You’ll love this small batch vegan Boston cream pie, with its soft and fluffy vegan sponges, rich vegan vanilla pastry cream and luxurious vegan chocolate ganache. The recipe is incredibly simple – no special equipment and no egg replacements required. And best of all: you couldn’t possibly guess that it’s vegan!!
80g(⅓ cup + ½ tbsp) sunflower oil, plus extra for greasing the tins(or other neutral-tasting oil of choice)
120g(½ cup) dairy-free milk, room temperature(I used almond milk, but rice, soy or oat milk will also work well.)
90g(⅓ cup + 1 tbsp) unsweetened plain dairy-free yoghurt, room temperature(I tested the recipe with Tesco's own brand and Alpro plain yoghurt, but other good quality dairy-free yoghurt alternatives will also work well.)
1tspapple cider vinegar
½tspvanilla bean paste(or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
¼-½tspalmond extract(optional, the amount depends on how intense you want the almond flavour to be)
For vegan vanilla pastry cream:
120g(½ cup) dairy-free milk(I used almond milk, but rice, soy or oat milk will also work well.)
140g(⅔ cup + ½ tbsp) dairy-free double/heavy cream alternative, divided(I used the Elmlea brand, but most good quality dairy-free double/heavy cream alternatives should work well.)
1tspvanilla bean paste(or 2 tsp vanilla extract)
75g(⅓ cup + ½ tbsp) caster/superfine or granulated sugar
35g(5 tbsp) cornstarch (US)/cornflour (UK)
20g(1 ½ tbsp) vegan butter
For vegan chocolate ganache:
80g(2.8 oz) chopped dark chocolate chocolate, 60-70% cocoa solids(Make sure to use a vegan chocolate.)
80g(⅓ cup + 1 tbsp) dairy-free double/heavy cream alternative(I used the Elmlea brand, but most good quality dairy-free double/heavy cream alternatives should work well.)
For vegan vanilla sponges:
Adjust the oven rack to the lower middle position and pre-heat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Lightly grease two 6 inch (15cm) round cake tins with oil and line their bottoms with rounds of baking/greaseproof paper.
In a large bowl, sift together the plain all-purpose flour, caster/superfine sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients.
Add the oil. Mix together the dairy-free milk, dairy-free yoghurt, apple cider vinegar, vanilla and almond extract, and add them to the dry ingredients.Tip: The apple cider vinegar helps to make the sponges fluffier and softer. As vinegar is acidic, it reacts with the baking soda and the basic component of baking powder, giving the raising agents an extra boost. Don’t worry, you won’t be able to taste it in the final cake.
Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the ingredients together until only just combined and you get a smooth cake batter with no flour clumps.Tip: The crucial thing when making these vegan sponges is that you mustn’t over-mix the batter. Over-mixing will cause gluten development and can result in a gummy sponge filled with large, irregular holes. That's why I don't recommend whisking the batter, but rather folding the ingredients together. Stop mixing the moment the ingredients are only just combined.
Evenly divide the cake batter between the two lined cake tins and tap them a few times on the counter to get rid of any air bubbles trapped in the batter.
Bake at 350ºF (180ºC) for about 30 minutes. After 20 minutes, cover the sponges with a sheet of aluminium foil (shiny side up) and continue baking until done. The final sponges will be well risen, golden brown on top and an inserted toothpick should come out clean.Tip: Covering the sponges with aluminium foil prevents them from forming a somewhat hard top crust that makes it difficult to trim them.
Allow to cool in the cake tins for about 10 minutes before turning them out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
For vegan vanilla pastry cream:
In a saucepan, combine the dairy-free milk, 120g (about ½ cup + 1 tbsp) of the dairy-free double/heavy cream alternative, vanilla bean paste, sugar and cornstarch. Whisk well until combined and no cornstarch clumps remain.
Cook over medium-high heat with constant stirring (or whisking) until thickened, about 3-4 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in the vegan butter until the butter has fully melted.
Add in the remainder of the dairy-free double/heavy cream alternative – this will help with the emulsification.Tip: At this point, likelihood is that your pastry cream will look rather unappetising and greasy, as the oil (from the vegan butter) will have separated out. Don't worry – the next chilling step will fix this, and transform the pastry cream into creamy, velvety-smooth deliciousness.
Chill in the fridge for about 15 minutes with occasional stirring, until you get a silky-smooth, homogeneous pastry cream. Store in the fridge until needed.
Assembling the cake:
If necessary, level off the sponges with a sharp serrated knife.
Place the bottom sponge on a cake stand or serving plate of choice.
Give the cooled pastry cream a good whisk to smooth it out, then transfer it into a piping bag fitted with a large round nozzle. Pipe the pastry cream (in concentric circles) on top of the sponge, then use a small offset spatula to smooth it out into an even layer that fully covers the sponge. Tip: You could omit the piping and just dollop the pastry cream on top of the sponge and smooth it out, but I’ve found that piping gives a much prettier finish. Make sure that you pipe and spread the pastry cream to the edges of the sponge, but not over the edge, as the weight of the second sponge on top will cause it to spread out slightly anyway.
Place the other sponge on top, with the bottom of the sponge facing upwards (this will give you a nice flat top). Gently press down on it to ensure that it sticks to the pastry cream layer.
For vegan chocolate ganache:
Place the chopped dark chocolate into a heat-proof bowl.
In a saucepan over medium-high heat, cook the dairy-free double/heavy cream alternative until it only just starts boiling.
Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and allow to sit for 2-3 minutes, then stir together until smooth and glossy.
Allow it to cool and thicken slightly at room temperature (for about 30 minutes) or in the fridge (for about 15 minutes) with occasional stirring.Tip: Unlike with drip cakes, you don’t want your ganache to be very runny for a Boston cream pie. Instead, the ganache should be thicker, so that the drips down the sides of the Boston cream pie are shorter and wider. For this, you want the ganache to still be runny, yet also thick enough so that it falls off a spatula almost like a “waterfall” rather than a thin drizzle. Also, when the ganache falls off the spatula back into the bowl, it shouldn’t immediately level out and disappear into one chocolate ganache pool – instead, it should pile upon itself.
Pour or spoon the ganache onto the top sponge, and use a small offset spatula to smooth it out into an even layer and to guide it to gently drip down the sides. You can create a few swirls on top for a bit of extra decoration.
Allow the ganache to set at room temperature for about 30 minutes (or in the fridge for about 15 minutes) before slicing and serving.
The vegan Boston cream pie keeps well in a closed container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Recipe by The Loopy Whisk (www.theloopywhisk.com).