Food Stories is a new column in which Best of Vegan editors and contributors share recipes from their cultures and personal stories connected to those dishes. Today, Anna Kot is sharing her recipe for vegan Russian cheesecake (also known as royal vatrushka) – her favorite childhood dessert.
It’s hard to believe today, but I was once a child who hated food. Well, almost every kind of food. There was this one cake my mom made that was irresistible to me: royal vatrushka, aka Russian cheesecake. Veganizing your favorite childhood recipes is always fun, so I fully enjoyed traveling back in time with this cake!
My vegan Russian cheesecake is a fuss-free, pantry-friendly dessert, great for any budget and level of cooking skills. Classic Russian vatrushkas are made with yeast dough and cottage cheese, and somewhat resemble Danishes, but this version is faster and easier to make (you might already get the sense that I prefer the lazy versions of dishes from my “meatball” recipe).
The cake is basically made of two parts: a streusel-type dough and a creamy tofu-based filling, with no eggs or dairy necessary to replicate familiar flavors and textures. An immersion blender will come in handy but your hands (and maybe a fork) will be enough – after all, there were no blenders in my childhood and the cakes were still great! I can assure you it will be tempting to try it straight from the oven after a bit of cooling, but it’s best enjoyed the next day or after a few hours in the fridge. Pair it with a cup of your favorite tea and devour!
For the crust/topping:
- 200g sugar
- 250g flour
- 200 g vegan butter / margarine, cold
- pinch of salt
For the filling:
- 500g medium-firm tofu
- 1 banana, ripe
- 1 small lemon, zested and juiced
- 100g sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 25 cm springform cake tin
- Immersion blender
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC / 360ºF and line a baking dish with parchment paper.
- First, make the dough. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Grate or cut cold butter and add to the dry mix with a fork or your hands. The result should be crumbly and soft like wet sand. Place it in the fridge.
- Mix all filling ingredients together and blend until homogenous. If the tofu was too firm and the mix is too dry, add a splash of plant milk.
- Place ⅔ of the refrigerated dry mix into the pan, press lightly to the bottom and sides. Spoon the filling on top and sprinkle with the remaining dry mix.
- Bake for 40-50 minutes or until the top is golden (depends on the oven, I cranked mine into grill mode for the last 10 minutes to achieve that). Let cool completely before serving & enjoy!
Recipe and photography by Anna Kot.
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