Vegan or plant-based cuisine is still pretty much in its infancy in Thailand, but somehow in Pranburi – the seaside resort town about half an hour south of Hua Hin – there is a serious plant-based culinary school with various courses catering to those looking for some fulfilling and healthy meat-free alternatives to their daily diets.
I recently spent a week learning how to make vegan pastries at Blue Lotus Hua Hin‘s plant-based baking and pastries masterclass by Laura Castro. This is not my first time attending their classes, but the first in terms of pastries. Laura, a Columbian native, is free-spirit and avid baker with decades of experiences in pâtisserie. She is plant-based with a sweet tooth. So, instead of submitting to cow conundrums, Laura explored new possibilities with plants. The result in a list of recipes suiting those with regular cravings for scrumptious baked goods, vegan style.
So, what is ‘vegan’ pastries? As a Thai, it is easy to dodge animal products in our desserts. Our national desserts, except for those influenced by the Portuguese and Spanish yolk-based ones, are vegan by birth. Coconut cream, juice, rice flour and sugar – palm or white – plus seasonal native fruits, make up our traditional sweets. The most indulgent of all, as far as I am concerned, is a satisfying bowl of durian and sticky rice. As thick and luscious as a good bowl is, there’s no animal products in it. Just sticky rice, durian flesh, thick coconut cream sweetened with good and aromatic palm sugar. But when it comes to pastries or Western style baked goodies, it is a different story. Butter, creams, eggs and milks are all crucial binders. But you cannot use those to be able to yourself vegan. Or in my case, I call myself an eater who don’t mind being vegan from time to time.
So, we started off by making the basic plant-based binders that would make up for those animal products. Milks are made from coconut, almond, cashew and oats. Butter from pistachio, almond and peanut. Yoghurt from coconut and a pack of probiotic. Best of all, cream cheese – my ultimate vice – is made from firm tofu and cashews. One thing I learn here is how easy these plant-based binders can be washed off from the bowls and utensils. A stark difference if you ever washed off a bowl greased with butter, or cream. Imagine these plant-based substitutes, despite being rich and creamy in taste and texture, can also be easily digested and washed off from our body system as well.
สิ่งที่ไม่ต้องใช้ครีมวัวทำก้ออร่อยได้อย่างไม่น่าเชื่อ ที่สำคัญไม่อ้วน ทำอาหารพลังพืชเห็นได้ชัดเจนว่าจานชามหม้อไหล้างออกได้ง่ายมาก จึงน่าจะหมายความว่าดีต่อลำไส้และไม่มันเยิ้มต่อร่างกายเราเช่นเดียวกัน Cooking plant-based and you'll know how easy it is to clean. Milks, creams and butters from plants are much easier to water down. None too greasy. Imagine how would they be good for our system. These are my own vegan white chocolate cheesecakes. Made from tofu, cashew creamcheese, with white chocolate and graham cracker (chickpea flour), chocolate ganache, blueberry compote and peanut brittle. @lauracastroperez @kengkaab15 #cheesecake #cakes #vegan #creamcheese #plantbased #ohhappybear #culinary #workshop #delicious #healthy #letscookvegan
Above is a variety of white chocolate cheesecakes I made. With blueberry compote, chocolate ganache and peanut brittle. The cheesecake is a combination of vegan cream cheese, vegan sour cream and Aquafaba – the juice from chickpea can, with the crust made vegan graham crackers and coconut oil giving a distinct aroma and flavour.
Below are some of the classroom scenarios. We made plant-based churros (yes, deep-fried choux, thick luscious chocolate sauce and real granulated sugar, but no eggs), bagels (delicious), white chocolate cheesecakes, apple pie, quiche and doughnuts completed with yummy sweet glazing.
The workshop spans a whole week: Monday to Friday. But we checked into Evason Hua Hin on Sunday prior to settle in. The class runs from 09.00 – 14.00 with a provision of light vegan lunch (salads, no less, plus some of the items we made in the morning such as bagels and quiche). Uniform is all-black with long pants and comfortable shoes for it was a lot of standing. First four days are classes and the final day student’s presentation of their project. In this case an own dessert inspired by all things learned from the class.
My first day of plant-based pastry week @bluelotushuahin. (See my story for what we did in today's class) And this churros made from buckwheat flour is crispy and divine. Flaxseed butter and banana substituted egg yolk. Chocolate ganache thickened with cashew milk. #plantbased #vegan #pastry #churros #delicious #ohhappybear #plantpower #sweet #treat
about plant-based cooking workshops, visit Blue Lotus Hua Hin.
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