Nut-free Baklava

Nut-free Baklava

You know how sometimes you set yourself a challenge that, at the time, seems totally reasonable and fairly sane, but later you find yourself questioning why on earth you ever thought it was a good idea? Well, I decided to make filo. From scratch. And three days later my wrists were still hurting from all the rolling. I would say it was worth it, but only because now I will appreciate shop bought filo SO much more.

Nut-free Baklava

Honestly, I would say only make filo from scratch if you really, really love rolling pins. It took me nearly an hour to roll out all the sheets of dough, and a few of them were still a little thicker than I’d have liked. Thank god for podcasts!

Nut-free Baklava

However, the upside of all this filo-angst is nut-free Baklava; its not just possible, its also delicious!

Nut-free Baklava

Baklava has always been one of those bakes that is so nut-dependent that I never even considered trying to make a nut-free version that I could eat. But once I’d made homemade filo, it was the first thing that sprang to mind to make with it. I looked around for recipe inspiration, and found lots of recipes that used exclusively sesame seeds. I wanted some variation, so added sunflower seeds, which I think also taste very nutty.

Nut-free Baklava

When the baklava comes out of the oven you soak it in an orange and cinnamon syrup which soaks into the filling and the pastry. The final, cooled baklava is sticky and rich, but has bite and depth. It was so good for breakfast, but any more than a few squares at a time will give you a sugar headache. Although I’d urge not to make the pastry, I would recommend making this Nut-free Baklava so you can try it and tell me if it’s anything like the real thing!

Recipe: Nut-free Baklava

Ingredients: Filo (recipe from The Spruce)

3 cups of plain flour

1/2 cup hot water

1tsp white vinegar

1tbsp olive oil

Cornflour, for rolling

Ingredients: Filling

1 cup of roasted sunflower seeds

1 cup of roasted sesame seeds

zest of 3 clementines

1tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground cardamon

Olive oil, for brushing

Ingredients: Syrup

1 cup of orange juice

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 cardamon pods

half a cinnamon stick

Method: Nut-free Baklava

  1. First, make the pastry (feel free to skip this step and use the shop bought stuff). In a bowl mix together the flour, water and vinegar until it forms a rough dough. Add the oil and mix to combine. Knead for about 10 minutes until it forms a silky smooth dough. Roll into walnut sized balls, place on a tray dusted with cornflour, cover with clingfilm and leave to rest for few hours.
  2. To roll out the dough, use liberal amounts of cornflour on your hands, surface and rolling pin. Roll until its as thin as you think you can get it, and then keep on going. Repeat for each sheet, stacking together and covering with a damp tea towel the sheets you have finished to stop them drying out.
  3. Preheat the oven to 160C and grease a baking dish (I used a square 20cm tin).
  4. To make the filling, blitz the seeds in a food processor until they make a rubble, with some larger chunks left. Mix in the spices and zest.
  5. To assemble, add in layers of filo, brushed liberally with olive oil. Then add the filling and smooth until flat. Keep adding layers of filo brushed with oil until you’re out of pastry. I used about 10 layers on the bottom and 8 on the top. Score the baklava into diamonds all the way through each layer.
  6. Bake for about an hour, until the top is golden and crisp.
  7. While the baklava is in the oven make the syrup. Combine all the syrup ingredients in a pan and bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 mins. Once the baklava comes out of the oven, pour the syrup down the cracks and leave to absorb.

Nut-free Baklava

Hot Cross Bun Fudge

I’ve come the the realisation that I need to get over myself.

Over the last few months I have spent many a weekend pottering about the house, baking something delicious, photographing it and editing the photos while I eat it. I even have separate folders and a naming convention for images in Google drive. But by the time I get to the point of posting I lose all confidence in my photos and the recipes I’m posting. So the photos sit there, the blogs stay as drafts and I get frustrated at myself.

Hot Cross bun fudge 3

I started this blog because I wanted to share the things I bake with other people. I love sharing recipes . I love coming up with ways to make recipes nut and coconut free so I can eat them. I love cooking!

My resolution going forward is to relax more. I’m not setting a schedule, and sometimes (like today) recipes won’t be tied in the season. But they will always be things I’ve made that I think are delicious, interesting and worth sharing. And as I go along I will improve.

Hot Cross bun fudge 2

The change starts here! So I thought I’d share an Easter recipe far too long after Easter. I saw this fudge recipe in Delicious Magazine and couldn’t wait to try it. My attempts at fudge have always been…mixed. I’ve never managed to achieve a smooth, creamy consistency. The basic recipe for this fudge is time consuming but worth it for the texture of the fudge you’ll get at the end. (You also need to beat it by hand for 15 mins – put some tunes on and stick with it!) I also used homemade candied orange in the fudge in mixed size pieces, as I find bought candied peel a bit fake tasting.

Hot Cross bun fudge 1

I sent a batch of this to work with my boyfriend (who works at the National Trust) to share with his volunteers, as they tend to be my barometer of success with a recipe.  The visitor’s centre liked the fudge so much they made their own batch for visitors and sent me a box as a thank you!

All in all, there is no reason for you not to make this fudge, even if it isn’t Hot Cross Bun season any more. Try the recipe and let me know how it goes – I’m planning my next flavours and will share how they go.

Hot Cross bun fudge 4


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Sweet Potato Cake with Toasted Marshmallow

I have a tendency to go through phases of completely loving a foodstuff to death and putting it in everything I eat for weeks and weeks. This (sometimes) works brilliantly, and tends to end when I find a new food to obsess over.Sweet Potato Cake with Toasted Marshmallow

At the moment this food is – Sweet Potato. This particular love affair has lasted for months and variations have included baked sweet potatoes, quesadillas, sweet potato crisps, jerk curry, stews… the list goes on.

So when I found a recipe for Sweet Potato cake on Smitten Kitchen’s blog I knew I had to make it. The recipe is really easy to make, but just involves a bit of organisation to get the potatoes baked and cooled by the time you’e ready to start making the cake. I’d recommend doing a big batch, having some for dinner with some beans and veg and saving some for this cake. It’s a similar combo of flavours to a carrot cake, with the sweetness of the marshmallow softened by the earthiness of the cake.Sweet Potato Cake with Toasted Marshmallow Frosting

The marshmallow looks really impressive and tastes delicious. It’s actually really easy to make and comes together like a dream.  Its also a fantastic excuse to get out my blow torch (best Christmas present ever!)

Toasted Marshmallow Peaks

Sweet Potato Cake with Toasted Marshmallow Frosting recipe

I really can’t explain better than the original post at Smitten Kitchen.

All I did was bake the cake in a round tin for a little longer (about 50-55 minutes), cooled the cake and cut in half. I filled the cake with the marshmallow as well as piping it in little tufts on top.


Sweet Potato Cake with Toasted Marshmallow Frosting

Cinnamon Lentil Stew

So I thought that I should explain why this blog is called ‘Always Add Cinnamon’.

I love cinnamon. And when I say love, I mean LOVE. I always at least double cinnamon in recipes, and my mum regularly gives me catering sized tubs which I work my way through happily.

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