We’ve all heard the old adage before: “Baking is a science. Cooking is an art.” The truth is, even though ingredients undergo chemical reactions during the process of both cooking and baking, cooking allows you more leeway if you stray from a given recipe’s specifications. When it comes to baking, however, precision is key. Every ingredient has to be measured exactly, and every component added at the right time, in order for your final product to coalesce into the masterpiece you intended to create.
While baking may seem daunting — especially if you’ve never attempted to bake vegan before — it doesn’t have to be. The good news is, even though there are plenty of misconceptions that may have lead you to believe that vegan baking is even more expensive, arduous, and complicated than traditional making, that’s all a myth. Baking vegan treats calls for ingredients that are often just as accessible and affordable as their classic counterparts; in fact, you probably already have most of the substitutions you need in your kitchen.
Below, we’ve compiled an ultimate go-to guide for vegan baking. Looking for a natural, vegan sweetener to use in your cake base? We’ve got you covered. Wondering what in the world you can use to replace eggs in your old go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe? We have your back there, too! So, without further ado:
Why do we need flour in baking? Flour serves as one of the most basic ingredients in baked goods, and most recipes usually require that you mix your flour first with other dry ingredients (such as baking powder, baking soda, yeast, or dry sugars). Flour acts as a thickening agent in many recipes and determines the final texture of your product.
If you’re baking gluten-free, then this guide to gluten-free flours is a great introductory course, but we’ll break it down succinctly here, too: Grain flours include amaranth, teff, quinoa, brown rice, white rice, sorghum, and certified gluten-free oat flour. Nut flours include almond, hazelnut, and peanut flour. Grain-free and nut-free flours include coconut, chickpea, cassava, buckwheat, sesame seed meal, sunflower seed meal, banana, and soy flour. Remember, you can also use gums, such as xanthan gum or guar gum, as flour replacers in gluten-free baking.
Many traditional baking recipes call for traditional milk; for alternatives, check out this plant-based milk guide to help you determine which variety is going to best suit your baking needs. Reference this guide to see the nutritional breakdown of many common kinds of plant-based milk, such as soy, almond, cashew, rice, hemp, oat, and coconut.
If you want to make your own vegan butter, our Food Monster App has your back. Here’s a recipe for Homemade Butter, a recipe for Creamy Cashew Butter, one for Palm-Oil Free and Soy-Free Butter, and a guide on how to make your own vegan butter if you want more resources.
Want to just buy a replacement? That’s cool! Here’s a list of vegan butters that are available to purchase and use in place of traditional dairy butter. You can also reference this guide for some handy tips on how to successfully bake with coconut butter.
Some non-traditional swaps that are nevertheless helpful include using bananas as a replacement for common dairy foods (for instance, you can swap out creamed bananas for sour cream in cake recipes, or blend them up to make the base of thick, creamy, non-dairy ice cream), and swapping out butter with nut butters instead. Try out Almond Butter if you’re interested.
You can also opt to swap out one egg for 1/4 cup of applesauce in some baked desserts, although this could lend your final product an appley flavor. Avocados sometimes stand in for oil too, like in this recipe for Avocado and Date Brownies With Sea Salt.
Eggs are used in cooking and baking as binders, leavening agents, or for taste. This guide will help you understand which egg-replacement is appropriate to use in a variety of different recipes, and why, while this guide specifies some particular swaps you can make.
Depending on what you’re making, different kinds of tofus and non-dairy yogurts can fill in for eggs, as can vegan mayonnaise. Check out this recipe for Baked Dessert Tofu With Black Currants, Raspberries, and Blueberries for an example of a tofu-based dessert.
Aquafaba and cream of tartar are good subs (check out this recipe for Conchas: Mexican Sweet Bread for an example of how to use aquafaba), and flax and chia seeds can activate when mixed with water to make a binder similar to eggs as well. Egg replacements in powdered forms, such as the Follow Your Heart VeganEgg and Ener-G can be bought from health food stores. For more healthy egg-replacement ideas, check out this guide, which recommends some innovative ways to use avocados, fruit, and more.
Okay, you’re ready to begin putting your new knowledge to the test. Keep this Ultimate Vegan Baking Graphic Guide handy, Here are a few recipes to try out.
First, read our guide on chewy versus crunchy cookies and how to nail either one, depending on your goals (and make sure to check out this guide to help you know How to Ensure Your Gluten-Free Baked Goods are Moist).
If you want to try your hand at making a classic, we suggest this recipe for Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies. These Chocolate Crinkle Cookies are nice and crunchy, and these Caramel Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies make for a rich, chewy dessert.
Wanna make caramel apples but unsure how to do it the plant-based way? We have a guide for dairy-free caramel sauce. And if you’re worried that vegan frosting is hard to handle, don’t worry — there are many “accidentally vegan” frostings on the market to purchase, but you can also read this guide on how to make rich, decadent vegan frosting at home. We like this recipe for Cookie Cake With Fudge Frosting, this Raw Carrot Cake With Maple Cashew Frosting, and these Rose Water Cupcakes With Buttercream Frosting.
P.S.: Make sure to spread some of that smooth chocolate frosting over vegan brownies!
If you want to make some classic sweet pies, we recommend beginning with this Apple Pie. Of course, Banana Cream Pies are always crowd-pleasers, as are Triple Berry Hand Pies, and this gluten-free 3-Step Healthier Peanut Butter Pie.
And if you’re looking for some good pizza crust recipes, this guide on How to Make a Yeast-Free Pizza Crust is handy. We also love this Potato Pizza Crust, and this recipe for gluten-free Homemade Pizza Crust.
So there you have it! Your ultimate go-to guide for all things vegan baking. We also highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 15,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day. Check it out!
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