Category: Cake

Blackberry Hazelnut Crumble Bars

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Blackberry Hazelnut Crumble Bars | My New Roots
 
I am writing this on the very first day of autumn. Copenhagen has welcomed this season with classically crisp air and blindingly bright sun. People are stretched out along the banks of the harbour in the afternoon light, soaking in what will be the last blows of summer’s fight. Ugh. Can you feel it?

Last week my family and I were out at our garden. On the cycle back home we stopped by the blackberry bramble that has overtaken a major section of the vacant land nearby. It towers over me, and extends along the bike path for half a block or more, an impenetrable wall of thorns and fruit. Happily there were a few berries left, just enough to pick for a dessert and a handful to snack on with my boys. Languishing in the last morsels of hot sun we felt the seasons shifting ever-so-slightly and celebrated with the ripest and blackest of berries, like summer captured in edible jewels.

Blackberry Hazelnut Crumble Bars | My New Roots
 
But I got the berries home and suddenly I felt a lot of pressure. Kind of like when you impulse-buy those crazy-looking mushrooms at the farmer’s market and worry that whatever you’re going to be making isn’t “special enough” so you let them sit in your fridge too long until they go bad. Forehead slap. That was not going to happen to my berries. No way. Here was my thought process:
Sarah B, relax.
You like blackberries.
You like crumble.
You make too many crumbles.
You don’t make too many bars.
Crumble bars.
What’s a crumble bar?
Stop asking questions. Let’s do this.

Blackberry Hazelnut Crumble Bars | My New Roots
 
I proceeded in the best way I knew how, by browsing the internet for ideas. It turns out crumble bars do exist, but I couldn’t find any versions that were all that virtuous. Subbing this for that while keeping things as simple as possible, I came up with an edition that is made with whole foods, totally vegan, and easily made gluten-free. The crust is light and flaky, the filling is rich and bursting with juicy flavours and the crumble topping is crunchy and satisfying. Although I use hazelnuts in mine, you could substitute those with almonds – just leave a few of them really big because biting into a large toasted nut is delicious, especially combined with the oozy and sweet fruit center. Heavenly.
Next year I am definitely going to try these bars with black currants in the early summer months, and maybe raspberries later on.

Blackberry Hazelnut Crumble Bars | My New Roots
 
Freezing and Cooking: How do they affect nutrients?

Pssst. I have a secret. Sometimes in the off-season, I do something totally crazy. I buy frozen berries.

What is a nutritionist such as myself doing purchasing and even recommending frozen foods to people? For one, I live in Denmark where the availability of fresh food is pretty sad in the winter, obviously. And second I’m a person that does things like everyone else, such as relying on conveniences when need be. I’m okay with that.

But what kind of affect does freezing have on foods, say blackberries for instance? You’d be surprised, and likely thrilled to learn, that freezing does not completely spoil the vitamins and minerals in food. In fact, you’re looking at a mere 10-15% nutrient loss across the board. Vitamin C is the one vitamin that is most likely to dissipate, as once the fruit or veggie has been plucked from its source, vitamin C levels start to decline almost immediately. Luckily, vitamin C is the single more common and easily obtained vitamin in nature, and you can make up for that loss somewhere else in your day.

Blackberry Hazelnut Crumble Bars | My New Roots
 
And what about cooking? This is a little more complicated, as it varies according to the specific nutrient in question and the type of cooking method. Fat soluble vitamins (D, E, K) are not destroyed by heat alone, and vitamin A is relatively stable. The B-vitamins are also heat stable, except for panthotenic acid (B5). Folate breaks down at very high temperatures. Vitamin C is the nutrient that takes the biggest hit by far, as it is one of the most delicate vitamins in nature. It is not only destroyed by heat, but also exposure to air and light. It is also water-soluble, meaning that steaming something containing vitamin C will be surely destroy it.

As a general rule, minerals are very heat stable, especially when using cooking methods that do not employ water, like roasting or baking – there is almost no loss whatsoever.

If you are steaming, boiling, braising, or blanching foods, both vitamins and minerals will leach out into the water. To preserve these precious nutrients, save the broth to drink, or freeze it for later use in a soup or stew. I use it to puree my baby’s food. He’ll never know his millet porridge was cooked with broccoli water!

Since this blog is read the world over, there will of course be a few of you out there who can’t get themselves to a blackberry bramble, simply because it isn’t the right season. No worries. Find a grocer with organic frozen blackberries and go to town. You should not wait to make these. Seriously.

Blackberry Hazelnut Crumble Bars | My New Roots
 

Chilled Chocolate Espresso Torte with Toasted Hazelnut Crust, from Oh She Glows

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Yes, more chocolate. “Oops”. I’ll explain.

I recently received an email from the lovely Angela Liddon of Oh She Glows genius, asking me if I’d like to take a look at her just-released cookbook. It was not surprising to discover a world of truly spectacular and inspiring vegan recipes, just like on her blog, so when she asked me if I would like to post a recipe from the book here on My New Roots, of course I jumped at the chance. Although there were countless delicious-looking dishes to choose from, one dessert really stood out to me: the Chocolate Torte with Toasted Hazelnut Crust. Guh. Hold me back. I am a tired mummy with a very apparent chocolate predilection, so please find it in your heart to forgive me, please? I know, that was a hard one.

