Cherry Pie

If I had to choose one baked good that truly challenged me I’d have to say it’s pie. Making your own pie crust can be an intimidating task that prevents a lot of novice bakers from trying it. Pie crust can be temperamental especially when it’s too warm in your kitchen. It can feel like there is no happy medium between your pie crust tearing, and over kneading it until it is a gummy, chewy mess. That’s why I want to share an easy cherry pie recipe, and a few tips and tricks that will help you make the perfect pie even in the hot summer months.

A key point to remember when making your pie dough is that a chilled dough is a happy dough. Chilling your dough ball after forming it should help prevent tearing that results in the need to overwork your dough. Kneading your dough too much causes the flour to produce excess gluten which will make your crust tough and chewy.

The fat used to make the crust is also important. I prefer using vegetable shortening in my pie crusts, and most of my other baked goods, instead of vegan butter or margarine. Most of my tried and true recipes from my grandma Billie, including the one for this pie crust, call for shortening. I find that it’s greater shelf stability makes it much easier to work with, and honestly find the taste preferable in my baked goods. I feel that food should not be flavored by the fat you use, but rather the additional seasonings you choose. Fat does provide necessary moisture, and contributes a great deal to texture. I’ve tried baking many of the same things with butter and margarine, and the texture just isn’t as good as it is with the vegetable shortening.

The last note I have for you on pie preparation is perhaps just as important as chilling the crust. Take ten minutes to cook the filling first. Seriously, don’t skip this step. Cooking the filling before hand gives the tapioca starch the chance to activate before you put everything in the oven. This should lessen your chance of your pie boiling over. It takes longer for the pie filling to cook than the crust, so it’s pertinent that it’s most of the way cooked down before putting it in the oven. That is, unless you want an overdone and dry crust with runny filling. Most importantly, you probably don’t want your filling to soak into your pie crust and make the whole pie mushy. Cooking the filling on the stove top first helps create a more viscous, stable mixture that won’t seep into your crust.


Cherry Pie

  • Servings: 10
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This recipe creates a top and bottom pie crust. If you only want a bottom crust and want to skip the top crust or any latticework or additional decorating feel free to halve the measurements of the crust ingredients.

Pie Crust Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup Crisco or other vegetable shortening
  • 5 tbsp cold water
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp plant based milk

Pie Filling

  • 4 cups pitted cherries
  • 1/2 cup granulated vegan cane sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegan coconut brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp tapioca flour
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Directions


