When I first started having my friends and family taste my baked creations - my dad would always ask me "Is this real cake?" or "Is this a real cookie?" That's what I was up against people. Luckily he's come around after seeing that Vegan food can taste just as good as it's non-vegan counterpart. And let's be honest. My Vegan desserts are probably more real than anything he's been eating. I know to a lot of people - the thought of "vegan baking" may seem overwhelming. No eggs, milk, or butter? How else are you supposed to make delicious desserts? It really isn't that difficult - once you get the hang of it. In reality, baked goods don't need animal ingredients to work.
Eggs give moisture and help bind your baked goods, milk also gives moisture and that special creamy taste, and butter gives your desserts that delicious fatty, buttery taste. But guess what? There are endless Vegan options to use to make all of your favorite desserts and the best part is - they're cruelty free and in most cases much healthier for you. Much of this information comes from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's amazing book The Joy of Vegan Baking. I'll show you my favorite Vegan baking subsitutions + some other sure fire ways to make yourself some delicous and healthier Vegan desserts!
- Applesauce - My guess is that you've noticed that I put applesauce in all my cakes and dessert breads. Not only does it help in binding the dessert, but it also helps in keeping it moist without adding any cholesterol or added fat. 1/4 of unsweetened applesauce is equivelant to 1 egg.
- Vinegar & Baking Soda - Another one of my favorite ways to give my cakes and sweet bread that "lift" is to add vinegar and baking soda. The chemicals in baking soda form bubbles when combined with acidic foods such as vinegar. When your desserts are heated - the bubbles expand and give your dessert that extra "lift". My rule of thumb with soda and vinegar is usually 2 tsp of vinegar + 2 tsp of baking soda = 1 egg. I always use apple cider vinegar, but white distilled works just fine too.
- Mashed Banana- Bananas are a little bit more difficult to use as an egg replacer. There really isn't an exact measurment to equal one egg, but I go with a half of a medium banana, mashed is equal to one egg. Bananas work really well for binding and giving moisture to your favorite desserts. Also - remember that when using a banana as an egg replacer that your dessert will have a banana flavor!
- Ground Flaxseeds - I've never actually used ground flax in any dessert recipe as an egg replacer, but I've heard from many people that it works really well. Since flax has a nutty flavor, I would only use it in something that already has a nutty or grainy texture. Think oatmeal cookies or bran muffins. To use ground flax as an egg replacement - whisk together 1 tbsp of ground flaxseed with 3 tbsp of warm water in a food processor (or blender) until the mixture becomes thick. That mixture equals 1 egg.
- Packaged "Egg Replacer" - This was always my "go to" way of replacing eggs in my desserts. The two brand that I know of are EnerG and Bob's Red Mill. It's a blend of raising and stabilizing ingredients to help you easily make your favorite Vegan desserts. It's a great product to have in your pantry since it lasts forever, but I've found that the above options work better in giving your desserts that classic flavor and texture.
Replacing the milk in your recipes is a pretty basic task. You can use any non-dairy milk you like and swap it 1 for 1 in any of your favorite recipes. The main thing is finding which one you like - taste wise. I remember the first time I tried soy milk. I thought it was disgusting. It was grainy and beany tasting and really not pleasant. While I can now tolerate the taste, soy milk is still not my favorite. Now a days there are so many options out there for Vegans and those allergice to dairy: Soy, Rice, Almond, Coconut, Hazelnut, Oat, Cashew, Flax, Hemp are all really great choices! Just taste test and find your favorite!
Butter is another simple ingredient to swap in your recipes. There are so many margarines and non-dairy butters on the market these days. When you're choosing a margarine make sure you read the ingredients label carefully. Just because something is called "margarine" doesn't mean it doesn't contain dairy ingredients. Another thing I watch for is choosing a brand of margarine that doesn't include hydrogenated oils in the ingredients. My ultimate favorite brand of non-dairy butter is Earth Balance Spread. It's the perfect replacement for butter in any recipe. The only downside is that the have yet to offer a unsalted variety. If you're using Earth Balance in baking - be sure to reduce or omit the salt in the recipe. Earth Balance offers the Original Buttery Spread, Original Whipped, Made with Olive Oil, and Soy Free in tubs. They also have the Original Butter Spread available in sticks, which is a great time saver when you're baking! It'll take some tast testing to find what your taste preferences are, but you'll get the hang of it!
For certain recipes - you'll notice that I use shortening instead of butter. It's mostly in cookies, frostings, and other things that the salt in Earth Balance Spread would overpower. Luckily Earth Balance also makes shortening sticks! If you can't find Earth Balance shortening - Spectrum is another great option!
Are you still looking to get the delicious buttermilk taste for your favorite buttermilk biscuits or buttermilk pancakes? For every cup of buttermilk replace it with 1 cup of non-dairy milk + 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Allow the milk to stand for 10 minuts, stir, and that's it! You've got yourself some vegan buttermilk!
Don't be fooled by companies that call their products "Non-Dairy Creamers" (Like Coffee Mate). They're non dairy creamers...that contain dairy! Like non-dairy milks, there are many vegan cream substitutes on the market to choose from. My favorites are So Delicious non-dairy Coconut Creamer, Silk Soy Creamer, or MimicCreme's Almond and Cashew Cream. They also come in a variety of flavors like Original, Hazelnut, and French Vanilla!
If you can't find any vegan creamers in your area, try looking for whole fat canned coconut milk. It's the perfect all natural way to replace cream in your favorite baked goods!
If you have any questions on Vegan baking substitutions or if you have another ingredient that needs to be substituted, email me at Matthew@vegan-heartland.com!