As well as creating art, I love to bake cakes for my art classes. You can’t beat a cup of tea and a proper piece of cake served up to keep the creative juices flowing! However, this year I started thinking about healthier and more ethical ways to make cakes so most of them are now reduced sugar and plant-based (no animal products) and all other ingredients are home-grown, fairtrade or organic where possible. On this page I have included some old favourite recipes - some are family favourites, some have been given to me by arty friends and some are from talented chefs whose links are below - all tried and tested and scoffed with a smile!!

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VEGAN Chocolate Brownies with sweet potato & beetroot

75g cocoa powder
100g ground almonds
100g self raising flour
30g pecan nuts or walnuts
30g chocolate drops or nibs
100g dried apricots
100g medjool dates
250g fresh beetroot grated
250g sweet potato
100g coconut oil
50ml almond milk
maple syrup to taste

Method: Cook the sweet potatoes in their skins and allow to cool. Line a 24 x 33cm tin with parchment. Scoop out the soft potato and blitz together with the apricots, dates, beetroot, oil and almond milk in a food processor. Mix the dry ingredients together with the nuts and chocolate drops or nibs before adding the puree and mix well. Add maple syrup to taste. Push it into the corners of the tin and bake for 20-25mins at 180*C. Allow to cool and cut into squares. You may wish to decorate with chocolate icing or melted chocolate depending on how sweet you like it! 
Serves 10-12 people


VEGAN Carrot Cake

200g plain flour
65g wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
40g desiccated coconut
100g coconut oil
170g maple syrup
juice and zest of one orange
1/2 tsp cider vinegar
1 tsp rum
few drops of vanilla extract
330g grated carrots
60g raisins
80g chopped walnuts

220ml soya or oat milk
2 tbsp soya cream
3 tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp cornflour
3 drops of vanilla extract
6 drops of pure orange extract or 1 tbsp grated orange zest

Method: Sift the dry ingredients together and add the desiccated coconut. Warm the coconut so that it liquefies, then in a separate bowl mix it together with the syrup, juice, zest, vinegar and rum. Add the carrots, raisins and nuts then combine the two mixtures together. Spoon into a 23cm (9") lined cake tin and bake at 180*C for 30 mins. Allow to cool. For the topping, mix a tiny bit of milk with the cornflour to make a paste. Heat all the other ingredients together until nearly boiling then whisk in the cornflour paste until it thickens enough to coat a spoon without dripping. Spread over the cake and allow to cool completely. Decorate with orange zest.
Makes 8 - 10 slices


VEGAN Chocolate Cake

160g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
200g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
240ml warm water
75ml sunflower oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cider vinegar

120ml soya milk
2 tsp vegan butter
320g dark chocolate

Method: Sieve all the dry ingredients together. Whisk the oil, water, vanilla and vinegar in another bowl then combine. Pour the batter into two 20cm lined cake tins and bake for 20-25 mins at 180*C/ Gas 4 until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool. For the ganache, heat the milk and butter until the butter melts, add the broken chocolate pieces and stir until everything is melted and you have a glossy mixture. Top both cakes and sandwich together. Instead of the ganache you could make a vegan buttercream by creaming 4oz soya margarine, 7oz icing sugar and 1oz cocoa powder together.
Serves 8 - 10 people


VEGAN Choc Nut Cookies

175g vegan margarine
200g light brown sugar
170g dark chocolate
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
few drops of vanilla extract
150ml soya milk
320g plain flour
130g dark chocolate chips
150g hazelnuts

Method: Cream the margarine and sugar. Add the melted chocolate then the soya milk and combine. Sift the dry ingredients and mix everything else together. Line a tray with parchment paper and make little balls of dough. Bake in the oven for 12-15 mins at 180*C/ Gas 4.
Makes about 32 cookies


VEGAN Peanut Butter Rice Bars

250g crunchy peanut butter
120ml maple syrup
50g chopped dates
50g puffed brown rice
20g toasted sunflower seeds
120g dark chocolate

Method: Melt the peanut butter and maple syrup in a pan. Transfer to a large bowl and add the dates, seeds and rice. Mix well, line an 8 x 8" baking dish with clingfilm and pour the mixture in. Press it down and put in the freezer for 15 mins while you melt the chocolate. Turn the peanut block out onto parchment paper, drizzle with chocolate and cut into squares when the chocolate is set. Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days or for a month in the freezer.
Makes 16 pieces

Sam's Dairy-free VEGAN Lemon Cheesecake 

30g coconut oil
100g blanched almonds
100g medjool dates
pinch of salt

300g soaked cashew nuts
2 1/2 tbsp agave syrup
50g coconut oil
150ml almond milk
2 lemons - zested and juiced

Method: Put the cashew nuts in a bowl, cover with boiling water and leave to soak for one hour or preferably overnight. Blitz the almonds, dates oil and salt in a food processor and press into a 23cm tart tin. Put into the fridge to set. Drain the cashews and put into a food processor (Nutribullet is best). Add the syrup, melted oil, milk, lemon juice and most of the zest and blitz until creamy. Spoon onto the base and put into the fridge for a couple of hours. Decorate with the remaining lemon zest.


