From Vegetable Cakes by Ysanne Spevack, published by Lorenz Books - available at all good independent book sellers in the USA and UK, at Barnes and Noble, Waterstones, and online at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk

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Radish Pavlova

Egg-free meringue made (as if by magic!) from chickpeas, topped with rosewater-infused radish

Aquafaba meringue topped with mandolin-slices of radish. For a lovely subtle floral flourish, you can decorate with rose petals and even radish ‘roses’ soaked in rose water. This recipe is vegan, nut-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free.

There’s a new magic ingredient, and it’s beyond surprising. In fact, we’ve always known about it, but never realized its potential. Once discarded as a waste product, the cooking liquid from a can of chickpeas has now found recognition as a wonder ingredient dubbed ‘aquafaba’ (or ‘bean water’) by the French chef Joel Roessel, and a food blogger by the name of Goose Wohlt. The liquid is the gloopy, creamy fibres of the beans, and acts similarly to egg whites. It’s the ultimate vegan no-waste foodstuff. Now I often find myself buying cans of chickpeas and white beans purely for the aquafaba, and then making hummus so I don’t waste the ‘by-product’ of the beans themselves! Simply strain the liquid from the can and whisk, to create a fabulous foam that forms the basis of an egg-free meringue. 

MAKES ONE 20CM/8IN PAVLOVA, SERVES 6–8 

175ml/6fl oz aquafaba i.e. the liquid from a can of chickpeas 

1.5ml/1/4 tsp cream of tartar (optional)

1.5ml/1/4 tsp guar gum (optional) 

1.5ml/1/4 tsp Versawhip (optional) 

2.5ml/1/2 tsp vanilla extract 

50g/2oz cornflour

150g/5oz caster sugar 

A bunch of fresh radishes, topped and tailed 

30ml/2 tbsp raw agave syrup 

5ml/1 tsp rose water (optional) 

400ml/14fl oz can of coconut cream, chilled 

Mint sprigs and rose petals, to decorate


1 Set the oven to 100ºC/200ºF/Gas 1/4. Line a large baking sheet with baking parchment or use a silicone mat. 

2 Using an electric whisk on high setting, beat the aquafaba until whipped to stiff glossy peaks, about 8 minutes. Whisk in the cream of tartar, guar gum and Versawhip (if using), and vanilla extract. 

3 Sift the cornflour into a small bowl, and mix together with the sugar. Slowly add this mixture, one tablespoon at a time, to the aquafaba foam, still beating on high with the electric whisk. After about 2–3 minutes the ingredients will be combined, and the foam still firm. 

4 Spread the foam onto the baking sheet, heaping it in the middle as it will spread out slightly. You could pipe the foam if you prefer a more formal look. 

5 Bake for 2 hours, then turn the oven off and leave the meringue in the oven for another 5 hours. 

6 While the meringue is in the cooling oven, slice the radishes as thinly as possible using a mandolin. Soak the slices in a bowl with the agave and rose water, if using. 

7 When you’re nearly ready to serve the pavlova, open the chilled can of coconut cream and drain away the liquid (retaining it in a bowl as you will want to use some of it), leaving the thick semi-solid cream. Using an electric whisk, whip the cream, adding some of the reserved liquid little by little until the desired consistency is reached. It needs to be thick so it will stay on top of the pavlova. 

8 Remove the meringue from the oven, spread with the whipped coconut cream and top with the macerated radishes. Decorate with mint sprigs and rose petals. As the meringue will start to moisten, serve immediately. 

OPTIONAL INGREDIENTS

The cream of tartar, guar gum, and Versawhip are all optional ingredients. I’ve found they add stability to the uncooked foam, and structure to the finished baked meringue, but they aren’t necessary. Many people prefer their pavlova to have more crevices and cracks. Also, I usually recommend avoiding refined sugar, but don’t attempt to substitute it in this meringue – the chemistry won’t work! It really is essential to use refined sugar for this recipe, much as I wish it wasn’t the case. Really, I spent a whole month testing different non-sugar sweeteners to make this work, but ultimately, the sugar crust is what allows this to be an egg-free pavlova - the only egg-free pavlova that I have come ac ross to date. This meringue is lovely with almond extract instead of vanilla extract, if you like, though it won’t then be nut-free.

DECORATION IDEA

To decorate with radish ‘roses’, trim radishes and make vertical cuts three-quarters of the way through in a rose pattern, using a sharp knife. Put into a bowl of cold water infused with a little rose water, and soak in the refrigerator overnight. Drain well before using. 

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Cauliflower, Chocolate and Coconut Cake

A super moist vegan layer cake with maple syrup

Cauliflower is ‘riced’ and transformed into a super-moist cake with the fabulous flavour combination of coconut and chocolate. A maple coconut cream makes it even more special.

This delectable vegetable cake has an incredibly moist and fudgy texture, with a classic cake-like crumb and a topping of whipped coconut cream. It is a perfect entry-level recipe to introduce vegetable cakes to your family and friends, and to serve for a celebration. To ‘rice’ the cauliflower, I use a box grater, or pulse it in a food processor to make little rice-sized pieces. You can buy packs of pre-riced cauliflower but it’s more nutritious to do yourself.

