While I’m still trying to eat a tad more healthily, I’m a firm believer that a little of what you fancy is good for you. If you deny yourself all forms of treats sooner or later you’re going to give up or break down and over indulge. If you fancy cake, why not make some little buns, just a few bites can give you the sweet treat you fancy and, if you’re clever about it, you can fiddle the ingredients to make them that bit more wholesome. These buns, for example, are not just mini bites of sweet, moist cake with a delightful citrus tang; they are also vegan, high in fibre and a good source of those pesky essential fatty acids that my fish-defficient diet is rather lacking. These clementine cakes are positively perfect!
This was my first time adapting a cake recipe to be vegan (not that I had any vegans to share them with) and it was more a happy accident rather than the result of an intention that made them so. I wanted to find a way to introduce some of those aforementioned EFAs into my diet and duly bought a bag of golden linseed (otherwise known as flax) only to discover that the itty bitty seeds are so tiny that we, erm, digest them without absorbing any nutrients. Having pinched husband’s coffee grinder to create some fresh milled linseed, I was faced with the dilemma of what to do with it. No offense to the linseed, but the idea of sprinkling it over my cereal in the morning didn’t exactly appeal. After a quick google I discovered that, once it is mixed with liquid, ground linseed forms a gel that does the same work as the egg in baked goods – binding everything together. And lo and behold, my accidentally vegan but very delicious muffinlets were born.
Amazingly, although they contain oats and wholemeal flour which ordinarily make cakes heavy, these little cakes are light and have a tender crumb. The juice of five clementines keeps them super moist and provides a nice zing. I’ve stashed a bag of them in the freezer so over the next few weeks I can pop one in the microwave whenever the cake pangs hit.
Clementine and linseed buns
Adapted from Dan Lepard’s Short and Sweet
Make 12 buns or 6 muffins
- juice of 5 clementines and the zest of 3
- 5 tbsp ground linseed (made from 2 tbsp whole seeds)
- 70ml vegetable or canola (rapeseed) oil
- 100g caster sugar
- 50g rolled oats
- 100g wholemeal plain flour
- 100g white plain flour
- 1½tsp baking powder
Preheat the oven to 180°C and line, or grease and flour, a 12-hole bun tin (or place 6 muffin liners in a muffin tin).
Zest the 3 clementines and set aside. Juice all the clementines, measure and set aside 100 ml. Measure the remaining juice – you need 180ml – and make up with water if necessary.
Stir the 180ml of juice into the ground linseed and leave to gel for a few minutes.
In a large bowl beat together the zest, oil, sugar and gelled linseed with an electric whisk until airy and fluffy (about 3 minutes).
Stir in the 100ml of juice and oats then sift over the flours and baking powder and gently fold in until just combined.
Place heaped dessert spoons of batter into the bun tin holes so they are about full (or, if making muffins, fill the cases ¾ of the way up).
Bake in the centre of the oven for 20 minutes (25 for muffins) or until risen and golden. Turn out and allow to cool.