Vegan Lemon Blueberry Scones + Why I Bake

Turbinado sugar coated vegan blueberry scones

As I snuggle up on my couch with a warm cup of tea, I once again breathe in the smell of freshly baked blueberry scones. Blueberry scones are not something to be whipped up at 9pm, especially on a Monday when most are reminiscing about the now seemingly long ago weekend.

Scones evokes coffee-scented mornings and afternoon tea in the sun, embodies ephemeral moments in the day. Blueberry scones especially have the unique ability to briefly put life on hold, allowing space to appreciate the simple things in life: the lovely bursts of tangy blueberries, brightened further by lemon zest and the perfect crunch of turbinado sugar.

To make things lighter and lactose-free, coconut oil and milk replace butter and heavy cream, creating an unintentionally vegan recipe for delightful blueberry scones. The coconut flavor does not overpower and in fact is barely perceptible; instead, it heightens the blueberry flavor.

Crunchy, satisfying, light dairy-free vegan scones 

A couple days ago, a beloved coworker of mine lost a loved one. In hopes of giving him even an iota of comfort and familiarity, I baked a batch of blueberry scones for him and his family to tide them through hopeless stretches of mourning. 

This is why I bake: not for the sake of popularity or gaining friends, but to give others a little slice of happiness in their day. 
 

Food for me, and many others, has a way of weaving my life experiences into something more discernible, more understandable and digestible; it grounds me in a way nothing else can. As chicken soup is nourishing for the soul, food not only feeds me but reminds me of a nostalgic past and a better, brighter future. 

Delicious and healthy vegan lemon blueberry scones

Every Monday morning, I bring a batch of homemade-somethings to work. With “eat me” scrawled with a sharpie on an electric blue post-it note and a sharpied heart slapped on for good measure-I leave the plate of baked-somethings discretely on the kitchen counter.

I don’t make any big announcements, any office-wide email hailing the coming of a great cookie. Instead, I watch as coworkers pass by, at once delighted and somewhat dismayed that their healthy-eating new years resolution has encountered yet another hurdle.

These simple delights, these little slices of happiness that I witness on a bleary Monday morning, is also why I bake. It started out as a much needed creative outlet, but has now morphed into something more substantial and holds greater meaning in my life.

Vegan dairy-free coconut oil blueberry scones


(Vegan) Blueberry Lemon Scones

adapted from seriouseats.com

YIELDS 12 scones

Cook time: 45 minutes

DIRECTIONS

Adjust oven rack to the lower third rack. Preheat oven to 400° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a food processor, combine dry ingredients and coconut oil. Pulse until the oil disappears and mixture is a homogenous powdery meal. 

Transfer mixture to a large bowl. With a rubber spatula, add in blueberries and lemon zest. Fold in coconut milk, making sure to not crush the blueberries. Combine until the dough is fully combine.

Divide dough into half, shaping each half into 7 inch squares. Refrigerate dough for about 15-20 minutes, until dough is firm enough to cut through cleanly.

With a sharp knife, cut each half of chilled dough into 6 wedges. The faster this is done, the less the dough will spread in the oven. 

Liberally sprinkle turbinado sugar onto of scones before baking. 

Bake until scones are puffed and slightly golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Serve while warm with a warm cup of tea (or milk). 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INGREDIENTS
 

450 g AP flour* (about 4 cups)
2 Tbsp baking powder
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp kosher salt
110g coconut oil (1/2 cup), room temperature (but not melted)
340g (2 cup) fresh blueberries**
2 lemons, zested***
450g full-fat coconut milk, stirred to combine if separated

turbinado sugar for sprinkling onto scones
 

Baking Notes:
*feel free to replace 1/3 of flour with whole-wheat, spelt, or oat flour
**thawed frozen blueberries work too; dough will be slightly stained
***try to get organic lemons for zesting to avoid any waxiness

Storage Notes: The dough freezes well; cut into wedges before freezing. Baked scones can be frozen as well. Reheat and serve warm. 

