Step 4: Testing Vegan Thickeners
I decided to run a thickener experiment before making the whole pie. I had three candidates, egg replacer, Jel and arrowroot.
These all actually worked really well. There were some slight differences described below.
This was my choice in the end. Arrowroot created the texture closest to a traditional pumpkin pie and had no discernible aftertaste or other negative effects. It's more expensive than egg replacer if you buy it with the other prepackaged bottles of spices, but go somewhere that has a bulk spice area, and it is totally cheap. If you like having the specially labeled 'Arrowroot' bottle (which I do) you can also buy the pricey bottle the first time and then just refill it from the bulk section in the future.
'Natural Desserts' Unflavored Jel
Wins 'Most custardy', with a crust around the edges, but not firm enough to remain intact when served. Still yummy and the smoothest choice. It would be better for a pumpkin pudding than pie. This is also the least common, and most expensive option. So it is not recommended, but I thought I'd still mention it as it was part of the process.
I've had some bad egg replacer baking experiences but this was not one of them! The texture was somewhere in between the arrowroot and Jel, so it could hold it's shape when served, but just barely. I think using any more than 2 eggs worth would leave an egg-replacey taste. Not sure how else to describe it, but if you've baked with it, you may know what I mean.
Note: Since I used roasted pumpkin, the water content is more variable than with the canned puree. Next time I make this with canned pumpkin, I'll have to test again to see if I get the same results.