Cassell's Vegetarian Cookery/pies
In vegetarian cookery, as a rule, pies and puddings are made in the same way as in ordinary cookery, with the exception that we cannot use lard or dripping in making our pastry. Nor are we allowed to use suet in making crust for puddings. It would have been quite impossible to have given even one quarter of the recipes for the pies and puddings known, and we must refer those who wish for information on this subject to “Cassell’s Shilling Cookery,” where will be found a very complete list, but which would have occupied the whole of the space which we have devoted to recipes where vegetarian cookery, as a rule, differs from the ordinary.
We will, on the present occasion, confine our attention to the two points we have mentioned, viz., how to make pastry without lard or dripping, and pudding crust without suet. The first of these two points causes no difficulty whatever, as the best pastry, especially that known as puff paste, is invariably made with butter only as the fatty element; but there is one point we must not overlook.
Vegetarians are divided into two classes: those who use the animal products—butter, milk, cream, and eggs—and those who do not. This latter class contains, probably, the most respected members of the vegetarian body, as it will always be found that there is an involuntary homage paid by all men to consistency. How then are strict vegetarians to make pastry, butter being classed with the forbidden fruit? We fear we cannot tell them how to make good puff paste; but “Necessity is the mother of invention,” and naturally olive oil must supply the place of butter.
Pastry without Butter.—We will describe how to make a small quantity, which is always best when we make experiments. Take half a pound of the best Vienna flour, and mix with it, while dry, about a salt-spoonful of baking-powder. Now add about a tablespoonful of olive oil, and work the oil and flour together with the fingers exactly as you work a small piece of butter into the flour at the commencement of making puff paste. Next add sufficient water to make the whole into an elastic paste; roll it out and let it set between two tins containing ice, similar to the method used in making high-class pastry.
We have mentioned a tablespoonful of oil, but if ice is used more oil may be added.
We all know that oil will freeze at a much lower temperature than water, consequently the minute particles of oil become partially solid. Now take the paste, roll it out, and give it three turns; roll it out again, give it three more turns, and put it back in the ice; let it stand ten minutes or a quarter of an hour, and repeat this process three times. Be careful to flour the pastry each time before it is turned. By this means we get the pastry in thin layers, with minute air bubbles between them, and this will cause the pastry to rise. If you are making a pie, roll out the pastry the last time, cover the pie, and put it in the oven immediately, while the pastry is cold. Do not let the pastry stand, unless it be in a very cold place.
This pastry we have just described, made with oil, can also be utilised for puddings, in which latter case we would recommend the addition of a little more baking-powder, and to every pound of flour add two tablespoonfuls of very fine bread-crumbs. These must be dry, and rubbed through a fine sieve.
Pastry with Butter.—Good puff paste is made by taking equal quantities of butter and flour—say a pound of each—the yolk of one egg, a pinch of salt, while the water used is acidulated with lemon-juice. For the manipulation of this pastry we must refer those who do not know how to make it to other cookery books, or to the shilling one above mentioned. In making ordinary paste we must use less butter; and when we use considerably less butter, if we wish the pastry light, we shall require baking-powder. The quantity depends very much upon the quality. Many persons make their own baking-powder, and we cannot recommend any better than the recipe given in the last chapter, viz., an ounce of tartaric acid, an ounce and a half of bicarbonate of soda, and an ounce and a half of arrowroot. A great deal, too, depends upon the quality of the flour. Vienna flour is much more expensive than ordinary flour, but incomparably superior. What limit we can assign to the quantity of butter used it is impossible to say. A quarter of a pound of butter to a pound of flour, and a teaspoonful of baking-powder, will make a fair crust. When less butter is used the result is not altogether satisfactory.
Puddings.—We next come to the very large class of puddings in which suet is used. The ordinary plum pudding is a case in point. The best substitute for suet, of course, is butter or oil; a plum pudding, however, made without suet, would undoubtedly be heavy, and, to avoid this, we must use butter, bread-crumbs, and baking-powder. It would be impossible to give any exact quantity, as so much depends upon the other ingredients. Some people use bread-crumbs only in making plum pudding, and no flour, in which case, of course, a very considerable number of eggs must be used or else the pudding will break to pieces. In the case, however, of oil being used as a substitute for butter, it is of the utmost importance that the oil be pure and fresh. We here have to overcome a deeply-rooted English prejudice. Pure oil is absolutely tasteless, and it has often been remarked by high-class authorities that really pure butter ought to be the same. We fear, however, that purity in food is the exception rather than the rule, as at no period of this country’s history has the crime of adulteration been so rampant as in the present day.
Adulteration has been said to be another form of competition. Too often adulteration is a deliberate form of robbery. Steps have been taken in recent years to put a stop to this universal system of fraud, more especially in connection with butter. Were more Acts passed similar to the “Margarine Act” we believe that this country would be richer and happier, and without doubt more healthy.
In that large class of puddings known as custard pudding, cabinet pudding, there is no difference whatever in vegetarian cookery. It would be quite impossible to make any of these puddings without eggs, and when eggs are used we may take for granted that butter is allowed also.
We have, throughout, called particular attention to the importance of appearances. In the case of all puddings made with eggs and baked in a dish, it is a very great improvement to reserve one or two whites of egg, and to beat these to a stiff froth, with a little white powdered sugar. When the pudding is baked, cover it with this snow-white froth, and let it set by placing it in a slack oven for two or three minutes. Whether the pudding is served hot or cold, the result is the same. An otherwise plain and somewhat common-looking dish is transformed into an elegant one, the only extra expense being a little trouble.
We may sum up our instructions to cooks in the words: “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.”