Simple Vegan Chocolate Cake

With my marathon training well under way. I have decided to keep the sweets to a minimum. There ARE however, some exceptions.

After running nearly 7 miles on a blisteringly cold Sunday afternoon and proceeding to nap for several hours. I woke up like a bear coming out of hibernation. A bear that’s only chance for survival was chocolate cake.

With training in mind, and no eggs at home I decided it was time to take a crash course in vegan cake baking. I obviously wasn’t in any shape to leave the house, so my obstacle was to use only items in my pantry. (Thankfully I bake a lot, and had most of what I needed on hand)

 

AND VOILA… It ain’t pretty; but it was perfect. Given the option between a conventional chocolate cake and this one. I’d have to choose this one. Seriously, delicious.

THE CAKE
1 1/2 cups Almond Milk
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cups Pumpkin Puree
1/2 cup  strong brewed coffee
2/3 cup melted coconut oil
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups + 2 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

THE INSTRUCTIONS:

-Preheat oven to 350°F
-Lightly spray 2 8-inch round cake pans nonstick spray
-Dust with cocoa powder, shake out the excess and set aside.
-Mix the almond milk and vinegar in a large mixing bowl, and let set for a few minutes to activate.
-Add the oil, coffee, vanilla extract, and pumpkin purée  and beat until foamy.
-Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt
-Add The dry ingredients to the wet ingredients
-Beat until no large lumps remain. It should be creamy and pourable. Taste and adjust sweetness as needed, adding more sugar if desired.
-Divide batter evenly between your 2 cake pans
-Bake 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting.

THE FROSTING

1 cup 100% dark chopped fine chocolate
1/4 cup almond milk
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1/3 cup powdered sugar

THE INSTRUCTIONS

-In a  saucepan over medium-low heat, mix together the chocolate chips, milk, coconut oil, vanilla extract and salt.
-Stir until melted and completely smooth.
-If you want to add powdered sugar, gradually stir it in now.
-Let the pan cool for about 15 minutes
-Place the pan in the refrigerator for about 10-20 minutes, stirring after every 5 minutes, or until firm enough to spread on the cake

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Goal

I am not an athlete, I am a human. I am a human with the goal of running a marathon in October.

This is a far cry from the nature of my blog when it started. Just as with most of life, my blog is adjusting and adapting.

I go through phases. Phases of passion and intense focus. When I started this blog I was primarily focused on baking anything and everything that I could think of.

This time last year, I was possessed with the idea of learning how to bake an amazing loaf of bread. So I did it.
The year before, I was obsessed with learning to grow my own food and work for myself, so I did it.
The year before that, I was obsessed with working at the finest restaurant in Palm Beach, so I did.

I am now possessed with the idea of training my body to run a marathon. Im fascinated by the idea of a body as a functioning machine that requires a certain amount and type of fuel, to run with heightened performance. I am fascinated that this body, that I am so blessed to have, was designed to move designed to run.

Often times, during my runs I think about the way I am moving, the way my feet touch the ground, how the breath feels coming in and out of my nostrils and mouth. The smell of the air around me and the temparature.

Our bodies, much like seeds that produce food, have certain requirements. You can not make a plant grow by pushing on it or yelling at it. Most likely that plant will die or cripple and not produce fruit. More often than not, a plant grows best when it has the essentials and it is unencumbered by much attention (think of weeds; dandelions) A lot has to do with time, temperature and location of course.

Much like a plant our bodies require us to give them time to grow. I cannot force myself to run 10 miles without injury, when I can’t run 2. My “running muscles” must be trained to be active. They must also be given time to recover and replenish themselves. Which is where the “fuel” or nutrition part comes in.

But the fact that they CAN be trained to be active, thats what I’m most passionate about. We all have essentially the same chemical and physical properties. My body, though not trained and cared for the same as, has the basic functions of an athlete.

(I don’t mean to sound insensitive to cases of those with disabilities or inabilities. There is a million situations and scenarios)

I am interested in not only training my body to run 26.2 miles, but also training my mind. Training myself to be able to acknowledge physical pain, but not identify with it. To look objectively at the situation and to stay with my breath.

I’d like to run the marathon with the mind of meditation.

That is the goal, thank you for reading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kolaches

1/2 cup milk
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks or -3/4 cup) butter
2 packages dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 egg yolks
4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour, divided use
Confectioners’ sugar

Use toppings of your choice, I used cherry pie filling, peanut butter, honey and almonds, chocolate etc

Combine the milk and butter in a small saucepan and heat until the butter is melted. Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water in a small bowl, stir, and let stand 5 minutes to dissolve. Put the milk and butter in a large mixing bowl and let cool to a safe temperature for the yeast. Stir in the the yeast mixture, granulated sugar,salt, egg yolks, and 3 cups of the flour.Beat vigorously for a minute. Add enough of the remaining flour to make a manageable dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a minute, then let the dough rest for 10 minutes. Resume kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap,let rise until double in bulk.

Punch the dough down and place on a lightly floured board. Divide the dough in half, then with your hands roll each half cylinder into a cylinder about 1 1/2 inches round. Cut each into fifteen equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and shape the balls into the form you wish to make.To make rounds: Press each ball into a circle about 2 1/2 inches across and form a small rum around the edges. Press the center down and put 1 tablespoon of fruit filling in the center. To make a square packet: Pat out a square about 3 inches on a side, and place tablespoon of fruit filling in the center. Bring the four corners together on top, wetting the dough at the points with a little water and pressing them together to adhere. To make turnovers: Form the balls into small ovals about 3 inches long, place a tablespoon of fruit filling in the center, fold the oval in half, and pinch the edges together with a little water to seal.

