Vegan Pie Crust Recipe

Homemade pie crust is one of those things that can be intimidating to make the first time, but it’s actually not that hard. I got a new pie plate and a pie bird for Christmas, so I wanted to try them out. I veganized a pie crust recipe from The Joy of Cooking to make an apple pie a little while back and the crust came out perfectly. Everyone has their own way of making pie crust, but this one works really well for me.

Growing up, my mom always made her own pie crusts, and she’s really good at it. Maybe I’m just spoiled, but I think homemade pie crust is so much better than frozen store bought crust! It’s really worth the effort to make it yourself. Try out this recipe with your favorite filling. It makes enough for the top and bottom crust for a 9 inch pie plate. It could also work as the top of a pot pie if you added in some savory spices like thyme or rosemary.

Unbaked Pie

A few tips before you start… The recipe calls for using ice cold water. The reason that you want cold water is so the shortening and vegan butter don’t melt in the dough. On that note, the shortening and vegan butter should also be cold when you start working with them. Don’t leave the vegan butter out to soften up. Another important thing is not to overwork the dough or it will get tough. Just do enough to get everything combined. The amount of water you need to add can also vary greatly depending on a lot of different factors. Just pay attention to the dough and only add a little at a time until you have just enough. If you’re wondering what a pie bird is, it’s a little ceramic bird that is open on the bottom and the beak. It helps vent steam out of your pie while it bakes. They help prevent the filling from boiling up and breaking through the crust.

If you want some very detailed and more scientific info about making pie crust and the various factors that come into play, check out this post on Serious Eats called The Food Lab: The Science of Pie Dough.

Baked Pie

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp vegan sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup Spectrum vegetable shortening
1 cup vegan butter (Earth Balance or Smart Balance) or another cup of vegetable shortening
1/3 + 1 tbsp (and maybe more) of ice cold water

Directions:

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Stir so they are well combined.
  • Break the vegan butter and shortening into chunks and add them to the dry ingredients. Using a pastry cutter or fork, cut the shortening into the dry ingredients. The mixture will start to form crumbs, with some of the shortening and vegan butter remaining in about pea size clumps. Don’t over mix it. It should be dry and crumby, not pasty like a dough or batter.
  • Slowly drizzle 1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp of ice cold water over the mixture. Using a spatula, gently cut the water into the mixture so it’s evenly distributed. It will start to form into balls of dough that should stick together if you press them together. If the dough won’t come together, continue to add ice cold water 1 tbsp at a time until it does. The dough should be a little on the dry and flaky side however, so don’t add too much water. You can use your hands or the spatula to gently coax the dough together. It’s not going to look smooth like bread dough. It will be a rougher texture. It’s okay to still see little bits of the shortening and butter in the dough. Don’t overwork the dough. Just do enough to get everything combined.
  • Separate the dough into two even balls and wrap them tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate them for at least half an hour, but it’s best to leave it several hours.
  • When you’re ready to use the dough, preheat the oven to 425°. Roll the dough out on a floured surface using a floured rolling pin until it has formed a circle big enough for your pie plate. If any holes form, patch them with extra dough. Using the rolling pin to support the dough, pick it up and place it flat in the pie plate. Pinch off excess dough that hangs over the sides.
  • If you’re using a pie bird, place the pie bird in the middle of the crust and fill the pie with your favorite fruit filling around the pie bird. The bird’s head should be sticking out of the top of the fruit. Then roll out the dough for the top in the same way you rolled the bottom. Lift it up with the rolling pin and place it on top of the filling. Cut a little x in the center of the dough so the head of the pie bird can peak through the crust. Crimp down the edges of the dough to form a seal, removing excess dough as you go. If you aren’t using a pie bird, you’ll want to poke the top crust with a fork 6-8 times around the top so the steam can vent.
  • Before baking the pie, I brushed on a little soy milk and sprinkled on some cinnamon sugar, but this is optional. I like the texture and golden color it creates on top though.
  • Bake the pie at 425° for 30 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350° and bake 30 to 45 minutes more. The top of the pie should look golden brown and you should see thick juice bubbling around the edges when it’s done. Pull the pie out of the oven and let it cool. Enjoy!

Vegan Gingerbread Men and Cutout Sugar Cookies

Holiday cookie baking time has arrived! Many of you have probably already made your cookies, but I wanted to share what we made this year. Both of these recipes work well for using cookie cutters because they keep their shape and don’t spread out much while baking.

