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I am attempting to re-create a heart-of-palm torte I had while in Brazil and while it is pretty simple, I am having difficulty finding a vegan substitute for the lard that will still make the crust flaky. Any ideas what the best substitute is?

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3 Answers 3

The best substitute in general for lard would be a combination of vegetable shortening - which is generally hydrogenated palm oil - and butter.

Since this is a vegan substitute, you'll have to just stick to the shortening. That's OK - shortening was quite literally invented to replace lard - but you'll lose a lot of the flakiness and full flavour if you don't mix it with some butter.

For pastry crusts, you might also mix some coconut oil in with the shortening; the flaky texture essentially comes from saturated fats, for which coconut oil ranks pretty highly. Just don't use too much, as it imparts a not-so-subtle flavour of its own.

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I had used shortening in the past but never combined it with butter. Would a vegan margarine (like Earth Balance) work in its stead? I realize it has no hydrogenated oils but could it still function in helping the flaky-ness? Thanks for the speedy reply :) –  user5295 Mar 15 '11 at 18:20
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@kat: I'm not familiar with that particular brand of margarine, but the characteristic flakiness of crusts tends to come from the right balance of saturated and unsaturated fats; most margarine is about 80% (not 100%) palm oil regardless of hydrogenation, so using a non-hydrogenated kind just means that your crust is going to be less stable. That is, unfortunately, not the same thing as "flaky", and I would not use margarine in a crust. (Plus, margarine doesn't have a neutral taste like shortening.) You can find non-hydrogenated shortenings if you look around - that would be a better idea. –  Aaronut Mar 15 '11 at 18:29
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I have found in most other applications Earth Balance has a heaviness that butter does not (ie sauteing and baking particularly ). However, the veganomicon standard crust doesn't use it anyway. They say the secret is in refrigerating all the ingredients (even the flour ), they also include baking powder and vinegar to tenderize the crust (p. 262 Veganomicon). –  mfg Mar 16 '11 at 1:00

You mention Earth Balance in comments, the stick versions maybe a reasonable substitute.

Earth Balance - Vegan Buttery Sticks (nutrition)

Earth Balance - Vegan Buttery Sticks

Earth Balance - Natural Shortening (nutrition)

Earth Balance - Natural Shortening

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This kind of crust is called 'massa podre' (rotten dough). You can use either butter, margarine or a combination of both, there isn't really any difference other than the taste.

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