Place the Kolaches 2 inches apart on a greased baking sheet.Cover loosely and let rise until double in bulk again.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 15 to 20minutes, or until lightly browned. Don’t overtake. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the tops with confectioners sugar. Place on racks to cool. Freeze what you have not used within a day

 

 

Soft Gingerbread

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons powdered ginger
1 teaspoon grown cloves
8 tablespoons ( 1 stick or 1/2 cup) butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup dark molasses
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup boiling water
2 eggs, slightly beaten

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour an 8 inch pan. Combine flour, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, and sift them together onto a piece of waxed paper. Set aside. Put the butter in a large mixing bowl and beat until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar and molasses and continue beating until well blended.Combine the baking soda and boiling water and add them to the butter sugar mixture, beating well. Add the flour mixture and beat until the batter is smooth, then beat in the eggs.
Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick or broom straw inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out on to a rack, serve warm or cool.

 

Stepping stones

At one time in my life I worked on an organic farm in Indiantown, FL. I have the upmost admiration and respect for the woman who shared this beautiful farm with her husband. It was hard to tell her age, as years of farming in the Florida sun had hardened her physically, but my guess would be mid 60s’s. She often grumbled about different problems regarding her  crops. Caterpillars, too much rain, too little rain, not enough product etc. I often found myself asking her to step back, to look at the big picture.

At a distance this 40 acre organic farm was a stunning and beautiful picture of well tended abundance. She couldn’t see it the way I could.  She could only see the catipillars destroying her tomatos or the flooded broccolini acre.

Isn’t that so typical of life?

We create something beautiful and forget to step back and enjoy it. We choose to see all of the flaws rather than the success. We expect perfection in our endeavors, if it’s anything less than perfection we hold up the flaws like a red flag in our mind. Taking away the ability to fully embrace and enjoy our creation.

We resent our stepping stones, always aching to arrive at our destination. It’s hard to trust the process, and yourself.

In my life, I am prone to abandonment prior to success. I am a self-sabotage extraordinaire. It’s almost easier to accept unnecessary defeat on my own terms rather than the chance for uncontrolled failure.

I, like my farming friend, refuse to see the big picture. It’s hard to enjoy my accomplishments and the fruits of my labor if they aren’t perfect. It’s hard to be OK with OK.

It’s hard to be hopping from one stepping stone to the next, especially if you can’t invision the end result. It’s easy to get caught up on our steps and forget what we’re working towards.

The importance lies in appreciating the stepping stones. Never forgetting the importance of each one. Embracing the fact that your not there yet, and that’s ok.

I suppose it would be just as easy to enjoy where we are, because soon it will be a memory and you’ll have new stones to hop from.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes about 80 cookies

16 tablespoons (2 sticks or 1 cup) butter, softened
3/4 Cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup dark-brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon hot water
2 cups chopped walnuts
2 cups (12 ounces semisweet chocolate morsels or 2 cups coarsely chopped chocolate

Preheat oven to 375. Grease some cookie sheets
Beat the butter until smooth. Add the granulated and brown sugar and beat until thoroughly blended, then add the eggs and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy.

Combine the flour and salt, and stir and toss them together. Stir the baking soda into the hot water. Add half the flour to the butter-sugar mixture and beat well, then beat in the baking soda and water. Add the remaining flour and beat until completely mixed. Stir in the walnuts and chocolate.

Drop the dough by heaping teaspoonfuls onto the cookie sheets, placing them about 2 inches apart. Flatten each cookie slightly with your wet fingertips into a disk about 1/3 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches across. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until they have spread slightly and are lightly browned all over. Do not undertake; they should be crisp and crunchy. Remove from the cookie sheets and cool on a rack.

Peanut-Butter Chocolate chip cookies. Add 1 cup peanut butter to the butter sugar mixture. Omit the walnuts, and add 2 cups roughly chopped peanuts.

Whole-Wheat Carob-Chip Cookies. Omit the granulated sugar and increase the brown sugar to 1 1/2 cups. Substitute 2 cups whole-wheat flour for the 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour, and substitute 2 cups carob chips for the chocolate morsels.

Intentions for a new year.


We all struggle to find what we’re looking for in this life. We set high expectations of ourselves and try to measure up to what we think those around us need or want. We create insurmountable goals for ourselves that we would never dream of asking a friend or acquaintance to meet.

We walk around in circles chasing our tails for money and the pursuit of the American dream. The nature of humans: to continually build themselves, to continue to progress.  Build higher, build bigger, build better, prove them wrong. All things we tell ourselves and think acceptable. 

Why can’t it be enough to tend to our metaphorical garden, or our home, our space in this world. Is there a point we can reach where it will be enough.

Is it hiding behind the next achievement? What if we whittled down our life to necessities. I’m not referring to owning less physically.  Its mental.

 What if we stopped, got off the wheel and looked around. Took a break from trying so hard.  What if we did things not for the approval it brings or to feed our ego. What if we did what fed our soul?

I’ve been working a lot on decluttering, mentally and physically. Ive been trying to understand my place in this world without defining it by my job or my possessions. To see myself objectively.

This year I’m interested in learning how to be the best version of myself. To declutter my mind of the burden of the past and look forward. Im not interested in acquiring more things.Im interested in acquiring experiences, new habits that feed my body and soul. New routines that contribute to me being the best version of myself.