Accidently Vegan Millionaire’s Shortbread

September 24, 2017


So it finally happened. I submitted my thesis, and now I am in limbo waiting for the final exam, and the next stage to begin. But mostly, I am exhausted.

The last weeks were horrible. I lost all interest in food, had porridge for almost every meal, and developed hideous stomach cramps that took me out for hours. I am fairly sure they are related to stress, but a small creeping doubt has manifested itself, and prompted me to give up dairy.

I have eaten dairy my entire life with no repercussions other than total joy, but recently, I have noticed an uncomfortable correlation between it and hours of unbearable stomach pain, migraines, and general tiredness for days after. I have been lactose free for a month, and so far, so good.

HOWEVER, I am not saying this is it. I think self-diagnosis is dangerous, and now that I have more time, I am definitely going to reintroduce and see what happens. But for now, what I do best, adapted.

Inspired by bake-off, i.e. watching ten variations on millionaire’s shortbread, dairy-full and delicious, forced me to do some research, get into the ‘alternative’ aisles, and construct this…which I would give the ultimate badge of honour, in that it tastes like it is not dairy-free. Which is all I want in a cake.

Accidentally Vegan Millionaires’ Shortbread 

For the shortbread base:

250g plain flour

75g caster sugar

175g Sunflower Spread (or similar) (if you are lactose intolerant, then you can use Lactose free butter for a more buttery taste, although obviously not vegan).

thumb_IMG_7984_1024For the Caramel

300g brown sugar, I used a light brown

70ml soya cream

70 ml coconut cream, check the fresh aisle of Marks and Spencer

70 g of Sunflower/Lactose free butter

200g of Dark Chocolate (again here you can choose, I used a dark chocolate with no milk, (Lindt 70%) which is not technically vegan. You could use your own favourite vegan chocolate, or any other!)


Line a tin with baking paper and grease it. I used a square brownie tin.

I think shortbread genuinely works better in a blender, less hand contact means it is less likely to be rubbery, and remains SHORT, which is the endgame here obvs. Put all the shortbread ingredients in the blender until a rough dough forms. Don’t worry if it is crumbly, that’s perfect.

Tip in the tin, and quickly press out. Use your knuckles, then press out with a fork. Touch it as little as possible to get an even base. Prick all over with a fork and bake for half an hour at Gas Mark 5ish, until golden brown. Leave to cool.

While it is cooking, make the caramel. This requires careful attention so MONITOR and do not touch it. Hot sugar is like lava, and burns forever (see my croque en bouche entry for more on this). Use a heavy bottomed pan. Pour in the sugar and the both creams, and mix until the sugar begins to dissolve. Add the butter. Turn on a medium heat, and stir continuously whilst bringing to the boil.  Turn the heat down, and stir until you reach soft ball stage.

Soft boil stage: drop some caramel into a glass of cold water. If it forms little balls, it is ready. Here is a google search for soft ball stage, because it’s tricky to know. If you have a sugar thermometer then use that, but I don’t, so I didn’t.


When the caramel is ready, take off the heat. Pour over the cooled base. Leave to cool for 20 minutes, then put in the fridge until cool. Don’t put it straight in the fridge, or will destroy everything you hold dear in there.

Melt the chocolate, pour over the (cold) caramel and shortbread layers. Cool until solid. Cut in to squares. Watch bakeoff. Don’t feel left out.



Peace and love

Unchained Baking and Danny xx



S’more than just a cake.

