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I have wanted to make this Vegan Rhubarb Meringue Pie for a very long time, but, as always, life gets in the way. I am thrilled that at last the recipe is out of my head, and here for you to enjoy for free!
The foundation work had already been done when I developed my Easy Vegan Lemon Meringue Pie, trials and tribulations were a distant memory of perfecting the best vegan meringue pie. Now I just needed to tweak the original recipe to make it with a seasonal twist to include rhubarb.
What is the difference between a lemon and rhubarb meringue pie?
Not a lot of difference to be fair, however, with my gluten free and vegan pastry I wanted to add a richer sweeter element so I swapped 50% of the pastry sugar for a dark brown sugar instead. This was not just for a sweeter, more toffee-like flavour but also to add a deep colour to the pastry.
The rhubarb curd is also simpler than my vegan lemon curd as there are less ingredients required to bolster the structure (which is what eggs traditionally would provide). As I’m using stewed fruit I have a firmer base to begin with to make my curd.
See, I’m not just a pretty face, there’s some sciency thought that goes into my recipe development … I’m aware of the irony that typing sciency-thought instantly downgrades me to just a pretty face status again (giggles).
HOW TO MAKE A VEGAN MERINGUE
To make a vegan meringue you need three ingredients; aquafaba, caster sugar and cream of tartar. So, if this is a new experience for you you may well be asking – What is Aquafaba?
Aquafaba is the liquid you drain from a can of chickpeas. Normally, if making hummus for example, you’d drain that liquid away and think no more about it. The liquid started out its life as water, pure and simple but in the canning and storage process the chickpeas bathe in the water and release much of their starch into the liquid. It’s the starch in the chickpea water that is whippable and keeps its structure. There’s a lovely article about aquafaba that I found on the America’s Kitchen website and interestingly they conducted an experiment to find out the best way to whip your aquafaba so it’s worth a read if you’re interested; What Exactly is Aquafaba, and how do I use it?
In this recipe, you simply treat the aquafaba as you would egg whites. Whip them until light, white and fluffy (yes the rusty coloured water turns white!). Then you add your sugar and cream or tartar. The cream of tartar does the same job as it would in an egg meringue and for want of a better word, glues the liquid together ensuring the whipped structure doesn’t revert back to a liquid. On this occasion I used chickpea water but I often use a shop bought carton of Aquafaba by Oggs (available in the UK, I get mine in Sainsbury’s in the butter aisle).
EASY VEGAN RHUBARB CURD
My easy vegan rhubarb curd is made with 3 ingredients and 2 of those I’d imagine many bakers to have in their cupboards. This recipe makes nearly 500ml/g of rhubarb curd so if you like you could stop there and jar this for another day. Just remember to keep it in the fridge to keep it fresh.
I use 300g chopped rhubarb and 3 tablespoons of water to initially stew the fruit until it’s soft . Once the fruit has stewed and broken up I add the sugar and blend with a hand blender. If you do not have a hand blender you could force the fruit through a sieve but this will be tough work to ensure you keep ALL the fruit.
Then in a small bowl I measure the cornflour/cornstarch and 5 tablespoons/75ml of water to make a paste. Have fun with that, I sure do, it’s like a physics science experiment I used to do back in school!
You then add this to the blended sweet fruit puree and heat until it thickens to a thick porridge consistency. This is your vegan rhubarb curd ready for the meringue pie. Simply set aside until you need to add it to the gluten free pastry case.
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DO YOU BAKE A VEGAN MERINGUE PIE?
This is where I do the practise and you reap the benefits! The first time I made this I went into auto pilot. I baked the pastry case blind, added the hot lemon curd, topped with clouds of fluffy white vegan meringue and shoved the whole pie into the oven to cook the meringue. Big Mistake!
Aquafaba meringue is a beautiful thing but you have to remember it started out life as water. Water evaporates. My first attempt came out of the oven looking amazing but the meringue was, I don’t know how to describe this best so bear with me. The meringue was almost a ghost of itself! It looked great but touch it and it disappeared, turned to powder!
The key to a great vegan meringue is to keep that water trapped, hence the use of cream or tartar, the magic ingredient that makes this possible.
The only way to get that all important golden colour to your vegan meringue pie is to either put it under a hot grill or use a chefs blow torch. Normally I’d use a blow torch but on this occasion I opted to use the grill as I know that not everyone has a chefs torch.
TOP TIP: make sure the grill is already heated and carefully pop your meringue under the grill. You may also find some areas of your grill are hotter than others therefore don’t be afraid to gently slide the pie out and rotate it to get an even toasting.
WHY IS MY MERINGUE PIE WATERY (WEEPING)?
Remember what I said about about cream of tartar? Well if you’re pie is weeping profusely than it may be because you didn’t add enough cream of tartar. Another reason is if your rhubarb curd wasn’t hot enough when you added it to the pastry case.
The action of adding a hot curd, and then immediately topping with your meringue, is that as soon as the meringue makes contact with the curd it cooks it and seals it.
I’ll be totally honest here, vegan meringue pies are going to be more likely to weep than non vegan ones, simply due to the fact you’re using aquafaba. In the grand scheme of things is it really a disaster….I say no. The liquid is gorgeously sweet as its effectively a sugar syrup so it’s not going make the pie taste bad.
As long as you’ve baked your pastry case well, it shouldn’t make your pastry go soggy either, nobody likes soggy bottoms right?
