The most challenging part of vegan baking is, without a doubt, finding the proper substitute for an egg. There are so many different ingredients cooks use to fill the role of eggs- to leaven, to bind, to add creamy texture- none of which works as a direct substitute in every recipe. I’ve experimented with most of these substitutes, from ground flax to chia to powdered egg replacers, but this was my first real foray into a recipe which is so dependent on egg: custard.
One of my coworkers requested that I bake a classic fruit tart, the kind that you see displayed so beautifully behind the glass case in french bakeries (like the one two blocks away from work). I’d never made a fruit tart before, vegan or not, but my mind immediately started racing with recipe ideas. My first thought was to use silken tofu, but I quickly nixed the idea because, while I appreciate the jiggly wonder that is tofu, I prefer to keep it in the savory realm.
Quickly, I thought back to Christmas of last year, when I was helping my dad make English Trifle, a holiday staple in our family. I was tasked to make the custard and, upon reading the ingredient list, discovered that it’s doesn’t contain any egg or dairy. Bingo. That tidbit of knowledge was stored away in the recipe-centric region of my mind (which I believe takes up about 73% of my brain’s capacity) until a few weeks ago. All I needed to do was sub in non-dairy milk and hope to God that nothing would go awry. I think the pictures are evidence that things worked out pretty well.
Basic tart crust:
– 1 + 1/4 cups flour
– 1/2 cup Earth Balance
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1 tsp sugar
– 2-3 tablespoon cold water
1. Combine all ingredients except water in a food processor until well incorporated. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time until dough forms. Alternatively, mix ingredients by hand, adding water once the dough has a crumbly texture.
2. Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, or as long as 24 hours
3. Roll out dough to about 1/4 inch thin and press into tart or springform pan. Puncture crust with a fork multiple times to prevent bubbling.
4. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes, until lightly golden.
– 3 tablespoons custard powder (yes, it’s vegan) or cornstarch
– 1/4 cup organic sugar
– 1 cup dairy free creamer or non-dairy milk. (Creamer will give a richer flavor, but soy or almond milk works as well)
1. Mix custard powder or cornstarch with 3 tablespoons of the creamer/milk and 1 tablespoon sugar. Stir with a fork until no lumps remain. I like to pass this mixture through a mesh strainer to ensure the custard comes out smooth.
2. Heat remaining milk/creamer with remaining sugar on the stovetop, almost to a boil. Pour hot milk over the cornflour mixture and stir.
3. Return custard mixture to the pot and continue to cook over medium-low heat for about five minutes stirring continuously, until thickened. It will take a few minutes to start to thicken up, but once it does the custard thickens very quickly.
4. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before pouring into the prebaked crust.
Finally, top the tart with the fresh fruit of your choice, sliced up beautifully. I used classic fruits: kiwi, strawberry, and raspberry, but almost anything will work. Mangoes or peaches would add a gorgeous extra pop of color, not to mention delicious flavor.