The gingerbread cookie recipe (aka Moravian Spice Cookies) was given to us by my Aunt, and it’s the recipe we used when I was growing up. The only non-vegan thing in the original recipe is butter, which is easily replaceable with Earth Balance vegan butter. The sugar cookie recipe came from King Arthur’s website. Both of these doughs have to refrigerate overnight, so make sure you plan ahead. The icing recipe originally came from Vegetation, but I found it on simply.food.

Ingredients for Gingerbread Men:
4 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp powdered ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup softened vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
1 cup light molasses

Directions for Gingerbread Men:

  • Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. In a separate large bowl, cream the brown sugar, vegan butter and molasses.
  • Stir the flour mixture into the wet ingredients using a wooden spoon and then mix it with your hands until well combined. Form the dough into two or three balls, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
  • Once the dough is ready to use, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350°. Roll out one of the dough balls between parchment paper or wax paper until it’s between 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes. Dipping the cutters in flour can help the shapes come out of the cutter easier and using a spatula to lift them onto the pan keeps them from breaking. Once your cookie pan is filled place the cookies back in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes before baking. This keeps the cookies from spreading while baking. Then bake the cookies for 6-8 minutes until very lightly browned. Cool on a rack before moving to a plate.
  • Allow the pan to fully cool before putting more cookies on them. I placed the empty pans in the refrigerator for a few minutes in between batches. Allow the cookies to fully cool before decorating.

Ingredients for Sugar Cookies:

1 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 cup + 2 Tbsp vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
1 1/2 tsp EnerG egg replacer powder mixed with 2 Tbsp water (equivalent to 1 egg)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp orange extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
2 3/4 cup all purpose flour

Directions for Sugar Cookies:

  • Combine the sugar, vegan butter, egg replacer, salt, and extracts and beat until smooth.
  • Add the flour and mix until smooth. It will seem dry, but then should come together. If not, slowly add a tablespoon of water until it pulls together. When I made it, the dough was slightly dry, but it still turned out okay.
  • Divide the dough in two balls, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or at least 2 hours.
  • Once the dough is ready to use, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350°. Roll out one of the dough balls between parchment paper or wax paper until it’s between 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch thick.
  • Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes. Dipping the cutters in flour can help the shapes come out of the cutter easier and using a spatula to lift them onto the pan keeps them from breaking.
  • Once your cookie pan is filled place the cookies back in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes before baking. This keeps the cookies from spreading while baking. Then bake the cookies for 12-14 minutes until very lightly browned. Cool on a rack before moving to a plate.

Ingredients for Vegan Royal Icing:

3 Tbsp warm water
2 Tbsp Ener-G Egg Replacer Powder
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
3 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon orange extract

Directions for Vegan Royal Icing:

  • With a hand mixer, beat the water and egg replacer powder.
  • Add the cream of tartar, all three extracts, and 1/2 cup of confectioner’s sugar. Beat until smooth. The extracts help mask the flavor of the egg replacer powder and compliment the sugar cookies well.
  • Add in the rest of the confectioner’s sugar and beat until well combined. It will be very dry at this point. Add warm water a little at a time (usually about a teaspoon or so at a time) until it is the consistency desired. If you keep it firm, you can use it for icing designs using tips and pastry bags. I decided to water it down a bit more and use it like a glaze to coat the cookies. I am not very talented with icing however, so this was the easy option for me!

Homemade Rye Bread

I didn’t set out to make rye bread. I was trying to make pumpernickel by following a King Arthur pumpernickel recipe, but I ended up with rye bread. I’m still on a quest for a good dark pumpernickel recipe, if anyone knows of one. Despite not turning out to be the type of bread I was expecting, this recipe actually was pretty good.

I made this bread after a trip to the King Arthur store in Vermont. If you find yourself in Vermont, it’s worth a visit! I bought a bag of pumpernickel flour (which is whole rye flour) and followed the recipe on the back with a few small changes. This recipe can be made in a bread machine or by hand. I don’t have a bread machine, so I’ll give the directions for making it by hand.

Ingredients:

2 tsp instant yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 Tbsp brown sugar (they called for non-diastatic malt powder, but I couldn’t find it)
1 cup pumpernickel flour (whole rye flour)
2 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 cup potato flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
2-3 tsp of caraway seeds.

