A Beginner’s Guide to Vegan Baking with All-Natural Ingredients (Part 2)
Today we’ve got part two of Ricki’s fabulous guide to vegan baking! She’s here to tell you how you can bake without the use of eggs and milk! YES! It can be done! …
Finding reliable egg substitutes can cause anxiety when you begin to convert older recipes. Eggs provide leavening and binding to most recipes. But have no fear! There are some great choices available.
Ener-G Egg Replacer. A prepared mix that can be used in most cases. Results are consistent and directions are easy to follow.
I actually prefer not to use packaged egg replacers. Here are some of my favorite whole-foods ingredients I use to replace eggs:
Flax “Eggs.” Simply mix 1 tablespoon of ground flax with 3 tablespoons of water in a small bowl for each egg you replace, allow to sit 2-3 minutes until the mixture becomes gel-like (the texture of egg whites), then add to your recipe wherever you’d add an egg. You can replace up to 2 eggs in a recipe this way.
Silken Tofu. Use 1/4 cup silken tofu as a replacement for one egg in a recipe. Again, I wouldn’t advise using more than 2 tofu “eggs” at a time.
Ground Chia Seeds. These seeds develop a thick, viscous texture when mixed with water. All you need is one teaspoon ground chia mixed with 2 Tablespoons water for each chia “egg,” for a moist, dense product (great in carrot cake or muffins).
Fruit Purées. While good binders, many fruits will confer their own taste to the recipe. Applesauce tends to be less noticeable in the finished product; and date purée works well in chocolate desserts and others with a strong flavor of their own.
I’ve read that you can make your own vegan eggwhite substitute by whipping 1 tablespoon agar in 1 tablespoon water, then chilling the mixture and whipping again; I haven’t tried this method but it sounds promising.
Note: these substitutes are generally not recommended for desserts that rely heavily on eggs or egg whites alone, such as meringues or sponge cakes. There is a vegan meringue mix available online, and many vegan cookbooks also include their own “meringue” recipes.
Moooove Over, Milk!
Substituting for dairy milk couldn’t be easier. Vegan milks can be used one-for-one in place of dairy milk (except for canned coconut milk, which works well as a cream substitute). Options include soy, almond, rice, hemp, coconut (in a carton), and potato-based milk (sounds weird but it is really delicious!). Rice milk is thinner than the others, so add about 1/2 tsp oil per cup of rice milk to compensate.
Better than Butter:
The most common choice here is vegan margarine (Earth Balance is a popular brand) or shortening in place of butter. I prefer organic coconut oil, which, like butter, is naturally solid at room temperature. It can be blended, creamed, and mixed in every way the same as dairy butter; for each cup of dairy butter, use a cup of coconut oil.
Regular vegetable oil (such as sunflower or grapeseed) can be used as well; but use a bit less (about 2/3 cup oil instead of one cup butter), or your baked goods won’t firm up as they should.
Some Sweet Substitutions
Because it is filtered through bone char, regular cane sugar (even brown sugar) is not a suitable option for vegans. If you can, get organic evaporated cane juice (and for brown sugar, simply add 1/4-1/2 tsp organic blackstrap molasses to one cup of evaporated cane juice.)
Unrefined evaporated cane juice (brands are Sucanat, Florida Crystals, Rapadura) are made by dehydrating sugar cane juice without filtering the results, so they retain all the original vitamins and minerals of the plant. They look like a dry brown sugar and can all be used one for one in place of white sugar. Similarly, coconut sugar is a low-glycemic crystal that can be used one-for-one instead of sugar.
To create your own powdered sugar, simply whir a cup of dry sweetener, above, with two tablespoons of cornstarch in a blender until powdered (you can also use a coffee grinder, but will have to do it in small batches). Use as you would any other powdered sugar.
Other vegan sweeteners are usually liquid. Agave nectar, from the sap of the agave cactus, is a low-glycemic syrup often referred to as “vegan honey.” You can also find brown rice syrup, made from fermented brown rice, maple syrup, yacon syrup and coconut nectar. Yacon looks like molasses but boasts a very low glycemic index (some brands list it as “0”); it tastes like a combination of dark molasses with a touch of apple cider vinegar. Coconut nectar looks and tastes more like caramel (yum!).
When switching up a liquid for sugar, use only about 2/3 the amount of wet versus dry sweetener, and increase the dry ingredients in the recipe by about 25%. For instance, if a recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of flour, begin with 2/3 cup liquid sweetener plus 1-1/4 cups flour. You’ll likely need to experiment a bit when you convert old recipes until you find the ratios that work best for your particular dessert.
For the best chance of vegan baking success, start with small and substitute only one ingredient at a time. Once you’re familiar with the full range of vegan baking, you’ll be whipping up spectacular desserts in no time—and your friends and family will no doubt be grateful for all the delicious–and compassionate–confections you offer.
Tags: agave nectar, brown rice syrup, cane juice, chia seeds, coconut nectar, diet dessert dogs, egg replacer, flax eggs, fruit purees, maple syrupe, powdered sugar, silken tofu, vegan, vegan baking, vegan eggs, vegan milk, vegan substitutes, vegetable oil, yacon syrup