SHOULD A VEGAN RHUBARB MERINGUE PIE BE REFRIGERATED?
Absolutely you should refrigerate your rhubarb meringue pie. The pie will continue to set in the fridge and strengthen its structure. I kept the pie you see here for three days in the fridge. after 24hrs you will expect to see some weeping but to solve this I simply sat the pie on a couple of sheets of kitchen roll in an up-side-down Tupperware container (so the pie sat in the lid). By doing this the syrup soaked into the tissue and my pastry case remained crisp.
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p.s. I have this on the back of a cupboard door in my kitchen – true story!
Other vegan pudding inspiration
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Vegan Rhubarb Meringue Pie Recipe
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Easy Vegan Rhubarb Meringue Pie
Sweet shortcrust pastry
- 80 g butter I use Flora plant butter
- 20 g fat I use Trex vegetable fat solids
- 200 g plain gluten free flour all purpose flour
- 40 g dark brown sugar
- 40 g caster sugar
- 1 tbsp ground flax seed
- 3 tbsp water
- 1 tsp psyllium husk powder optional, but does help with binding
- 300 g rhubarb chopped into chunks
- 200 g caster sugar
- 50 g cornflour corn starch
- 5 tbsp water
- 100 ml aquafaba I use Oggs or drain a tin of chickpeas [see notes]
- 100 g caster sugar
- 2 tsp cream of tartar
To make the pastry
- Make your flaxseed egg by adding the flaxseed, water and psyllium husk (if using) to a small jug, stir to combine and leave.
- Measure the gluten free flour, 'butter' and vegetable fat into a large bowl and using your fingertips or a pastry cutter work the fat into the flour until you have breadcrumbs.
- Stir in the sugar, then add your flaxseed egg.
- Stir the 'egg' into the breadcrumb mixture and turn out onto the kitchen surface. No need to flour the surface.
- Bring the crumble mixture together and knead until you have a ball of pastry dough. This dough is very soft. Pop into a container and put in the fridge to chill while you make the rhubarb curd.
To make the rhubarb curd
- Add the chopped rhubarb to a medium saucepan along with 3tbsps water. Begin to heat gently with a lid on to soften and stew the fruit.
- Next add the caster sugar and continue to heat until all the sugar has dissolved.
- Now remove from the heat and blend the sweet stewed rhubarb with a hand blender until pureed. Be careful not to splash yourself, this is super hot.TOP TIP: if you don't have a hand blender you pass this through a sieve but you'll need to use some elbow grease to do this, its tough work!
- In a small bowl add the cornflour and 5 tablespoons of water and mix to combine, stir slowly otherwise physics gets in the way!
- Pour in the cornflour paste into the pureed rhubarb whist stirring with a small whisk. Once all the paste has been combined with the puree, return to the heat.
- Continue to stir on a medium heat. The rhubarb mixture will change in colour to a pastel pink and thicken quickly – you're looking for a thick porridge texture. NOTE: Taste to make sure it's not too sour for your liking (if it is add a little sugar at this stage and stir until it melts).
- Remove from heat and set aside. Now you can return to making your pastry case.
To make the pastry case
- Pre heat oven to 200°C | 180°C fan | 400°F | Gas 6
- Remove the pastry dough from the fridge and knead for a minute. Roll out into a circle with a good thickness (just under 1cm) and line a 20cm round cake tin or fluted flan tin with the pastry. Preferably use a loose bottom so you can easily remove your pie at the end.
- For this meringue pie I leave the pastry side untrimmed so i can trim them once blind baked for a flat/flan finish. I also prick the bottom of the case with a fork to encourage an even bake.
- Take a large square of baking paper and screw it up in your hands. This can then be placed inside the pasty case shell and on top of that add your blind baking beads.
- Blind bake for 10 minutes, then remove from oven, carefully take out the baking paper and baking beads and return to the oven for another 10 minutes.DO NOT worry if the case rises for this second bake or cracks slightly, the rhubarb curd will not seep.
- Remove from oven, trim the edges flat whilst still hot with a serrated knife (I sue a steak knife) and leave on the side to cool slightly.
To make the meringue topping
- Wipe the mixing bowl you plan to use with a drop or lemon juice if you have some, this ensures the bowl is grease free and encourages the very best fluffy meringue whites.
- Pour the 100ml aquafaba into the bowl, add the 2tsp of cream of tartar and using a mixer or hand held whisk, whip for approximately 6-8mins to get a stiff bowl of fluffy white meringue.
- Now add the caster sugar one tablespoon as a time and continue to whisk until all the sugar has been incorporated. Set aside for a minute.
To build and bake your rhubarb meringue pie
- Return the rhubarb curd in the saucepan to the heat and bring back to almost boiling.
- If using the grill to caramelise your meringue turn on the grill.
- Pour the hot rhubarb curd into the slightly cooled pie case. Then add spoonful's of sweet meringue to the pie making sure all curd is covered and no longer visible. I don't tend to bother with piping the meringue but instead take a fork and draw swirl patterns in the meringue for effect.
- Pop the meringue under the grill and watch like a hawk, rotate the pie if necessary to get an even colour.
- Remove from grill once beautifully golden and leave on the side to cool completely.
- Once completely cooled pop into the fridge for that final setting to take place (a minimum of 30mins)
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