Sunday, March 17, 2013

Italian Apple Cake with Pastry Cream

The Original
Do you all remember my post from last summer about the best meal I ever ate?  At a family owned Tuscan vineyard I had a delicious, five course lunch that ended with an outrageously good dessert: pear cake with pastry cream and macerated strawberries.  I've thought a lot about the meal but I never dreamed of veganizing it until a few weeks ago.  There's a new vegan company that makes "The Vegg" a vegan egg yolk product.  They sent me a package for free but I didn't know what I would do with it.  Fast forward last week to when I was watching the Barefoot Contessa at my parents house while on spring break.  She made strawberry tarts with pastry cream.  As she beat five egg yolks with sugar it was like a lightbulb went off in my head.  I can do that now!  I found a recipe for Italian apple cake that seemed very similar to the pear cake I add.  And then I spent yesterday bringing it all together.

The Vegan

Pastry Cream (adapted from Ina Garten):
  • 2 teaspoons of the vegg + 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups scalded almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon Earth Balance buttery spread
  • 1 tablespoon vegan coffee creamer (or more almond milk)
In a small blender blend the vegg with almond milk.  It will look and smell like real egg yolks almost instantly, it's crazy.  In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment beat the yolks with sugar on medium high speed for 4 minutes, until thick.  Reduce to low speed and add the cornstarch.

Keep the mixer on low then add the scalded milk.  Pour all of the mixture back into a saucepan and cook on low heat.  Stir with a wooden spoon constantly, until it thickens.  This will take about 5 to 7 minutes.  When it appears to be almost boiling switch to a whisk and whisk vigorously for two minutes.  When the mixture is very thick, like a pudding, add the vanilla, butter, and creamer.  Pour the pastry cream into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and cool in the fridge.  Serve cold.

Apple Cake (original recipe here):
  • Earth Balance buttery spread + flour for dusting the pan
  • 2 flax eggs (2 tablespoons ground flax seed + 6 tablespoons water)
  • 1 Ener-G egg (1 1/2 teaspoons Ener-G egg + 2 tablespoons water)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Earth Balance buttery spread, melted
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced (I used granny smith)
  • Powdered sugar for dusting as a garnish
 Preheat the oven to 350.  Butter and flour an 8-inch spring form pan.

Combine the flax and Ener-G eggs with sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment.  Beat for about 5 minutes, until thick.  Gradually add the flour, milk, and butter.  Scrape down the sides after adding each ingredient.  Increase speed to medium high and beat for 3 minutes.  Add the baking powder and vanilla, beating for an additional 2 minutes.

Pour the batter into your prepared pan.  Arrange the apple slices vertically, core side down.  Begin laying the apple slices at the outside of the pan, working to the center.

Bake for about 50 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for ten minutes, then remove the sides of the pan.  Dust with powdered sugar and serve with pastry cream and fresh fruit.    

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