I’ve tried out a number of vegan baking books over the years and have found them to be – frankly – a mixed bag.
Some, like Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s Joy of Vegan Baking, get it just right; her recipes are elegantly accessible and reliably delicious.
Some, however, instead of making simple vegan substitutions prefer to smack us upside the head with the fact their recipes are freaking vegan, people.
I say this now because I have been on a mission to figure out how to make vegan pastry cream with the taste and texture of traditional pastry cream. Seems simple, no?
The problem is that traditional pastry cream is made with eggs. There are a number of ways to replace eggs in a recipe, ranging from commercially produced egg replacers to flax seed, but the recipes I’ve come across for vegan pastry cream consistently call for ingredients like the ones flagged above.
Without getting into all the gory details, I have used these recipes to produce one off-tasting, mucus-like, compost-bound gelatinous mass after another. Tonight I decided I’d had enough, and I was going to take a traditional recipe and adapt in the simplest way possible.
I perused my bookshelf and decided on Michael Suas’ classic Advanced Bread and Pastry. One thing I especially like about this book is that the formulas (textbook-speak for “recipes”) not only list ingredients four different ways (baker’s percentages, metric, US decimal and pounds & ounces), they include scaled-down “test” formulas as well.
I cut the test formula in half, having been burned so many times before, and simply substituted vegan cream cheese for the eggs. Success!
At last, a truly delicious vegan pastry cream that doesn’t look or taste weird. I can’t wait to make bismarcks again!
The following is my formula, adapted from the one in ABP. It is simple, fool-proof, and absolutely delicious. To make more, just double/triple/quadruple/whatever.
Vegan Pastry Cream
10 liquid ounces (1¼ C.) non-dairy creamer for the richest pastry cream; unsweetened soy milk will also work
2½ ounces granulated sugar, divided
¾ ounce cornstarch
2 ounces vegan cream cheese
1¼ ounce vegan butter
Optional: ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract; 1 drop each lemon and orange oil
- Add creamer or milk and 1 ounce sugar to stainless steel pot and bring to a boil.
- Mix cornstarch and remaining 1½ ounce sugar in a microwave-safe bowl.
- Add the cream cheese to the cornstarch mixture and heat in microwave very briefly, just to soften the cream cheese.
- Stir cream cheese mixture until smooth, but do not whip air into it.
- When the milk comes to a boil pour 1/3 into the cream cheese mixture and stir until smooth.
- Add the cream cheese and milk mixture back to the pot, stirring constantly.
- Boil for 2 minutes, continuing to stir.
- Remove from heat, add the butter and stir.
- Add vanilla and/or citrus oils, if using, and mix well.
- Transfer mixture to a clean bowl and lay plastic wrap directly on the surface to keep a skin from forming.
- Refrigerate until needed.