This blog post also is available in German.
This onion pie of Bernese origin is an egg-free and dairy-free variation of the traditional “Zibälächuechä”, which is eaten at the “Berner Zibälämärit”. The onion pie is completely vegan and tastes as delicious as the original. The pie can also be easily prepared in advance. This also makes it the perfect dish for dinner and lunch during a busy week. Made for those who like it a bit more hearty during the colder months of the year!
Bernese onion market & the onion pie
Here in Bern we traditionally hold the “Zibälämärit” on the last Monday of November – namely today. Or onion market, as one would call it in High German. This is a mixture between market and fair, which stretches through the city centre and old town of Bern. Visitors can buy onion heads at various stands, enjoy mulled wine or other warming drinks and of course eat cheese pie, racletten or the typical Bernese onion pie. There are also stalls selling sweets or commercial items such as spices, tea, winter clothes, etc.. At 16:00 the confetti battle takes place, which is especially popular amongst children and teenagers.
Vegan onion pie Bernese style
At Zibälämärit onion pie is a tradition, so to speak. This is also the case in our family. As far as I can remember there was ALWAYS an onion quiche on the fourth Monday in November. Although I now eat a vegan diet, such traditions still are very important to me. And so for almost two years now we have simply had a vegan version of the traditional Bernese onion pie. As already mentioned, this quiche is completely egg and dairy free and therefore perfectly suited for vegetarians and lactose intolerant people. And it tastes so delicious that even non-vegans and vegetarians will love it.
My family and I are so fond of this vegan onion pie that we even eat it more often than just on the day of the onion market. And since onions are in season here all year round, we also enjoy a vegan onion tart in autumn or spring.
Low waste onion tart with homemade cake dough
If things have to go quickly, we all like to grab some ready-to-serve pie dough. The problem? Many of these products contain environmentally harmful palm oil and are packaged in plastic. What if I told you it’s not so time-consuming to make your own dough? With this recipe you make your own cake dough in just 10 minutes. And have I already mentioned that you only need 4 ingredients! And of course it`s way more healthier than the storebought dough. Namely flour, vegan butter, a little bit of salt and butter.
Once you have tried this dough, you will forever renounce the commercial one. Because this one is not only low in waste, super fast and easy to mix together, but also tastes much better than any dough you buy! I have been using it for years in different versions. The dough is guaranteed to work!
Vegan onion pie – that’s how it works!
I’m sure you’ll succeed with this recipe. Because, as I said, it is not difficult at all! Nevertheless I have summarized the most important tips and tricks for you here.
As I said, you only need 4 ingredients for this dough, which by the way is very similar to a shortcrust pastry. Flour, vegan butter or margarine, salt and water. This type of dough is also called grated dough. The name comes from the fact that the dough is not kneaded but rubbed. Typically, the first three ingredients are put into a bowl and rubbed into a crumbly mass. Then the water is poured in and the dough is only briefly mixed and not kneaded.
It is very important to cool the dough between the individual preparation steps so that it becomes really crispy during baking. I cool the dough after mixing for about 20-30 minutes. After rolling it out, lay it on the baking tin and put it in the fridge again for 15-20 minutes.
The filling – chickpea flour & Kala Namak
The classic quiche filling usually consists of whisked eggs and milk or cream. This is also the case with the original Bernese onion pie. Ingredients that need to be replaced when eating vegan food. That sounds more complicated than it is for the first time!
Instead of cow’s milk you simply take a vegetable milk. Make sure it is unsweetened, as you want to bake a hearty pie.
Eggs in a quiche serve to bind the liquid. But it also works quite well with chickpea flour. Like starch, it has binding properties. For the typical taste of eggs, it is best to use some Kala Namak salt. This is black salt with a high sulphur content. It comes very close to the taste of eggs. I definitely don’t want to miss it in my kitchen anymore and use it for many dishes where I want to have exactly this egg taste. Whether original or vegan onion pie – the difference is non thanks to the Kala Namak.
It also works with other ingredients
Let’s face it, onions are really savory, aren’t they? But maybe you are in the mood for another vegetable or don`t have any onions. No problem, you can exchange the onions for other vegetables as you like. Asparagus tastes great in spring. Colourful tomatoes in summer. One of my favourites on cold days is this potato quiche.
Gluten-free vegan onion cake – is that possible?
Are you eating a gluten-free diet? That shouldn’t be a problem either. You can simply exchange the flour for a gluten-free flour mixture. Other options would be teff or buckwheat flour. Under certain circumstances, however, the mass may become somewhat drier and crumblier than with a conventional gluten-containing flour. Therefore, you may need something to bind it. Possibilities would be oat flakes or a flaxseed egg (1 tbsp ground flaxseed + 3 tbsp water).
