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
We have a few friends coming over for dinner this weekend.
We must like them because they’re getting 3 courses!
We tend to split the cooking – which works out well as Justin prefers to do the savoury dishes and I prefer making the sweets. It looks like it’s going to be poached smoked salmon & asparagus to begin. And he’s just set about making some home-made pies for the main course. They look delicious – and hearty too. Celeriac mash and roasted root vegetables on the side. No one will go hungry, that’s for sure!
So, after all that, something light to finish seems in order. I often make panna cotta or crème caramel when a big pudding isn’t required. But I thought I’d go even more delicate this time with a selection of three different petit fours. I’m sharing their preparation as this week’s Cakes & Bakes recipe.
Our guests can have one or ten each, depending on how much room they’ve got left.
Serving them in pretty petit four paper cases really enhances their presentation. They’ll be delicious with an after dinner coffee, port or brandy… a lovely way to end the meal.
- 300g/10½oz dark chocolate
- pinch sea salt
- 2tbs coconut oil
- 215ml/7½fl oz tinned coconut milk
- toasted desiccated coconut, chopped mixed nuts, icing sugar and/or cocoa powder to finish
- Break the chocolate up into small pieces and put it into a large heatproof bowl
- Add the coconut oil and the salt
- In a small saucepan, bring the coconut milk to the boil before pouring it over the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth
- Allow to cool, cover the bowl with cling film and leave to set overnight in the fridge (or at least 4 hours).
- Put the toasted desiccated coconut chopped mixed nuts, icing sugar and/or cocoa powder into separate wide-bottomed bowls
- Using a measuring teaspoon, scoop out a portion of ganache before rolling between your palms to form a ball before putting it on a plate or baking sheet
- Repeat until all the ganache has been used
- Cover the balls in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes
- Toss in the balls equally between the chopped mixed nuts, icing sugar and or cocoa powder, rolling around the bowls making sure each ball is completely coated
- Carefully place the balls on to a plate lined with parchment paper, recover carefully with cling film and put them back into the fridge to firm up again
- These can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week
- 150g/5oz ground almonds
- 200g/7oz icing sugar
- 2tsp almond extract
- 1 egg white
- 50ml/1¾fl oz whipping cream
- 7g/¼oz sugar
- 12ml/½fl oz water
- 45g/1½oz dark chocolate, chopped
- Put the ground almonds, icing sugar, almond extract and egg white into a food processor and combine until it comes together into a thick ball (about a minute)
- Turn the marzipan out onto a work surface and knead it a couple of times
- Form it into a pack of butter shape, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for about an hour
- Bring cream, sugar, and 60ml/2fl oz water to boil in heavy medium saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves
- Add the chocolate and whisk until melted and the glaze is smooth
- Slice the slab of marzipan into equal sized cubes before rolling each between your palms to form balls
- Using a tooth pick, dip each ball into the chocolate sauce before placing it on a tray lined with parchment paper
- Cover the petit fours carefully with cling film and chill for half an hour
- Any unused marzipan will keep for up to a month in the fridge or 6 months in the freezer
- 125g cashews
- 40g desiccated coconut
- 125g pitted dates
- 2tbs coconut oil
- ½tsp sea salt
- ½tsp vanilla essence
- 1tbs water
- In a food processor, process blitz the cashews and desiccated coconut to fine crumbs
- Add the dates, coconut oil, vanilla and sea salt and process again until the mixture forms large, sticky lumps
- Scoop the dough using a measuring teaspoon before rolling between your palms to form balls. If the mixture is too crumbly add another tablespoon of water and blitz again for a few seconds
- Arrange on a baking sheet or plate lined with parchment paper
- Chill in the fridge for an hour before rolling in toasted desiccated coconut and/or cocoa powder to finish
- These can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for 6 months or more
Let’s be honest, how many times do you make yourself a cup of tea or coffee and instinctively reach for the biscuit tin? I know I do… at least once a day! Well, if you want to banish that guilty feeling – or just give yourself a healthier option – these date and nut energy bars are for you.
There are just 3 ingredients and there’s no cooking or baking involved – just a couple of minutes (literally!) in a food processor and a few hours in the fridge.
Healthy, raw-food snacks don’t have to be boring, bland or cranky. These energy bars are going to replace those high sugar, high fat, high calorie cookies & biscuits… well, some of them anyway, I love a crumbly shortbread with a nice cup of Yorkshire tea!