November 15, 2015


Although I have many American’s in my life, I have been exposed to S’mores on a disappointingly few amount of times….i.e. never. We don’t really have them in England, especially as our expansive biscuit aisles are empty of Graham Crackers. Which, by the way England, is a huge mistake. After a trip to Florida this year I brought back a box in order to make this cake I had dreamed of, and unfortunately was unable to resist eating them with a cup of tea. So I used digestives- which are similar enough. Have a beautiful Thanksgiving everyone! ❤


For the Base:

About a 1/3 of a packet of digestive biscuits

125g Butter

For the Marshmallow Chocolate Icing:

6 or 7 marshmallows

200g dark chocolate

50g butter

For the sponge:

240g caster sugar
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
45g cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
170g plain flour
70g plain yoghurt mixed with 50ml milk

100g unsalted butter

For the top:

50g cocoa powder

4 tbsp of brown rice malt syrup or agave or honey (or any syrup)

6 marshmallows

50g butter

Chocolate chips

Fudge pieces




To Make the Cake

Cream together the butter and the sugar.

Mix in the eggs one at a time.

Mix in the milk, yoghurt, vanilla.

Stir in the dry ingredients and beat until combined.

Pour into a brownie tin and bake for about 30 minutes.


Take the cake out of the brownie tin, and place on a wire rack to cool. Melt the butter, and crush the digestives. Mix them together, adding a bit more of each if needed. Pour into the brownie tin and press down with a fork. Freeze for 15 minutes.

Marshmallow Icing

Melt together the chocolate, the marshmallows and the butter. Beat until glossy. Pour over the base. Put the cooled sponge on top.


Mix the cocoa powder with the syrup and the butter. Add the marshmallows and microwave for 10 ten seconds. (Watch out- the marshmallows balloon VERY quickly). Spread over the top of the sponge. Sprinkle with the chocolate chips, fudge pieces and marshmallows. Put under the grill for about 10 minutes- keep an eye on it, until the marshmallows are blackened.


Stay Unchained ❤


Glossy Peanut Butter and Chocolate Tart

June 2, 2015



Half a packet of Digestives

100g Butter, melted

300 ml Double Cream

1 tablespoon Caster Sugar

Pinch of Salt

50 g Butter

200 g Dark Chocolate

A Jar of Sugar Free Peanut Butter



Crush the digestive biscuits and mix with the melted butter.

Press into a fluted tart tin, and put in the freezer to harden.

Melt 3 heaped tablespoons of peanut butter in a pan until liquid\, and spread across the harden tart shell.

Put the cream, sugar and salt in a pan and bring to the boil.

As soon as the cream boils, take it off the heat and stir in the chocolate and butter until smooth.

Pour carefully into the tart shell and leave at room temperature to solidify. Don’t put in the fridge or it won’t be glossy!

Melt another couple of tablespoons of peanut butter again, and drop small circles into the tart to form circles. Drag a toothpick through to form hearts.

Whip some cream and mix with the remaining peanut butter to make an accompaniment.

Look at that gloss!


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Daim Bar Pretzel Brownies or Bust.

March 14, 2015


The thing about attempting to go sugar-free is that that there are three types of people. The first is the medical necessity, whom I feel very sorry for, the second is the voluntary all or nothing, who I am confused by. The third is me, the ‘I really should try to think about my sugar and think about changing and also, what am I doing with my life, and I didn’t eat enough vegetables today, and isn’t the world in a terrible state and none of my clothes are quite ‘right” type. The worrier. We are super fun to be around in case you didn’t already guess that.

For the last 3 months or so London has presented me with some serious challenges. Amongst these challenges I felt like it might be time to challenge myself with something difficult, and make something positive happen. It worked- London is sunny again, and I am exploring to within an inch of life, and not to be an interminable bore, but adjusting my sugar intake has had something to do with that.

However, as I previously mentioned, I cannot get on board with the type of smug sugar-free person who happily tells you that she hasn’t had sugar for three months and just feels so fabulous. I don’t want to give up sugar. I love sugar. It makes most things taste better. It does. You are lying if you say it doesn’t. Stop lying. And stop telling me how zen you feel. Its called ‘crashing’…..some sugar will help with that.

So I came up with a compromise- 5 days off sugar, two days on. Sugar-free recipes are difficult, and to be honest, not for this blog. Try the ‘I Quit Sugar’ website for ideas, and be prepared to be always coming second to the real thing.  Today I just felt like it had been a while since I did anything truly decadent- so I bit the bullet for one day only, and made these. Enjoy with guilt and milk.