VEGAN Baked Strawberry Cheese-less Cheesecake

50g coconut oil
150g blanched almonds
150g medjool dates
pinch of salt

125g strawberries
125g raspberries
4 tbsp soya cream
1 uncooked beetroot
400g firm tofu
150g silken tofu
90g light brown sugar
6 tbsp cashew butter
6 tbsp cornflour

250g strawberries
100ml water
1/2 tsp agar-agar powder
3 tbsp light brown sugar

Method: Blitz the almonds, dates oil and salt in a food processor and press into a 25cm spring-form tin. Refrigerate to set. Blitz the strawberries, raspberries and cream in a food processor and strain through a sieve to remove the seeds. Blitz the beetroot with a little water and retain 8 tbsp of the juice. Whiz the beetroot, berries, tofu, sugar, butter and cornflour together and pour onto the base. Cook for 45 mins at 180*C/Gas 4. Leave to cool. For the coulis, blitz the strawberries and water and pass through a sieve to remove the seeds. Pour into a pan, add the agar-agar and sugar and boil for 2 mins stirring all the time. Pour over the cheesecake and refrigerate for 2 hours. Keeps for two days in the fridge.
Serves 10 - 12 people

Family Favourite Chocolate Kate Cake

6oz marg/butter
6oz caster sugar
3 free range eggs
5oz self raising flour
1oz fairtrade cocoa powder

7oz icing sugar
1oz fairtrade cocoa powder
4oz butter

Method: Cream sugar and butter together until fluffy. Add the eggs and beat. Sift the flour and cocoa together in a separate bowl then fold into the mixture. Divide between two 18 cm (7") greased and lined sandwich tins and bake at 190*C/ 375*F/ gas 5 for 20 mins.

For the filling: Sift icing sugar and cocoa together and cream in the butter. You may need to add a tbsp or two of hot water to loosen it up (or a cheeky drop of brandy!).

Coffee & Walnut Cake

6oz marg/butter
6oz caster sugar
3 free range eggs
6oz self raising flour
1tsp instant coffee dissolved in hot water

8oz icing sugar
2tsp instant coffee dissolved in hot water
4oz butter

Method: Same as above but add the coffee before the flour.

For the filling: Sift icing sugar, cream in the butter and add the dissolved coffee. Decorate with walnut halves.

Coconut Cake with Berries from the Garden

8oz marg/butter
8oz caster sugar
4 free range eggs
1oz desiccated coconut
7oz plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
grated rind of 1 lemon
5oz fresh berries or currants

7fl oz double cream
4oz lemon curd
3oz fresh berries or currants

Method: Cream sugar, butter and eggs together until fluffy. Sift the flour and baking powder, fold into the mixture with lemon rind and coconut, then fold in the berries. Divide between two 18 cm (7 inch) greased and lined sandwich tins and bake at 180*C/ 350*F/ gas 4 for 20 mins. Allow to cool before adding the topping.

Lemon cream: Whip the double cream until stiff then whip in the lemon curd. Divide between two cakes and sandwich together. Decorate with remaining berries (see photo).


Kay's Courgette, Pistachio & Lime Cake

250 g courgettes (I used yellow ones from my garden)
2 eggs
125ml vegetable oil
150g caster sugar
225g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
zest of half an unwaxed lime

100g full-fat cream cheese
250g icing sugar (I used 100g)
zest and juice of half a lime
30g pistachio nuts

Method: Grate courgettes coarsely (no need to peel). Put eggs, oil and sugar in a bowl and beat. Fold in flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in courgettes and zest (I also added 100g desiccated coconut). Pour mixture into 20cm lined tin and bake at 180*C/ gas 4 for 35-40 mins. Check with a skewer that it's completely cooked then leave to cool before putting on the topping which is cream cheese, zest, juice and icing sugar mixed together and poured over the top. It drizzles down the sides a bit too. Then sprinkle the nuts and store in the fridge.

