Disclaimer. I am not (yet) fully plant based. But I do love eating lots of delicious vegetables, plant-based dishes and really limit my meat and dairy consumptions. I do still eat eggs, they’re full of wonderful protein and nutrients. Obviously, I always buy local and free range.
When making desserts and baking, I try to be creative and make them plant based as much as possible. My theory is that if that I’m going to eat animal products, I will enjoy them as they are – not as part of a cake batter. Plus, by using plant products if often helps to reduce the saturated fat and calorie content.
Until about 3 years ago I thought a plant-based diet and particularly ‘vegan baking’ was difficult, niche and extremely expensive. Boy was I wrong. Now clearly, as with all baking it can easily become extremely costly but that has never been an option for me.
Anywho. Since GBBO I have been obsessed about trying to make the hallowed ‘Vegan Meringue’ with the now infamous Aquafaba! So today I created a batch of the most delicious Lemon Meringue cupcakes that are entirely plant based and made almost entirely from ingredients that were already in my store cupboards!
Confession. I have always avoided making meringue, as delicious as it is, due to the whole ‘raw egg’ thing. I know it’s egg whites but whatever… Aquafaba solves all of my worries and, although at first I was worried about the ‘beany’ flavour, once you’ve added in the sugar and vanilla it tastes heavenly. In order to get that wonderful toasted effect, with my distinct lack of kitchen equipment meant, I poped them under the grill, on the highest heat for a minute or so and they caramelised up a treat.
If don’t follow a vegan diet or you are not concerned about using dairy/eggs, you may wish to take a short cut and use lemon curd you may already have in your cupboard. But making lemon curd is EASY!! And making plant based lemon curd is also pretty dam simple. My top tip would be to monitor your heat, use a bain-marie (bowl on top of a saucepan of simmering water) and take your time – use the cornflour to increase your thickness and remember to sieve it at the end to get fid of any lemon zest or lumps. I, again note the lack of kitchen equipment, didn’t have an apple corer let alone a cupcake corer so used a teaspoon. I guess a small knife would also work but, kinda in the same way I scoop out avo, I just scooped at a bit from the middle.
When you’re making the meringue, whisk up the aquafaba first so that it’s nice and frothy. Then you can slowly add the sugar before adding the cream of tartar and whisk. Keep whisking and then whisk it a bit more. I only have a hand whisk so I stood whisking for about 10 minutes whilst I watched a Judge Rinder epiosde in which a goat featured in court!
Once you have those stiff peaks, scoop the mix carefully into a piping and squeeze into a swirl on top. I always try to be neat with things like this but the end result never seems to turn out that way. Tastes the same though so who cares!
Give these a go, I promise it’s a super easy recipe and the ingredients are cheap! Don’t be worry to make adaptations and tweeks based upon what you have in your cupboard. Let me know how you get on!
Plant-based Lemon Meringue Cupcakes
- 250 ml Plant milk of your choice I like oat and almond
- 150 g Self raising flour
- 2 tbsp Cornstarch
- 80 ml Vegetable oil
- 150 g Caster sugar
- 2 tsp Vanilla extract
- 2 Large Juice and zest
- 120 ml Almond milk other plant milks will work too
- 150 g Caster sugar
- 2 tbsp Cornstarch more as required for thickness
- 1 can Liquid from a 400g can of chickpeas Other white legumes is also ok
- 50 g icing sugar
- 0.5 tsp Cream of tartar
- 1 tbsp Vanilla Extract
- Preheat the oven to 180c and line a cupcake tray.
- Mix the plant milk and lemon juice & zest together and leave for a few minutes. It will curdle but please don't be alarmed!
- Add the oil, sugar and vanilla extract to the plant milk/lemon mixture and then add the flour and cornstarch
- Mix it all together until fully combined.
- Divide the mixture equally between each cupcake case (approx. 12) and bake in the oven for around 25 minutes. You are looking for a golden brown colour and spongy to touch.
- Leave the cupcakes to cool a little before coring out the space for them lemon curd.
- Make the curd whilst the cupcakes are baking. Mix the lemon juice and zest with 60ml of almond milk and the sugar in a small sauce pan or in a bain-marie, using a low-moderate heat.
- Add in the cornstarch and whisk over the heat. The mixture should start to thicken.
- Once you have achieved a custard like consistency, remove from the heat and filter through a sieve. This will remove the zest bits. As the curd cools it will thicken slightly. If you are not using the curd straight away in the cupcakes, store in a steralized jar in the fridge.
- Spoon the lemon curd into the holes made in each cake. Fill until level at the top.
- Whisk the chickpea water on high for a few minutes, until it starts to turn frothy.
- Slowly add the icing sugar, whilst still whisking, and then the cream of tartar.
- Keep whisking. For about 10 minutes until the mixture can form stiff peaks.
- Add in the vanilla extract and whisk up for another minute or so.
- Carefully add the mixture into a piping bag pipe swirls on the top of each cake.
- To get the toasted effect, you could use a kitchen blow torch or grill for a minute under the hottest heat as I did.
- Serve and enjoy! If you don't eat them all at once, they will store in the fridge for 3 days.