconut or rapeseed oil

Place the sugar and chickpea water into a large clean bowl

Whisk together until the mixture thickens & can form soft peaks

Gently fold in the oil & then slowly fold in the sifted flour

Place into a greased cake tin & bake for approx 40mins

Leave to cool

Ingredients – chocolate glaze
4 tbsp cocoa

1/2 raw sugar

1/2 oat cream

1/2 cup water

1 serving agar agar dissolved in 1 tbsp water (or according to packet)

Place the cocoa, sugar, cream & water into a pan

Heat gently, whilst stirring till the mixture thickens

Remove from the heat & add in the agar-agar

Stir well to dissolve

Allow to cool & then pour over the cool cake

Decorate & enjoy

Toasted coconut and maple double chocolate donuts

It seems a total cliche to need mum friends when you become a mum but I did & I do. There is some sort of solidarity in numbers. When you want nothing more than a glass of wine at 4pm, when another mum gave you a funny look at the Playpark, when your baby fell over at said Playpark because you were updating Instagram, it’s feels good to know that someone has your back.

There are days when it’s going wrong and you just need to share. For me, it’s the days when the baby is cranky & the house feels tinier by the second & you have run out of ideas. It’s those days when an invite to the swings is like a golden ticket. It’s the moments when you get to sit in someone’s else’s flat on the floor with a coffee & an hour passes quickly & you’re an hour closer to bed time & it all feels good again.

Seriously though, being a new mum, in a new city has been a culture shock. There are many times when I have missed my family, old friends and the simple ease of the familiar. When you’re tired you crave certain people, certain rituals, certain foods and when non of those things are available it feels harder. Somehow though, in the midst of all this I’ve found some mama friends here and quite frankly they rock! They have adopted me into their families. They have fed me, caffeinated me & dropped off gifts. They hug the baby with love. They have babies & children that are older and they are full of gentle advice. They hug me when I don’t want to hug my husband. They love wine & chocolate. They are happy to taste test my recipes & gossip about kardashians. They know when not to ring the doorbell & what time is nap time.

These donuts are for them. They are inspired by Fonuts in LA and I would love nothing more than to pack us mamas up and fly to the other side of the pond. We would get mani pedis. We would have brunch at Gjelina before shopping in the sun. We would drink coffee, swim & get fish tacos for lunch. We would head into town for most instagramable Fonuts. We would stock up on beauty products & perfectly tiny Frankie & Sue outfits. We would sleep in huge American beds with thier oversized pillows & have a lie in. Then we would fly home, because after one night our mama hearts would be longing for the little ones and we would be scrolling through our photo albums cooing.

These donuts are for them. As a big thank you for making these last 11 months happy & silly & fun. For everything they do for me. My piece of LA in Munich. These donuts are rich and brownie like but they are refined sugar free & vegan. I topped them with a simple glaze & then dipped them in ground pumpkin seeds & ground toasted coconut. You could also drizzle them with melted chocolate or top them with a coconut cream. They are totally delicious & the perfect size to have with a much needed strong coffee.

1.25 cups plain flour

0.25 cup cocoa powder

0.33 cup maple syrup

0.5 tsp baking soda

0.5 tsp baking powder

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

0.75 cup almond milk

0.25 cup rapeseed oil

Preheat your oven to 180C

Combine all the dry ingredients then add in the wet ingredients and beat well

Pour into greased donut tray rings and place into the oven for 12-14 mins or until they feel springy to the touch

Allow to cool completely

To make the glaze:

Heat 1.5tbsp of coconut oil with 2tbsp maple syrup or honey and 2 tbsp cocoa powder. Dip the donuts into the glaze and then dip into toppings of your choice

Nectarine and Pecan Baked Oatmeal

I’ve been making a concerted effort with breakfast this week. I often leave the house and halfway through the baby/dog walk/nursery drop off I realize I am starving. This being Munich, rather than London, there are not many ‘on the go’ options unless I fancy a croissant or a butter pretzel (I don’t). But then by the time I get home the hunger has somehow dissipated and I don’t get hangry until 11am when I basically eat lunch. This is not a great way to start the day, with a belly full of powerful coffee and nothing else.