Jackie’s Lemon Drizzle Cake

8oz marg/butter
8oz caster sugar
4 free range eggs
8oz self raising flour
grated rind of 2 lemons
pinch of salt

4oz sifted icing sugar
1/4pt fresh lemon juice

Method: Cream sugar, butter and eggs together until fluffy. Sift the flour and fold into the mixture with lemon rind and salt. Spoon into a lined 2lb loaf tin and bake at 160*C/ 325*F/ gas 3 for 70-80 mins.

To make it sticky: Create a syrup by mixing icing sugar and lemon juice together. When the cake comes out of the oven, turn it onto a piece of foil big enough to wrap it in. Form a case around it, prick the top with a cocktail stick and pour over the syrup. Leave to cool then wrap the cake and leave it to rest for a couple of days if you can resist eating it straight away!

Sue’s Quick Mix Fruit Cake

8oz marg/butter
8oz soft brown sugar
4 free range eggs
8oz mixed dried fruit
1oz chopped walnuts
12oz self raising flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice

Method: Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and beat well. Spoon into a lined 20-22.5cm (8-9 inch) deep round tin and bake at 140*C/ 275*F/ gas 1 for 1 3/4 hrs or until no mixture sticks to the skewer. Easy!

Spicy Apple Cake

550g apples from the garden, peeled, cored and chopped
225g softened butter
200g light soft brown sugar
6 tbsp honey
275g wholemeal flour
75g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
3 tbsp ground almonds
50g sultanas
5 eggs
4 tablespoons milk
flaked almonds

Method: Cream together the butter and sugar then beat in the honey. Mix all the dried ingredients together and add to the mixture. Chuck the rest of the ingredients in and mix well before spooning out into a loaf tin or 9 inch square cake tin, sprinkle with flaked almonds and bake at 160*C for 50-60 mins.

Mum’s Bakewell Tart

8oz butter
8oz caster sugar
2 free range eggs
3oz ground almonds
5oz ground rice
1tsp almond extract

Raspberry jam
Shortcrust pastry block
Flaked almonds to decorate

Method: Line 8 inch flan case with shop-bought shortcrust pastry. Prick the base and spread generously with raspberry jam. Melt the butter in a pan, stir in sugar and cook for 1 min. Take off the heat and add eggs, ground almonds, rice and extract. Mix well and pour into the flan case. Sprinkle the top with flaked almonds and bake 180*C/ 350*F/ gas 4 for 30 mins. Serve with fresh raspberries!

Links to other fabulous recommended recipes


Rachel Allen’s Ginger Golden Syrup Loaf

Rachel Allen’s Bakewell Cake

Lindsay's Coconut and Cranberry Cookies

300g softened butter
250g granulated sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange peel and/or a teaspoon of orange essence
390g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1.5 cups dried cranberries
1.5 cups dried coconut

Method: Beat together butter, sugar and orange zest until smooth. Mix flour and baking powder and add to the butter mixture until the dough comes together. Stir in cranberries and coconut. Shape the dough into 1 inch balls, flatten them and put on baking sheets. Bake at 350* F/ 175*C until the cookie edges begin to brown after about 8-10 mins. A shorter baking time will yield a chewier cookie and a longer baking time yields a crisper one.

Fanouropita (Greek Cake For Lost Things)

[Ask Kate about the lost dentures... it's a true story!!! ]

1/2 cup corn oil
1/2 cup orange juice and zest
1 tsp baking soda
dash of whisky or cognac
1 1/2 cups self raising flour
1 1/2 cup of chopped nuts (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
sesame seeds

Method: Mix the orange juice and baking soda together then combine with the corn oil and booze. In an other bowl mix together the flour, nuts and spices. Whisk the eggs and sugar together. Put the oil mixture into the flour bowl and mix well, then fold in the whisked eggs. Put into a large square tin, sprinkle sesame seeds over the top and bake at 180*C for about 30 mins.

Ioanna's Coconut Balls

400g condensed milk
400g desiccated coconut (set aside 1 cup for rolling balls in)
100g packet of shortbread biscuits
2 Oreo biscuits
Almonds, walnuts, chocolate chips, dried fruit of your choice.

Method: Roughly chop the nuts and dried fruit, bash the biscuits into small pieces. Combine all the ingredients, divide up and roll into small balls. Coat the outside with the reserved coconut, vermicelli, chopped nuts or cocoa powder. Yummy with a cup of coffee and they keep in the fridge for ages (only if well hidden!!).