Vegan Mushroom Umami Pie


Last Saturday I entered this Vegan Mushroom Umami* Pie in the 5th Annual KCRW Good Food Pie Contest. It’s not the prettiest pie, but so yummy with a savory filling of mushrooms, garbanzo beans, and kale.

I took 2nd Place in the Vegan category! Moby was one of the judges! Unfortunately, none of the pictures are with him in it, so you’ll just have to trust me, he ate and liked my pie! Yayyy!!!

It was hot last Saturday, but so much fun at the contest. I loved meeting my fellow pie bakers, and all who came by our table to taste the pies. I even had some great chats with new friends after the festivities. Thanks so much for all who stopped by. I enjoyed meeting you!

Here’s a pic of the swag.

Time for some truth… I’m mostly an omnivore; I don’t eat pork, but I do eat most everything else.

So why would I choose a vegan category?Without going into a huge philosophical questions, I do think we need to curb our appetite for the common meat & dairy products we use.

I don’t believe I have to be a full-time Vegan to increase more plant-based foods in my diet. I’m always striving to make food taste good, not just taste good for a vegan dish. I thought about this recipe for a long time.

I love intensely flavored food with complex notes that harmonize with one another. For this mushroom pie I thought about all the different ways I could layer in flavors without meat or dairy.

I wanted to use a butter substitute, but refuse to use shortening. Coconut oil is my general go to substitute for butter since it is solid at room temperature, but I find coconut oil also tends to pair better with sweet flavors with it’s sweet floral undertones.

I wanted to up the savory quotient, and came up with the idea to confit some of the veggies in the coconut oil to add more savory flavors.

I was so focused on trying to get two pies done before the 1pm deadline that I neglected my normal picture taking process.

Here’s a pic of the leftover infused coconut oil. When I open the lid I get a savory mushroom fragrance, and look at the great color.

I’m keeping the leftover oil in the refrigerator to keep it from spoiling. Also to be safe, I’m going to use the rest within the month.

In addition to the flavored coconut oil I added additional fresh ground pepper and fresh thyme to pie dough for more savoriness.

For the filling I tried to think of every vegan umami component I could use to boost flavor. So in addition to the savory vegan butter, I caramelized onions to give a rich depth of flavor. I used soy sauce instead of salt since soy has more umami components.

I also added tomato paste, not too much to make it tomato-y, but enough to give a flavor boost. Wine added more depth of flavor. Sriracha added a tiny bit of heat which gave a little more punch.

Garbanzo beans added a creamy bite to the mushrooms, and kale provided a nutritional boost and a nice green flavor.

From the responses I received while serving, it seems my plan succeeded. Please continue reading for the recipe.

Vegan Mushroom Umami Pie Recipe

Flavored Coconut Oil (Savory Vegan Pie Butter)

Servings, enough for 3+ double-crusted 9-inch pies

  • 3 16oz containers coconut oil
  • 1 lb crimini mushrooms, cut in quarters
  • 3 heads of garlic (about 3oz.) peeled and cloves slightly crushed
  • 0.75 oz fresh thyme
  • 1 oz dried shiitaki mushroom caps
  • 0.4 oz roasted seaweed snack

Empty the coconut oil into a 6-quart saucepan or dutch oven. Add quartered mushrooms, crushed garlic cloves, fresh thyme, stems and all, dried shiitaki mushroom caps, and seaweed snack torn into pieces.

Turn heat to medium to medium high. Submerge all ingredients in oil. Heat to a low boil, and then turn the heat to low and cover with a lid.

Simmer slow for an hour. Turn heat off and allow to sit and cool. I let it sit overnight. After it is cooled use a colander or mesh strainer to drain off the oil, pressing on the solids to remove as much oil as possible.

I then chopped up the solids and later added them to the pie filling.

Mushroom Umami Filling

Servings, enough filling for 2, 9-inch pies

  • 2 lbs. yellow onions diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Set large pan over medium heat and add oil. Add all the diced onions at once and sprinkle with salt.

Allow the moisture to start releasing and then turn pan down to low. Stir every 10-15 minutes for an hour to an hour and a half until the onions give off all their moisture and start to caramelize.

I like to let them go until there are lots of rich dark caramelized tones on the onions. Start the onions before making the pie dough. They take awhile to make, but the flavor they add is incredible.

