At the beginning of this year I made a vow to stop buying unnecessary things. I felt overwhelmed by the sheer amount of ‘stuff’ I owned. I told myself that I wouldn’t buy any new clothes, books, homeware, jewellery or souvenirs for a whole year. I have plenty and, whatever I feel an urge to own, I can do without. This simple decision has to lead to a myriad of other positive happenings in my life. I started to become aware of other wasteful, consumerist behaviours. I started to question why I think I need unnecessary things in the first place. I watched Adam Curtis’s ‘The Century of the Self’ and learned all about Edward Bernays. I reduced my plastic consumption, stopped buying make-up and vowed never to trust ‘fast fashion’ again. Whilst hunting for new reading material on our shelves at home I found a copy of Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. I stopped eating animals. I’ve become a better consumer and I’ve given up my own self-gratification in favour of supporting the fair treatment of all creatures.
This all involved a lot of reflection and, more importantly, a lot of experimenting with the foods I eat. The Sentient Baker is now vegan, but it is still, in essence, a blog about cake. Baking without animal products is only difficult because the age-old baking blueprints favour eggs and butter. However, I believe it is absolutely possible to bake a new generation of gorgeous things using plant fats, grains and nuts. I also believe that the lines between vegan and non-vegan need not always be so aggressively stated. If I can make a delicious chocolate cake using only plant-based products, I feel no need to mention it’s ‘special’ status unless dietary requirements deem it necessary. Vegan needs to become mainstream, a non-issue and a choice that is easy to make, should anyone wish to.
With this in mind my first offering is a tribute to one of my favourite, comforting snack combinations. Moist, toffee-hued banana bread and a glass of cold milk.
I can’t lay claim to this quantity suggestion, it came along with the purchase of a nut-milk bag. You can find them online for around 10€. I’m aware that cashew nuts are very expensive, I endeavour to try making homemade oat milk as a more budget friendly enterprise.
250g cashews (soaked 2-3 hours and drained)
- Blend the cashew and the water together until smooth.
- Add 1-2 dates or some maple/rice syrup to sweeten, if you like.
- Strain the mixture through a nut milk bag.
- Keep the cashew pulp for making a dip/spread (if savoury) or for baking (if sweet).
- Store in an airtight, glass bottle or container in the fridge and consume within a couple of days.
Date and Walnut Banana Loaf
The texture of this blew me away. It’s both fluffy and fudgy, with a deep, intense toffee flavour. The secret lies with the bananas, don’t even think about baking this unless you can smell the bananas from across the room.
50g vegetable oil (I used coconut)
2 tbsp ground flaxseed (+6 tbsp water)
225g self-raising flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
75g dark muscovado sugar
3-4 VERY ripe banans
100ml plant-based milk
75g chopped walnuts
3-4 chopped dates
- Line a small loaf tin and preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/350°F/Gas Mark 4
- Add the water to the ground flaxseed and allow it to sit for 5 minutes. This is your replacement egg, it will bind the mixture.
- Combine the oil (melted if using coconut), sugar, bananas, flaxseed and milk and beat until smooth.
- Sieve the flour and baking powder together and mix with the wet ingredients.
- Add the chopped dates and walnuts.
- Spoon the mix into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 1 hour.
- This should keep in an airtight tin for about a week.