1. Sift flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Stir until they are well integrated.
2. Add Crisco or other vegetable shortening. Cream together with the flour using a spoon or a fork until a soft, mealy texture is formed. The crumbly pieces should be somewhere in between the size of a lentil and a black bean.
3. Slowly add the chilled water, gently kneading with your hands. Be careful not to overwork the dough.
4. Form the pie crust into a ball. If several cracks form in the surface, and it’s difficult to get it to stick together try adding additional water a little bit at a time until it becomes more pliable. You’ll want to be careful not to make the dough too moist.
5. Cover the dough, and place it in the fridge to chill for at least a half hour.
6. You can use the time your dough is chilling to prep your other ingredients. First you’ll need to pit your cherries. I use a cherry pitter to do this. Normally I’m not one for single use kitchen gadgets, but this is one it’s difficult to live without. You can sit there and poke the pits out with a chopstick, or dig them out with a knife, but I strongly suggest purchasing a pitter. It will save you an hour of prep time. Either way, be cautious that you’ve removed all of the pits.
7. In a large mixing bowl combine the pitted cherries with brown sugar, white cane sugar, tapioca starch, lemon juice, and sea salt. Stir until the cherries are evenly coated with the other ingredients.
8. Cook down the cherry mixture in a sauce pan. The cherries should cook down to a slightly smaller size, and their juice should become about the consistency of jelly.
9. Remove the cherry filling from heat, move to a heat resistant container, and chill in the fridge.
10. Split your dough ball into two equal portions. On a lightly floured surface roll out the one pie crust to about 1/8th” thickness. Gently wrap part of the pie crust over your rolling pin and carefully transfer it to a lightly greased pie pan.
11. Using kitchen shears, or a sharp knife, carefully remove excess pie crust. The pie crust should hang to about the bottom of the pie pan, depending on how elaborate you want to make the edge of the crust.
12. If you are not using a full top crust now is the time to crimp your crust. If you are using a full top crust roll out the crust, and add it on top after you fill the pie. Crimp the edges, and be sure to vent the top. We opted for a latticework design on this pie, and did not use a full top crust.
13. Fill your pie crust with the cherry filling. We made a tiny pie out of the scraps from our crust, so if you want to do this as well set aside a few spoonfuls of filling.
14. If you are doing a lattice design on top of your pie roll out your additional crust on top of a cutting board. We used a pizza wheel to cut thin slices, but a sharp knife works as well.
15. Lay the thin pieces of dough across the pie crust horizontally. Lift up each piece to weave other pieces through vertically. Refer to the pictures for the design we made, or make your own accents. We sculpted some braids and tiny bumble bees as well. Trim excess decorations so they are just about flush with the edges of the pie crust.
16. Using the left over pie crust, and small pie tin, we made a second tiny pie with less intricate latticework.
17. Whisk together some non-dairy milk and vegetable oil. Brush the pie crust with the fifty-fifty emulsion. This will help the crust to brown.
18. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Once it has come up to temp place the pie/s on top of baking sheets, and put them in the oven. The baking sheet is important, because it helps catch anything that might boil over. I’ve learned this from experience. It’s better to take five minutes to clean a baking sheet than an hour to clean burnt sugar off the bottom of the oven, trust me.
19. Bake for about fifteen minutes. Check the pies to see if they’re done. If the dough still feels and looks very raw leave them in for intervals of no more than two minutes until they seem done. They should be a nice golden color, but won’t be as golden as if you had used egg wash with actual egg. Be cautious not to over bake the pie waiting for this to happen.
20. Remove the pies and transfer to a cooling rack. If you used aluminum pie pans be cautious, and make sure it doesn’t collapse under the weight of the hot pie as you transfer it. I recommend using glass pie dishes as they’re less wasteful, and sturdier, but the aluminum ones are great if you’re gifting a pie to someone or taking it to a party.
21. Wait several hours for the pie to cool before consuming, or placing it in the fridge.
We used a mixture of sweet local cherries from the farmers market, and tart Rainier Cherries. You can use whatever cherries you’d like, but if you use all sweet cherries we recommend adjusting the amount of sugar you add to the filling.

No Bake Vegan Nut Butter Bars

Like the majority of people in the U.S. I attended public school. Which means I had the privilege of experiencing the horror that is school lunch. With cheese fries being a side offered every day it’s no big surprise that fatty, greasy desserts were offered with every lunch. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of dessert, but do we really need to have dessert after every meal?

Regardless of the overindulgence of bad public school cafeteria food there were a few lunch desserts that were actually delicious in addition to being unhealthy. One of my favorites that I still find myself thinking about sometimes is the peanut butter bar. They were a layer of peanut butter mixed with probably a pound of sugar with a thin layer of chocolate on top.

Peanut butter bar days were one of the few occasions that I would get lunch dessert in school. I rarely consume peanut butter due to allergies in our household, but almond butter and sunflower seed butter are a pretty great substitution. I found myself having nostalgia for those cafeteria food dessert bars, so I decided to make them vegan and peanut free. The result was a delicious, gourmet version of a childhood favorite.

No Bake Vegan Nut Butter Bars

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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When you line the baking dish with parchment make sure parchment extends over the sides of the baking dish, so you can easily lift the bars out of the baking dish once they are set up.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup creamy almond butter or other nut butter
  • 1 cup vegan chocolate chips or chunks
  • 1 cup vegan graham cracker crumbs (about 8 graham cracker sheets)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter
  • 1 tbsp almond butter

Directions

  1. Break down vegan graham crackers into crumbs by adding them to a food processor, or placing them in a ziploc bag and pulverizing them with a rolling pin. You’ll want them to be fine and sandy feeling. Place them in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Melt the vegan butter in the microwave, and pour over graham cracker crumbs. Mix crumbs with butter until well integrated.
  3. Sift powdered sugar over butter and graham cracker mixture, and stir together.
  4. Stir in the almond butter, or other nut butter, until mixture is smooth and well integrated.
  5. Line an 8×8 inch pyrex with greased parchment paper making sure the edges of the parchment extend outside of the baking dish, and pour almond butter mixture in.
  6. Using a spatula smooth almond butter mixture evenly over the bottom of the baking dish.
  7. Melt down the baking chocolate with one tablespoon almond butter in a microwave safe bowl, or on the stove top. If you choose to microwave it do so on 30 second intervals stirring in between warming to prevent the chocolate from burning.
  8. Once chocolate is melted into a smooth, runny consistency with no clumps pour it over your almond butter mixture. Spread it evenly with a clean spatula.
  9. Refrigerate for at least two hours to allow bars to set.
  10. When ready to serve remove bars from baking dish, and place on cutting board. Run a knife under hot water to warm it before cutting to prevent bars from breaking.