  • 3 lbs crimini mushrooms quartered
  • Remains from oil confit, cut into small dice where needed
  • 2 heads garlic
  • 10 T tomato paste
  • 4 T ponzu sauce
  • 6 T soy sauce
  • 2 T fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2 15oz cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
  • 2 tablespoons sriracha sauce
  • 10oz kale ribs removed

Set large pan 6-8 quart saucepan or dutch oven over medium high heat.

Add mushrooms, garlic, half tomato paste, half ponzu sauce, half soy sauce, fresh ground black pepper, and cover until mushrooms begin to soften and start releasing their juices, about 5-7 minutes.

Add wine and leave uncovered and allow to reduce over medium heat for another 5-7 minutes. Add caramelized onions, scraping all the brown bits into the mushrooms.

Drain and rinse garbanzo beans. In the empty onion pan add the garbanzo bean, and the remaining tomato paste, soy sauce, ponzu sauce, and sriracha and stir to coat the beans, then add to the mushrooms, and stir together.

Turn down to low, and cook for another 3-5 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the kale, stir into the mushroom mixture, cover, and turn off heat. Allow to cool while making crust.

Double-Crust Pie Dough (modified from America’s Test Kitchen Foolproof Pie Dough)

Servings, makes dough for 1-9-inch double crusted pie, make recipe twice for two pies, don’t double the recipe

  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1¼ cups flavored coconut oil, chilled in the freezer for 10-15 minutes
  • ¼ cup chilled vodka
  • ¼ cup iced water

Mix flour, pepper, thyme, sugar, and salt into a large mixing bowl with a fork. Cut solid coconut oil into flour mixture until mixture resembles sand with pea sized pieces of coconut oil throughout.

Avoid using your hands as little as possible since the coconut oil will melt with the heat of your hands, especially on a hot day.

Mix the vodka and water together in a measuring cut, then add the vodka and water mixture to the dough.

Mix until dough comes together. The dough will be a bit shaggy, not a smooth consistency. If it is totally smooth then you may have worked the dough too much.

Divide the dough into two fairly even pieces and wrap in plastic wrap; shape into round discs, and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.

The vodka is used to add moisture to help bring the dough together and then evaporate off in the oven leaving a crisp flaky crust.

When this dough is made with dairy butter it tends to be more flexible and easier to roll out. Since this dough, made with coconut oil, is slightly more fragile, I enlist the use of parchment paper or thicker plastic.

Use two large sheets of parchment paper to roll each disc of dough out. With parchment paper, there is no need to add extra flour.

Once dough is rolled out to 1/8”, remove the top layer of parchment and flip dough into a 9-inch glass pie pan.

Ease the dough to properly cover the pan and refrigerate while rolling out the second piece of pie dough. Add filling, then top with the second rolled pie dough.

Crimp edges, and cut holes in the top to vent. (The pie pictured above was not the prettier pie I gave to the judges, so you can see the results of the fragile pie dough with a few tears and holes; the one with the judges had no holes are tears. They both tasted the same, and baked beautifully, but one wasn’t quite as pretty.)

Refrigerate pie again to set crust, an additional 20-30 minutes. When the final pie is put in refrigerator then turn oven on to 500˚ F. Depending on how quickly your oven comes to temperature, when the oven is done preheating, the pie should be cold enough to bake, (or I have an old oven that takes longer than yours).

The additional chilling time keeps the dough cold and will help keep the crust from shrinking from the edges or slumping before the baking process has set the crust structure.

Bake pie at 500˚ F for 30 minutes, then turn oven down, without opening the door, to 375˚ F and bake for another 20-25. Once the crust is a deep caramelized golden hue remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool.

It’s best to allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before serving. Can be served at room temperature.

*Umami… I realized as I was serving people at the pie contest that there were a lot of people who weren’t aware of the meaning of umami.

Umami is the fifth taste. We have sweet, sour, salty, bitter, taste categories, and then there is umami.

It’s a savory quality that provides a nice roundness of flavor. Cooked mushrooms, garden-ripened tomatoes, parmesan cheese, and red wine all have the umami taste components.

I used umami in my pie title because I was looking for multiple ways to up the umami flavors in my pie.


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