Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Vegan Fruit Tarts

Vegan custard tarts were the first thing I was curious to make when I found the world of vegan sweets! Haha! 

Firstly, I was very surprised to know that custard powder was just mainly cornstarch! 

I don't like to buy processed food in the supermarkets, but sometimes, there are things you just have no idea to make, and you usually don't think of making it yourself since you can get them so conveniently, right?

Ever since I met my boss, Mervyn, however, I've been curious to know how things are made and I started to think a lot about if I could make those things myself!

Once, Mervyn told me that he had just made green curry (I love green curry!), and I had assumed he just bought the paste from the supermarket, but he told me how he made it, and I realised he had made the paste from scratch! I was very intrigued, and I asked him how he knew how to make it! And he said that he just grabbed a bottle of a green curry paste in the supermarket, read its ingredients, and then went to find the ingredients himself!!! Hahahaha! He's such a genius! (Or maybe I am not too clever like that. Haha!) 

Well, anyway, ever since that time, I began to love reading food labels. Hohoho!

I wanted to make a fruit tart, and I always had the impression that custard cream is not vegan. After some googling, I was really happy to know that Bird's Custard Powder was vegan! That made it so easy to start my baking experiment because I didn't have to think about substitutes. Also, Bird's Custard Powder is sold everywhere and is very affordable.

Bird's Custard Powder

I happily bought a packet of it. The powder is white, but as you cook it, it will turn yellow!!! I was horrified! Hahaha! I'm sorry that I'm so anal about things like that, but it scares me when things like that happen. I read the ingredient list and I realise, besides cornstarch, there was yellow colouring. I really didn't need my custard cream to be yellow, so I gave up the idea of making fruit tarts for awhile, until one day, I saw a recipe from a vegan baking book!

The Joy of Vegan Baking

This book is really fun. It's thick and it covers everything from cookies to bread! There is even a recipe for the Japanese Melon Bread! ^^ 

So, anyway, I'm going to share the recipe for the custard cream here, as well as a recipe for the pastry. 

Custard Cream

Ingredients (makes 4 mini tarts):

- 65g white granulated sugar
- 16g plain flour
- 32g cornstarch
- 60ml water
- 315ml soymilk
- 3 lemons (to taste, or lesser, or none at all)

1. Beat together sugar, flour, cornstarch, water on high speed in medium bowl until creamy.

2. Bring soymilk to a simmer in a medium-size saucepan. Pour 100ml of the warm soymilk into the mixture above and stir thoroughly to combine.

3. Add this mixture back to the saucepan with the remaining soymilk. Heat over medium-low heat, whisking constantly. It will begin to thicken. (This might take up to 15 minutes! Be patient!)

4. Remove from heat. Wait for it to cool down.

5. If using lemon juice to make lemon custard, stir it in after your custard has cooled. You will be able to control the taste better.

It's fun to make this right? I enjoy seeing the liquid turn into a thick custardy texture! Haha! I made this using unsweetened soymilk, but you can use any other kind of milk, with or without sugar I guess! It's up to you. :)

Now for the recipe for the tart shells. This is my own recipe. It smells really good when baked and taste sweet and buttery, really perfect for a fruit tart shell! :)

Vegan tart shells

Ingredients (Makes 4 mini tarts):

- 60g cold vegan margarine (if not vegan, just use unsalted butter)

- 140g cold plain flour
- 40g icing sugar
- 1 tsp flaxseed meal soaked in 3 tsp water (if not vegan, just use 1 beaten egg)

Preheat oven to 180℃.

1. Cut margarine into flour until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

2. Stir in icing sugar. Add in flaxseed meal mixture (or egg) to form dough. 

3. Wrap dough in plastic wrap. Roll dough to 4mm thick. Chill in fridge for at least 30 minutes.

4. Cut out rounds using 7cm round cutter. Lightly press rounds onto tart moulds. Chill for 15 minutes in fridge.

5. Place baking paper and some baking beads on top of each pastry shell. 

6. Bake for 10 minutes until tart shells turn a golden brown. 

7. Remove from oven. Cool on rack.

Now, you just have to assemble your tarts.

I made peach ones for my friend's birthday, using canned peaches, but the taste was weird! Haha! (Really sorry!!! >"< ) My best take was lemon custard with strawberries and mint leaves. It tasted really refreshing and light. I hope you will make it and like it too. :) 

I actually didn't use any cutters for this. Just grabbed some dough and mould them into the liners with my fingers! But it is more time-consuming to work like this. 

I use chickpeas on parchment paper to weigh down my tart pastry when baking to keep the space empty and hollow for my custard cream! ^^

Mint leaves always make a fruit tart look complete, and they smell great and are delicious too! ^^

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