If you want to cut even pieces without the chocolate breaking it’s important to add a tablespoon of almond butter to the chocolate as you’re melting it. The almond butter will prevent the chocolate from tempering when it sets up, and allow for more flexion as you’re cutting the bars.

Three Ingredient Chocolate Mousse

All of my life I’ve been a major sweet tooth. I love all dessert, especially chocolate. As we move through June and the temperature rises I find myself searching for lighter no-bake desserts. We recently created this simple three ingredient mousse to fulfill my chocolate cravings without heating up the kitchen.

This mousse is light and airy, but still feels indulgent with the richness of the chocolate. With only three ingredients it’s quick and easy to make, and easy to add your own flair to. Add your favorite nut butter, or sub fruit for chocolate. A strawberry mousse with fresh in season strawberries sounds incredibly refreshing, doesn’t it?


Three Ingredient Chocolate Mousse

  • Servings: 3
  • Difficulty: easy
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For this recipe you’ll need a blender, and three ramekins. If you don’t have ramekins you can use some small wide mouthed glass jars, or use some juice glasses as mousse glasses.

Ingredients

  • 1 block (12 oz) soft silken tofu
  • 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips, or baking chocolate
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup, or other preferred natural sweetener

Directions

  1. Add silken tofu and maple syrup into a blender, and blend until well integrated.
  2. Melt chocolate in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring well in between cooking, so it does not burn.
  3. Once the chocolate has fully melted add it directly to the blender while it is still warm. Blend until fully integrated.
  4. Pour the blended mousse into three ramekans, juice glasses, or small jars.
  5. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Add your favorite fruit and non-dairy whipped cream before serving, if you desire.

Vegan Apple Crisp

undefinedThis recipe is another one that was passed down from my maternal Grandmother Billie Gerard. I have a lot of nostalgia for this dessert. It was something my mom made frequently throughout my childhood. The apple crisp encompasses the best aspects of a dutch apple pie, but leaves out the heaviness of the crust.

undefinedDon’t get me wrong, I love a good apple pie. As far as fruit pies go the Dutch Apple is near the top of my list of favorites. Sometimes I just want a dessert that’s a little bit on the lighter side, and this recipe really hits the spot. It makes a great dessert, or a snack with a nice cup of coffee or tea.


Vegan Apple Crisp

  • Servings: 8+
  • Difficulty: easy
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Using a tart apple like granny smith, fuji, kanzi, pink lady, braeburn, et cetera is recommended.

Ingredients

  • 4 medium apples
  • 1 cup vegan white sugar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 stick of vegan margarine or butter

Directions

  1. Peel and cut apples into similarly sized slices. Place the apple slices in a bowl, and sprinkle with approximately 1 tbsp cinnamon. Toss the apples to make sure they are evenly coated in the cinnamon.
  2. Lightly grease an 8″x8″ glass baking dish, and spread the apples out in the dish.
  3. In a small bowl combine two tablespoons water with one tablespoon of the Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer, and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl sift flour and sugar through sieve to eliminate clumps.
  5. Add sea salt and baking powder to the rest of the dry ingredients, and stir to combine.
  6. Add the egg replacer to the dry ingredients and stir until it forms a crumble. Add an additional tablespoon or two of water if necessary.
  7. Spread crumble on top of the apples in the baking dish.
  8. Melt down one stick of vegan margarine in the microwave, and drizzle over top of the apple crisp.
  9. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and bake for 45 minutes.

Vegan Pain au Chocolat

undefinedI’ve always been a sucker for classic French desserts and pastries.  Most of these seem to contain butter or eggs making them decidedly not vegan.  We decided to take one of my favorite pastries Pain au Chocolat, or chocolate croissants, and make it vegan.  This one is a little lengthy, and involves several hours of downtime while you wait for things to chill and proof.  If you’re not into that you can always try to find tubes of premade crescent dough.

undefinedThis one is a long one, and I don’t recommend it for beginner bakers. If you’re up for a challenge, then this one’s for you.

