She who dares bakes...Lavash Crackers

Am I the only one hadn't heard of lavash crackers before this month's challenge? For those of you who are similarly unenlightened they are pita-style flatbreads which are ideal for scooping up a variety of dips, salsas and more. They are also vegan. Yes, this month Natalie from Gluten a Go Go and Shel from Musings from the Fish Bowl challenged us to make a completely vegan recipe together with a vegan dip to go with it. Hmmm. I must admit that it took me a little while to think of a suitable vegan topping to accompany the crackers. Did you know that all tasty things contain animal products?

In the end, I found inspiration on and decided to make a basil pesto with Brazil nuts, almonds and pine nuts but no Parmesan (boo hoo). I also made a black olive tapeanade but cheated a little by adding some anchovy paste (sorry little anchovies).

To go with these Mediterranean style toppings I added sun dried tomatoes to the dough, sprinkled pine nuts on top and enjoyed my crackers Roman style.

As much as I enjoyed the taste, sadly there wasn't much of a crack to these crackers. I tried to roll the dough out thinly, I really did. But despite using my meagre muscles to the full I just couldn't get the dough as thin as they needed to be.

When it came to 'snap' the bread into shards for serving, all I got was a dull bend. Oh well, they still tasted good.

Even if you don't get round to making these breads, I do thing it's worth trying to think about your recipes from a different perspective. I would never have thought to make anything specifically vegan. However, this nut pesto is a winner and I'll be stirring the leftover into a bowl of pasta sometime soon.

For the lavash crackers, you can find the recipe here. Instead of the vegetable oil, I used the oil from the sun dried tomatoes and I added five or so tomatoes finely chopped and some dried oregano. To make the pesto, follow the recipe below.

Basil and Nut Pesto
Half a cup of olive oil
Bunch of basil
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup of almonds
1/2 cup of pine-nuts
1/2 cup of Brazil nuts
salt and pepper to taste

Blend the oil, garlic and basil in a food processor. Add the nuts and process until you have a chunky puree. Season to taste.

See, easy!

Check out the rest of the bakers here.


And the seasons they go round and round...

I cannot believe that a) I started my blog just over a year ago and b) I turn 27 tomorrow. Eek - how did that happen? Sometimes I start freaking out about how quickly time passes and end up humming Joni Mitchell's Circle Game in a maudlin fashion wondering what I've done with my life. I end up having to remind myself that it's better to get old than die, which sounds morbid but is actually a very helpful thought when you're in the depths of birthday depression.

Unfortunately I can't bake either my blog or myself a celebratory cake as I'm in the middle of having my kitchen re-fitted. This is very exciting and I will definitely be show casing photos if it all goes to the plan. At the moment it's all very chaotic and we're eating cereal for dinner a lot. Roll on finished kitchen. However, I do have a birthday cake that I can share with you. In fact I gave you a sneak peek here, and now I can reveal the cake that I made for my big sister's 30th in June (phew at least I'm not 30 yet!).

When we were little my sister would always demand a birthday cheesecake with an especially high crust to cheese ratio. Yum. Given that this year was a special birthday, I decided to revert to the birthday cheesecake formula but with a particularly gluttonous replacement for the crust. You may remember that when I went to New York last year I developed a little thing for Junior's cheesecake baked within a chocolate fudge-cake. I told myself that no good could come of obtaining the recipe and tried to forget about it. However, knowing how much my sister likes cheesecake and, indeed, chocolate cake, I decided to be selfless and find the recipe. Which I did. Here. And indeed, no good came of it.

I think if anyone ever challenges you to make something truly perverse, don't bake biscuits shaped like handcuffs or breadsticks shapes like whips. Make this. Seriously, there is something strange and disturbing about making a three layer chocolate cake and then sandwidging a whole cheesecake in the middle. It just seems so wrong, so OTT, so decadent and at the same time, so very right. It is definitely a celebration cake and, because it's so rich it would feed a whole room of party guests. You could also use it for entertainment. I expect if you made everyone guess its hidden ingredient, they'd say a dancing girl rather than think you were mad enough to put a second desert within.

I would say that the chocolate sponge was a little too dry. If I ever made this again (my arteries are furring at the thought) I would just use a standard chocolate sponge recipe as I didn't think the extra steps added anything here. That said, as a birthday treat for your only sister you can't really go wrong.

Poor innocent cheesecake. So simple, so pure - yet to know it's chocolaty fate:

Hmmm this is a little odd - a cake rather than crumb base...

Ok, and a cake topping as well? Most unorthodox.

Another layer? Is it really necessary? This is surely the end of polite cake-eating society as we know it. Be warned, this is a level of decadence not seen since the fall of Rome...

Ta-dah! I've created a monster:

Well, wouldn't you look lumpy around the middle if you'd just eaten a whole cheesecake?

I would like to say a very, very big thanks to everyone who ever reads this blog - it really is a pleasure to read your comments and know you are there. Yay!