We’re more than halfway through January – did you make (or break) any new year’s resolutions? We’ve been having a ‘Dry January’ and other people may be having a ‘Veganuary’. I’ve been vegetarian for 30 years (and vegan at one point) so I thought that the former would be much more of a goal. Nevertheless, I thought I should try a vegan Cakes & Bakes dish to say that I got into the whole January swing!
This lemon meringue pie is surprisingly completely vegan. No butter in the pastry, no eggs or gelatine in the filling and no eggs in the meringue. Brilliant!
Despite being veggie for most of my life, I’ve only recently heard about aquafaba. It’s a versatile egg substitute that was ‘discovered’ by a French chef in 2014. It’s the cooking liquor from (usually) white beans such as butter beans, chickpeas or cannellini beans. If you’re using tinned, buy ones that are unsalted. If you’re making your own, it’s not the water that you soak dried beans in – that contains toxins and gets discarded – you use the water in which the beans have been boiled. I made my own and used the ‘discarded’ chickpeas to make a batch of hummus.
Many of the vegan lemon meringue pie recipes I found on the ‘net included a pinch of turmeric; I obliged but found the resulting filling to be on the orange side and resembled pumpkin pie. It didn’t affect the flavour, however. If preferred, you could use a tiny amount of yellow food colouring.
Making the meringue was a bit tricky. I think I under-whipped my first batch as the lovely peaks softened and sank in the oven. Some people prefer to pipe the mixture on to a lined baking sheet and cooking it separately. I did this with some of the leftover mixture and I couldn’t tell the difference from egg white meringue! It was soft and gooey and cracked when I broke into it.
I quickly & carefully blow-torched the top before it went into the oven on the lowest setting for at least 2 hours. This seemed to help it keep its shape. If you go with latter cooking method, The meringue doesn’t get as cooked thoroughly and will sink and begin to liquefy. It will be best eaten on the day you make it.
- 200g/7oz plain flour
- 70g/2½oz 'tant pour tant' (35g/1¼oz icing sugar + 35g/1¼oz ground almonds)
- pinch of salt
- 100g/3½oz very cold vegetable spread (e.g. soya, olive) or coconut oil
- 550ml/19fl oz milk substitute (e.g. soya, almond, hazelnut, cashew, coconut, oat, rice)
- 80g/2¾oz custard powder (Bird's is vegan)
- zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
- 125ml lemon juice
- 100g/3½oz caster sugar
- small pinch of turmeric
- 125ml/4⅓fl oz aquafaba
- 1 tsp cream of tartar
- 110g/3¾oz caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Put the flour, icing sugar, ground almonds and salt in a food processor. Pulse a couple of times to combine
- Add the butter and pulse again until the mixture begins to get lumpy - like dry scrambled eggs
- Empty the pastry on to 2 lengths of cling film layered one over the other at right angles
- Bring the dough together into a ball by lifting & bringing together the 4 ends of the cling film. Flatten and chill in the fridge for an hour
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6
- Once chilled, generously flour a work surface and roll out the dough to ½cm thick
- Line the pie dish with the pastry so that it has some overlap all the way around.
- Put a length of parchment paper on top of the pastry and fill the pie dish with baking beans
- Blind bake for 15-20 minutes, until the edges begin to turn golden brown
- Remove from the oven, remove the beans and parchment paper and allow the pie case to cool
- Combine ⅓ of the milk with the custard powder, sugar and turmeric
- Whisk to remove any lumps
- Pour into a saucepan with the remaining milk and lemon zest
- Heat, stirring constantly, until the custard begins to thicken
- Add the lemon juice, and continue to stir until it thickens further
- Pour the lemon mixture into the pastry case and allow to cool and solidify while you make the meringue
- Preheat the oven to 90ºC/200ºF/gas mark ¼
- Using a stand mixer with the balloon whisk attachment or an electric hand whisk (on a high setting), beat the aquafaba for 5 minutes
- Add the cream of tartar and beat again until soft peaks begin to form
- Add the vanilla extract and continue beating for a few seconds
- Add the sugar, in stages, one tablespoon at a time, continuing to whisk on the high setting
- Continue whisking until you reach the stiff peak stage - this could take 10-20 minutes
- Spoon or pipe the meringue evenly over the top of the pie filling
- At this stage, you can (if you have one) carefully blowtorch the top of the meringue to get attractive brown bits
- Bake in the oven for 2 hours
- Allow to cool completely before slicing & serving
One of the first things I remember baking as a kid in Trinidad are soupies. Plain meringue rounds, usually with a good dash of garish food colouring. I don’t think I’ve made meringue since then, so this dessert is a long time coming! This time the recipe will be a bit more sophisticated; I’ll be making a lemon and blueberry Pavlova. I’m not a great fan of dry, chalky meringue so I’m making it with a just about baked, soft, chewy Swiss meringue.
