Figs are a fruit that reminds me of the sun, the deep smell of the fig tree leaves, the sea. This ancient, historical fruit loves to grow not only in the gardens, but also in the ravines, on the rocks and on the dry, Greek mountains. Fresh figs always bring me back to that fig tree that still exists in my grandmother’s house, where I used to climb to gather figs as a child. My grandmother was always telling us to half them before eating them to check for any small intruders decided to eat them before us. How difficult was it when I was a kid to pick out the little white intruders from the identical thousands of white filaments of the fruit!
For the beautiful memories they bring in my mind and their wonderful flavor, every year, when figs are in season, I enjoy them not only freshly cut, usually just under the fig tree, but also in vegan recipes such as my juicy vegan tart with figs and almonds or my fig nice-cream with blackberries. Another recipe with figs that we love very much is today’s cake with figs. This cake has the texture of a very tender and aromatic cake with sweet and juicy bites of figs hidden here and there, softened and melty through baking.
The figs of today’s recipe are the figs I picked yesterday from two different fig trees I found in the forest and I shared them with a turtle I met along the way. Although we were both hungry, I finally managed to save the figs I needed to make the recipe I am sharing today with you!
(for a 26-28cm diameter baking pan)
- 1 1/4 cup plant-based milk at room temperature (I used this)
- 1/2 cup light olive oil or oil of choice
- 1 cup agave nectar or other liquid sweetener
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 pack (500 g) self-raising flour
- 1 tsp natural vanilla extract
- 20 ripe figs washed and halved
- almond flakes for sprinkling
1. In a bowl, mix the vegan milk with the agave with the mixer. Add the lemon juice, olive oil and vanilla and finally the flour while stirring well.
2. Brush with oil a round baking pan or cake mold and sprinkle with flour. You can also lay with non-stick baking paper. Apply half of the cake mix to the mold and arrange half of the figs with the cut side up. Cover with the rest of the dough and arrange the remaining figs on top. Sprinkle with the almond flakes.
3. Bake in a preheated oven at 175 oC for 45-50 minutes or until the cake is golden. The first 30-35 minutes be patient and do not open the oven door. To find out if it’s ready, insert a toothpick in the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is done. Otherwise, if it comes out wet, you may need few more minutes before checking again.
Note: The skins of the figs become soft and melty with baking, so you do not have to remove them. Keep in mind that figs are good sources of calcium which is another reason to enjoy them fresh as well as in recipes like this one.
“When life gives you a lot of oranges, accept them with gratitude and make a recipe for a vegan orange pie…” That’s what I was thinking when, a few days ago I was given a big box full of juicy, season oranges! Of course many of them have been and will be squeezed to make fresh orange juices, some will be turned into fruit salads, smoothies, orange – green rainbow salads and maybe I will make chickpeas and vegetables in sweet and sour sauce, but the oranges I have are really a lot and the high temperatures of the week will probably make them spoil. So I had to be more creative in order to make the most out of them!
Talking about that with my hubby yesterday, we decided that the dessert of the week should be a really… orangy orange pie. Actually as he loves fruit-based desserts and I love oriental desserts, we came to the conclusion that it should be an orange pie with an orange custard made with a generous amount of freshly squeezed orange juice and a crispy, sweet phyllo, sweetened with agave nectar. As it is common with many oriental desserts, after baking they are poured with a sugary syrup to give them their special sweet, syrupy character (which is something I really like) but instead of this processed sugar overload, I usually prefer using agave nectar which is less processed and also it works amazingly -you cannot tell the difference. What I like in this vegan orange pie is the fragrant orange cream that is wrapped between layers of phyllo pastry and then the pie is baked until phyllo gets a golden color and crispy texture so that the sweet syrup penetrates between the layers, filling them with syrup and letting them remain in the same time crispy. One little secret to get the right crispy texture is to brush each phyllo with a generous amount of melted coconut oil or margarine. This step may add a few more calories to the recipe but the result will be unforgettable!
- 1 pack of phyllo pastry (450-500 gr)
- 1/2 cup coconut oil melted (or melted vegan margarine)
For the orange custard
- 1 liter of freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 cup, heaped (200 g) fine semolina
- 1 cup, heaped (240 ml) of agave syrup
- zest of 2 oranges
For the syrup
1 1/4 cup agave nectar
1. Prepare the orange custard: Put in the pan the agave nectar, the orange juice, the semolina and the orange zest, mix well with a spatula. Simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly, until a smooth cream forms. Transfer the custard into a glass or metal bowl, cover the surface of the cream with film or a piece of parchment paper to prevent crust from forming and let it cool.
2. Brush a rectangular baking pan with 1 tablespoon of melted coconut oil. Line half of the phyllo sheets in the bottom of the pan, brushing them one by one with coconut oil. Phyllo should cover the bottom and the walls of the pan (or you need a smaller pan!). Repeat the process two more times.
3. Pour the orange cream over the phyllo and spread it with a spatula.
4. Cover the custard with the remaining phyllo sheets, brushing them again with melted coconut oil (with the process described above). Fold the excess phyllo and seal the edges. With a sharp knife shape on the surface of the orange pie squares 6-8 cm long and sprinkle it with some water (about ¼ cup). Bake for 50 minutes at about 180 oC or until golden.
5. As soon as the orange pie comes out of the oven pour the agave nectar evenly over its surface. Allow to cool before serve. Usually in Greece they let it for a few hours in the refrigerator to cool before serving to underline the freshness of the orange juice.
Vegan panna cotta is one of the easiest and most delicious desserts one can prepare at home. Its secrets are not much, nor does it require any particular technique to be made. The only prerequisites are a dense, rich, plant-based milk such as coconut milk and a plant-based “gelatine” such as agar agar (a natural polysaccharide made from a species of seaweeds). During springtime, when the strawberries are abundant and delicious, I like to add a few into my recipe so that our panna cotta gets the aroma and the slightly sour taste of fresh strawberries. Garnished with a light strawberry sauce (recipe below) or a drizzle of vegan chocolate syrup, this vegan strawberry panna cotta is one of our favorite desserts during May!
for the strawberry panna cotta
- 2 cups or 1 can (480 ml) full-fat coconut milk or homemade coconut milk
- 250g fresh strawberries (you can also use frozen)
- 4 tbsp sugar or other sweetener of choice (you can also use coconut sugar or raw cane sugar although they may change the color of the panna cotta a little bit)
- 2 tsp. (level) agar agar powder
for the strawberry sauce
- 250g fresh strawberries (or frozen)
- 3 tbsp sugar or other the sweetener of your choice
1. For the panna cotta: Blend the strawberries in the blender and push the pulp through a fine sieve to remove the seeds. Measure the pulp to make sure it is one cup.
2. In a saucepan add the pulp of strawberries, sugar, coconut milk and agar agar. Stir until the agar agar is completely dissolved, turn on the heat and once it comes to boil lower and simmer for five minutes stirring.
3. Distribute the mixture among 4-5 ramekins and let cool. After completely cooled put it in the refrigerator for at least two hours before serving.
4. For the strawberry sauce: Blend the strawberries in the blender and push the pulp through a fine sieve. Put the pulp together with the sugar in a pan and simmer for five minutes. Transfer to a glass jar and let cool.
5. To serve: You can serve panna cotta directly in the ramekins, garnished with a spoonful of strawberry sauce or you can unmold it and put it on a layer of strawberry sauce, in a plate. Garnish with fresh strawberries.