Vegan Pumpkin Cake with Coconut Vanilla Cream and Roasted Hazelnuts

November 10, 2011 9 Comments

We went on a hiking trip to Bakony Mountains on my birthday so I didn’t have the opportunity to bake this yum cake for my birthday. I found the recipe at the end of September on the blog My New Roots and I fell in love with it. I knew this was going to be my special treat for myself.

Bakony is a mountainous region in Transdanubia, Hungary. It forms the largest part of the Transdanubian Mountains. It is located north of Lake Balaton. The Bakony is divided into the Northern and Southern Bakony. Kőris-hegy in the Northern Bakony is the highest peak of the range with its 706 meters. There are no high mountains in Hungary.

The medieval castle of Csesznek

I thought we had arrived at the peak of foliage but nature mother decided to stay green a bit longer than last year. Although the view of the hills and small villages made an amazing sight. We admired the quiet walks in the middle of the forests listening to the sound of nature and stopping every fifteen minutes to take it all in. Breathtaking and relaxing.

We stayed at Hotel Bakony in Bakonybél at a rustic but reconstructed hotel at the end of the village. The food and the service were amazing. The hotel’s restaurant offers a wide range of foods, especially focusing on rural flavors and the specialties of the Bakony. They say that “The secret of the Hungarian cuisine lies not only in producing certain foods so classy, but serving up one after the other, so that the food consumed calls for the next one, and when we already think we are quite well fed, there is something served, that makes us say: However, we must eat it!

If you are still reading this post, here comes the recipe…

Vegan Pumpkin Cake with Coconut Vanilla Cream and Roasted Hazelnuts


For the cake
– 1 and 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (I prefer home made but you can use canned)
– 1/2 cup maple syrup (or honey)
– 2 ripe bananas, mashed with a fork
– 1 teaspoon apple vinegar
– 6 tablespoons coconut oil
– 2 cups whole wheat spelt flour, sifted
– 1 cup white spelt flour, sifted
– 1 teaspoon baking powder
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– 2 teaspoons ground ginger
– 1 teaspoon cardamom
– 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
– 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
– 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
– 1 tablespoon cinnamon
– 2 tablespoons chia seeds

For the cream
– 3 cans of coconut milk
– 1/4 cup honey
– 1 cup roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
– 1 vanilla bean, split and seeded


Place cans of coconut milk in the fridge for at least 4 hours to cool. Roast pumpkin halves at 180-200C for 45-60 minutes. Let cool and scoop out 1 and 1/2 cups flesh. In a dry non-stick pan roast hazelnuts for 3-5 minutes, let cool and chop roughly.

Open the cans and scoop out just the top coconut cream layer, leaving the liquid portion (save for soup). Place in a bowl and whisk together with the honey and the vanilla. Place the bowl of cream in the fridge for set.

In a big bowl mix together the dry ingredients: flours, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and chia seeds. In another bowl mix together the wet ingredients: pumpkin puree, bananas, maple syrup, coconut oil and apple vinegar. Add dry ingredients to wet, mix and stir to combine. Pour batter into a 22 cm spring form cake pan. Bake at 175-180C for about 35-45 minutes (or until the inserted toothpick comes out clean). Set aside and let cool then remove from pan.

Slice the rounded top edge off of the cake (this ensures that the subsequent layer will sit flat). Then slice the cake in half so you have two layers. Place the bottom of the layers on a cake stand or plate and cover with the icing, followed by the roasted hazelnuts. Add the top layer, repeating the icing and hazelnut procedure until you’ve used all the cream. Top the cake with hazelnuts.

Happy birthday to me! 🙂

Paprika Spiced Cauliflower Soup

November 9, 2011 8 Comments

During the colder months in Eastern Europe, its common to find soups made from vegetables such as cauliflower, as it tolerates frost well and can be stored for a long time. This version of cauliflower soup includes paprika which gives it a nice flavor. Although, every family has their own version, my grandmother cooked cauliflower soup with paprika, my mother without it.
Follow me at the wonderful The Hungarian Girl website to read the recipe!

Koya – Udon Noodle Bar – London

November 4, 2011 0 Comments

I love noodle soup. So when I read about Koya in Gwyneth Paltrow’s newsletter, the GOOP, I knew I had to go there. I was happy that my foodie friends, Sarka and Giulia were also keen on trying this place.

Once you step through the navy doorway curtain of this very plain-looking specialist, it’s noodles with everything. This is thick, white udon, made with wheat flour imported from Japan, then kneaded by foot (in a good, hygienic way) for extra chewiness.

Customers can vary how they have their noodles: according to temperature: hot udon with hot broth (dashi), cold with hot broth, or cold with cold dipping sauce; and topping from various meats to mushrooms with walnut miso. Staff seem happy to advise.
We got there by lunch time and the place was very busy packed with Japanese people. That was one good sign we went to the right place. Tap water was placed on the table immediately as we sat down, which is always nice. The menu is simple and there are always specials on the blackboard.

