Vegan Cheesecake - Baked New York Style

Baking without eggs, butter (or margarine) and sugar can sometimes be a real challenge. However, tofu makes a great substitute for heavy, set cream and tapioca flour binds the ingredients together the way eggs would. Sugar can be replaced with a fruit syrup, or sometimes just fruit pulp which in most cases would be sweet enough.
Before I became vegan, I made my usual baked cheesecake recipe fairly often and got used (of course) to that taste. However, when I re-wrote the recipe with healthier vegan alternatives, my family and I could not believe how exactly similar in taste and texture it was. The tofu creates the same slightly dry, crumbly baked result as the traditional version, but still with the same creamy mouth-feel, sweetness and lemon flavour. I now sometimes make use of the same basic recipe, but change it into a chocolate or even strawberry version. Have fun experimenting!

Pastry base:
5 tbsp finely ground toasted, unsalted cashew nuts
1 tbsp whole meal spelt flour / oat flour / buckwheat flour
2 tsp vanilla-infused grape-seed oil / walnut oil
1 tsp light agave syrup
1 cup soy milk
2 tsp lemon juice / orange juice / apple cider vinegar
1 lemon, juice
2 cups firm tofu, drained and patted (very) dry, chopped
1 tbsp vanilla-infused grape-seed oil / walnut oil
6 tbsp light agave syrup
2 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 tbsp tapioca flour
20 ml corn starch
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (360°F).
  2. Make the pastry by combining all the ingredients in a small bowl. It will be a firm, heavy mixture. Line the bottom of a 1 L round pie dish with the pastry and then oil the sides (or use a silicone baking dish). Press the pastry down firmly. Leave to rest in the refrigerator.
  3. Thicken the soy milk by stirring in the juice (or vinegar). It will thicken immediately. Set aside.
  4. If you have a food processor, fit the juicing part and squeeze out the lemon juice; or use a fork. Change to the plastic S-blade. Add the tofu, oil, syrup, zest and vanilla essence. Process until floppy. Sprinkle over the flours and pour over the thickened soy milk. Process until completely smooth. Pour the tofu mixture into the baking dish onto the pastry.
  5. Place on a shelf just below the middle in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, uncovered. Reduce the temperature to 160°C (320°F)and bake a further 15 minutes. Lightly drape a sheet of tin foil over the top if the cheesecake browns too much.
  6. Remove from the oven and cool completely. The filling will become firmer.
  7. Decorate with lemon and lime zest. Cut into slices, or lift the cake from the mould before cutting.
Serves 8.
Cook's tip:
A cheesecake forms large cracks when the outside of the batter has firmed into a thin skin and the inner filling continues to expand with the heat. One can decrease this effect by placing a bowl of water on a lower shelf to create steam in the oven. The cracks can always be concealed by serving the cheesecake with slices of fruit on top. Or, simply don't worry about it - it still tastes delicious!
Laurinda Erasmus is a vegan chef and author of a vegan recipe book, called Benessere well-being: vegan & sugar-free eating for a healthy life-style, by Quinoa Publishing.
Article Source: EzineArticles