A few weeks ago, I made a vegan gluten free Christmas fruit cake and mincemeat. It's time to add marzipan and ice the cake, and make some mince pies.
I started with the marzipan, in fact I made almond paste because I did not have any rosewater which is what would have turned my almond paste into marzipan. In England my garden was full of rose bushes and perhaps I would have made my own rose water but we all need to adapt to our environments....
I used Uncle Bob's Red Mill Almond Flour and confectioners sugar. I used 2/3 almond flour to sugar, I added some almond flavor and water and mixed it until it was the right consistency to roll into a strip to cover the side of the cake and a circle for the top. Most recipes cover the cake with apricot jam so that the almond paste will stick, I used marmalade because I do not buy apricot jam. The almond mixture was sticky but I rolled it between two pieces of parchment paper and also cooled it in the fridge.
The taste was great, very authentic and very easy to make. The almond flour was pricey but grinding up almonds to create the flour would have been pricey and time consuming too, it is also best to use blanched almonds if you are going to grind your own so that the paste is yellow and not brown. It is possible to add a touch of turmeric to the paste if you want it to look really yellow.
I covered the cake in almond paste and left it to set a little while I made some gluten free vegan pastry. This was the most difficult task. I used a mix of rice flour, tapioca flour and coconut flour with a little xanthum gum. I added a couple of tablespoons of sugar. I rubbed in vegan margarine, Earth Balance, using half the amount of fat to flour. I added water to mix. The mixture was too crumbly at first and I could not get it to stick together, even a stay in the fridge did not work, so I added more water and more xanthum gum. The dough improved when I kneaded it and I was able to carefully roll it out, resting the dough in the fridge between rollings.
I decided to make mince tarts rather than pies so there would be less small pieces to roll out as the dough was so delicate. I used a cup to cut the circles for the muffin pans and found that it was better to place the circle over the pan and let gravity work rather than push the pastry into the pan as it is easy to break the dough.
I added a heaped tablespoon of homemade vegan mincemeat to each pie. The mincemeat that I made a few weeks ago used coconut oil instead of suet and so had some chunks in it. I baked the pies at 400 degrees F, for about 18 minutes until the pastry was golden brown. I let the tarts cool in the tin for a few minutes and then put them onto a cooling rack. The pies were surprisingly robust. I put the pies aside so that I could make vegan royal icing for the cake and pies.
Royal icing is the traditional icing to put over marzipan on fruit cakes. The icing would usually be made with egg whites whisked and then with confectioners sugar added. Vegan royal icing used aquafaba, this is the brine from a can of chick peas. I was a little nervous about this as it sounded rather gross, but I whisked up 3 fluid ounces and enough confectioners sugar to make a thick icing. I added vanilla essence for flavoring. I decided to go the easy route with the icing and create a snow scene on my cake which is achieved by creating a very thick royal icing. The icing is spread over the cake and pulled up into peaks. Mine looked great when I did it but the peaks started to disappear as the icing needed to be thicker.
I used the remaining icing on the mince tarts and it was hard to spread because I had made it so thick, it definitely could have had some water added to it to thin it out.
I tasted one of the mince tarts and it was good but I found that the coconut oil from the mincemeat had run under the tart and made it messy to eat, the pastry tasted good but was sort of crunchy compared to shortcrust pastry. I think I added too much xanthm gum, it was probably about 2 teaspoons when I should have used only one.
I immediately placed all of the pies on some paper towels and the coconut oil was absorbed, perhaps I will have to try vegetable suet next time. The mincemeat was very tasty as was the royal icing. I will taste the cake at Christmas. Happy Baking!
Gluten Free Vegan Christmas Fruit Cake with Easy Snow Scene.