serendipity | toasted hazelnut spice cakes

it is just barely mid afternoon, the windows are streaked with rain, puddles are forming on each and every lawn. they’re calling for 150mm of rain in the next 24 hours. yesterday started out at -7, never exceeding 0, and today began at +7 with temperatures rising – that’s nova scotia for you, folks.

i was awake hours before the sun (or lack there-of today, i suppose), as per usual. after my morning coffee and kamut porridge, i began todays’ task; a double batch of mini vegan pumpkin pies.
i feel like once the word “mini” is added to anything, it is then perceived as less impressive, maybe less admirable. can we maybe kick that to the curve? i spent 3 hours on these babies, BEFORE they even reached the oven.  making a whole wheat crust with coconut oil, allowing it to chill while i made the spiced pumpkin filling; carefully rolling out each of the 24 balls of dough, chilling as i went, shaping each and every edge; filling them generously and then FINALLY placing them in the 350 oven, with a sigh. i probably moved no more than 3 feet to either side of me during those 3 hours.
this is what i love. those three hours – each time i bake, really – are pure serendipity. i find pure joy in creating something that can, just for a moment, make somebody so happy from merely nothing. that is why i do it, on top of preparing at least two, maybe three, wholesome and healthy meals for my family and i. cooking and eating – it brings us together, serendipitously. i would, can, and will do this forever. hopefully as a career one day, if life should throw me the opportunity; most definitely as a passion, if not.

today i have a little something to aromatically waken your home with holiday cheer. these little spice cakes will most certainly find a place on my table this holiday season, to contrast the richness of most other treats. they are lightly sweetened with pure maple syrup, heavily spiced with cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and allspice, and the addition of toasted hazelnuts compliment the natural nuttiness of spelt flour. if nothing else, make these purely for the heavenly aroma that will strike you as soon as you enter the house.


Toasted Hazelnut Vegan Spice Cakes
(makes 9 mini loaves, ~10-12 muffins, 1 small loaf)


  • 1 1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 cup light spelt flour (can sub whole wheat pastry or 1/2 whole wheat, 1/2 unbleached all purpose)
  • 1 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp all spice
  • 2 tsp raw cacao powder (can be omitted or can sub. good quality (dairy free) cocoa powder)
  • 2 flax eggs (2 tbsp ground flaxseed + 6 tbsp water, whisked)
  • 1 cup almond “buttermilk” + 1/4 cup additional almond milk
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup + 1-2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp demerara, coconut, or brown sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly grease a mini loaf pan (9 slot), standard muffin pan, or loaf pan with coconut oil (or mild flavoured oil).
  2. in a dry, heated over medium-high heat skillet, toast hazelnuts for 5-8 minutes, until fragrant and lightly golden. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flaxseed and water and set aside to gel.
  4. In a 1 cup measuring cup, add 1 tbsp lemon juice (fresh or bottled) and fill remaining with almond milk. Allow to curdle and add to flax mixture. Add remaining almond milk, coconut oil, maple syrup and brown sugar.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, sift together flours, spices, baking powder and baking soda. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir just until combined.
  6. Fold in toasted hazelnuts and evenly distribute in greased pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until firm and springy when poked on peaks. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan until comfortable to touch, about 5 minutes.
  7. Remove loaves from pan and allow to cool on baking rack until just warm – serve immediately, store at room temperature for 3-4 days, in the refrigerator for up to a week, or freeze.




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