Recipe: Vegan Pine Pollen, Banana and Dates Star Cupcakes (aka Star Wars Cupcakes)

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As I am in the middle of making some of them, I thought it would be nice to share the recipe here:

It’s a vegan recipe that I have been doing for years (7 years exactly!) and over the course of time I have kept re arranging it again and again, every time I make it, it’s different! a version of it has been used for my son’s 2nd birthday party (and different versions were used for his 4th and 06th birthday parties too, I am pretty sure!).

I started to get really into cooking/baking 7 years ago, just after my son was born. Although I had been vegan for years, cooking had never really been a preoccupation of mine, I was a snack person, happily living on mashed avocado on toasts.

Then I got really serious and passionate about cooking and I started to collect all these vegan cookbooks as if they were about to disappear from the face of the earth, and I started baking non stop. I think at the time I needed to fill my creative need and release some steam from the intensity of just having a baby.

I got really into all the Post Punk Kitchen people books at first but what soon bothered me then was that the authors didn’t seem to be very health conscious… A few vegan cookbooks later and I discovered Sarah Kramer.

Back then she was one of the few health conscious vegan chefs out there (now they are everywhere) and I was a very health conscious/bordering obsessive with organic ingredients, no sugar, etc type of cook… Around that time, I enrolled on a part time Macrobiotic Cook and Health Advisor course. I was (ahem) a bit neurotic about healthy eating and diet, I started my own raw vegan catering company and was just working full tilt in my own kitchen for a year, until I realised that I was bordering orthorexia nervosa, and I started to chill out a bit but that’s another story!

I always liked Sarah Kramer, because her recipes use real ingredients, they are very easy to tweak and they are very clear and light hearted. Now I must add here that I never ever follow recipes, I just can’t. I get inspired by them, I have a quick look through to get the picture and I make my own version, I can’t help it!  Having said that, her book How it All Vegan (which she wrote with Tanya Barnard) has been THE cookbook I have opened the most over the years, because the recipes in this book are great foundation to build on, for every occasions, and it has aged quite well (although the cover of the UK version looks a bit like the cover of a 80’s sci fi book).

Through her blog, I have watched her getting bigger and bigger over the years, being on morning TV, starting her own shop… I even won a contest she did on her blog years ago! (I won a signed calendar). She is a very creative entrepreneur, influenced by the DIY punk scene (like me!).

I was very sad to read, a few years back, that she had breast cancer. So I kept checking in with her every once in a while, to see how she was doing and I followed her epic battle against cancer for two years… She kept updating her blog, even when she was going through rounds of chemos, and posted photos of her losing her hair. She made me laugh, she made me cry, as I could really feel for her. She amazed me with her strength and resilience and now her recovery is well on its way.

So this one is for you, Sarah (and for Gerry and Fergus! as I bet these last two years were tough for them too!)

This is the cake recipe I must have used the most over the last seven years, I always come back to it and I have been tweaking it in all sorts of ways and it always works! (although I must say : tonight I have underestimated slightly the power of an Aga, the edges are slightly over cooked…)

It is inspired by Sarah’s Vegan Banana Bread recipe from How It All Vegan! I have never actually made the banana bread, I have always used it to make cupcakes/muffins.

It’s also a great recipe if you have some bananas that are getting a bit old (you could also peel them, chop them and freeze them to make smoothies on another day…)

As I said in previous posts I am currently staying in Cornwall, at my mother in law’s house and she has an Aga… So I had to bake something in it!

So here is the recipe of tonight’s batch:

– 3 riped bananas (mashed)

– 1 tbsp lemon juice (or vinegar)

– 1/2 cup coconut oil

– 1/2 cup of sweetener (whichever one you like!)

– A splash of vanilla essence

– 1/2 cup dates (chopped)

– Carob or chocolate chips (note that chocolate chips look and taste nicer, carob makes the cupcakes look a bit burnt)

– 1 1/2 cups flour (spelt here)

– 1/2 cup pine pollen – As I said in my Buckwheat Pancake Recipe, I get my pine pollen from Hybrid Herbs, here in the UK – Read about the benefits of pine pollen here ).

– 4-5 tbsp ground chia or flax seeds (here I used Flax)

– 1/2 tsp sea or Himalayan salt

– 1 tsp bicarb soda

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F

In a small bowl mash up the bananas either with a fork

Next, add the lemon juice, oil, sweetener, dates, carob/chocolate chips and vanilla essence.

Then in a separate larger bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.

Add in the banana mixture and stir together until ‘just mix.’

Pour batter into your cupcake/muffins liners/tray and check on them 15 minutes later (it depends on what type of oven you have got, fan oven and aga are quick!)

Test with a knife (or a toothpick) to see if it’s cooked through in the middle.

Let it set for 10 minutes before eating.

PS: If you want this to be a Banana Bread (or a Vegan Pine Pollen, Banana and Dates Bread), pour the mixture into a greased bread tin and bake for 50 – 60 minutes…

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Enjoy! :)

As I said earlier, it was my first time baking with an Aga and I didn’t realise I should have lower the temperature, as it burnt the edges of this batch…

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See the very hopeful look in the girls eyes?

Good Night!

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