Any baking recipe can be made vegan. In fact, finding vegan substitutes in baked good recipes without compromising the taste or texture is very easy to do once you know the basics.
Butter is undoubtedly one of the most used ingredients in baking. It lends an unmistakable richness and flavour to all baked items. Luckily, butter can easily be substituted with an array of plant-based options.
- If your recipe calls for melted butter, you can easily replace it with an oil, olive or other (such as canola, avocado or peanut), in a 1 to 1 ratio. If the recipe calls for ½ cup of melted butter, simply add ½ cup of oil. Some oils are more flavourful than others and can add an aroma that can complement your final recipe.
- If you need chilled butter for a recipe, such as for a pie dough, use a cold vegan butter alternative. Vegan butters tend to melt faster than dairy butter so work quickly.
- Butter can also be replaced with coconut oil or butter, nut butters, mashed avocado or applesauce.
Eggs are some of the most important players in a baking recipe. They add structure and stability, moisture, richness and volume. Fortunately, there are several options for replacing eggs in a recipe.
- One whole egg can be replaced with a flaxseed or chia seed “egg”. Simply mix 1 tablespoon of chia seeds or flax seeds with 3 tablespoons of water. Let the mixture sit until it gels, then it’s ready to use! If you must replace more than 3 eggs, it’s advised to use 3 chia or flax seed eggs, and replace the rest with one of the alternatives listed below.
- If the eggs’ presence in the recipe is simply to add moisture, you can replace it with whipped silken tofu (¼ cup per egg), mashed banana (one medium banana per egg) or unsweetened applesauce (¼ cup per egg). The banana and applesauce will add natural sweetness to the final products so the sugar quantity in your recipe can be reduced.
- Whipped egg whites in meringues and mousses can easily be replaced with aquafaba, the liquid that canned chickpeas come submerged in. Drain your chickpeas and whip the liquid into beautiful soft or firm peaks just as you would egg whites. You can add sugar to sweeten your whipped topping. One egg white is the equivalent of about 3 tablespoons of aquafaba.
- If none of these options appeal to you or are suitable to your recipe, commercial vegan egg replacers are also available.
Milk protein adds moisture and flavour to baked goods. Baked recipes often ask for whole milk because the fat also adds richness. Milk also helps give baked goods their golden colour.
- Replace any milk in your recipe with any preferred plant-based milk in a 1 to 1 ratio. Some plant-based milks such as oat, rice and soy are ideal because they’re more neutral in taste and similar to their dairy equivalent. Others, like coconut milk, will lend their particular flavour to your recipe.
- Plant-based milk beverages can have added sugar and an adjustment to the sugar quantity in your recipe may be needed.
- Plant-based milks come in an array of fat content, from skim to full fat. Most recipes will ask for full fat milk, which should be replaced with an option that contains a similar fat content.
4. Cream, yogurt, sour cream or evaporated milk
The addition of a creamy ingredient to a baking recipe is done for several reasons. It can add tanginess, moisture, texture, lightness and/or richness to your recipe.
- Unsweetened coconut cream is a good 1 to 1 replacement for dairy cream and it even whips up like regular cream. If you like the taste of coconut, don’t hesitate to add it to your recipe. It may even enhance the taste of certain fruit-based recipes.
- Cashew cream is more neutral tasting and rich, and can be easily made at home. Soak one cup of cashews in 1½ cups of water for about 30 minutes, then blend until smooth.
- Non-dairy creams and yogurts are of course, also readily available everywhere in a variety of flavours and fat contents.
Buttermilk is the rich liquid left over after butter is churned. The lactic acid in buttermilk reacts with baking soda in a recipe to create a leavening effect. Because of this reaction, buttermilk cannot be replaced with milk.
- Buttermilk is a common ingredient in pancake batter and certain baked items. It can easily be made at home by measuring 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice into one measuring cup then filling up the cup with any plant-based milk. Stir and let the mixture sit for 10 minutes and it’s ready to use! Easy!
One wouldn’t think of honey as a non-vegan ingredient but it is since it’s produced by animals.
- Honey can be easily replaced in a 1 to 1 proportion with maple, agave or corn syrup.
There are also new commercial products that are vegan “honeys” with an undistinguishable taste that can fool the most discerning palate.