Vegan carrot cake with lemon cheese frosting and walnuts – my non-vegan friends didn’t realise this was an egg and dairy free treat!
My vegan diet can make eating out or buying ‘ready made’ a challenge. Health food shops stock an increasing variety of vegan savoury alternatives such as cheese, burgers, mock meat or fish (of every description), pates, spreads and pasties and some superstores now stock their own range of dairy and egg free products (Tesco has the best selection of dairy substitutes at the moment). This is fantastic, but the choice of desserts is distinctly lacking. Biscuits are reasonably easy to come by as some brands of digestive, oat crunch, bourbons and rich tea are suitable as well as certain packs of Oreos. Lotus Caramelised biscuits are labelled suitable for vegans, but their fabulous biscuit spread isn’t, so requires further scrutiny. Alpro provide a lovely range of long life dessert pots including dark and milk chocolate, vanilla, caramel and mocha – an essential for the stock cupboard. Sainsburys stock vegan Millionaires Shortbread, Tiffin and chocolate caramels in their ‘Free From’ section as well as my absolute favourite treat – Swedish Glace soya ‘ice cream’ in Vanilla and Neapolitan (other flavours are available from Holland and Barrett). Vegan cheesecakes can be found in some superstores or health food shops and of course there’s a much larger choice if you shop online.
What is notable in its absence overall though is cake. Who doesn’t have a soft spot for good old fashioned Victoria sponge, Madeira or cupcakes? Luckily I enjoy cooking, so I bake my own. It’s so easy to find vegan recipes online or in cookbooks, but sometimes it is assumed that because you choose not to eat meat, dairy or eggs, you are a health freak. While this may be the case for some vegans, I am not. Although I am aware of the health implications, I enjoy junk food just as much as the next person. My choice of diet has a moral and ethical basis, which means that I don’t necessarily care for wholemeal, wholewheat, wholegrain, reduced fat and low sugar dishes. I want chocolately, gooey, sweet, sticky stodge with lashings of cream (Soya of course).
Peta has saved the day by producing The Ultimate Vegan Baking Cheatsheet – which makes it easy to modify any standard non-vegan baking recipe. It gives a variety of egg and dairy replacers linking them to their role played in the recipe. I find baking powder and vinegar an extremely effective leavening agent to replace eggs. So, download or print off the sheet and get baking for yourself or to impress your vegan friends.
Also, check out these surprising egg substitutes: