Traditional pecan pie recipes tend to rely on eggs to make the filling set. This vegan version doesn’t call for egg replacers because it’s an ingenious marriage between the nutty American pie and that childhood teatime favourite – the treacle tart. Treacle tart is a great vehicle for pecan nuts and their crunchiness beautifully contrasts with the gooeyness of the golden syrup!
To make the pastry, sieve the flour into a large bowl and rub in the cubes of vegan margarine with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Work quickly and with a light touch to avoid the fat melting. Check for any remaining lumps of margarine by shaking the bowl to bring them to the surface.
Make a well in the centre of the mixture and add some chilled water, a little at a time. Lightly work the mixture to form a ball, adding a sprinkle of flour if the mixture is too wet, or a touch more water if it’s too dry. Cover and chill for 20-30 minutes.
Grease a 9” fluted flan tin, preferably with a removable base. Roll the pastry out thinly on a lightly floured surface and line the tin. For an extra finishing touch, you can crimp the edge with your thumb. Prick over the pastry case with a fork, to prevent the base puffing up during baking. Cover and return to the fridge while you prepare the filling.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas Mark 6 and put in a heavy baking tray to heat through. Baking the pie on a hot baking sheet will ensure a crisp base to the pastry case.
To make the filling, gently warm the syrup over a low heat, making sure it doesn’t boil. Stir in the brown sugar and vanilla extract.
Remove from the heat and add the breadcrumbs and chopped pecans. Add a few more breadcrumbs if the mixture seems a bit runny.
Pour the mixture into the pastry case and level the surface. Decorate the top with the whole pecan nuts, placing them in concentric circles.
Bake the pie on the preheated baking tray for about 10 minutes until the pastry has started to colour, then reduce the oven temperature to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4. If the pecans appear to be getting too dark brown, cover the pie with foil.
Continue baking for a further 25-30 minutes until the pastry is golden and the filling is lightly firm and set. The top should be chewy and the middle soft and moist, with the pecans nice and crunchy.
Remove from the oven and leave in the tin to cool a little and firm up. Serve your pie warm or cold. You could add a dash of maple syrup to your favourite vegan cream or ice cream alternative to accompany this wonderfully gooey treat.
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