Today’s recipe marks the fifth anniversary of my vegan column, and you can slap me with a (rubber) chicken if you don’t think it’s one of the best I’ve written so far. And I could have written it only with the help of others – for instance, the dedicated heads and hands working towards creating a new world of plant-based food, such as vegan dairy, which is now better than ever. This cake is also much better for one reader, chef Matthew Sogorski, who could see I was having issues with getting some ingredients to behave and came to my rescue. As a result, this isn’t just a vegan cheesecake; it’s a celebration of how far we’ve come in the past five years, and a sweet little bite of optimism for how far we might still go.
Baked vanilla cheesecake
Not all vegan cheeses are created equal. It’s very important here to use one that’s made with both coconut and soy. I recommend Bute Island’s Sheese, or Tesco or Sainsbury’s own-brand. You’ll need a 20cm springform cake tin and a food processor.
Prep 5 min
Cook 1 hr 10 min
Chill 5 hr+
Makes 1 x 20cm cake, to serve 8
100g shelled walnuts
100g shelled pistachios
30g unsalted vegan butter, melted
2 tbsp agave or brown rice syrup
⅛ tsp sea salt
750g vegan cream cheese – I like Sheese (don’t use Violife: I tried it, and it doesn’t work in this recipe)
300g silken tofu, drained (290g drained weight) – I like Clearspring
150ml vegan double cream
200g caster sugar
3 tbsp (30g) cornflour
1 lemon, zested
1 tsp ground vanilla beans, or 1½ tsp vanilla extract
Heat the oven to 220C (200C fan)/425F/gas 7. Cut out a 38cm x 38cm square of greaseproof paper and push it into a 20cm springform cake tin, flattening it against the sides and pressing it down and over the top edge.
Put the nuts and melted butter in a food processor, add the syrup and salt, then pulse to a coarse crumb – don’t work it for too long, otherwise it will turn into nut butter. Tip the nut mix into the tin, scraping out the food processor really well, and use the back of a tablespoon to press it evenly all over the base of the tin.
Put the vegan cream cheese, tofu, cream, sugar, vanilla, cornflour and lemon zest in the food processor bowl and blitz to a smooth cream. Pour this evenly over the nut base, then bake for 50 minutes, turning the tin once halfway through. After this time, the cheesecake should have some blackened patches on top and a gentle wobble.
Remove, leave to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least five hours, or overnight, until properly fridge cold. Slice and serve.
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