If you’re a vegan or cooking for a vegan you might find baking cakes tricky. Jac wondered how to find a good substitute for butter and eggs for her cakes. She’s share what goes into these wonderfully fudgey chocolate brownies.
When my husband turned vegan I was confident about cooking his meals, heck half of our veggie meals are vegan when you get right down to it, but baking was another matter altogether.
How do you substitute the butter and eggs in a recipe?
Instead of butter you can use a flavourless or lightly flavoured oil, such as vegetable oil. If you look through a few muffin recipes you’ll be sure to come across some using oil. Nigella Lawson uses this technique. You can also use dairy free margarine in a recipe in place of butter, this is what I usually do and it produces the same results as using butter.
The eggs are a bit more tricky. After a Google search I found something called a flax egg. Basically it’s flax seeds (also know as linseeds) which you grind into a powder, then add water, whisk and pop into the fridge for at least ½ hour, but preferably 1 hour. The mixture goes gloopy and this is what binds the brownies in place of eggs.
Flax eggs: 1 tbsp ground flaxseeds (or linseeds) to 3 tbsp water = 1 egg.
I have to say I was pleased with this discovery, as I didn’t want to add anything artificial and additive laden to my recipe.
The brownies are fudgey and exude the flavour of dark chocolate with little sticky, chewy bites of sweet prune. I use Californian Prunes, which are a favourite of mine, but to be honest any prunes would do.
The brownies are a little more crumbly than traditional brownies, but this could be due to the fact I used flax seeds mixed with goji berries. I buy these flax mixes from Linwoods, who do a whole range of flax seeds mixed with berries or nuts. I like adding them to porridge and smoothies as well as baking to add extra health benefits, but you can buy plain flax seeds (linseeds) from most supermarkets or health food shops.
Fudgey Chocolate and Sticky Prune Brownies (vegan)
Makes 16 brownies
175g vegan or dairy free margarine
125g self raising flour
225g caster sugar
3 flax eggs (see above for flax egg recipe)
100g dark chocolate
4 tbsp cocoa powder
100g dark chocolate chips
7 prunes, finely chopped
a pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 180c/160c fan/350f/gas mark 4.
Line a square brownie pan.
Melt the dairy free margarine with the chocolate and sugar in a bain-marie*. One melted set aside.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder and salt into a large bowl.
Beat the flax eggs into the chocolate mixture.
Gradually fold the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture.
Fold in the prunes and chocolate chips.
Pour the mixture into the brownie tin, smooth the surface and bake in the oven for 25 minutes*. They will set a little more while cooling.
A bain-marie is a bowl sitting on a pan of simmering water. You have to make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water or the chocolate will seize.
For a fudgey brownie take out at 25 minutes, there shouldn’t be much mixture clinging to s skewer inserted at this point. If you prefer a more cake like texture, give them another 5 –7 minutes, but ovens do vary, so the skewer test is handy.
For more vegan recipes visit Great British Chefs collection