Being a vegan at Christmas can be tricky, but there are treats you can cook that everyone will enjoy!
I find that most people are reasonably clued up about not serving meat to vegans, and roasting the potatoes in oil rather than duck fat for vegan guests. It’s the dessert that people really struggle with – which is ironic, since I’m usually too stuffed after my Christmas meal to even want any dessert!
Anyway, I’ve recently adapted a couple of different recipes to create a spicy vegan sticky pear tart that’s just delicious and perfect for Christmas:
So here’s what to do…
For the pastry, you will need:
2oz plain flour
1oz vegan margarine (such as Pure)
Cold water (approx 1 tablespoon)
For the cake filling, you will need:
3oz wholewheat flour
1½oz demerera sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon mixed spices
1oz vegan margarine
3oz molasses or black treacle
2 tablespoons cold water
You will also need:
3 ripe pears
8 pecan halves to decorate (optional)
1. Make the pastry: My tried-and-tested pastry recipe uses 2oz flour and 1oz vegan margarine. Use your fingers or a fork to rub the margarine into the flour. Then add around 1 tablespoon of cold water – add it slowly in case you don’t need this much, or add more if needed to bring the mixture together. Use a fork to bring the dough together and then press the dough together in your hands a few times to form into a ball. Wrap in cling film and pop in the fridge for half an hour to cool it.
2. Roll out the pastry: Shake a little plain flour onto a clean worktop. Take your pastry out of the cling film and pop on top. Shake a little plain flour on top. Roll out the pastry with a rolling pin, turning the pastry and adding more flour as needed to make a large circle of pastry. Keep going until it’s large enough to line your flan tin, along the bottom and up the sides.
3. Line a flan tin: Place the pastry inside a flan tin (mine measured approx 8½in/21½cm). You shouldn’t need to line or grease the tin. Make sure it lines the sides as well as the bottom, and gently press it right into the corners. Trim off any excess pastry with a sharp knife. Use a fork to lightly prick the pastry all over.
4. Blind bake the pastry: Cut a piece of greaseproof paper to line the pastry case, along the bottom and up the sides. Fill with baking beans or similar (my folks gave me a jar of mung beans that I reuse). Bake for approx 25 mins at 180ºC. Allow to cool.
5. Prepare the pears: Peel and core 3 ripe pears, and chop into fairly chunky slices.
6. Make the sticky cake: To make the cake mixture, place the margarine, molasses and water into a saucepan and gently heat until everything has melted. Place the flour, sugar, baking powder and spices into a separate bowl and mix. Then place the dry ingredients into the saucepan and mix.
7. Construct the tart: Arrange the chunks of pear in the bottom of the pastry case, making sure it evenly covers the bottom. Pour the cake mixture over the pears carefully, so that they’re all covered. Decorate evenly with pecan halves, if you want to (I used 8). Bake at 180ºC for around 35 minutes.
8. Serve: The tart tastes best served warm, topped with warm soya custard (available in most supermarkets now, in the ‘free-from’ aisle).
There are plenty of ways that you could change the recipe to suit you:
• You could replace the pear with any other fruit you like.
• You could replace some of the molasses or treacle with agave nectar or golden syrup (stay away from honey or your vegan guests might be upset).
• You could leave out the pastry altogether and just make a fruity, sticky cake – just line a cake tin with greaseproof paper and arrange the pears in the bottom.
• You could flavour your cake with one specific spice, such as cinnamon or ginger, rather than a mixed spice.
Enjoy and Merry Christmas!