For a successful meringue you need to ensure you do a few things. Firstly, use the freshest eggs possible. Next, separate you eggs – one by one – not into each other to ensure none of the yolk gets into the mix. If you don’t, the yolk of the last egg you crack splits, that would be all the egg whites ruined!
It’s also important to make sure that your mixing bowl and your whisk or whisk attachment are clean as a whistle. If they have any sign of oil or grease it will affect how well the egg whites form those all-important stiff peaks.
Success on that front – so I was off to a good start!
I decided on three graduated layers with whipping cream swirled with the gently simmered blueberries – and a small batch of my freshly made lemon curd.
The flavours worked so well together – the sweet meringue combining beautifully with the slightly tart blueberries and the sweet, unctuous lemon. A real triumph!
Other great Pavlova fillings you could try are the classic strawberries, passion fruit & kiwifruit; mandarin; peach, pomegranate, banana & toffee (banoffee) or black cherry & chocolate (black forest). Or flavour the actual meringue with cocoa powder, fine ground coffee beans or – my new favourite – cardamom.
- 4 egg whites
- 200g/7oz caster sugar
- pinch of cream of tartar
- 150g/5oz blueberries
- 300ml/10½fl oz whipping cream
- 50g lemon curd
- Preheat the oven to 100ºC/200ºF/gas mark ½
- Line a large oven tray with baking parchment
- In a heat-proof mixing bowl, gently mix the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar over a simmering saucepan of water (make sure the bottom of the bowl isn't touching the water). Keep stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved
- Remove the mixing bowl from the saucepan and, using an electric mixer, beat on a slow speed rising gradually to a high speed. Continue for about 3-5 minutes until the meringue forms stiff peaks
- Spoon the meringue into a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle
- Pipe 3 graduated circular shapes and 6-8 meringue kisses on to the parchment paper
- Bake for 1-1½ hours depending on how sticky or hard you want the finished meringue
- Put the blueberries into a small saucepan with a tablespoonful of sugar and cook on a low heat for about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool
- Beat the whipping cream until thickened and forms peaks. Set aside
- When cooked, remove the meringue from the parchment paper (you may need to use a palette knife) and allow to cool completely on a wire rack
- Put the largest meringue round on to a large plate and top with ⅓ of the whipped cream, ⅓ of the blueberry mixture and drizzle with ⅓ of the lemon curd
- Repeat with the two other circles of meringue (the smallest goes on the top)
- Decorate with the meringue kisses
I first got the idea of growing my own lemon plants from a pin I came across on Pinterest.
It looked really easy so I collected all the pips from lemons we used in cooking for a few weeks.
When I had a handful, I was ready to go. I opted for this lovely oversize cup as a container – you can choose anything you fancy – cups, old tins, boxes etc. Some gravel in the bottom to prevent water-logging and multi-purpose compost to cover. Done!
The pips were planted in February and small shoots appeared in June, so it took quite a while for them to start germinating – I have to admit that I nearly gave up on them! They got a day in the sunshine as encouragement & reward when I saw those first shoots appear.
Look at them now! The bold, brightly coloured pattern of the cup contrasts with the glossy green foliage of the young lemon plants. It looks fabulous on our kitchen window sill… and they smell gorgeous when you rub a leaf between your fingers – fresh and citrusy.
I can leave them in the cup as they are now and have lots of these pretty dwarf plants – or perhaps pot these on to get larger lemon trees and start again with the pips. A fully fledged lemon business maybe!
Right, it’s official, cheesecake is H is for Home’s favourite cake!
It’s by far, the most baked Cakes & Bakes entry.
This week, lemon & blueberry cheesecake joins the ranks.
I’ve used Hobnobs instead of the usual digestive biscuits for the base. Frozen blueberries are available in the supermarket all year round and at a fraction of the price of fresh.
Home-made cheesecake isn’t difficult. The secret is cooking it long & low. Wrapping the tin with foil and placing it in a water bath (bain-marie) makes sure it cooks properly all the way through without burning. You want the slightest browning of the top.
It feels like a very indulgent cake… but I know the blueberries count as one of your 5-a-day. It leaves just one question, do the lemons make it two?
If you’d like to save this recipe, you can pin it from here.