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Angela’s creativity and culinary prowess really comes through in this dessert. Instead of dairy products, the luxuriously smooth and rich chocolate torte uses cashews to mimic cream, and geniusly doubles as freezer fudge if you are “not in the mood” to make crust, as she puts it. It is incredibly chocolaty and decadent, using only maple syrup as a sweetener. And although I have never been a coffee drinker, I do appreciate the taste of coffee, and the flavour of it in this dessert is actually very subtle, functioning more as an enhancer of the chocolate. I’m all for that. If you do not want to use espresso, it’s fine to leave it out. Just a plain chocolate version of this would be divine.

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This dessert is fantastic. Like, seriously. If you make it for a group of people, you will have friends for life, and if you make it for yourself you will be enjoying slivers of silky smooth chocolate bliss for a days on end. Because you store the torte in the freezer and take it out just before serving, you can keep it for a very long time, providing you can exercise some serious restraint. I was able to ration this thing out over a couple weeks (see friends, I do have some self-control).

If you don’t have a high-speed blender, this recipe will still work and be delicious, but the filling will not be as smooth as if you use something like a Vitamix or Blendtec.

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Huge thanks to Angela for blessing us with not only this incredible recipe, but an entire book filled with vegan delights that will inspire anyone who picks up a copy. Her warmth, wisdom and kitchen creativity shines through on every page, showing us all that healthy food can be astoundingly delicious!

Get your copy of the Oh She Glows cookbook here.

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Cinnamon Bun in the Oven!

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No, I am not trying to pull a fast one on you. There is a bun in the oven. Like, the real kind!

I have been so, so excited to share the news with all of you that the love of my life and I are expecting our first baby, due this November! Today officially marks the halfway point, 20 weeks, and it’s hard to believe how soon this precious little sprout will be in our arms. It’s also hard to believe that I’ve kept the pregnancy a secret this long, but somehow I managed, even through cooking classes, lectures and press events. Whew! Not an easy task, I tell you.

I am sure there are many questions reeling through your mind at this point: How am I feeling? What am I eating? What am I doing to stay in shape? Am I still a vegetarian? etc. etc. The topic of conception, pregnancy, and giving birth, of course sparks countless queries. There is so much to learn and understand it can be overwhelming, even for a lady like myself if I allow it to be.

One of the most helpful things I’ve learned so far is to silence all the “noise” around me, ignore almost all advice I’ve been given, and just surrender to the supreme intelligence of my body. It is after all, creating this teeny being and can tell me what it wants as long as I am quiet enough. I know that if I trust my instincts and do what feels right, this baby will get what it needs. Some days it’s walnuts (okay, it seems like every day I’m binging on those), other days it’s cheese (yes! I am now a cheese fiend!), so I just obey.

That being said, my diet really hasn’t changed that much. Yes, I am taking supplements as I eat primarily vegan and know how important it is to make up for some missing elements, but other than that I am sticking to my same old ways because that is what feels right. Lots of fruit and veggies, beans, sprouts, whole grains, nuts and seeds, comprise the bulk of my diet, with the occasional egg and cheese slice thrown in for good measure. Many people told me when I conceived that I would surely crave meat, and although I know that is true for some vegetarians, I haven’t had the slightest inkling to eat animals. If I did, maybe I would grill up a steak, but for now I am living life and creating life on plant fuel and my baby is both healthy and happy.

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So the recipe. First of all I had to make something with a little cheekiness, ‘cause that’s how I roll, but also in tribute to the first trimester of this pregnancy when all I wanted were plain carbohydrates. Thankfully, I am over that hump now and have resumed eating green vegetables, but I still love biting into something warm, gooey, and comforting once in a while. Baby seems to like it too. Made with whole spelt flour, applesauce, and dates, this is one Sunday breakfast treat that also makes a delicious mid-week snack with tea.  It is cinnamon-y, rich tasting, and not overly sweet. In fact the “frosting” for the cinnamon buns is made with yogurt, because I never really liked slathering sugar-y icing on top of already sweet rolls. I enjoy a little more balance in my life, but hey, you’re the boss of this one. If you’re vegan, the rolls are a perfect recipe for you, just leave the yogurt frosting off the top and replace with a cashew or coconut cream.

I made two varieties of this recipe because I wanted to see if I could in fact create a yeast-free version for those of you trying to avoid yeast. I must admit the yeasted version turned out to be my preference – it was much lighter and softer than the one that just used baking powder. Although it takes a little more time and planning, as you must wait a couple times for the dough to rise, I think it is worth the extra effort.

I also made two different shapes with the dough. One was a traditional cinnamon bun and the other was a braided wreath that looks so, so beautiful. Please note that either version of the recipe will work with both shapes, even though I made the traditional bun shape without yeast and the braided wreath with yeast – these can simply be interchanged.

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It feels pretty amazing to be in my body right now, more so than ever. I am experiencing the kind of radical transformation that only nature can create, and it is blowing my mind every day! I feel so lucky to be a woman and experience this life beginning, growing and glowing inside me. What an honor to bring a soul into the world. What a gift to be a vessel of love and to share such a deep connection with another spirit.

Thank you to each and every one of you for your love and support during this powerful time.

With love, always,
Sarah B + sprout

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** This post will inevitably stir up a lot of questions in some women wanting to conceive a child or for those of you that are already pregnant, but I’ll kindly remind you that I do not give personal health advice over the internet, nor will I respond to any emails with these inquiries. Please know how much I would love to help you, but for your safety and mine, I only treat clients face to face. Good luck on your journey and just remember to listen to your body and trust its wisdom. **