Directions:

  • In a large mixing bowl combine the instant yeast with the warm water and brown sugar. The water should be warm but not too hot to touch. Let the yeast sit for a couple minutes.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until cohesive. You can save some of the caraway seeds for the top of the loaf as well if you want. Allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes in a warm (but not hot) place.
  • Knead the dough on a floured surface until it is elastic, but still a little sticky. This should take between 5 and 10 minutes. Leave the dough to rise in a covered bowl in a warm place for 1-2 hours until it is almost doubled.
  • Preheat the oven to 425°. Lightly oil a baking pan and turn your dough onto the pan. Form it into a round or oval loaf. Make 3 slashes across the top of the loaf. Brush the loaf with a little water and sprinkle with seeds of your choice if desired.
  • Bake the loaf for 18-22 minutes until the top is golden brown and it sounds hollow when you thump on the top.

Cinnamon Buns From Vegan Yum Yum

In the morning when I get off the bus, there’s a Cinnabon right next to the stop. The smell always hits me as I walk through the door, and it was making me really crave cinnamon buns last week. I decided to try making some at home.

I found an amazing recipe on Vegan Yum Yum. The cinnamon buns come out just as good or better than Cinnabon. They also probably have just as many calories.  I must admit I felt like I gained 40 pounds just by making these before I’d even tasted one. They contain a lot of vegan butter and sugar. Healthy, they are not, but they are really, really yummy.

One batch made three containers or about 14 cinnamon buns. I would definitely recommend having a plan in place to share these with friends and family. They got good reviews from everyone who tried them. They are addictive, but you really don’t want to eat these all by yourself. You’ll see when you make them.

They rise quite a bit. The dough stays soft and the perfect texture when baked. They don’t dry out, which can happen sometimes with cinnamon buns. I would really recommend making these at least once. This is not a recipe for all the time, but if you want to splurge, these are really worth it.

I’m not going to copy and paste the recipe here, because there are great directions, photos, and a video on Vegan Yum Yum. I would recommend you follow the recipe right from that site, watch the video, and they will turn out perfectly. I’ve included my photos of the process. Hope you enjoy these cinnamon buns!

The yeast proofs while you are prepping the other ingredients.

Mixing all the dough ingredients together.

This is the dough after mixing, but before the first rise.

This is the dough after it’s risen the first time. You can see that it rises quite a lot compared to the last photo.

Once the dough is rolled out, a generous layer of vegan butter goes on top.

On top of the butter goes a generous sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar.

After the vegan butter and cinnamon sugar layers, the dough gets rolled up. On Vegan Yum Yum there are instructions on how to cut the rolls with a piece of thread. This technique works really well, and I would recommend trying it out.

Once the cinnamon buns are in the pans they need to rise again. This recipe made three tins this size, which was about 14 cinnamon buns.

These are the cinnamon buns right out of the oven.

A cinnamon bun, ready to eat, with vegan cream cheese frosting on top. They were yummy warm and cold, whichever you prefer.

Quick and Easy Vegan Strawberry Shortcake

Don’t forget, today is the last day to sign up for the Virtual Vegan Potluck! I signed up for the Main Course Category. The list of participating bloggers is pretty long. Check it out if you haven’t already!

I’ve been moving to a new apartment these past two weekends, and in the midst of the move I needed to make a birthday cake. I had my sights set on Strawberry Shortcake. Normally I would just make one from scratch, but being a little tight on time, I decided to try out a vegan Cherrybrook Kitchen Yellow Cake Mix.

I have to say the cake turned out pretty well! It’s dense, which worked well for strawberry shortcake, since that traditionally has a more biscuit-y cake. The only problem I ran into was that the cake started to fall apart as I turned it out of the pan, so that derailed my plans of cutting it through the middle to create layers. I would buy this mix again though if I needed a quick vegan cake.

I topped the cake with Cherrybrook Kitchen Vanilla Frosting, which is also vegan and gluten free. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting. It’s more of a glaze than a frosting and has a very sticky consistency, kind of like the filling of a Cadbury Creme Egg. On it’s own I wasn’t fond of it, but once it was combined with all of the other elements of the strawberry shortcake it was good. I’m not sure that I would use it again though.

I added a little Soyatoo Soy Whipped Cream and some fresh strawberries. The soy whipped cream has a somewhat distinctive soy taste, which I wasn’t really fond of, but again, with all of the other elements combined it worked. I might try their rice whip version next time to see if that has a better taste.