Vegan Chocolate Agave Oat Cookies

Vegan and gluten free chocolate chip cookies 

After honing her skills in Chez Panisse, Claire Ptak opened up a modest bakery in East London that fully delivers on flavor and comfort. I’ve been dreaming of visiting the bakery ever since, sitting outside the bakery, watching the world go by-as one does in Europe. Once I saw these vegan cookies, a stroke of inspiration hit as I immediately dived into a recipe from Claire Ptak’s The Violet Bakery Cookbook.

A lot of her best hits have graced the blogosphere in the past few years, from her incredible Butterscotch Caramel Blondies to her classic Buttermilk Banana Bread. Naturally, I gravitated towards these reliable favorites like everyone else. But, believing in Claire’s foolproof recipes, I ventured past the shiny classics and discovered a hidden gem, a dark horse, if you will: Chocolate Oat Agave Cookies.

chocolate chip oat and agave vegan cookies 

It’s easy to brush past a vegan, sugar-free, and potentially gluten-free cookie. My first reaction: Is that even a cookie anymore? I’ll take the blondies, thank you very much. My second reaction: how good can they be, really? I had to satisfy this insatiable drive to experiment on all things foreign and obscure. 

perfect vegan chocolate chip oat cookies 

half eaten fresh chocolate oat cookies

These cookies are light on sugar, heavy on time in terms of buying such unfamiliar ingredients. With these cookies, I realize that I’ve barely scratch the surface of the complex world of alternative baking techniques. The laundry list of foreign flours and binders can be daunting, but if you have an afternoon to head over to Whole Foods and buy these flours, I could think of a worse place to start.

Once you pass that initial hurdle, you’ll have opened up yourself to a whole new world of flavorful flours, maybe learn a thing or two on the science behind binders and why they work. At the very least, you’ll appreciate eggs a whole lot more.

Ultimately, Claire’s poetic description convinced me to make these humble little cookies: 

These cookies are deeply satisfying. Oaty and chocolatey in equal measure, they are sweetened only with agave nectar. There is, of course, a small amount of sugar in the chocolate itself, so you could replace the chocolate with cacao nibs or use chocolate made with 100 percent cocoa solids. We used to call this “the vegan cookie,” but found that nonvegans wanted to try it, too. It is made with gluten-free oats and other gluten-free flours (if you can’t find oat flour, just pulverize rolled oats in a food processor). We substitute flaxseed for the eggs, because the flax meal thickens the dough and binds it together in the same way eggs do, and instead of butter and milk, we use vegetable oil and shredded apples. Once we changed the name, these cookies remained popular with our loyal vegan and sugar-free customers, but new fans caught on, too.

Beetroots and Polar bears,
Crust

cooled vegan and gluten-free chocolate chip cookies 


chocolate oat agave cookies

slightly adapted from The Violet Bakery Cookbook

YIELDS 12 large cookies

Cook time: 45 minutes

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 355° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk dry ingredients together. 

In a medium bowl, combine wet ingredients well. Then slowly pour mixture into the dry ingredients. With a spatula, stir until fully incorporated. Add in the chocolate chips. 

Scoop a dough into large tablespoons of dough, squashing the dough into 1/2 inch disks.  Leave 1 inch in between, these don’t spread much in the oven. 

Bake for about 15 minutes until cookies are a light golden brown.

Serve while warm with a warm cup of tea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INGREDIENTS

dry ingredients

1 3/4 (190 g) cup oat flour*
6 tbsp (50 g) chickpea flour
3 tbsp + 1.5 tsp (30 g) arrowroot flour**
3 tbsp + 1 tsp potato flour***
1 tsp xanthum gum
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp kosher salt

wet ingredients

1/4 cup (30 g) ground flaxseeds
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp (100 g) agave nectar
2/3 cup (150 g) canola oil
2.5 ounces (75 g) apple, peeled, cored, processed in food processor
1.5 tbsp vanilla extract

5 ounces (150 g) dark chocolate pieces

 

Baking Notes:
*pulverizing rolled oats in food processor works perfectly; substitute with gluten-free oats if desired
**substitute with cornstarch or tapioca starch if needed
***substitute with rice flour if needed

Storage Notes: Cookies keep well in an airtight container for up to a week. The dough freezes well.

