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Easy Vegan Dessert Recipes: A New Way to Bake by Philip Khoury

FEATURE: LONG READ
Words by EMILIE DOCK

If you’ve tasted our head pastry chef Philip Khoury’s creations in-store, then you know: the man is a culinary visionary. Compromise is not in his vocabulary: whether he’s putting a creative spin on classic patisserie or experimenting with plant-based techniques, the resulting dessert is always divine, with a purity of flavours that never fails to surprise – or delight. 

It’s with great pride, therefore, and with giddy excitement that we introduce his debut cookbook, A New Way to Bake, created for the home baker and now available to purchase online or from The Harrods Bookshop on the Lower Ground Floor.  

The book’s subtitle, Re-Imagined Recipes for Plant-Based Cake, Bakes and Desserts, says it all. You’ll find over 80 refreshingly easy vegan recipes in this compendium, from a classically indulgent triple-chocolate fudge cake (see below) to a confoundingly ‘buttery’ vrioche (plant-based brioche). Each one is easy to make at home using simple pantry ingredients and comes with a video tutorial accessible via QR code.   

We couldn’t recommend this book highly enough, not just for those following a plant-based diet but also for home bakers interested in expanding their repertoire – yes, to reduce their reliance on animal products but also to maximise flavour in their desserts in new, exciting and entirely natural ways.  

Here, Khoury talks to us about his motivations for the book and shares two of his favourite recipes for you to try at home.  

A New Way to Bake by Philip Khoury (Hardie Grant, £30), Photography © Matt Russell 

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What’s your message to the world with this cookbook? 

There’s no ‘right’ way to bake; I make traditional cakes every day at work. But when it comes to plant-based baking there are so many misconceptions, like that you need obscure, expensive ingredients or that vegan desserts aren’t as indulgent. [With this book] I want to blow them all out of the water and equip people with more options. 

What are some tricks you discovered while developing these recipes? 

Baking is a science; once you understand the role of each ingredient and the formula that results in a specific texture or flavour, you can alter it. Take the classic pound cake: equal parts butter, sugar, eggs and flour. The eggs and flour bind the mixture, but when you add liquid (egg) to flour and heat it you need a high ratio of fat to tenderise it. So, when you remove egg from the recipe – and therefore that rubbery, gelling effect – you can reduce the fat.  

This happened with a lot of my recipes: some have 60% less fat that their traditional counterparts but with an entirely comparable texture.  

How many cakes have you made in the past three years? 

Let’s just say I’m the most popular person at my partner’s work. And I’ve put on about 10kg. 

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What replaces fat and eggs in vegan baking? 

My absolute queen of fats is extra-virgin olive oil, though I sometimes use coconut oil. Often eggs can simply be replaced with water or plant-based milk. You just let the flour and moisture do the binding/gelling instead. For my crème brûlée recipe I used custard powder, which was invented by Alfred Bird in 1837! 

Can people tell the difference between your plant-based desserts and their traditional counterparts? 

I do a maple cake in the book, which is my vegan alternative to honey cake. The flavour of honey cake doesn’t actually come from the honey; it comes from the honeycomb flavour you get when the bicarbonate soda reacts with the biscuit dough. You get the same reaction with maple syrup. You get fewer floral notes, sure, but I’ve added a bit of orange blossom to my recipe.  

People will recognise all the textures and they may be able to notice a few differences in flavour, but no more than you might expect from trying one recipe to the next.  

Are there any plant-based desserts in your book that you think taste better? 

The vegan chocolate-chip cookie [available in The Food Halls]. It’s actually mind-blowing. It has just the right amount of crispiness around the edges, a fudgy and soft middle and rivers of high-quality chocolate running through – plus a sprinkling of sea salt on top to temper the sweetness. Oh and a little bit of cinnamon. The olive oil gives it a new kind of depth and complexity. I’d describe it as a chocolate chip cookie that grew up and became sophisticated. A debonaire cookie!  

Triple-Chocolate Fudge Cake

“Think of this as a cross between a classic fudge cake and a mud cake – really moist yet not too dense. The ganache on top is super silky and intensely chocolate-y. I recommend using a good-quality chocolate as without the cream and butter you’d usually put in ganache the beautiful cocoa flavour is really going to come through. You can make this as a two-layer cake if you’d rather not fuss with cutting the layers to make four.” 

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Makes a two- or four-layer 20cm (8in) cake 

480g (16.9oz) water
10g (0.4oz) vanilla extract 
10g (0.4oz) apple cider vinegar 
75g (2.7oz) extra-virgin olive oil 
420g (14.8oz) muscovado sugar 
80g (2.8oz) cocoa (unsweetened chocolate) powder  
336g (11.9oz) plain (all-purpose) flour 
8g (2tsp) baking powder  
8g (2tsp) bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)  
4g (1tsp) fine salt 


For the chocolate fudge ganache: 

380g (13.4oz) plant-based milk (1) 
150g (5.3oz) muscovado sugar  
600g (1lb 5oz) dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa solids, callets (chips) or chopped 
380g (13.4oz) plant-based milk (2), chilled 

"We already have all the ingredients we need in our pantries – let’s just learn to make better use of them."

 

Earl Grey Loaf Cake

“This cake is super soft and tender and bursting with flavour from the Harrods Earl Grey tea, with a beautifully thin sugar crust on top.”

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Makes a 450g (15.9oz) loaf 

180g (6.3oz) caster (superfine) sugar 
200g (7oz) plain (all-purpose) flour (gluten-free plain flour will also work) 
8g (2 tsp) Earl Grey tea leaves  
6g (1 1/2 tsp) baking powder 
60g (2oz) extra-virgin olive oil 
200g (7 oz) plant-based milk 

Icing and to finish: 

160g (5.6oz) icing (confectioners) sugar 
45g (1.6oz) water 
Pinch of dried blue cornflower petals, to decorate 

"The closer I get to knowing how food is produced, the more I see it’s not possible to go the way we’re going. Whether it’s for animal welfare or the environment, we need more options. I don’t expect to solve the world’s problems with this book but I see it as I’m doing my bit as a baking professional."

 

Ready, Set, Bake

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The Food Halls

Mouth-watering patisserie, artisan cheeses, speciality tea – brimming with the world’s finest produce and chef-made delights, our five historic Food Halls are ready and waiting to be discovered. Where will you go first – The Fresh Market Hall for exotic fruits or The Chocolate Hall for pistachio bonbons?

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