Gaz Oakley is passionate about vegan cooking. He became a chef in Cardiff, UK, at the age of 15. Inspired to follow a healthier lifestyle, he decided to change his diet and go vegan. Using the techniques he had learned working as a professional chef, he started devising beautiful, innovative vegan dishes. His Instagram and youtube channel @avantgardevegan has been phenomenally successful. His first book Vegan 100 was an instant hit worldwide. Now Gaz has put together the VEGAN CHRISTMAS cookbook to help anyone cook their own vegan version of an extravagant festive feast.
Shallot TARTE TATIN
Unveil this tarte tatin to your guests and you will be worshipped!
4 tbsp rapeseed oil
5–6 banana shallots, peeled, cut in half lengthways, roots trimmed
3 tbsp soft brown sugar
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp vegan-friendly brandy (optional)
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
320g (111/4oz) ready made vegan puff pastry
plain (all-purpose) flour, for rolling
Cooks In 60 minutes
GFO If gluten-free pastry is used
Preheat your oven to 170°C (340°F). Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to around 4mm (1/6in) thick, then cut it into a circle about 2.5cm (1in) wider than your pan.
Heat your ovenproof, heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat and heat 3 tablespoons of the oil. Add the shallots, cut-side up, making sure you have enough to fill the base. Cook for 3–4 minutes, then sprinkle over the brown sugar. Flip over the shallots using a palette knife – arrange them neatly, so that the base is covered and there aren’t any gaps.
Turn the heat down low, then add the balsamic vinegar and brandy, if using. (Allow the alcohol to cook off, leaving behind the sweet brandy flavour.) Add the leaves from one sprig of thyme and the rosemary and let the onions caramelize for 4–5 minutes. Sprinkle over the salt and pepper, then turn off the heat and drizzle the remaining oil on the top.
Carefully lift your pastry and lay it over the pan. Quickly and carefully tuck the pastry down right into the edges using a wooden spoon so you don’t have to touch the hot pan, then pop into the oven to bake for 25–30 minutes, or until the pastry is lovely and golden.
Once cooked, remove the tart from the oven and allow it to cool for 2–3 minutes. Place a plate on top of the pan (make sure it’s larger than the pan!), wear an oven glove to protect the arm holding the board (some caramel goodness may drip out and it’s superhot), then quickly, carefully and confidently flip the pan and board/plate to turn it out.
Serve straight away.
FOR THE SPONGE
250ml (1 cup) almond milk
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
50g (1/4 cup) vegan spread
215g (13/4 cups) self-raising flour (or gluten-free flour)
230g (generous 1 cup) unrefined caster (superfine) sugar
pinch sea salt
FOR THE CREAM
2 x 400g (14oz) tins coconut cream
170g (6oz) vegan cream cheese
1 tbsp cacao powder
3 tbsp icing (confectioner’s) sugar
120ml (1/2 cup) good-quality coffee,
brewed over ice
4 tbsp rum, or to taste
grated dark chocolate
Cooks In 60 minutes
GF If gluten-free flour is used
Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F) and line a 5cm (2in) deep 20 x 30cm (8 x 12in) baking tray with non-stick baking paper.
First up, the sponge! Put the almond milk, apple cider vinegar, vanilla paste and vegan spread into a small saucepan over a low heat. Measure the flour, sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl. When the spread has melted, pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and fold together. Scrape the batter into your lined baking tray and level out.
Place the tray into the oven to bake for 12–15 minutes, or until golden and springy to the touch, then turn out the sponge onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Whisk the coconut cream, cream cheese, cacao powder and icing sugar together in a large mixing bowl until fully incorporated. Add a few tablespoons of coffee and rum, then taste. Adjust the flavours according to how you like it.
Cut 12 discs of sponge to fit into your serving glasses. Pop a sponge disc in the base of each glass, then a spoonful of cream, then another sponge disc. Drizzle in a little more coffee and spoon in another layer of cream. Top each tiramisu with chocolate shavings and a couple coffee beans. Eat straight away or chill in the fridge for up to one day.
Vegan Christmas by Gaz Oakley (Quadrille, £15) Food photography © Simon Smith
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