- 200g/7oz Hobnobs
- 75g/3oz butter, melted
- 500g/17½oz cream cheese
- 350g/12oz blueberries (fresh or frozen)
- 3 lemons, zest & juice
- 200g/7oz caster sugar
- 3 eggs
- 150ml/5fl oz sour cream
- Preheat the oven to 150ºC/300ºF/Gas mark 2
- Grease the sides of a 20cm/8-inch spring-form cake tin
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter
- In a food processor, add the Hobnobs and grind to a fine crumb
- Add the ground biscuits to the butter and combine
- Empty the mixture into the base of the tin and smooth the surface evenly using the back of a tablespoon
- Bake the base for about 15 minutes then set aside to cool while you make the cake mixture
- Zest & juice the lemons. Set aside
- In the food processor you used to crumb the biscuit, add half the blueberries and lemon juice and purée
- In a stand mixer (or large mixing bowl if doing it by hand) add the cream cheese, sour cream and sugar and mix thoroughly
- Gently whisk the eggs in a measuring jug before adding them to the cheese mixture in 3 stages, mixing well after each addition
- Add the puréed blueberry & lemon juice mixture followed by the lemon zest, making sure it's well incorporated
- Boil a kettleful of water
- Before pouring the cheesecake mixture into the tin, wrap the tin in foil to make it water tight
- Put the tin into an oven tray (at least 5cm/1-inch deep)
- Pour the cheesecake mixture into the tin and put the oven tray & cake into the preheated oven
- Fill the oven tray to about ½cm/¼-inch below the rim with the boiled water
- Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes
- When cooked, turn off the oven and allow the cheesecake to cool in the oven, with the door ajar
- When completely cool, top with the other half of the blueberries and put in the fridge
Whenever I ask Justin what kind of cake he fancies, his reply always starts with the word ‘lemon’.
Lemon isn’t my own personal favourite, but I decided to grant his wish today.
I’ve made him lemon drizzle cake, lemon curd tarts, lemon marmalade bars, lemon & polenta berry squares, lemon refrigerator cookies…
So something new – lemon & poppy seed loaf.
It has the sharpness of citrus combined with a slightly earthy tone provided by the poppy seeds.
The cake batter is quick and easy to make.
I folded whisked egg whites into the batter so the texture wasn’t too dense and heavy.
The resulting loaf is substantial, but also light and open textured.
It’s topped with a lemon glaze and a zingy, crunchy sugar topping…
…another request from the lemon-meister!
It’s one of those perfect afternoon cakes to complement a nice cuppa… and his Lordship is very happy!
- 115g/4oz butter, softened
- 225g/8oz caster sugar
- 3 eggs, separated
- 185g/6⅔oz plain flour
- ½tsp baking powder
- ½tsp bicarbonate of soda
- pinch salt
- 1tbs poppy seeds
- 85g/3fl oz buttermilk
- juice of 1 lemon
- zest of 2 lemons
- 1½tbs icing sugar
- juice of half a lemon
- ½tbs granulated sugar
- pinch of lemon zest
- Preheat the oven to 175ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4
- Grease a 900g/2lb loaf tin
- In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter & caster sugar until light & fluffy
- Mix in the egg yolks
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt
- Mix in the poppy seeds
- In a measuring jug, add the buttermilk, lemon juice and lemon zest (reserve a pinch of the zest for the glaze)
- Add the dry, flour mixture to the butter/sugar/egg mixture in two batches; interspersing it with adding the buttermilk & lemon mixture
- Whisk the egg whites into stiff peaks before folding into the mixture
- Spoon the mixture into the greased loaf tin and bake on the lowest shelf for 40-50 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes away clean.. If the top of the loaf begins to get too brown, cover with tin foil
- Whilst the cake is cooking, make the glaze.
- Add the lemon juice & icing sugar to a small measuring jug and stir until any lumps have been removed. Set aside
- In a small bowl, add the granulated sugar & lemon zest and with your fingers using a crumbing motion. Set aside
- Once cooked, remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the tin
- Whilst still warm and using a pastry brush, spread the lemon juice & icing sugar glaze uniformly over the top
- Once completely cool, remove the cake from the tin a place on a cake plate
- Sprinkle the granulated sugar & lemon zest mixture over the top of the glazed cake
- It's now ready to serve!
Citrus conjures up strong feelings; it ambushes all the senses. The scent is fresh and reviving. The taste zings on the tongue and the palate. The greens, yellows and ahem… oranges are eye-catching, vibrant and bright. Citrus is invigorating, uplifting, mood-enhancing and health-giving.
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