MAKES ONE 20CM / 8” CAKE, SERVES 8

FOR THE CAKE:

100ml/31/2fl oz coconut oil

100ml/31/2fl oz maple syrup

50g/2oz coconut sugar

150g/5¾oz chocolate, 70% or 100% cocoa solids

2.5ml/½ tsp pink or sea salt

175ml/6fl oz aquafaba i.e. the liquid from a can of chickpeas

150g/5oz coconut flour 

4.5ml/¾ tsp baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)

400g/14oz grated cauliflower (about 1 large head, cored), plus florets for decoration

FOR THE FROSTING:

400g/14oz/2 blocks solid creamed coconut

60ml/4 tbsp boiling water

45ml/3 tbsp maple syrup

120ml/4fl oz coconut or non-dairy milk

1 carrot, for decoration

1 Preheat the oven to 190ºC/370ºF/Gas 5. Line the bottoms of two 20cm/8in round loose-based cake tins with baking parchment. The batter is quite oily so there’s no need to grease non-stick tins.

2 In a saucepan, heat the coconut oil until liquid and then mix in the maple syrup and coconut sugar. Heat for 2 minutes until bubbling and combined. Break in the chocolate, take the pan off the heat, and stir so it combines. Add the salt, and set aside.

3 In a bowl, whisk the aquafaba for 4 minutes with an electric hand mixer on the highest setting until it forms soft, white peaks. Fold in the chocolate mixture and then the flours, bicarbonate of soda and grated cauliflower.

4 Transfer the batter equally into the prepared cake tins and bake for 40 minutes until still moist but fairly firm in the centres. Allow to cool in the tins, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely, being careful as they are so squishy. Leave in the fridge overnight – this does improve the consistency and makes the cakes fudgy and cohesive.

5 The next day, grate the creamed coconut into a bowl, and, using a metal spoon, blend with 4 tbsp boiling water, the 3 tbsp maple syrup and the coconut milk to make a creamy frosting. Stand for 10 minutes to warm and combine, then blend again. (If you prefer, you can simply use canned coconut cream instead of the block and coconut milk.)

6 Removing the paper, set the first cake on a plate. Spread with coconut frosting then peel the paper from the second cake and place it on top. Cover with the rest of the frosting. Decorate with carrot ribbons (I use a vegetable peeler) and tiny cauliflower slices. This cake keeps for 4 days in an airtight container, and improves every day.

DECORATION IDEA

Top the cake with sweet, crisped cauliflower florets if you like. Place small slices on a baking sheet and drizzle with 15ml/1 tbsp of maple syrup. Bake in a 210ºC/425ºF/Gas 7 oven for 10 minutes then allow to cool before using.

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Beet Rose Chocolate Brownies

Indulgent squishy brownies that are vegan, and free from gluten or refined sugar.

This flourless, eggless recipe makes the most of the beets as the base ingredient, transformed during baking into a (nearly) traditional rich-tasting brownie. This decadent-tasting little cake is vegan, sugar-free, nut-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free.

The wonderful consistency of puréed beet forms the substance of this brownie, while the binding power of chickpea water is a vehicle for the chocolate and rose flavors to be delivered. Confronting expectations, this is a gentle dessert cake that’s as easy on the tongue as it is on the eye. It also provides a key to considering vegetable dyes for decoration, with the simple technique for dying coconut equally good when tried with other vegetable dyes, from purple cabbage to onion skins. Essential oils vary considerably in strength. With a high-quality essential oil, one drop will be plenty. Serve with rosehip tea to complement the colour as much as the robust flavors.

MAKES 20 BROWNIES

500g/1 1/4 lb whole beets

100ml/3 1/2fl oz/scant 1/2 cup coconut oil 

50ml/2fl oz/1/4 cup maple syrup 

200g/7oz dark chocolate, 100% cocoa solids, chopped 

100ml/3 1/2fl oz/scant 1/2 cup aquafaba i.e. the liquid from canned chickpeas 

100g/3 3 /4oz/1/2 cup coconut sugar 

up to 5ml/1 tsp rose otto (damask) essential oil 

Pinch of pink or sea salt 

80g/3 1/4oz cornstarch 

5ml/1 tsp baking powder 

25g/1oz desiccated raw (dry unsweetened macaroon-cut shredded) coconut

1 Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas 6 and grease and line a 20 x 30cm/8 x 12in baking pan. Place the beets in a pan of boiling water and bring back to the boil. Simmer for 20 minutes until soft. 

2 Drain, reserving a small glass of the liquid. Allow the beets to cool, then peel. Liquidise in a blender until a purée-like consistency, then transfer the beet pulp to a large mixing bowl. 

3 Mix the oil, syrup and chocolate with the beet and stir thoroughly until combined. 

4 In a separate bowl, whisk the aquafaba with an electric whisk for 4 minutes until thick and glossy. Whisk in the sugar for 30 seconds, then fold the mixture into the beet. Add the rose oil (just a drop or two is needed if you are using the purest oil) and salt, then mix in the cornstarch and baking powder. 

5 Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 15 minutes, or until set on top. Turn the oven down to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas 4 and cook for a further 15 minutes. Allow to cool completely. 

6 In the meantime, scatter half of the desiccated coconut on another baking pan lined with baking parchment and sprinkle over 10ml/2 tsp of the reserved beet cooking water. Mix briefly then turn the oven down to 100ºC/200ºF/Gas 1/4 and bake for 5 minutes. 

7 Cut the brownie into squares and sprinkle with the dyed purply-pink coconut and the remaining white desiccated coconut. Serve and enjoy!