There was another reason why my preparations for dinner began on Thursday evening. We had sent out an email earlier in the week asking if anyone had food allergies, expecting the usual dismissals and witty retorts. As it happened one of our guests turned out to be allergic to egg. Now this wouldn't have usually been a problem (one of my closest friends is vegan so I am used to dairy free cooking and baking) except that N adores cheesecake. I had promised him a baked lemon cheesecake with raspberries for dessert and just wasn't sure it would be possible without the eggs. Baked cheesecakes rely on the eggs for their binding and setting, and I am not really a fan of non-baked cheesecakes, they just don't have that dense indulgent texture.
Fortunately I found a recipe for a vegan baked cheesecake using tofu and vegan cream cheese. I bought tofu, but wasn't sure if it would be the right sort and thus whether it would turn out alright. We came up with a contingency plan. I would try the suitable cheesecake recipe and in case it didn't work would also bake an eggless chocolate cake and then I could make a second baked cheesecake to satisfy N and another one of our guests who isn't a fan of chocolate.
So on Thursday night the cheesecake experiment began. I had to do everything in the blender because I don't have a food processor so it took a little more time, but the resulting mix looked great, it was really silky and you couldn't tell it was made with tofu. The final thing to worry about was how it would bake. Fortunately it came out great. I chilled it over night and then topped it with some raspberry puree. It went down a treat and no-one would have guessed that it was made with tofu.
Despite the success of the cheesecake I didn't feel I could let the chocolate lovers down and I knew N wouldn't be disappointed if I made a second cake. So on Friday I had a bash at an eggless chocolate gateau. It too turned out really well, and was so moist. I was really impressed. I had fun with the piping too. I am getting really into this decorating malarkey.
I think what pleased me most was seeing the face of our friend with the egg allergy as it lit up when I assured her both desserts were egg free. She was so pleased, and had a tiny piece of each to make sure she'd tried everything. That's definitely one of the best things about cooking and baking, making other people feel indulged and happy.
So, here are the recipes I used.
(Vegan) Lemon Cheesecake ( adapted from Baking Bites blog)
14 oz package firm silken tofu
8 oz vegan yoghurt
2/3 cup sugar
1⁄4 cup lemon juice
1⁄2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp cornstarch
9 inch base (I used 250g of crushed digestive biscuits with 25g melted butter mixed together and prebaked for 5 mins)
Preheat oven to 350F.
Place silken tofu and vegan yoghurt in the food processor. Process for 1 minute, then add sugar. Process until smooth and no sugar granules remain, 3-5 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine lemon juice and vanilla extract. Whisk in cornstarch. Pour mixture into the food processor and process until very smooth. Pour into prepared crust and bake for 45 minutes.
Allow to cool at room temperature for 2 hours, then refrigerate overnight.
I didn't really find this cheesecake to be very lemony, even though I also added the lemon zest. However, since I was topping it with a sharp raspberry puree it didn't really matter.
Egg-free Chocolate gateaux (serves 8) Adapted from “Vegan” by Tony Weston and Yvonne Bishop
I didn’t use vegan ingredients in this because it was for someone with just an egg allergy. However, just use vegan equivalents where they are needed. I have put them in brackets.
250g Self-raising flour
250g soft brown sugar
3 tablespoons of cocoa powder
125ml flavourless oil (I used groundnut)
150ml Soya milk
1 tablespoon natural yoghurt (vegan yoghurt, bean curd or coconut cream)
1 dessertspoon of cider vinegar
25g dark chocolate (use 70% vegan chocolate, which I did anyway as I prefer it)
Prepare two 8 inch cake tins and pre-heat the oven to 180C.
Place all the ingredients, except the chocolate, in a bowl and beat together until combined. Coarsely grate the chocolate and add to the cake mixture. Divide between the tins evenly and level the tops. Bake for 25 mins.
I sandwiched the cake with a mix of mascarpone cheese and low fat cream cheese (I just did it to taste, I didn’t want just mascarpone as it’s too sweet for me) with a layer of raspberry puree on top. I then iced it with a whipped chocolate ganache icing (same as the Easter cupcakes, which is where you can find the recipe, I think).