 

Overall, each element combined together into a really yummy finished product despite some of their individual downfalls. Sticky, sweet, strawberry goodness!

Virtual Vegan Potluck Hosted By An Unrefined Vegan

I moved this weekend, so I didn’t have much time to do a new post. I have a couple lined up, so new recipes will be coming soon! In the meantime, I wanted to share a project that one of my fellow bloggers An Unrefined Vegan is coordinating. It’s a Virtual Vegan Potluck.

Contributers will all post vegan recipes on May 12th in one of 9 course categories: Beverages, Appetizers/Starters, Savory Breads, Sweet Breads, Soups/Stews, Salads, Sides, Main Course, Desserts. The posts will link to each participating blog as a way to share in a virtual vegan feast. There should be lots of great recipes!

If you want to join in and post a recipe, contact Annie from an An Unrefined Vegan by emailing her at anunrefinedvegan@gmail.com. I will definitely be participating, but I’m not sure what I’ll be making yet. For more details go to the Virtual Vegan Potluck page. Everyone is welcome to join in!

Homemade Vegan Naan

I was inspired to try making my own vegan naan after seeing this recipe posted on the blog Bacon is Not an Herb a while back. She originally found the naan recipe on PETA’s website. I didn’t change anything (besides adding a little salt and garlic powder during cooking) because it’s a simple recipe and it came out well. I’m just sharing in hopes that you’ll feel inspired to make some too!

A lot of times naan that you find in restaurants or stores isn’t vegan, so it was really nice to make my own. I was really missing it from my pre-vegan days! Thanks to Terri from Bacon is Not an Herb for posting this recipe!

Ingredients:

1 tsp. active dry yeast (about a 1/2 package)
1/2 cup warm water
1 Tbsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. soy milk
1 tsp. salt
1 3/4-2 cups bread flour
2 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and garlic powder optional

Directions:

•In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes, until frothy.

•Stir in the sugar, soy milk, salt, and enough flour to make a soft dough, between 1 3/4 to 2 cups.

•Knead for 6 to 8 minutes on a lightly floured surface or until smooth. Place in a well-oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and set aside to rise. Let it rise 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in volume.

•Punch down the dough then roll into golf ball-size pieces and place on a baking sheet. Cover with a towel and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

•Preheat a pan to high heat and lightly oil. Roll each ball of dough into a thin circle then add to pan one at a time. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until bubbles begin to brown and brush the top side with additional oil. Flip the bread and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on the other side. I tried sprinkling a little garlic powder and salt on top before flipping and it turned out really well. Continue until all the bread is cooked.

Snickerdoodles

If you haven’t had a snickerdoodle before, they are essentially sugar cookies rolled in cinnamon sugar. They’re simple and very yummy! This recipe originally comes from Lois Dieterly’s book Sinfully Vegan, though I did change a few things in the recipe. I would recommend picking up a copy of her book if you want to make rich and yummy vegan desserts. She lives in Reading, Pennsylvania, so some of the recipes are veganized versions of Pennsylvania Dutch desserts such as Fasnachts and Apple Dumplings.

Ingredients:

1 cup Earth Balance vegan butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons Ener-G Egg Replacer Powder
2 tablespoons plus up to 1/2 cup of water
3 cups all purpose flour
cinnamon sugar

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 375°. Lightly grease your cookie pan with a little vegan butter.
  • In a mixing bowl, cream the vegan butter and sugar. Then add the vanilla and salt and stir until well combined.
  • In a small bowl mix together the egg replacer powder and 2 tablespoons of warm water. Stir well.
  • Add the egg replacer to the butter and sugar and stir.
  • Add the flour a little at a time, mixing well. If needed, slowly add up to 1/2 cup more water until all of the flour is incorporated. I didn’t need to use a full 1/2 cup and probably used about 1/4 cup of water. Add about 1 tablespoon at a time so you don’t add too much.
  • In a small bowl, mix together some cinnamon sugar. About 1/2 cup of sugar to 1 tsp of cinnamon is a good ratio, but you can use as much or as little as you like.
  • Roll the dough into about 1 inch balls, then roll the dough balls in the cinnamon sugar. Place the dough balls on a baking sheet and flatten them down. They don’t spread out much when cooking. Bake for 20 minutes. They are soft when warm and get crispier as they cool.

