Vegan pecan pie
Vegan pecan pie
While we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here, vegan pecan pie eating is something I could easily get behind. It happens to combine some of my favourite flavours on Earth: buttery pecans bathed in an aromatic concoction of maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon and orange zest, which I know is not necessarily traditional, but I like its festive overtones, so I added it to mine. This recipe creation was full of drama so I am especially happy that it made it to the blog and I’m able to share it with you today. I hope you’ll make it and love it!!
Firstly, I’ve had to make it several times to get the proportions right. As it’s a fairly technical recipe, I was prepared for that, but it was still a little tiring nevertheless. Third time lucky, the pie was ready and did not end up looking too bad either, so I was ready to crack on with the photos.
The issue was the light or the lack of thereof. The weather forecast was pretty clear on the fact that there was no sunshine or white cloud to be had at all this week – it was black cloud back-to-back. What is one to do? So I dusted off my artificial light setup and got to work. I did some test shots and I was fairly happy with them, so I was in a good headspace until about 10 hours later when Duncan got home from work to find me in the middle of a shoot-induced mess, on the verge of tears.
After 10 hours of solid work and tinkering, I had no decent photos to show for myself. I HATED the outcome and, what’s worse, I couldn’t figure out why exactly. I was exhausted and despondent and I lost all sense of perspective. I was sobbing uncontrollably, doubting my ability to take a single decent photo ever and wanting to ditch the whole thing.
Duncan tried to talk some sense into me – bless him – he is good like that, but I was having none of it. As I was worried that the pie will look worse for wear the day after, I pushed myself to do a few missing shots after dinner, but I was still not happy with the results of my work. I went to bed all anxious and upset as I was staring down the barrel of having to make the pie again. But I was out of some key ingredients too, and worst of all I had no idea how to get decent shots with my light setup, so I was feeling stuck and helpless.
I woke up to see the pie look as good as on the day it was made and while there was truly no blue skies to be had, grey cloud morphed into a whitish cloud, so I figured I would give the natural light one more go. I did the entire shot in just over an hour and I am finally happy to share these with you.
I also had a good look at the room I was shooting in and realised that what most likely screwed me was the magnolia painted walls and yellowish curtains which reflected a nasty, yellowish cast into my photos, making this dreamy pie look completely unappetising. There is not much I can do about that as I cannot cover up such a vast surface area unless I pitch a white tent up in the middle of my dining room! It’s a rented house, so repainting isn’t really an option, but it made me realise where I was going wrong despite trying every trick in the book.
I guess I am doomed to be chasing elusive white clouds for a little while longer…until I figure this conundrum out. Ah, they joys of food photography in winter gloom…
- 240 g / 2 cups all purpose white flour or GF all purpose flour, sifted
- ½ tsp xantham gum (only if using GF flour)
- a pinch of fine salt
- 120 g / ½ cup + 2 tbsp cold vegan butter block or refined coconut oil
- 180 ml / ¾ cup maple syrup, adjust to taste
- 150 g / ¾ cup dark brown sugar, demerara sugar or coconut sugar (for refined sugar free version)
- 75 g / 6 tbsp coconut oil (I use refined coconut oil)
- 300 g / 10.5 oz silken tofu (I use Clearspring)
- 2 tsp vanilla paste or vanilla extract
- zest of 1 large orange
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp fine sea salt
- 2 tbsp tapioca starch or cornflour / cornstarch
- 200 g / 7 oz / 2 cups chopped pecans + extra 100 g / 3.5 oz pecan halves, to decorate
- Combine flour, xanthan gum (only if making GF flour mix) and salt in the food processor bowl. Alternatively, you can make the pastry by hand using two knives – see photos here.
- Chop vegan butter (or coconut oil) into small pieces and add it to the dry ingredients. Pulse the machine a few times to cut the fat into the flour.
- Gradually trickle in about 4 tbsp (60 ml) ice cold water while pulsing the mixture. You’ve added enough water when the mixture starts to resemble breadcrumbs and clumps together in your hand when squeezed but does not feel wet – you want to add as little water as possible.
- Transfer the mixture to a clean work bench. Gently press the dough together with your hands into a disc, but do not knead – handle as little as you can or else your pastry will be tough.
- Wrap the pastry in a piece of cling film and chill in the fridge for at least 60 minutes or as long as you need.
- Remove the dough from the fridge and roll it out between on a lightly floured surface until you get a circle large enough to cover your entire tart case, about 2-3 mm in thickness.
