This week, I was lucky enough to be invited along to meet the lovely ladies of the West Lothian Baking Club in their new premises at Uphall Community Education Centre.
The premise of the baking club is simple (and delicious!) enough – every six weeks, the members meet up and bring along their bakes to fit that meeting’s theme. The cakes are then discussed, sampled and washed down with copious amounts of tea, before some general catching up and chat ensues. At this meeting, I was able to let everyone know what goes on at NeedCake HQ and discuss the trials of allergy-friendly and vegan baking. The evening ended with some wonderful foodie chat and several great restaurant recommendations. I was made to feel so welcome, it was wonderful – what better way to ease yourself into the week?
This week, the theme was ‘a magazine bake’, and the results did not disappoint. From chocolate cheesecake brownies, ‘diet’ versions of Bakewell tart and fruit-packed granola bars, to Cruffins and Duffins, cherry cake and a rather moreish Bake-Off inspired chocolate cake, these ladies baked their socks off.
And so to my offering. I’ve yet to come across the Gluten Free, Allergy Friendly, Vegan Weekly Magazine (although no doubt some such exists!), so I decided to carry out a NeedCake Recipe Hack using a standard recipe from Good Food Magazine’s April edition as inspiration.
Their G&T Meringue Tart held many challenges for the allergy friendly baker. Firstly, the pastry base – would my gluten free flour blend be up to the challenge, or would I be left with a crumbly mess? Secondly, there was a dairy-free, egg-free curd flavoured with pink grapefruit and GIN that I needed to create. Then to top it all off (quite literally) was an egg-free meringue, the likes of which I have never attempted before. What could possibly go wrong?!
Well as it turns out, things went like a dream! For the pastry base, I used a tried and tested recipe that I turn to when making traybakes, as it’s robust enough to create a stable base. This was topped with the grapefruit curd, which I made by tweaking our regular lemon curd recipe to allow for the grapefruit juice and, most importantly, the gin. I used Bloom Gin, but I think any would work well in this case. However, when it came to the meringue, I was clueless. Thankfully, Google is your friend in cases like this.
A quick search reliably informed me that the egg white component of traditional meringues could be replaced by a wonderous, mysterious liquid called Aqua Faba. Ooh, exotic sounding right? Um, no actually, it’s just the water used to store tinned legumes like chickpeas and butter beans. To say I was skeptical was an understatement.
I was soon proved wrong when I began whisking the liquid up – it behaves exactly like egg whites and was soon white and foamy! A gradual addition of icing sugar and a sprinkling of Cream of Tartar and what do you know? Stiff, fluffy peaks of meringuey goodness!
At this point, I was still a little unsure as to how they would taste, so piped off a few meringue kisses to test – they were delicious! I’m pretty excited now to see how meringues could be incorporated into NeedCake’s offerings.
My vegan meringue was piped on top of the glorious grapefruit curd then lightly blow-torched to give the exterior a slightly chewy texture. The whole lot was boxed up for me to take along and let everyone try an allergy friendly, vegan take on a standard recipe – and luckily for me, they liked it!
I must admit, I had great fun adapting this recipe to fit the needs of our regular customer base. In fact, it was so enjoyable that I just have to share it with you! If you fancy having a go at this delicious dessert, please click this link – Pink Grapefruit G&T Pie – to see the recipe. I’d love to see your results, so please remember to tag your social media posts with #needcakerecipehacks or #everyoneneedsgoodcake, or comment below to let me know how you get on.
I’d also love to hear your ideas for other recipes that I can make NeedCake friendly. Whether you need a recipe free from gluten, dairy, eggs, nuts or soy, please drop us a line and I’ll see what I can do!
The original recipe for the G&T meringue tart can be found here.