Pretzel and Daim Bar Brownies


I have tried a great many brownie recipes, tbh there’s only a few variations in each recipes. I started these brownies with a Nigella version from Domestic Goddess.


Line a large tin with greaseproof paper, then lay out about 12 giant pretzels on top. Sprinkle over about 5 more.

I used a bag of  mini-Daims, but you could use about 4 bars. Chop with about 180g of white chocolate drops, and a packet of Rolos. When we go, we go hard.

Make the mix, and allow to cool. Stir in 2/3rds of the chopped chocolate.

Pour over the brownies.

Bake for about 45s, until the edges are cooked, and the middle still wobbles a bit. Turn it out after about ten minutes.

Sprinkle the rest of the chocolate over whilst the cake is still warm, and then put back into the oven (switched off, but still warm), for five minutes.


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Livi’s Homemade Christmas

December 21, 2014


Hello! This is the year of homemade presents, and just in case you are stuck for ideas- here are some homemade edible presents that are very easy and so cheap. Have a lovely Christmas and happy new year!

Livi’s Salted Pretzel Christmas Puddings


These are so easy 🙂 Just fill two piping bags, one with white chocolate and one with dark. Place the pretzels on a foil sheet, making sure they are flat. Pipe dark chocolate into the lower two thirds, and white into the top. Put some holly and berry Smarties on the top, and freeze them for about 10 minutes to harden them. 🙂

Livi’s White Chocolate Turtles.


These are really popular and so quick. I make mine in Madeline moulds, to give them a pretty shape.

On a tray lined with foil, or a silicone Madeline tray, place as 24 pecans at intervals. This is tricky- but try to balance a Rolo on top of each nut. Bake in the oven for upto five minutes, on a low heat. I have burnt so many, so I suggest sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of the oven, bake-off style. When the Rolos still have their shape, but are being to melt, take them out and push another pecan on the top of each one- does not have to be neat, in fact, it’s better if it isn’t. Leave to cool, then pipe melted white chocolate over the top to encase them. Freeze for 10 minutes to harden.


Livi’s Rocky Road Sheet


 Melt 200g of white chocolate in a bowl over some boiling water. Spread out a large piece of foil, and pour the chocolate on. Use a knife to spread it into a rectangle, keeping it fairly thin. Next, use whatever you like to cover it. I used mini marshmallows, crumbled shortbread, pecans, and a drizzle of mint chocolate- but Rice Krispies, caramel, freeze dried raspberries, ginger nuts and hazlenuts. Freeze for ten minutes and cut/smash it into bits.

Stay Unchained ❤


Eat, Craft, Love.

December 6, 2014

1743638_10152914400475879_4390929288373858786_nSometimes in London you can occasionally get too frantic to function. I had a week of deadlines, meetings, work and teaching that left me wrecked, and by 7pm on Friday night I fell asleep and dreamed of marking.

There was a beautiful free space in my diary- carefully cultivated and avoided months in advance. This weekend was my weekend, with nothing planned, and no obligations; so I made it all about me. And it was glorious.

On Saturday I walked to Crouch End, a town Stephen King once wrote a horror story about, but which in reality is everything a crafty, 25 year old loves. It was packed with little cafes and charity shops with genuine finds. I trekked up and down the streets looking at teapots and cute stationary untilmy hunger induced dizziness forced me into a cafe called the Sable D’or. They had a bizarre menu, all of it gorgeous and handmade- and as this was MY weekend, I had french toast and berries at 6pm.

By this point the rain was obnoxiously pouring down and it was pitch black outside. I stepped out, unfortunately wearing my ‘exploring’ clothes- which are largely made of wool and linen, and ran up and down the street in search of a bus- which didn’t exist. So I walked home and climbed into a bath.