- Place the rolled-out dough over a tart case and gently line the inside of it with the pastry. Tuck the pastry in well, ensuring that it fits snugly into all the nooks and crannies. Trim the excess pastry with a sharp knife. Patch any holes up with the cut off excess. If making gluten-free pastry (which tends to be more crumbly), you may be better off placing the crumbled pastry in the tart case and simply moulding the pastry with your hands to the shape of the tart tin.
- Pierce the bottom of the pastry with a fork in a few places and chill the pastry-lined tart case in the fridge for about another 60 minutes.
- 45 min into pastry chilling time, preheat the oven to 180° C / 355° F. Line the pastry case with a large piece of crumpled baking paper and fill with baking beads or rice for a blind bake.
- Blind bake the pastry for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and beads and bake for another 10 minutes.
- Place the maple syrup, sugar and coconut oil in a small saucepan. Bring to a gentle simmer, stirring the whole time. Set aside to cool.
- In a food processor combine drained tofu, vanilla paste, orange zest, cinnamon and salt. Blend until silky smooth.
- Add the cooled sugar mixture to the tofu mixture along with the tapioca starch. Blend until smooth.
- Heat up the oven to 180° C / 355° F.
- Add the chopped pecans to the cool filling and fill the prebaked tart case.
- Decorate the top with pecan halves, brush them lightly with leftover filling.
- Bake for 30 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 160° C / 320° F and bake for a further 25-30 minutes, until the edges are cooked.
- Cool the tart completely before cutting.
I have a tart case with a removable bottom, but you could put two wide strips of baking paper, criss-cross, under the pastry and use them to lift the tart out gently. Hope this helps! x Ania
Sure you can! You best bet would be shop-bought (make sure it's vegan if you are) shortcrust pastry case. I cannot recommend any brands as I don't tend to buy them myself. Your second bet would be puff pastry but follow baking instructions on the package (rather than in my recipe) and there is probably no need to pre-bake it. x Ania
I've found that although I halved the maple syrup on my second and third attempt, the pie is still on the verge of being too sweet (yes, even for a pie). I'll try also halving the brown sugar next time and hopefully will achieve a result that better fits my German taste buds.
All the best - Tanja
I'm delighted to hear that this pie has been such a success in your house and many thanks for letting me know. Sure, the sweetness can be adjusted as it's very individual. Hope it works out well. x Ania
Thank you so much for your kind words. I am delighted that it came out so well (good thinking on your feet, btw!!) and that you and your family loved it. x Ania
I would like to use your recipe and make this but I don’t use/have/like tofu, please tell me what I can use instead. I am not vegan. Thank you so much.
Full disclaimer: I have not tried making this recipe with anything else than tofu, but I am pretty sure that full fat coconut cream and a bit more cornstarch would work fine too. Good luck! Ania
I cooled it down completely, but I am sure it will be fine if it's a bit warm to the touch still. Ania
It should, although I haven't tried. I would say use a bit less and blend it with a bit of plant milk in a blender first to achieve smoother, custard-like consistency of silken tofu. Good luck! Ania
I ended up using it anyway and the pie came out perfect :)
Everyone loved it
I don't know if you are aware but refined coconut oil (as opposed to extra virgin coconut oil) is flavourless and odourless so it does not contribute any flavour at all. If you do not want to use coconut oil for another reason, I am not sure what else to suggest as I have not tried anything else and I cannot really think of anything that I am certain will work here. Anna
Here is Sam from Amsterdam, The Netherlands!
Your pecan pie is fantastic! I’ve baked it several times and it makes everyone happy.
Thank you for sharing.
Best regards and I will try many more of your ideas.
I have been too nervous to make them since our change of diet, not sure why. But I may give it a go.... tricky bit will be estimating the bake time I reckon...
I don't see why not, I reckon about 20-30 minutes (+ blind baking) should do the job. x Ania
Could you help me - what can I use instead of white flour? Is almond/tapioca/corn/oat flour OK for that? Did you try something of that?
And maybe I can swap xantham gum with something?
How many days can I keep it in refrigerator?
Thenk you so much!
I have tried with GF all purpose flour mix, but you do need xantham gum or else the dough gets too crumbly. You definitely don't want to use just one of these flours on their own, but a nice mix of say oat, almond and some starch (like tapioca or cornflour) should work. I think your best bet is to look up homemade GF flour mix online and I am sure someone has written extensive blog posts about how to make your own GF flour mix. Hope that helps! x Ania
This recipe is dairy-free and no, I don't have a soy-free option, I'm afraid, but I believe you could substitute silken tofu with cooked millet or perhaps coconut cream, but that's just a hunch. Ania