From the Iceland 'Party' food range. Thanks to the Vegan Womble for the tip off. We know we're late with this one for the party season, but our local Iceland had sold out of these when we first heard about them. You can still find them in Iceland stores at £2 for 14 if you want to try them for yourself, or just read on for our thoughts...
New recipe caramel shortbread, with gluten-free base and faux milk chocolate topping. We reviewed Morrisons previous version of this shortbread last year and came away unimpressed. The new recipe was mentioned in the comments section of our old review, so we sought out the new version to see if it's any better:
Individual slices of vegan Christmas cake, with or without icing. This gluten-free cake is perfect for Christmas although it's available all year round. If you don't want to spend a fortune on a large vegan Christmas cake, or bake and ice your own, this might be perfect. It will also give you something gluten-free to give unexpected guests with allergies.
Norfolk Mixed Fruit Cake from the egg-free selection of Riverbank Bakery in Kings Lynn. There are a growing number of vegan bakeries online, but it's still rare to see vegan cakes stocked in shops. We were surprised to learn that the entire cake range of Riverbank Bakery is egg-free (we're checking to see if the whole range is vegan). This one is reassuringly labelled vegan on the pack:
Award-Winning Lincolnshire Plum Loaf from Welbourne's Bakery. Apparently this has been made to the same recipe since 1896... except for changing the lard to vegetable fat for vegans and vegetarians. In honour of the recipe change we thought we'd review the plum bread to see what makes it so special:
Amazing vegan cream buns from @JPTurnerFoods were the star of #VegfestLondon
We spoke to them about their cream and whether they would make an appearance at future vegan events. The cream is apparently soya based and they spent some time developing it to stay whipped at room temperature. The cream is piped from one of those catering cream dispensers (the ones charged with nitrous oxide cartridges). JPT were certainly very generous with the whipped cream too:
Long-life organic fruit cake. Buying vegan cake off the shelf is still difficult...you can't do it in most supermarkets for instance. When cakes are vegan, they're often gluten-free too, which doesn't appeal to everybody. This range of cakes from Everfresh Natural Foods has gluten-free options, but most of the range is wheatflour based:
Banana flavoured fruit loafs from malt loaf maker Soreen. Full size banana loafs plus mini 'lunchbox loaves' in the same flavour. If you're a lover of malt loaf, that dark squidgy, moist fruit loaf, you'll know that Soreen isn't vegan. The company stubbornly refuses to change the recipe to omit the milk, but whenever they diversify, such as with these banana loaves, the ingredients are usually dairy-free:
Vegan caramel shortbread in the Free From section at Morrisons. There is at least one other widely available dairy-free caramel shortbread that we've reviewed - in the Lazy Day range of tray bakes. This one is distinctly different and isn't made by Lazy Days and repackaged. Have Morrisons managed to perfect that all important vegan caramel layer?
Do we have a new champion of our vegan Mince Pie Taste Test? The choice of vegan mince pies at ASDA includes their regular deep-filled mince pies and their shallow-filled Smart Price offering. Top marks to ASDA for having a choice of animal-free pies... the only supermarket this year to do so. As usual, we tried the pies hot and cold, to see how they fared.
A selection of vegan mince pies from various supermarkets for our Christmas Taste Test. Many supermarkets now do both regular and posh mince pies, with the latter having butter pastry. That's fine with us vegans as it means the regular pies are likely to be clear of dairy fat. We took three lots of pies and compared them, hot and cold, to see if there is a clear favourite. UPDATE: includes two sorts of ASDA mince pies.
Kopernik brand 'pierniki' as the Polish say, but better known as lebkuchen. We couldn't find vegan lebkuchen from Germany this year, but we found these Polish ones at an independent deli. Lebkuchen are made from a sort of gingerbread and are often coated in chocolate, sometimes filled with fruit puree, and commonly heart shaped... these ones are all of that.
Vegan stollen all the way from Germany. Kuchenmeister supply their christmas wares throughout Europe and as far away as the States and Australia. At least one of their offerings for the UK this year is animal-free: the Cranberry Stollen with Marzipan. Beware of similar ones in Sainsburys by the same company - those contain egg. We bought ours from an independent deli, but you may find these in branches of Aldi too.
Vegan Christmas, German style. We promised to find vegan stollen and lebkuchen and the local Polish deli came to our rescue. We thought we'd put together a selection of traditional German style christmas treats, but we couldn't find vegan domino cubes this year... not yet anyway. Lidl and Aldi have let us down as hardly anything is vegan in this year's Christmas selection, so we needed to look further afield. We've also got three sorts of chocolate marzipan and we'll be reviewing them all shortly.
Award-winning one-woman vegan bakery. When Hannah Banana Bakery was announced as the winner of Best Vegan Cakes at this year's UK Vegan Awards last Saturday, there was a huge cheer. This wasn't just because host presenter Dominic Berry was whipping up the crowd, but was a genuine celebration of the achievements of a single-handed champion vegan baker:
Gluten-free, dairy-free tray-bake cakes from Scottish producer Lazy Days. We only recently discovered the chocolate ginger version of these tray-bakes and thought it was a good opportunity to review the range together. The headline grabber has to be the caramel shortbread a.k.a millionaire's shortbread with that still rare sight...vegan caramel.
A couple of vegan options for sprinkling your vegan cakes with. Most cake decorations contain animal products in one form or another, from gelatin to cochineal, shellac to beeswax. These ones from Sainsbury's are free from all of that stuff. The vegan sprinkles at Sainsbury's are the Sugar Stars and the Eric & Erica Sprinkles (elephant shapes):
The folks at vegan bakery Smashing Tarts in Glasgow have given us the recipe for their rock star approved vegan whoopie pies. Smashing Tarts is a family run business supplying local cafes and they also bake to order for special occasions. Originally from Canada, Lisa and Navarro moved to Glasgow in 2007. They believe that everyone needs yummy cake, regardless of dietary requirements... and we couldn't agree more:
If you're not familiar with mochi you're missing out. The japanese style glutinous rice cakes have an unusual texture and come in a whole range of flavours. The term mochi covers a wide range of glutinous rice cakes, and the sweet-filled ones such as these are 'daifuku' mochi. In the US you can find mochi ice cream balls, even vegan ones, but sadly not in the UK. What we can get here are brands such as 3 Uncle (from Taiwan) who produce several vegan types of mochi.