Baked Vegan Cheesecake
Growing up, my Mom would bake a lot and sometimes sell her cakes at local country fairs and markets. One recipe that proved extremely popular with her regulars was her baked German style cheesecake. It was fluffy and airy, with a slight tangy flavour accompanied by a vanilla aroma. It was somewhat like an American (New York style) cheesecake but not as dense. Because I love a challenge, and a good cheesecake, I thought it would only be fair to create a vegan version of this cake for you all to enjoy! So my mom was kind enough to pass on her recipe, and I’ve been busy working on it over the holidays in order to make it perfect for you to try. Trust me, this one’s a keeper!
LET’S MAKE A BAKED CHEESECAKE, VEGAN!
When I mom sent me her baked cheesecake recipe, I wasn’t very surprised to see that the ingredients were extremely heavy on eggs and dairy. So I was then posed with the challenge of finding plantbased substitutes for each element of the cake. Some ingredients such as the butter were easily swapped out with a cruelty-free alternative, vegan butter. However, some of the ingredients proved to be a little more tricky to replace.
REPLACING CREAM CHEESE/QUARK
My mom’s traditional cheesecake uses cream cheese or “quark” as it’s known in Germany. I remember her recipe being fluffy with an ever so slightly tangy flavour. In order to recreate this flavour, we’re going to use a combination of plant-based ingredients to mimic the flavour and texture of the cream cheese/quark.
The main ingredient you’ll need for the cheesecake filling is vegan yoghurt. I recommend using a greek style if you can get your hands on it, and if you can get one that’s vanilla flavoured, even better! Failing that you can also use regular soya yoghurt or coconut yoghurt with the addition of a couple teaspoons of vanilla extract. The cultured, tangy flavour of the yoghurt works perfectly to create that authentic cheesecake flavour.
We’re using cashews, which are soaked in hot water to soften them and make them even more creamy when blended up with the other ingredients. Cashews have a subtle “cheesy” flavour which makes them popular for making vegan cheesecakes, raw and baked!
Lastly, you’ll want to add lemon juice and lemon zest to help to elevate the flavours of this cheesecake to the next level!
So you may think it’s easy to replace the eggs used in traditional cheesecake by directly swapping them out for a vegan substitute? Well, unfortunately with baking it’s not that simple, and this was perhaps the trickiest part of veganizing the recipe. The eggs in the original recipe do a number of things: egg yolks add richness while the whites are used to aerate the cake and make it fluffy. Eggs have leavening properties which help the cake to rise.
But after a few recipes tests I was able to find the perfect combination of ingredients, so here’s what we’ll use in order to create the perfect texture in this vegan cake!
The cashews that we’re using in this recipe don’t just give a cheesy flavour to the cake, they also add creaminess and richness. They give this cake the richness that would have come from egg yolks in the non-vegan version. For leavening, we’ll use a combination of baking powder and apple cider vinegar. The combination of acids in the baking powder and apple cider vinegar cause air bubbles to form in the cake batter, helping the cake to rise and become fluffy – magic!
My mom’s original recipe also called for whipped egg whites to be folded into the batter. So for this cruelty-free version, we’re using aquafaba, which is whipped up until fluffy and then carefully folded into the batter to give it a it a dreamy texture and make sure that it doesn’t become too dense.
For the crust, we’re replacing the egg with a “flax egg“. When soaked in water, flaxseeds form a gel which works as a binding agent that replaces eggs used in traditional baking. To prepare the flax egg, simply add one tablespoon of ground flaxseeds to a small bowl with 2.5 tbsp of water. Stir and allow it soak for 5 minutes.
RECOMMENDED TOOLS TO MAKE THIS CHEESECAKE
WHY MAKE THIS BAKED VEGAN CHEESECAKE?
Vegan-friendly: this cheesecake (along with all the other recipes on my blog) is made using only plantbased ingredients and does not contain any animal derived ingredients such as dairy, eggs or honey.
As good as the real deal: This cake is so good, from the texture to the flavour to the buttery crust, you’ll have everyone asking for a second (or possibly even third) slice!
IF YOU’RE A CHEESECAKE FAN HERE ARE SOME OTHERS YOU SHOULD TRY
Baked Vegan Cheesecake
- 2 cups flour
- ½ cup vegan butter room temperature, cut into small chunks
- 1 tbsp ground flaxseeds
- 4 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups cashews *soaked, see notes
- 21 oz vegan vanilla greek soya yoghurt or vegan plain soya yoghurt with 2 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup pure maple syrup
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 ½ tbsp cornflour
- ⅓ cup aquafaba *see notes
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- 4 cups frozen cherries or frozen berries of choice
- 4 tbsp caster sugar or maple syrup
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- ½ tbsp cornflour
- Preheat your oven to 170°C/340°F (fan oven) or 190°C/375°F conventional oven.
- To make the crust, line the bottom and sides of a 9.5" springform cake tin with some parchment paper.
- Make a "flax egg" by adding the ground flaxseeds to a bowl with 2.5 tsp water. Stir and allow to sit for at least 5 minutes.
- Add the butter and flour to a large bowl and rub the butter through the flour using your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
- Add the brown sugar and vanilla extract to the flax egg and mix to a paste. Then add the paste to the bowl with the flour mixture and knead until the ingredients form a dough.
- Press the dough into the base and about 2 inches up the sides of the cake tin.
- Bake the crust for 15-18 minutes until it begins to brown slightly.
- Meanwhile prepare the filling. Add the soaked cashews, yoghurt, maple syrup, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, lemon zest, salt and cornflour to your blender and blitz for a few minutes until smooth and creamy. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and whisk in the baking powder.
- In a separate medium sized bowl, using a hand-held electric whisk beat the aquafaba for 5 minutes until stiff and foamy.
- Use a spatula to carefully fold the aquafaba into the cheesecake batter, in ⅓ increments. Be careful not to over-mix.
- Pour the cheesecake batter into the cake tin and bake for 40-45 minutes until the top of the cake beings to brown very slightly. The cake should be slightly firm but still jiggly. Remove the cake from the oven, but allow it to sit in the cake tin for at least an hour.
- Once at room temperature, remove the cheesecake from the tin and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (overnight works well).
- To prepare the cherry compote, add the frozen cherries, sugar and lemon juice to saucepan and cook for 10-15 minutes on a low-medium heat.
- Once the cherries have released their juices, strain them into a bowl. Add the cornflour to the bowl with the cherry juice and whisk well. Return the cherry juice/cornflour mixture to a medium-high heat and simmer for 5 minutes whilst continuously whisking. Once the mixture thickens slightly, pour it over the cooked cherries, stir and allow the compote to come to room temperature for about an hour.
- Serve the cheesecake topped with cherry compote.
- To store the cheesecake, cover and refrigerate. Consume within 3 days.