I’ve been working hard to come up with easy, make ahead breakfasts. Ones that I can eat whilst the baby eats her breakfast (and throws berries at the dog). These nectarine and pecan baked oatmeals fit the bill perfectly. They work because you can vary the ingredients according to your tastebuds or what you have in the fridge. You can make them in individual portions or one big sharing dish to last the week. You can make them on a Sunday evening and enjoy them all week long. I’m thinking that you could even make them savory with roasted mushrooms, feta and spinach…as soon as I try, I’ll let you know. But for now I hope you enjoy the ease of these.

I used roasted nectarines because we had a glut of them sitting on the counter and even though they are in season, the ones we had were rock solid and showed no signs of softening. Roasting fruit brings out its natural sugars and I love the sweetness of the nectarines with the slightly bitter pecans. You can use any fruit and you don’t have to roast it first. Apples, pears, plums and peaches work well but equally you could just throw in a handful of fresh berries and call it a day.

Ingredients (6 servings)
4 sliced nectarines

1/2 cup pecans (chopped)

2 cups oats

1 tsp baking powder

2 flax eggs (or normal eggs)

2 tbsp melted coconut oil

6 tbsp maple syrup or date syrup

2 cups almond milk

Place the wet ingredients (milk, oil, eggs, syrup) into a jug and whisk together.

Combine the oats, baking powder and nuts in a bowl.

In a baking dish (or individual dishes) begin by placing a layer of fruit then covering with the oat mix. Repeat the layering until you almost reach the top of the dish.

Pour over the liquid mix waiting to allow the oats to soak it up until all the liquid is absorbed.

Place onto a baking tray and bake for 40mins (single dish) or until golden brown.


Blueberry Chia Jam

There has been a total blueberry obsession happening in this house this week. It started because I went to the organic shop & local blueberries were on offer in kilo large punnets at a seriously good price.

At the same time the baby decided that blueberries were her absolute total undisputed favourite thing to eat. Which also meant I seemed to constantly have a punnet of them in my basket/in the pram. When fruit is this bountiful my favorite thing to make is chia jam.

Chia jam is the best way to use fresh ripe fruit. You barely have to do a thing & yet you are gifted with a thick delicious multi purpose jam. Spread on toast, stirred through yoghurt, dolloped onto Bircher, eaten greedily straight from the pan (ummmmm…..), it’s enjoyment is endless.

After so much focus on lunch last week, this jam has really helped me up my breakfast game. I eat it topped with sliced almonds, the baby has some with oats. I love that it’s easy & quick to make and also that it keeps in the fridge for at least four days. My love for it is so great that I chose it to be my featured recipe when I was interviewed this week by the wonderful Erica over at “The Star Whisperer”. Erica is a London mama & her blog is a beautiful story board of fashion, lifestyle, design & brand tips. I’m so thrilled that she loves my recipes!

The great thing about chia jam is that you pick the flavor depending on what you need to use up. Blackberries are on their way in & work perfectly. As apples arrive at the end of the month simply stew, blend & add chia (and maybe a dash of cinnamon). Roasted nectarines that have been pureed would be delicious too. You choose, you only need three ingredients, one of which is water, and you are on your way to the perfect breakfast accompaniment.

Ingredients (10 -12 servings)
800g blueberries

4tbsp water

6tbsp chia seeds

Place the fruit into a large pan with the water

Heat slowly and stir often until the fruit has softened & breaks apart

(If using a harder fruit, simply puree at this stage)

Remove from the heat

Add in the chia, stir well & leave to thicken (add more chia for a thicker consistency)

Store chilled in an airtight container for up to 4 days