The inside is incredibly light and fluffy.

Vegan Pain au Chocolat

  • Servings: 16
  • Difficulty: intermediate
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We used Enjoy Life chocolate chips to fill the pastries. Enjoy Life chocolate melts really well without burning, and it’s great for a family with food allergies as it’s not produced on shared equipment.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup (4 tbsp) vegan butter
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated vegan sugar
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp instant yeast
  • 1 and 1/2 cups oat milk
  • 1 cup chocolate chunks

Butter Layer

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (3 sticks) non-dairy butter
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour

Egg Wash

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp oat milk

Directions

  1. Start by mixing together the instant yeast, sugar, salt, and room temperature butter. Blend until all ingredients are well integrated, and then mix in the flour. We did this with our hands, but you can use a spoon or mixer if you’d like. Slowly pour in the non-dairy milk as you knead the dough. The dough should be somewhat sticky, but have some elasticity. It should bounce back if you poke it.
  2. Lightly flour your hands, and roll the dough into a ball. Place dough on a baking sheet covered with greased parchment paper, or a lightly floured silicone baking mat if you have one. Make sure your baking sheet is large enough to hold a 10×20 inch rectangle, as this will come into play later. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.
  3. After the dough has chilled for a half hour remove it from the fridge, remove parchment paper and dough from the baking sheet, and roll out into a 14×10 inch rectangle. Try to keep the edges as straight as possible. You’ll have to work against the dough here as it will want to maintain an oval shape.
  4. Return parchment paper, or silicone baking mat, with the rectangle of dough on it back onto the baking sheet, and refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight.
  5. Warm three sticks of non-dairy butter to room temperature in the microwave, or take the butter out of the fridge at least a half hour prior to lamination. Place non-dairy butter and flour into a mixing bowl, and beat with a hand mixer or whisk until it is soft and creamy.
  6. Place butter onto a piece of greased parchment paper, and smooth into a 7×10 inch rectangle. Place the butter into the refrigerator, and let chill for at least a half hour.
  7. Remove the dough, and butter layer from the fridge. Roll your dough out into a 10×20 inch rectangle. You may need to lay down another sheet of greased parchment paper under your dough to do this. I wouldn’t recommend rolling it out on any hard surface, because it will get stuck no matter how well you flour.
  8. Once your dough has been rolled out, place your 7×10 inch rectangle of butter in the very center of the dough. Fold either side of the dough over the butter as if you were folding a letter. Pinch the dough closed around the butter, so that it does not squeeze out as you roll it. Roll your dough again into a 10×20 inch rectangle. If your dough is becoming warm and sticky you may want to refrigerate it again for a half hour. Do a second pass of the lamination by folding your dough into thirds again, and rolling out into a 10×20 inch rectangle.
  9. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, and then do a third pass. Fold the 10×20 inch rectangle into thirds like a letter, and then refrigerate for at least four hours.
  10. Once the dough has been refrigerated roll it out into a 8x20inch rectangle on a floured counter or table. Use a pizza cutter or a sharp knife to cut dough in half in half, and then into fourths, sixths, and then eighths.
  11. Give each piece an extra roll to flatten it more, and then cut them in half. Set the pieces aside on a baking sheet. You will have 16 pieces when you are finished. Each piece will be approximately 2×5 inches.
  12. Finally, it is time to add the best part, the chocolate! You can either use chocolate chunks like we did, or cut up slices of a dark chocolate bar into chocolate wands. Line the chocolate pieces along the short end, about an inch in from the edge, and roll up. Place rolled pastries with the seam on the bottom of your baking sheets. You will need two large baking sheets to fit all of the pastries. Be sure to continue using greased parchment paper to line your baking sheets.
  13. Once you have finished adding the chocolate and rolling up every piece leave the pastries out at room temperature for an hour to proof.
  14. Return the pastries to the fridge to chill for an hour. This step is integral, because they will spread too much if they are at room temperature when you place them in the oven.
  15. Make sure your oven racks are up as high as they’ll go, and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  16. Right before putting your pastries in the oven you’ll want to use an “egg wash” so that they brown a little bit. We made ours using one part oat milk, and one part vegetable oil. Gently paint the egg wash on with a brush. If you wish you can sprinkle a little bit of coarse kosher salt for a savory element. This is what we did, and it was delicious.
  17. Bake the pastries for 20 minutes keeping a close eye on them. Rotate the trays at 10 minutes into the bake time. If the pastries appear to be browning too quickly turn your oven temperature down to 350 at this point.
  18. Remove the pastries from the oven, and place on a cooling rack. If you chose not to add salt, and would like to add some vegan confectioners sugar use a sieve to gently dust some on top of the croissants once they have cooled a bit. Be sure to try them while they’re still warm to enjoy the melty chocolate, and warm buttery dough. Bon appetit.

