Vegan Bake Off Challenge – Week 2

Having returned from a fantastic holiday in Tuscany just a few weeks ago, I was excited to discover that my baking challenge for this week would be biscotti! These delicious twice-baked biscuits originated in Tuscany and are traditionally eaten with coffee. Their dry texture means that they can be stored for long periods of time – which is a bit of a relief for me as my house-mates are away this week and I was concerned I was going to have to get through 24 biscuits all by myself…

My biggest challenge for this bake was replacing the eggs and the butter. I would usually use mashed banana or apple puree as binding replacements for eggs but I didn’t want them to impact on the flavour of my biscotti, so I opted for flaxseeds instead, using 1 tbsp with 3 tbsp water for every egg I would have used. I then replaced the butter with coconut oil, a much healthier alternative (see the ingredients section for a full list of the health benefits).

OK, so they didn’t quite turn out identical in shape and size like Mary Berry requested, but they are crunchy and delicious, and mostly held their structure!

Week 2: Biscotti

Vegan Pistachio and Apricot Biscotti

Vegan Pistachio & Apricot Biscotti by The Mindful Vegan Kitchen #veganbakeoffchallenge

Vegan Pistachio & Apricot Biscotti by The Mindful Vegan Kitchen #veganbakeoffchallenge

Ingredients

  • 100g raw pistachio kernels*
  • 100g dried apricots, roughly chopped**
  • 100g coconut oil***
  • 3 tbsp flaxseeds (+ 9tbsp water)****
  • 200g coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 350g wholemeal pastry flour
  • A pinch of salt

To finish (optional – all mixed together to make a dipping chocolate):

  • 40g raw cacao powder*****
  • 80ml melted coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup/brown rice syrup

* Pistachios are fantastic for you – they are anti-inflammatory and have been known to improve immune function and lower levels of unhealthy cholesterol. They contain valuable minerals such as potassium, calcium, zinc, iron and magnesium.

** Apricots are rich in fibre and contain vitamins A, C and E, contributing to healthy skin as well as being beneficial for ageing eyes.

*** By using coconut oil instead of butter, you can take advantage of it’s wonderful health benefits, which are said to include hair care, skin scare, stress relief, cholesterol level maintenance, weight loss, boosted immune system, proper digestion and regulated metabolism.

**** I love flaxseeds, I add them to my porridge most mornings to make sure I get enough omega-3 in my diet, the essential fatty acids usually found in oily fish. Omega-3 acids have been shown to contribute to a healthy heart. I’d rather bake with them over cholesterol-raising eggs any day!

***** The benefit of using cacao powder rather than ordinary dark chocolate is that it is raw and unprocessed, therefore maintaining its overall nutritional value. Cacao is a top source of antioxidants and contains an abundance of magnesium and iron.

Method

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees C. Toast the pistachios for 5 minutes, before cooling & chopping.
  2. Gently melt the coconut oil over a low heat and leave to cool a bit. Whilst it’s cooling, whisk the flaxseeds and water together until frothy. Then add the vanilla extract and sugar and whisk for 5 minutes until it thickens, before finally whisking in the coconut oil until combined.
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl and stir until completely combined, then fold in the chopped pistachios and apricots. The dough should be stiff and heavy.
  4. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions and set on separate baking sheets. Coat your hands in flour and shape the pieces into logs around 5cm wide and 25cm long.
  5. Bake the logs for 25 minutes until barely firm when gently pressed in the centre. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
  6. Once cooled, gently slice the logs diagonally around 1-2cm thick and arrange them cut-side down onto the baking sheets, before baking for another 20 minutes until firm and dry. Allow them to cool completely until you dip them in the chocolate (if you choose to do this!)

This is how my biscotti logs came out after the first bake:

Vegan Pistachio & Apricot Biscotti by The Mindful Vegan Kitchen #veganbakeoffchallenge

Vegan Pistachio & Apricot Biscotti by The Mindful Vegan Kitchen #veganbakeoffchallenge

If you have any feedback or tips about how I could improve this recipe, please drop me a comment – I’d love to hear from you!

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