Baking is a science. Unlike cooking, adding an extra dash of this or a splash of that can ruin that delicious batch of muffins you were working so hard on. There are baking rules one must follow in order to execute the perfect baked goods. For vegans, there’s a completely different set of rules to abide by. Most cookies, cakes and pastries are made from butter, milk and eggs: three big no-no’s for vegans. Adapting traditional baked goods and making them vegan-friendly is not difficult; it simply requires following the right substitutions.
- 1. Going Eggless
Traditional baking uses eggs for two purposes: binding and leavening.
The best substitutes for making your baked goods fluffy and light are chia seeds, flax seeds, bananas, sweet potatoes and baking soda.
- 1 banana = 1 egg
- ¼ cup sweet potato puree = 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons baking soda + 2 tablespoons warm water + ½ teaspoon oil = 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon ground flax + 3 tablespoons water = 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds + 3 tablespoons water = 1 egg
- If using seeds, leave the flax or chia in water for 10-15 minutes until they become gelatinous, then add to your baking mixture.
Other baked goods need eggs in order to bind the dough together and make a structured baked good. The protein within the eggs binds with other proteins (for instance from the flour) giving the baking good the structure it needs. Great binding substitutes include chia seeds, corn starch, potato starch, tapioca starch or arrowroot starch. Many people have sensitivities to corn and potato starch, so tapioca and arrowroot are great replacements.
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds + 3 tablespoon water = 1 egg
- 2 tablespoon cornstarch + 2 tablespoon water = 1 egg
- 2 tablespoon potato starch + 2 tablespoon water = 1 egg
- 2 tablespoon tapioca starch + 2 tablespoon water = 1 egg
- 2 tablespoon arrowroot starch + 2 tablespoon water = 1 egg
Mix the seeds or starch with water and wait until it becomes gelatinous.
- 2. Bye Bye Butter
Butter is a staple in many baked goods because it provides a necessary fat. It also provides great flavour and also gives some baked goods a flaky texture. Vegans can use coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil and fruit/veggie purees to replace butter.
You do not need to replace coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil 1:1 with butter. You can try using 1-3 tablespoons less.
You can also use squash, sweet potato, pumpkin puree and apple sauce to replace butter and reduce the fat in the baked food. Replace ¾ cup fruit/veggie puree for 1 cup butter.
- 3. No Mo’ Milk
Many baking recipes call for milk, buttermilk and cream. Since dairy is also a no-no in the vegan rulebook, non-dairy milks are great substitutes. It’s sometimes better to substitute with non-dairy milks that have a higher protein content such as soy milk or almond milk (make sure your soy milk is organic). The replacement of milk with non-dairy milk is 1:1.
To make your own non-dairy buttermilk, add 2 tablespoons lemon juice or vinegar with 1 cup non-dairy milk (preferably soy).
For the recipes that call for cream, the best substitute is canned coconut milk. The thick top layer of the canned coconut milk is a great replacement and has a wonderful added benefit of the coconut flavour.
There you have it, delicious vegan baking substitutes to make fluffy, flakey and delicious baked goods. Although baking is indeed a science, vegan baking can be a series of trial and error, so experiment away and let us know about your favourite vegan baking tips and tricks.
Tamara Green is co-founder of The Living Kitchen,
and a Holistic Nutritionist and Natural Cook. She combines her
knowledge of nutrition and passion for cooking good food to work with
clients to create lasting changes in their lives.
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