Since I don’t eat gluten-free, I haven’t tested these options myself, but refer to external sources.
Alternatives to chickpea flour
Although chickpea flour is now quite common and can be found in the assortment of many shops, I would like to offer you a few alternatives here. Be it because you don’t like chickpea flour or because you can’t find it anywhere around you. As I said, the chickpea flour is used to bind the liquid, so that the pouring of the onion pie becomes nicely firm. However, this also works very well with starch, soy flour and silken or firm tofu. If using firm tofu you need to remove all excess liquid and grind into a creamy mass.
The right preparation
To make your vegan onion pie a succeed, you should bake it at 220° Celsius on the lowest groove for 30 minutes. If the crust gets too brown at the edge, you can cover the cake with baking paper. Personally, I like it better when the topping gets a little brown and the edge is really crispy. Blind baking is not necessary with this dough recipe. However, it is important that you put the dough in the oven when it`s cold. I recommend that you form the dough into a ball and put it in the fridge for 20-30 minutes. Then roll it out, place it on the pie tray and cool the dough down again in the fridge for 15 to 20 minutes. In addition, I always prick the bottom of the cake very tightly with a fork.
To prevent the base from getting muddy, you should prepare all the ingredients in advance. So you can only take the rolled out dough out of the fridge, put the topping on it and pour in the filling.
Vegan onion pie as Meal Prep
Vegan onion pie is very suitable for preparing in advance and is therefore also the perfect lunch or dinner during a very hectic week. If you want to prepare the onion cake in advance, it is best to prepare the individual components separately. You can simply mix the dough and place it in a bowl in the fridge overnight, covered. It can easily be kept for 1 to 2 days as long as it is cooled. You can either cut the onions and store them raw in an airtight container (in the fridge) or you can sautée them already, let them cool down and store them in cooked form. Prepare the chickpea flour filling freshly just before baking the pie. Otherwise it will become too lumpy and firm if you prepare it in advance.
It is not recommended to layer the whole quiche in advance. The dough would be extremely soaked by contact with the filling. The result would be mushy.
When baked, you can easily store the vegan onion pie covered in the refrigerator and enjoy it the next day. All you have to do is warm it up. However, it tastes best when enjoyed fresh and still warm. I haven’t tried out whether the ready-made pie can be frozen. But I have already frozen the cake dough several times. It is best to make a larger amount of dough and freeze a portion for the next time you crave a quiche.
Why you should definitely try this onion pie:
- egg-free & milk-free (lactose-free)
- perfect winter dish for cold days
- simply prepared
- low waste
- incredibly delicious
- traditional Swiss
- like the non-vegan original in taste
- extremely nourishing
- suitable for meal prep
other Swiss vegan Recipes:
- vegan Easter tarts
- Swiss butter braided bread – vegan
- Carrot cake slices
- wild garlic knöpfli
- vegan fondue
- Swiss Jam Cookies
If you are cooking this vegan onion pie, I would love your feedback here in the comments. If you share your creation of this recipe on Instagram, please don’t forget to link @velvetandvinegar and use the hashtag #velvetandvinegar. So my community and I won’t miss your contribution.
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Vegan Onion Pie Bernese Style
- 175 g whole wheat flour organic
- 1/2 tsp salt organic
- 50 vegan butter or margarine organic
- 75 ml water
- some coconut oil, margarine or oil for greasing organic
- 40 g vegan butter or margarine organic
- 500 g white onions organic
- 125 g chickpea flour organic
- 250 ml vegetable milk organic
- 1/2 tsp Kala Namak salt organic
- some salt & pepper to taste organic
- Mix flour, salt and vegan butter to a crumbly mass. Add the water and mix without kneading until you get a dough. Cool the dough for 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, peel and chop the onions.
- Roll out the dough on a surface covered with flour and place in a greased pie tin. Press the bottom and the edges. Prick the base tightly with a fork. Refrigerate the pie dough again for 15 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 220° Celsius.
- Melt the butter in a pan and sauté the onions for 8 to 10 minutes. Then set aside.
- Put the vegetable milk in a pan. Slowly add the chickpea flour and stir well with a whisk to prevent lumps from forming. Stir in the Kala Namak salt and heat briefly over medium heat. As soon as the liquid starts to thicken, remove from the heat and stir in the onions. Season with salt and pepper if necessary.
- Pour the filling onto the pie. Bake the pie on the lowest groove of the oven for 30 minutes.
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