Rosemary Dill Bread

To continue on my bread baking resolution for 2012, I had to throw a loaf of bread into the breakfast recipe mix. There’s not much that’s better than homemade bread fresh out of the oven. It’s also nice to have as toast for breakfast the next morning.

I had some leftover fresh dill that I wanted to use up before it went bad, so I decided to try making an herb bread. It came out really well. This is a great way to use up herbs, especially since they always seem to come in huge bunches at the grocery store…way more than you need for most recipes. This recipe is based on one from King Arthur Flour that I modified. King Arthur is a good starting place for basic bread recipes that are well tested.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 packet)
2 cups warms water (not over 110°F) + extra if needed
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
5 1/2 – 6 cups unbleached all purpose flour
5 sprigs of fresh dill
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
coarse sea salt
olive oil
cornmeal

Directions:

  • In a mixing bowl, combine the sugar, yeast, and warm water. Let it sit for a few minutes. Remove the stems from the dill sprigs and chop the leaves.
  • Slowly add the flour, salt, fresh dill, and rosemary to the yeast mixture. Mix until it forms a kneadable ball of dough. I had to add about 1/2 cup extra water to form the dough. My apartment is really dry from the heaters in the winter though, so it may depend on your environment.
  • Knead the dough on a floured surface for a few minutes until the dough is smooth.
  • Place the dough in a very lightly oiled bowl (use olive oil). Cover it with a towel and let it rise for 1-2 hours until doubled in size.
  • Gently deflate the dough and briefly knead it. Separate it into two even balls or loaves depending on which shape you prefer. Sprinkle cornmeal on a baking sheet and place the loaves on the cornmeal. Slash the tops a few times diagonally. Let the loaves rise for 45 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 450°F. Put 2-3 cups of boiling water in a roasting pan on the bottom rack of the oven. The boiling water helps the bread be light and crusty.
  • Drizzle just a little bit of olive oil on top of the bread. Sprinkle a little coarse sea salt and rosemary on top.
  • Place the bread on the rack above the water and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Mine ended up needing between 25-30 minutes.

Scottish Girdle Scones aka Griddle Scones

This is a traditional Scottish recipe passed down through my Great Aunt. I can’t think of a better way to start the morning than with one of these scones and a cup of tea. My dad makes these occasionally and they always disappear almost as fast as he can make them. They come out a bit differently than scones you bake in the oven. They are somewhere in between a baked scone and a pancake as far as texture and taste are concerned. You can eat them on their own, because they’re that tasty, or you can add a little butter and jam if you like.

I decided to try to vegan-ize the recipe since I missed having these. It came out quite well and I don’t think this recipe is too far off from the original. I bet my Great Aunt never imagined there’d be a vegan version of her recipe, but I bet she’d be happy we were still making these! If you want to check out the original recipe handwritten by my Great Aunt, check out my Dad’s blog about his experiences growing up in Scotland and his book “Roses of Winter”. It’s neat to see a little piece of history.

I apologize for the less than amazing photos. I only had my camera phone with me, but I wanted you to get a sense of what they should look like.

Ingredients:

3 2/3 cups self-rising flour
1/2-teaspoon salt
1/4-teaspoon baking soda
1/4-teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup Earth Balance vegan butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp EnerG Egg Replacer Powder
4 Tbsp water
1 cup of soy milk

I converted all the measurements for you, but if you ever need help converting measurements using a British recipe and you don’t have a cooking scale, this is a helpful site.

Directions:

  • Mix the flour, salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar.
  • Rub in the vegan butter. I use my hands to combine it with the flour mixture.
  • In a separate bowl, beat the egg replacer powder with the water until well combined. Then add the soy milk in. Add the liquids into the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until flour is absorbed and makes a firm dough. Mine came out a little sticky, but the scones still turned out well. Don’t over mix!
  • Place a large handful of the dough onto a well-floured surface, enough at a time to make a round. Roll out the dough to a thickness of about a 1/4-inch and cut into 4 quarters. I actually sprinkled a little flour on the dough and patted it down. That worked better than rolling since the dough was a little sticky.
  • Bake the scones on a griddle on medium heat. Finding the right temperature in your particular set up will take some practice. When the scones are brown on one side turn them over and brown the other side.

Important: Handle the dough as little as possible. As my Great Aunt notes, if you handle it too much “you could sole your shoes” with them! They should be light and fluffy with a slightly crispy outside.