Sticky Buns

undefinedOne of my favorite treats as a kid were the sticky buns that my mom would make from time to time. Like many of the baked good recipes I’ll be posting on the blog this originated from my maternal grandmother, Billie Gerard. I never got the chance to meet my grandmother, she passed away a few months before I was born, but baking her recipes has always given me the opportunity to get to know her in a way. She was a baker, and she left behind a treasure trove of amazing recipes.

Most of my Grandma’s recipes contain dairy and eggs, but that hasn’t stopped me from adapting them to be vegan. Sometimes it takes a few tries, but I always manage to create a pretty spot on replica of the original recipe sans the animal products. I guess the one benefit to growing up an omnivore is that I’ve had all of these foods before, and know precisely how they should taste, so I can make sure the vegan version is as perfect as the original.

undefinedThese vegan sticky buns are easy to make, and not very time consuming, minus the downtime they take to rise. As a self-professed lazy person I’ve never really minded having to wait an hour for my baked goods to proof as it just gives me a chance to take a break, and loaf around. They’re well worth the effort as they not only make a great decadent breakfast, but an any time snack as well.

Sticky Buns

Sticky Bun Dough

  • 1 cup oat milk
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp vegan white sugar
  • 2 tbsp Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp instant yeast
  • 6 cups flour

Sticky Bun Filling/Topping

  • 2/3 cup vegan brown sugar
  • 1 cup vegan margarine
  • 4 tbsp melted vegan margarine
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup

Directions

  1. Heat sauce pan on medium heat for about a minute. You can tell if it’s ready by flicking water at it. If it sizzles and quickly evaporates you’re good to go. Add the oat milk in. It should make a hiss as it goes into the pan. Keep it on medium heat and stir until it begins to simmer whisking occasionally. Don’t stir the liquid continuously as you want it to scald a little bit for this recipe.
  2. Very carefully add in the oil. The oat milk has probably reached a pretty high temperature here, so it may jump and splash back a little.
  3. Whisk in the sugar and salt and allow to simmer for another minute.
  4. Turn off burner and remove the liquid from heat. Allow to cool until it is about room temperature.
  5. While the milk mixture cools combine the egg replacer with 1/4 cup of water in a separate bowl. Mix thoroughly and set aside.
  6. In a large mixing bowl combine yeast with one cup hot water. The water should be hot, but not so hot you can’t touch it.
  7. Add the egg replacer, the milk mixture, and three cups of flower and beat by hand or with a hand mixer.
  8. Add in the rest of the flour. If you chose to use a hand mixer you’ll want to ditch it at this point, because the dough is about to get too heavy for it. Mix the flour in with your hands or a spoon until a soft, somewhat sticky dough has formed.
  9. Knead for a few minutes on a floured surface. Grease mixing bowl, and return the dough ball to the bowl. Cover with a towel and set aside for an hour or until dough has doubled in size.
  10. Once the dough has doubled break it into two portions so it is easier to work with. Roll out each portion separately into a roughly 14″x8″ rectangle.
  11. In a bowl soften one cup of margarine to room temperature, and cream in the vegan brown sugar.
  12. Grease two Pyrex baking dishes (sized approximately 15″x8″) with room temperature butter and brown sugar mixture. Make sure the mixture reaches all the way up the sides, as well as completely coating the bottom.
  13. Melt down two tablespoons of margarine, and stir in the cinnamon. Brush mixture over each rectangle.
  14. Roll each rectangle up longways like a pumpkin roll or jelly roll, and cut into 16 pieces
  15. Place your pieces in the buttered pans leaving about 1/2″ of space in between each one.
  16. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover with foil and allow to proof a second time on top of the preheating oven for 20 minutes.
  17. Bake for 20 minutes, and then drizzle each pan with 1/2 cup of dark corn syrup while they are still hot. Allow to cool, and enjoy.