This Is The Ultimate Way To Prepare Onions

Read this post to revolutionise the way you cook dinner. This will save you some serious time. Here's how one woman made short work of onions. It all started with that ubiquitous and time-consuming recipe directive: First, caramelise an onion... By 'one woman', I do, of course, mean me. And by 'caramelise an onion' I mean that thing I seem to have to do at the beginning of every home-cooked main meal or soup. Is there any savoury dish that doesn't benefit from the initial frying of an onion? Unfortunately, peeling, chopping and carefully browning an onion takes time. It can add at least 15 minutes to the start of any cooking process. That could sometimes be enough to put me off cooking from scratch, especially if I was in a rush. Until now.

Spicy vegan cakes muffins - No egg, no butter no spread

Cake recipes: If you're thinking of fluffy, sweet little buns that you could confidently offer to your non-vegan guests. Read on.

These cakes are made without butter (of course) and without any dodgy butter-substitute-spread things (I used vegetable oil). There's no egg-replacer either (not even flax eggs): just a few basic ingredients that you've probably already got in the cupboard. It's a reassuringly simple recipe using real ingredients.

There are loads of vegan cake recipes out there, ranging from the decidedly too-healthy (it's a cake! I don't want to chomp my way through a wholemeal brick!) to decidedly too weird (one had the oddest consistency; like a damp dishwashing sponge crossed with a jelly.) After you've tried a few permutations, it's tempting to give up and declare that you are vegan and cake, sadly, is not the same anymore.

But don't despair. Here, we have a cake recipe that doesn't require fake butter, fake eggs and trickery. This is a simple sponge that will restore your faith in cake.


To make a Victoria sponge cake into a vegan Victoria sponge cake, you have to do something about the eggs and the butter.

Eggs, you will soon discover, are not a problem. You can use flax eggs* in almost any baking. This recipe didn't include any kind of egg at all.
*A flax egg, in case you haven't met this marvel yet, is made by soaking a tablespoonful of ground flax seeds in three tablespoonfuls of water. That's all. The soaking doesn't need to take more than a couple of minutes but, as the liquid is absorbed, the flax seeds swell up and develop a gelatinous consistency, not entirely dis-similar to egg. Only brown. But don't worry, you won't notice the difference in a cake.

Butter is usually the stumbling block.

The first time I attempted a vegan sponge cake, I used vegan spread instead of butter. I used spread in the sponge itself and for the 'butter' icing. The result was very good, although the icing was waaaay more sloppy than real buttercream and the top half of the cake had great difficulty remaining sandwiched onto the bottom half. I digress.

The idea of vegan spread is troubling. What is it, exactly? Is it 'margarine' by another name? Haven't we been avoiding margarine, with its hydrogenated fats, for some time now? Vegan spread is one of those 'fake' foods. It's a processed food with unrecognisable ingredients: an anathema in the whole-food plant-based diet. I like to use whole ingredients. As a vegan, I never have attempted to recreate the diet I ate before. I don't generally use fake bacon, fake cheese, fake mince. My approach is to make delicious things out of the myriad whole food ingredients that I can eat, rather than trying to find processed-food substitutes for the things I can't. So, yes, the idea of vegan spread bothers me a lot. Sure, my vegan spread cake was nice but I couldn't help feeling that it wasn't good.

Butter can also be replaced by nut butter or coconut oil. Both of these options have their merits. However, if you want to use something less expensive and with a milder taste, vegetable oil is your best bet.

These cakes were made using the basic recipe below. You can adapt this recipe to become other types of cake (try coffee or chocolate, for example) and you can use the batter to make small buns, larger muffins, one large round cake or tray bake. Of course. You're an adventurer - you can experiment.

The basic easy-peasy whole-food plant-based cake recipe is as follows:

Combine the wet ingredients:
  • 1 cup milk (I used soya)
  • 1 tbsp vinegar (I used cider vinegar)
  • 1/3 cup oil (I used sunflower oil)
Then combine the dry ingredients:
  • 2 cups wholemeal flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Don't forget to add flavours, if you want them. Perhaps a a few tablespoons of cocoa powder, maybe some strongly brewed coffee, perhaps some chocolate chips or dried fruit... you get the idea.

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry, put into cases (or a tin) and bake.

To make my spicy little buns, I added a few teaspoonfuls of mixed spice, a teaspoonful of vanilla extract and some sultanas. They took about 15 minutes to bake at just under 200oC.

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