Sunday, 8 March 2015
I randomly decided to do another vegan month for February. I quite enjoyed it last time round, and now feel I have a lot more confidence in cooking in a vegan stylee, and not just falling back on a default option of Linda McCartney sausages and vegetables. This time round, I expanded into exploring some more vegan baking, cooked a lot more Indian food, and other food that just happened not to have dairy as a key ingredient. And I have to say I really enjoyed it again.
So here's my recipe for vegan apricot, pear and almond crumble with custard. In the depths of a gloomy February a hearty hot pudding was an essential, so I was delighted to discover that crumble and custard is very simple to veganise.
These days I usually buy ready-made, fresh custard from the supermarket, but googling revealed that the instant custard powders I remember as a kid were accidentally vegan; consisting of just cornflour, vanilla flavour, and colouring to be mixed with sugar and milk (no eggs involved!). So on this principle, I warmed a pint of almond milk with around 2 tblsp of caster sugar, until it was fully dissolved. I then made a loose paste with around 1.5 tblsp of corn flour and a little more milk, and gradually mixed that into the hot milk. Once the custard had thickened, I added 1 tsp of vanilla extract. You can just adjust the amount of cornflour so your custard is as thick or thin as you prefer. I suspect using soy milk would have resulted in a less nutty taste, but this was still very nice. Alternatively, you could just use Bird's custard powder with your plant-based milk of choice, for a fully traditional yellow custard.
The crumble was made with a fruit base of four sliced Rocha dessert pears, which did not require any advance cooking, and a tin of apricots halves (feel free to use fresh ones in the summer). The crumble topping consisted of 125g plain flour, 75g ground almonds, 75g sugar, 100g sunflower spread, and a handful of flaked almonds. Combine the flour, sugar, ground almonds and spread together and until they form loose crumbs and then stir in the other almonds. Scatter the topping on the fruit, and bake at gas mark five for around 25 minutes or until lightly browned on top, and serve with the hot custard. This should be enough for six people, or several helpings for two across a weekend.