This morning I went to Dalston, because although people make fun of hipsters, they have excellent car boot sales- and this one was truly cool…like second hand Irregular Choice shoes cool.


And so there you have it- how to take a free weekend in London and make the most of it- without exhaustion. I am not cuddled up with several excellent throw pillows, a Maggie Gyllenhaal film (girl crush) and my latest craft project, a crochet blanket. This is in the oven:

Livi’s Pineapple Upside Down Cake

200g Butter

200g Unrefined Caster Sugar

teaspoon of Vanilla

4 eggs

2 teaspoons of Baking Powder

200g Flour


large tin of Pineapple


Pour about 6 tablespoons of honey into a circular cake tin and put in a preheated oven, about 200c degrees for about 5 minutes, then take it out.

Arrange the pineapple in the heated honey in the base of the tin until the base is well covered- don’t worry about cracks or gaps.

Whilst the honey is warming, cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla, and then add the eggs one by one.

Add in the flour and baking powder.

When everything is combined, pour it over the pineapple base.

Bake until a skewer  comes out clean- then flip it CAREFULLY!! HOT SYRUP!! onto a plate.

It is illegal to eat it without custard.

Stay Unchained<3





Cupboard broke jumble cake

June 29, 2014




I have thoroughly neglected this blog recently- not that I haven’t been baking, but I have been writing other, more studious things. I am, however, back with a serious bang, with a cake I call Livi’s storecupboard broke jumble sparkle cake. YEAH, YOU HEARD.

So this Sunday has been sponsored by laziness, the kind of laziness where you talk to yourself to keep yourself awake. By 4pm however, I rallied, and for the last two hours I have been typing and arranging primary sources for my thesis, and needed to inject some sparkle into my Sunday.

So here is a bloody easy cake, very delicious, and will feed 5000 if they all share politely.

All the love Unchained Bakers ❤

Livi’s Storecupboard Broke Jumble Sparkle Cake

This was a recipe born out of need for a cake, with no money and no real ingredients. I had some cake sparkles, a tombola Crunchie, an old flake and some abandoned gummies. Party cake ready!


150g Butter

150g Sugar

150g Flour

3 eggs

2 teaspoons of Baking Powder

3 tablespoons of Cocoa Powder

Put the butter and sugar in a food processor, until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time. Add in the flour, cocoa and baking powder.

Put in a large roasting tray and bake at 180c until a knife comes out clean.


Same process, but leave out the cocoa, and put in a tablespoon of vanilla extract, the seedier the better.



Icing sugar

Cocoa Powder/ vanilla extract

Tablespoon of Greek Yoghurt

I have trouble in exact measurements for icing because everyone is different, but I start with about 125g grams of soft butter, and basically add to taste.

For the vanilla,  add the yoghurt and vanilla to the butter first, then the icing sugar until you have spreadable consistency- taste it!

For the chocolate, do the same, but add equal parts cocoa and icing sugar. 🙂

Its a glorious messeveryone, like my life!




❤ Stay Unchained





Strawberry and Black Pepper Scones

May 9, 2014


Happy May everyone! I skipped April on here due to being completely overwhelmed with marking, working, lesson planning, teaching, tutoring, working on my PhD and trying to get out and explore London. Whilst at a wedding at the weekend, my boyfriend switched on The Hairy Bikers, and I became obsessed with their scone recipe. I was really hungry at the time- but even so, a recipe rarely implants itself with such ferocity.

I have successfully never made scones. Ever. I have a mum who makes them perfectly, so I never really practised. But these were so weirdly, intensely exciting that I thought I would just throw caution to the wind and try it. Result: beautiful. I have had peppered strawberries every summer for years, and I love that combination. So this was a perfect mix of scone and sweet, peppery, summery, chewy bits. Lush.

Recipe here, try them warm covered in butter.




