I’ve spent the past couple of days helping to run a conference – conferences are a good reminder that when you rely on other people to feed you, it can be a bit a disaster when you have dietary requirements. Other than myself, we had several vegans, gluten-freers and dairy-freers – while veggies are now reasonably well catered for, a lot of companies don’t know what to do when it comes to people with multiple dietary requirements. It’s easy to forget when I’m able to cook for myself day in, day out and spend a lot of time looking at other free-from eaters on Instagram that to a lot of other people my eating habits are still a bit weird. The bright spot was one venue that did me a tofu, beetroot and broccoli salad that was really nice and clearly had some thought put into it, as opposed to a lot of places that have nothing or a meal with several components removed. There clearly is hope that caterers and venues will eventually catch-up when it comes to dietary and inventiveness, but there’s clearly a bit of a way to go yet.
I haven’t had as much time to cook and bake as I usually do because of the conference, but I’ve been trying to sort out my tofu cheesecake recipe in any quiet bits in between. My cheesecake has a flapjack type base as I love oats and I also don’t see the point in buying gluten-free vegan biscuits which cost a lot more than ‘normal’ versions, then mashing them up with some melted butter! I made a test cheesecake a couple of weeks ago and while the taste and base worked well, I found it went a bit too flat and looked more flan than cheesecake. I’ve been very interested in aquafaba as a kind of egg white-meringue substance, so I thought I’d try whisking it up to add some volume and luckily enough it worked! The fact it worked so well being whisked up into a puffy white fluff means that I’m definitely also going to have a go at a pavlova, but for now, here’s my cheesecake.
150g gf oats
2 tbsp golden syrup
30g muscovado sugar
60g butter (I used stork block)
Zest of 2 lemons
3 blocks of silken and smooth tofu (each block is 300g undrained weight), drained and pressed (sandwich the tofu between a lot of kitchen roll and weight down with a pan or tray) – I use Clearspring
7 tbsp lemon juice
85g agave nectar
2 tsp vanilla paste
Aquafaba (water from 1 can of chickpeas) – this liquid should be the texture of egg whites, I had to boil mine down for 5 mins as it seemed a bit thin
25g caster sugar
- Make the base by melting the butter, sugar and syrup in a medium saucepan on a low heat until it’s all melted and mixed together.
- Take off the heat and stir in the oats.
- Press the mixture into the base of a lined 8″ springform tin.
- Heat the oven to 175C or 150C fan (I use fan).
- If your aquafaba needs reducing because it’s too watery, do this now. I boiled mine down for about 5 mins. There should be plenty of liquid left, it just needs to be a similar texture to egg whites, though this doesn’t need to be exact!
- When the aquafaba is the right consistency and cooled a bit, put it in a large bowl and start to whisk it with an electric whisk.
- Whisk for about 5-10 minutes – the aquafaba should go through similar stages to egg whites, from liquid, to foamy to white soft peaks – it should be soft and fluffy in texture.
- Once the aquafaba has reached the soft white peaks phase, whisk in the caster sugar to add some sweetness and gloss.
- In a blender, put the pressed tofu, lemon juice, agave and vanilla. Blend until smooth.
- Pour this mixture into the aquafaba mixture, along with the lemon zest (you could put this in the blender, but I find it tends to stick to the blade and clumps).
- Fold the mixture into the aquafaba mixture very gently so it keeps its light fluffiness.
- When the mixture is combined but still light, pour over the oat base. Smooth the surface.
- Put in the oven for an hour, until slightly browning on top.
- After an hour turn off the oven and leave the cake to cool in the oven (this isn’t essential, but as your cake should still have a bit of wobble at this point, this just helps it set properly).
- Once cool, put on a plate and store in the fridge. This cake keeps for several days at least.