We ordered three small-plate starters/salads to share, then everyone had their own noodle soup. All of us ordered hot  udon with hot broth. I asked for vegetarian broth and it wasn’t a problem.

The fresh noodles were amazing: slippery and chewy. Yum! I loved my toppings too: fried tofu with fresh spring onion.

They are open everyday from 12:00 – 15:00 and 17:30 – 22:30 (Sunday to 22:00). Koya focuses on the friendly characteristic of udon and proposes various recipes, delicious to both Japanese and non-Japanese alike.

My advice would be to go and sit down at the counter and watch the team in action and if you have opportunity speak to the chef.

Koya believes their genuine and honest attitude will establish an eatery to be loved by all. I believe it too!

49 Frith Street, Soho

Closest tube station: Tottenham Court Road tube
Telephone: +44 20 7434 4463
Twitter: @KoyaUdon
Main courses:£6.70 – £14.70

Hokkaido Squash "Mac&Cheese" with Swiss Chard

November 3, 2011 8 Comments

I was going to post this recipe before I went to Tuscany to visit my amazing Tuscan food blogger friend, Giulia with two other food lovers: Regula and Karin. I got very busy before the journey so I didn’t have time to write the post. The funny thing is that this morning, Giulia posted a very similar recipe, an autumn pumpkin mac&cheese dish on her blog.

I made a vegan version of this meal. I didn’t have experience with nutritional yeast before but I loved the taste of this “cheese” sauce. It’s healthy, savory, creamy and makes you want more.

Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast. It is produced by culturing the yeast with a mixture of sugarcane and beet molasses for a period of 7 days and then harvesting, washing, drying and packaging it. This yeast is a source of protein and vitamins, especially the B-complex vitamins, and is a complete protein. It is also naturally low in fat and sodium and is free of sugar, dairy, and gluten and popular with vegans and vegetarians and may be used as an ingredient in recipes or as a condiment.

I used Hokkaido squash to make it but you can use any kind of squash or pumpkin. Recipe adapted with some changes from Oh She Glows.

The real colour of the dish! 🙂
Hokkaido Squash “Mac&Cheese” with Swiss Chard
Ingredients (serves 2)

– 1 cup Hokkaido squash puree (peeled, baked and pureed with a blender)
– 1 cup unflavoured almond milk (or oat/rice/soy milk)
– 6 tablespoons nutritional yeast (flake)
– 1 tablespoon tapioca starch (or corn starch)
– 3 cloves garlic, chopped
– 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
– 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
– 250 g penne
– 3 big leaves Swiss chard, chopped
– salt, pepper
– olive oil
– coconut oil


Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Cut the Hokkaido squash in half. Scoop the seeds out of the squash with a spoon. Drizzle the squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 40-60 minutes or until tender. Then allow to cool.

Meanwhile prepare the cheese sauce. In a bowl whisk together almond milk and tapioca starch until clumps are gone. In a pot heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil, add almond milk + starch and whisk. Stir in the remaining ingredients: nutritional yeast, chopped garlic, mustard and season with salt and pepper. Whisk over low heat until thickened. Blend the sauce with 1 cup of roasted squash. Set aside.

Cook your pasta al dente in salted water according to package’s directions. Drain and set aside.

In a big bowl mix together cooked pasta with the squash-cheese sauce and chopped Swiss chard. Add the mixture into a pan and bake it in the oven for 10 minutes at 180C (350F). Serve with salad.

Borough Market – London, Part 2

October 22, 2011 5 Comments

What about an early Saturday morning market visit? I usually get up early on Saturdays too because I don’t want to miss my favorite organic farmers market in Budapest. It only opens until 1 am so you need to get up early if you want to buy everything you planned.
Borough Market stole my heart in August. I couldn’t stop taking photos. Which is your favorite market in the world? 

Food bloggers in action… I wasn’t the only one taking photos of this tomato paradise. Orange, yellow, light green with dark green stripes, red, black, oval, round… I’ve never seen this many type of tomatoes in one place!

We only had a quick bite for lunch. I chose Veggie Table, a small vegetarian cater business who creates simple, fresh and exciting vegetarian food. They use local vegetables and organic grains to deliver wholesome and delicious meals for vegetarians, vegans and meat-eaters alike. They craft real food from real ingredients. They have 5 booths around London markets, one at Borough. Find more information on their website.

I live in Budapest but every time I will go to London I will always go to Borough Market. I think it’s wonderful. You can get things there that you can’t find anywhere else… and I’m not the only one saying this! 🙂

More about the market:
Borough Market – London, Part 1

Borough Market
8 Southwark Street

Thursdays 11am – 5pm
Fridays 12 pm – 6pm
Saturdays 8am – 5pm