Stay Unchained ❤


Chocolate Swirl Cake

March 22, 2014

IMG_6459 IMG_6458 IMG_6457 IMG_6456 IMG_6455

Welcome to my lazy Saturday! This was a cake made solely from my store cupboard during an equally lazy Friday night, and it was a nice reward for a week crammed with teaching classes, writing essays, eating fruit and vegetables and running all over London to tutor. I like it with raspberries and sugar-free Greek yoghurt, you don’t want to ruin the heaviness of the cocoa with anything sweet. Ahhh I missed this. 🙂

Chocolate Swirl Cake

150g Caster Sugar

50g Butter

1 Egg

140ml Milk

1 teaspoon of Vanilla

40g Cocoa Powder

130g Flour

2 tsp Baking Powder

100g Chocolate Chips

2 tablespoons of Speculoos Spread, or you could use Peanut Butter.


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Grease a loaf tin.

Beat together the butter and sugar, then add the egg, milk and vanilla. Fold in the flour, baking powder, and cocoa until completely mixed. Then add the chocolate chips.

Pour the mixture into the loaf tin.

Swirl the spread across the top in a pretty pattern, then bake for 30 minutes, if the top looks like it might burn, cover it with foil- but don’t overcook! It’s ready when a knife comes out clean 🙂



IMG_6458Stay Unchained ❤



A fondant fancy for people who don’t fancy fondant.

March 3, 2014


I am not really a fan of icing….at all. I have covered cakes in the most inventive icing I can think of to make sure the cake looks special or pretty, or beautiful, or super fancy, but inevitably I will pull it off and smudge it across the plate, and play with it for a couple of hours. Its so sweet, and causes an ache in my tooth that I feel for days. Unfortunately, it makes baking so much more special, so I just suck it up, make it- then ignore it.

However, I wanted to try something for this blog, something that Mary Berry perfected years ago, but I needed to try and get around the inevitable sweetness and creepy smoothness of fondant icing. So I came up with this instead. And I really like it. A Lot. The sponge is modelled on the HummingBird’s vanilla cupcake mix.

Livi’s Passionfruit and White Chocolate Fancy



240g Plain Flour

3 tsp Baking Powder

280g Caster Sugar

80g Butter

3 Eggs

240ml Milk

Tablespoon of Vanilla Essence

Passionfruit Buttercream

3 Passion Fruit

125g Butter

300g Icing Sugar (a bit more just in case)



600 g White Chocolate

Vegetable Oil

200g Dark Chocolate


Beat together the butter and sugar- it’ll look sandy.

In a separate bowl beat together the eggs, vanilla and milk. Add to the butter and sugar.

Beat in the flour and baking powder.

Pour into a large rectangular roasting tin and bake at 190c until golden and a skewer comes out clean.

Whilst it bakes, make the buttercream.

Mix the butter and the icing sugar together until thick and smooth- add the icing sugar bit by bit, taste testing as you go!

Scoop the insides of the passion fruit out, and add to the buttercream bit by bit. It will separate a bit, add more icing sugar to smooth it out.

When the cake is cooled, use a ruler to cut it into 3 by 3cm squares.


Thinly roll out the marzipan.

Cut each square in half horizontally.

Sandwich them together with buttercream.

Dirty ice the outside (smooth the icing around to ensure the crumbs don’t get everywhere.)

Once the whole cube is covered in icing, place a 3x3cm square of marzipan on top .

Melt the white chocolate. Add a few tablespoons of oil to the chocolate until it is thin enough to pour.

The next move is up to you! You can pour over the chocolate, or dip the cakes, or use a spoon. I dipped them using a slotted spatula, then topped them up with a spoon.

Put in the fridge until the chocolate sets.

Melt the dark chocolate and drizzle over.

Woah…mammoth instructions, but just so worth it I promise. Not too sweet and full of gorgeous flavours. Passionfruit in particular is such a fresh and gorgeous taste, and it beats fondant hands down, no contest.





I’m going to go and see if one if left from last night. Have a great week!

❤ Stay Unchained