Introducing Fernanda Capobianco
Today, we have a very special guest blog courtesy of renowned vegan baker Fernanda Capobianco. I met Fernanda a few years ago, as she is the wife of my good friend (maybe you’ve heard of him) Francois Payard. Although I’m no vegan, I’m a huge fan of the incredible treats at The Vegan Divas Bakery. Who would’ve thought you could make anything so delicious without butter?! I’m always looking out for my health, so I really appreciate Fernanda’s dedication to using wholesome, plant-based ingredients. Whether or not you’re interested in the health benefits of veganism, you won’t be able to resist The Vegan Divas sweets. Her latest cookbook, The Vegan Divas Cookbook, shares (most) of the secrets behind her incredible vegan bakery.
The Vegan Diva
Though Fernanda began her vegan lifestyle early, it wasn’t always easy. Growing up in Brazil, famous for cattle ranching and red meat, few people understood why she’d choose to forgo animal products. Her distaste started as an issue of flavor and texture, but she has since developed a strong philosophy about the benefits of plant-based diets. From a health, environmental, and spiritual standpoint, Fernanda embraces the vegan lifestyle and has since become the “Vegan Diva.” Her sweet tooth led her to develop vegan baked goods so delicious that even non-vegans clamor for them. In the spirit of the upcoming holiday, check out her incredible recipe for classic Pumpkin Pie. I cannot get enough of it!
After living in the U.S. for several years, I’ve come to understand that Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie is, well, downright un-American. But this silky pie is so good, you’ll probably want to eat it more often than once a year. Make sure to use a deep-dish pie pan so there will be enough room for all the gorgeous pumpkin filling.
For a truly authentic Thanksgiving experience, you can serve a bowl of my fluffy Coconut Whipped Cream (found in my cookbook) alongside this pie or, in a pinch, simply buy some vegan whipped topping to scoop or pipe on top.
Makes one 9- inch pie, serves 8
Basic Vegan Pie Crust (recipe below), prepared in a deep-dish pie pan
21/4 cups (510 g/18 oz) drained soft silken tofu
1 cup (240 g/8.4 oz) canned organic pumpkin puree
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon (227 g/8 oz) cold vegan cream cheese, cut into 1- inch
11/4 cups (250 g/8.8 oz) evaporated cane juice sugar
1/2 teaspoon (0.5 g/0.02 oz) freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon (1 g/0.03 oz) ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon (1 g/0.03 oz) ground cloves
1 tablespoon (15 g/0.5 oz) vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Place the tofu and pumpkin puree in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth, about 45 seconds. Add the chunks of cream cheese and the remaining ingredients and process until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Pour the mixture into the prepared pie crust and bake the pie for 50-55 minutes, until just set in the center (it will be slightly jiggly but should not be liquid). Turn off the oven and leave the pie in the oven for another 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. Refrigerate the pie for at least 4 hours or overnight before serving.
Basic Vegan Pie Crust
Makes one 9-inch pie crust, plus enough for a lattice top
1 cup (227g/8oz) vegan butter, chipped and cut into 1/2 –inch cubes
2 ¼ cups (288 g/10.15oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon (3 g/ .1 oz) evaporated cane sugar
1/3 to ½ cup 78g/2.75 oz to 118 g/4.16 oz) ice-cold water
Place the butter and flour in the freezer for at least 30 minutes
Place the chilled flour, the salt, and the cane juice sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Scatter the butter cubes over the flour and pulse until the mixture forms coarse crumbs. With the motor still running, add 1/3 cup of the water through the feed tube and mix until the dough just starts to form a ball on the blade. Add cold water 1 tablespoon at a time, if the dough seems too dry.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and shape it into a disk. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and freeze the dough for at least 1 hour before rolling it out.
Place the unwrapped dough disk on a lightly floured work surface.
Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a circle that is 1/8 an inch thick, lifting and rotating the dough often while dusting the work surface and dough lightly with flour as necessary. Roll the dough up on the rolling pin and unroll it over a 9-inch pie pan. Gently press the dough onto the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Trim the edges of the dough with scissors, leaving about ¾ inch of overhang. Tuck the overhanging dough underneath itself, pressing it onto the rim of the pan. Flute the edges by pinching the dough from the outside in a V-shape with your thumb and index finger while poking the center of the shape with the index finger of your other hand from the inside.
Lightly prick the bottom of the dough with a fork at ½ inch intervals. Refrigerate the dough in the pan for 20 minutes to firm it up (if your pie recipe calls for an unbaked pie crust, stop here, if you need a pre-baked crust, continue to the next step).
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Right before baking, line the dough with parchment paper and cover with pie weights or dried beans. Place the pie pan on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Carefully lift the parchment paper (along with the weights) out of the pie pan and bake the crust for 10 to 15 minutes longer, until golden brown. Transfer the pie pan to a wire rack and cool completely.