My Two South’s Kerela Fried Chicken and Waffles with Spicy Maple Syrup

Fried Chicken and Cardamom Waffles for National Waffle Day

Another matcha recipe? No, I’m not a monster. Well, maybe I am. Somehow, Sundays have become a Day of Indulgence. Not only did I devour  fried chicken and waffles, but also (healthyish) chocolate chip cookies and a giant poke bowl-all in the span of five measly hours. 

As is it National Waffle Day on March 25th(in Sweden because of course America has to have it’s own Waffle Day), I thought it imperative to share the awesomeness of these cardamom waffles with spicy syrup. A little fried chicken on the side doesn’t hurt either. Once I have a recipe in mind, some unstoppable force of determination takes over, compelling me to Target after work, where I made a beeline straight to the waffle irons. 

Stacked waffles with fried chicken

I had this fried chicken recipe in my back pocket for months. The recipe: buttermilk friend chicken and waffles. The twist: mint, cilantro, and serrano pepper buttermilk marinade with cardamom waffles AND spicy syrup? Who can resist!  As I have been fervently following Food52’s 2017 Piglet challenge, the recipe inspirations pile up, with this recipe first in the queue. With the recipe available on multiple sites, I thought it best to skip the recipe post and focus my energies on describing the intricate play of flavors that this fried chicken and waffles recipe opens you up to.

 

Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Matcha Frosting

Zucchini Matcha Cake, frosted and ready to be served with some tea

I know, I know, I’m very much channeling my inner Asian girl. But I’d like to argue to that I go above and beyond the typical obsession, that I freakin’ went to Uji, Japan: the capital of Matcha. Indeed, I am a hardcore fan. I have a dedicated matcha cup, a fancy whisk,  a whisk holder for said fancy whisk. Plus, I store my ceremonial grade matcha in the freezer. What do you say to that, haters! What’s that? I’ve said this before and only my social anxiety gives a damn about my oh-so-sterotypical penchant for matcha baked goods? Oh okay. 

You’d think I wouldn’t fall for every matcha recipe I see on the internet, but only if you don’t know me and my undying devotion to all things Matcha.

Matcha sugar cookies

Matcha cookies with white chocolate

Matcha in Every Dessert: Not Always a Good Thing

What a beautiful disappointment.

However much I love my matcha desserts, there are definitely hits and misses. Alanna’s recipe in The Alternative Baker for chocolate Cake with matcha frosting? A hit. Bon Appétit’s Matcha-white chocolate sugar cookies? An unfortunate miss. What’s worse, food52, my trusted go-to site for recipe inspiration, called them matcha snickerdoodles. If there ever was a misnomer, this was it; naming a sugar cookie a snickerdoodle held it up to expectations of cinnamon covered chewiness that supposedly blends together white chocolate and matcha into a delectable treat. 

As much as I wanted to love these cookies, the sugar was too overwhelmingly present, and the matcha did not shine through-instead, it was more for aesthetic purposes. I don’t want my food to merely look good, but taste delicious. Every recipe I’ll post will be greater than the sum of its parts; it’ll have that nuanced contrast of textures and flavors that linger in your mouth, making you wonder what that one ingredient is, how you must take a another bite to be pin down what exactly makes this cookie so great. 

I’ll be honest, even if St. Patrick’s Day wasn’t this Friday, I would’ve made this cake. As it is, St. Patrick’s days means a green-tinted tsunami of matcha desserts will undoubtedly coming out way. I mean, how could I resist Four & Twenty Blackbird’s matcha custard pie? Or Molly Yeh’s black and matcha cookies?

Back to the cake. Zucchini always adds moisture into cake recipes, and this one is no different. Dutch cocoa powder adds that appetizing rich, darkish color and toasted nutty flavor. The cake is not too sweet, and is especially lovely when combined with that light tartness from the matcha cream cheese. A faint, but detectable matcha flavor adds that unique quality to the otherwise traditional chocolate cake.  I didn’t have sorghum flour on hand, so I substituted AP Flour, which I always have in hand (you know, just in case I absolutely need to bake a batch of muffins in the middle of the night à la Kirsten Wiig in Bridesmaids).

matcha chocolate cake and tea time!

With a 9 – 5 job, I’ve learned to sacrifice sleep in pursuit of more interesting things in life. Indeed, although social conventions have molded me into a upright citizen who gets up at 7:20am every morning, I’m convinced I secretly night owl at heart. 

