Dipping your toe into the world of plant-based baking? Making delicious baked goods without traditional dairy products can be intimidating. Staples like milk, butter and eggs play an important role in most classic recipes. The good news is delicious vegan recipes are becoming easier and easier to find both in cookbooks and online. The tricky part is if you have a family recipe you are looking to convert to plant-based. You want something deliciously plant-based without letting down Grandma! Below are a few tips to finding success in the plant-based baking world:
1. Find a suitable fat alternative. While most traditional recipes call for butter, there are plenty of dairy-free alternatives that work well. Finding the right replacement may depend on the recipe. When starting out, avoid recipes that involve lamination or flakey crusts and test out some cookies, a cobbler or cake. Margarine can be a good butter-like substitute, but if you would like to avoid hydrogenated oils, then coconut oil and olive oil can both be good options.
2. Decide on an egg replacement. Some brands offer packaged egg replacements, but you may have something in your cupboard that will work just as well. Ground flax seeds mixed with water (referred to as a “flax egg”) can be a great solution. Mashed banana or canned pumpkin can also work really well in recipes that are naturally more dense. If you are looking for some rise, consider adding in some vinegar and baking soda.
3. Choose a plant-based beverage to use in place of dairy. It is important to consider both the viscosity of the milk and the flavor when making this choice. Coconut milk is very thick and can make some desserts too dense. Almond milk can sometimes make a recipe too thin. PlantFolk Oat milk is our favorite for baking because the consistency is similar to milk and the taste is smooth with a subtle sweetness. You can replace traditional milk for Oat Milk in a 1:1 ratio in most recipes. If your recipe calls for buttermilk, you can add a splash of apple cider vinegar to your nondairy milk and use that as a replacement.
4. Swap honey and other sweeteners for more nutrient dense options. If you are following a vegan diet, honey is off the table as a sweetener. Thankfully, there are lots of great sweetener options that have some added benefits compared to white table sugar. Molasses is a great option for spice cakes and festive cookies and is a great source of iron, selenium and copper. Brown sugar also has a small amount of molasses. Coconut sugar is a good source of inulin and healthy fats and has 25% less sucrose than white cane sugar. Last but not least, maple syrup is a great option loaded with antioxidants and just as delicious in baked goods as it is on pancakes!
5. Don’t be afraid to experiment! If you are attempting to make a classic or family-favorite recipe into a plant-based version of your own, it may take some trial and error. Researching how different ingredients perform and finding similar recipes on popular vegan blogs can both be helpful. The more time you spend in the kitchen the more confident you will be in your plant-based baking skills!
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