Sunday, 28 September 2014

The MoFo Meringue Saga

At the beginning of Vegan MoFo, I asked if anyone had any requests. One request came from Hasta La Vegan - vegan meringue.

I tried to make meringues when I first turned vegan, using the recipe from the back of an egg-replacer packet. They came out very flat, with the taste and texture of cardboard. I'm not really surprised - meringue is comprised mainly of egg whites, so I wasn't really expecting to be able to recreate it.

So when I got a request for meringues, there was an inward groan of this-isn't-possible, mixed with a spike of excitement for a new challenge. And it has definitely been a challenge.

I use flax as an egg-replacer a lot of the time in my baking, and I've read that you can use chia seeds as a replacement too. I had both of these in the cupboard so did a little test using ground flax seeds in one bowl and chia seeds in the other. Nope. Next.

This time, I did a bit of research and found that you can apparently make a good soft meringue by cooking up some flax seeds in water and straining off the goop, which you can then whip up into meringue. Everyone in the comments on this post where I found the recipe raves about it. I tried three times and couldn't get it to whip up at all, despite standing there for 15+ minutes with my hand beaters. The best I got was this bowl of glue-like stuff which looks very suspicious:


Next.

After a bit more research, I found that a few people had had success using soya protein in their meringue mixes. I had initially avoided these recipes due to the cost of soya protein and the fact that I wanted something a bit more "natural" to make my meringues with. After my failures I really wanted a win, so I went out and bought a bag of Pulsin' Soya Protein, which states that it is suitable for vegans. Be careful when buying it though as some brands add things like whey to their soya protein.


Using the recipes at Lucy's Friendly Foods and veganbaking.net as inspiration, I set about trying to create some meringues. Check out the veganbaking.net link for an explanation into the hows and whys of meringues - it was a really intereating read.

My initial recipe created a very white mixture which produced meringues with a good, crisp shell - but they had a very strange taste, which I think was due to the cornflour I added.


I decided just to follow one of the recipes completely and see where that got me. The one at Lucy's Friendly Foods used more cupboard-friendly ingredients, so I gave that a go and got a few nice crispy meringues. However, not all the based crisped up properly and I ended up with a few hollow meringues. Plus, I wanted to put my own spin on it. But this mini-success had given me the hope I needed to carry on.

The recipe I ended up with creates some great-tasting meringues, which Mr Hatter agreed were very similar to egg-based meringues - YAY!!!! They are a bit more fragile than the meringues I was used to as a child, and you can see that they have more air bubbles near the surface than they probably should, but they have the crispy shell and the gooey centre and that's good enough for me! (At least until I have time to properly play with the recipe again.)




I'm going to give you the recipe as it currently is, as I really wanted to be able to give you this as part of my MoFo but I will be playing around with it to try to get a sturdier meringue. I'm thinking adding cream of tartar is going to be a good place to start, but we're both a bit meringued-out after all the experiments this week, so it might be a little while before I try again!

Anyway, here you go...

Vegan Meringues

100ml water
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp + 1 tsp soya protein (separated)
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
100g icing sugar

1. Pre-heat the oven to 120C.

2. On low speed, beat together the water, vinegar, vanilla extract and 2 tbsp soya protein for 2 minutes until fluffy:


3. Add 1/4 tsp xanthan gum and beat on high speed for 2 minutes.

4. Add 1 tsp soya protein and beat on high for 3-4 minutes until you get peaks in the mixture. This will be more like the soft peak stage of traditional meringue making - you won't get the stiff peaks you do with egg whites:


5. Add the icing sugar in two batches and beat until combined - this should only take about 20 seconds per addition. Try not to overmix.

6. Spoon or pipe onto baking trays lined with parchment paper. (I got two trays of meringues from this recipe.) Please note that this mixture is not stiff enough for the piped mixture to hold its shape - this is something I will be working on in my amendments to the recipe. Also - the smaller ones work the best, so I would recommend making lots of little meringues instead of a few big ones. If you are wanting to make big meringues you will need to increase the baking time.


7. Bake for 30 min at 120C on a low oven shelf, then reduce the temperature to 100C for a further hour. When cooked, the meringues should look crispy and the bottoms should be solid. I removed these from the oven straight away and cooled  them on a cooling rack, however I would be intrigued to see whether they were a bit firmer if left in the oven while it cools down, as with traditional meringues. I just didn't have time to try this this week.




Feel free to play with the recipe and let me know if you find any good changes! The world needs more vegan meringue!

2 comments:

  1. Those look awesome! Better than any vegan meringue recipe I've ever attempted!

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    1. Thanks! They're not perfect yet but they do work so I'm happy for now!

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