This isn’t the first time I’ve stayed up later writing a blog post, but with a 9 – 5 job this necessary sacrifice of sleep takes its toll. Is this perhaps the breaking point, the barrier to entry for new bloggers, a feat held together by sheer determination and willpower to continue typing late into the night? 

This is only my second post and I have yet to understand all that there is to blogging, but like everything that you care for in life, doubt and anxiety–along with excitement–manages to creep in. But hey, if I wasn’t a bundled mess of excitement and nervousness, then I wouldn’t care very much about this. So hello, world. 

Chaos in Uji, 
Crust

Deeply vibrant green matcha frosting on chocolate zucchini cake 


Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Matcha Cream Cheese Frosting

Adapted from The Alternative Baker

YIELDS One 8-inch square cake

Cook time: 1 hour

INGREDIENTS

Cake

1 cup (225 g zucchini or 2 small or 1 large)
1 cup (215 g) packed brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil or sunflower oil
1/4 cup (60ml) whole milk*
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup (60 g) Dutch-process cocoa powder
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp (115 g) AP flour**
1/4 cup (25 g ) sweet white rice flour
2 tsp (8 g) baking powder
1/2 tsp fine sea salt

Matcha Cream Cheese Frosting

3/4 cup (170 g) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup (85 g) powdered sugar, sifted
1 tbsp (5 g) matcha powder
pinch of salt 

Baking Notes:
*30 ml evaporated milk and 30 ml water works too
**original recipe uses 115 g sorghum flour

Storage Notes: Cake can be wrapped and stored for up to 2 days in the refrigerator. If you’re not serving the cake right away, chill for up to 1 day. 

 

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or grease pan with softened butter.

To make the cake, grate zucchini on a box grater (or in my case, a microplane-totally works!). Place zucchini in a large bowl and add brown sugar, sugar, eggs, oil, milk and vanilla extract. Stir to combine. Then, sift the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder and salt into the large bowl. Using a spatula, stir well to combine until mixture is deliciously dark.

Scrape the batter into the prepared square pan, making sure the layer is evenly distributed. Bake the cake for 45-55 minutes, until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs, but is not wet. Let cool completely on a rack for at least 30 minutes until completely cooled. 

To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, matcha powder and salt in a food processor and blend until the frosting morphs into beautifully light green fluffiness. 

When the cake has cooled, use an offset spatula to spread the frosting over the top.

Serve up that deliciously ~moist~ matcha-frosted cake. Cheers.

 

 

Japanese Matcha Melon Pan

Matcha melon pans cooling on a tray. Can't wait!

Welp. I did it. I channeled my inner Asian girl and honed in on any recipe that would greatly benefit with the addition of Matcha. et voilà! Matcha Melon Pan heaven. Out of the oven, these buns are the best afternoon snack. 

Last weekend, while walking through Berkeley’s college town, we stumbled into an Asian bakery. Obviously, when there’s any bakery of any sorts, a slight detour is to be made. Even if I had just gorged myself on delicious, satisfying, tongue-numbing Indian food at Vik’s Chaat, I couldn’t help but imagine taking a bite out of those those crunchy, yet fluffy buns. 

Freshly baked Japanese melon pan half eaten 

First: What are Melon Pans? 

Melon Pans = fluffy sweet bun + crispy cookie topping. The bun is an enriched dough, made with yeast. The origin of “Melon Pan” can be broken down into two parts. “Pan” in Japanese means bread, adapted from the Portuguese. As for “Melon” part, I’ve always assumed it was named because the top looked like a melon. Just One Cookbook is my go-to blog for all things Japanese. Nami clearly does her research and laid out some really interesting theories for the etymology of “Melon” , some rooted in Japan’s rich cultural history. 

These babies were to be my weekend project. The only problem: I HAD NO MILK. 

Alas, after sifting through the internet looking for a dairy-free melon pan recipe, none was to be found. (Granted, what Asian pastry dough doesn’t have milk?)

I am horribly lactose-intolerant and have accepted that fact as such. Will I ever outgrow it? Most probably not. Will I ever stop hoping? Never! Friends have suggested outlandish theories to overcome my biology. “You just have to have a little diary every day! One milk tea a day keeps the doctor away!” or “Just fight through the pain and embrace the bloat!” Well, I’m all for any excuse to drink milk tea, but not so sure about embracing the pain. I digress. 

Luckily, I happened to have a can of evaporated milk lying around. That’s fate right there. I was meant to bake Matcha Melon Pans this week, and nothing can stop me! Why did I have evaporated milk in my pantry? Who knows! (Yay for hoarding! Take that Marie Kondo!) I subbed whole milk with 1 part evaporated milk : 1 part water. Worked beautifully.  
 


The Perfect Melon Pan 

Contrasting textures: A crunchy, crispy sugary top draped over a pillowy soft bun

Uniformly golden brown buns: Gotta love that Maillard reaction

Uniformly sized buns: Buns the size of your face to promote ultimate satisfaction

I narrowed down my search to two recipes. Obviously, I am not the first to think of adding matcha. Ever stumbled upon turtle shaped melon pans? Adorable. The Little Epicurean’s recipes are always spot on, so this was my base recipe. Fix Feast Flair’s recipe inspired me to also add that extra c r u n c h for the cookie topping, by upping the butter and sugar, of course! 

Another thing I should mention: I don’t own a stand mixer. I know, I know, I really should invest in one. For the longest time, I yearned for a Kitchenaid stand mixer (in Pistachio, more specifically) but have made due without it. In time, I have grown to enjoy the extra effort (and therefore love, no?). Now, I don’t own a stand mixer out of principle more than anything. Why use a stand mixer when my hands are perfectly capable to knead and my biceps strong enough to whisk? Why be separated from the way dough was made by our great ancestors. I say, unplug your stand mixers and become one with the dough! 

Lactose & Hedgehogs, 
Crust

Overhead shot of cooling matcha melon buns


Matcha Melon Pan

Adapted from The Little Epicurean and Feast Fix Flair

YIELDS 8 LARGE BUNS

Prep Time: 3 Hours | Cook time: 20-25 minutes

DIRECTIONS

Combine yeast, warmed milk, and one teaspoon of sugar. Let sit until mixture is bubbly (around 6-8 minutes).

In a large bowl, combine flour, 1/3 cup sugar, milk powder, matcha, salt, and eggs. Mix with spatula (or hands) until dough comes together. Continue to knead with hands for 10 minutes until dough is smooth, adding softened butter in small increments. Knead for around 10 minutes, adding more flour if dough looks wet. Form the dough into a ball.

Transfer dough back into the same bowl, lightly greased. Covered with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until it doubles in size, about 1.5 – 2 hours, depending on room temperature. 

While dough is proofing, make the cookie topping. In a medium sized bowl, cream sugar and butter. Add in flour, matcha powder, and salt. Add egg and vanilla and mix until cookie dough forms. Transfer cookie dough onto plastic wrap and roll it into a log. Chill until ready to use. 

When dough has doubled in size, divide it into 8 pieces. Shape into balls and place on a lined baking sheet.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for another 30-45 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 375° F.

As the dough proofs, divide and roll the chilled cookie topping into 8 small balls. Smoosh the balls between two sheets of parchment paper (or between your hands if you’re being lazy =P ) and flatten until it is large enough to cover the dough. Gently drape the cookie topping on top of each dough ball. Use a knife to gently score cookie dough with criss-cross or horizontal lines. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes until tops are evenly golden brown. Enjoy!

Storage Notes: Buns are best fresh out of the oven. Keeps up to 2 days in airtight container. 

INGREDIENTS

Dough

2 1/4 tsp (7 g) active dry yeast
70 g evaporated milk*, heated to 110 F
70 g water
2 1/4 cup (300 g) bread flour
1 cup (120 g) AP flour
1/3 cup (60 g) + 1 tsp granulated sugar
2 Tbsp non-fat dry milk powder
2 Tbsp Matcha powder
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs, whisked
4 Tbsp (60 g) unsalted butter, room temperature

Cookie Topping

6 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup (130 g) granulated sugar
1 cup AP flour
1 tsp Matcha powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 large egg white
3/4 tsp vanilla extract

Notes
*140 g of whole milk works too  

Follow my blog with Bloglovin