How to Bake Vegan: Substitutions for Common Ingredients

>> Monday, December 7, 2009

Maybe you know someone who is vegan -- meaning, he/she doesn't eat animal products (like eggs and milk, for example). Or maybe you have a food allergy. Perhaps you're just looking for a way to make those death-by-chocolate cupcakes healthier (as if that was possible -- but, I assure you, it is). Whatever your motivation, just follow these easy steps, and you can make pretty much any baking recipe VEGAN.

Common Ingredient #1: Eggs. There are multiple ways to work around eggs in a recipe. For example, 1/4 cup applesauce equals one egg. 1/4 cup pumpkin puree will also do the trick. Want to add some more flavor? Try 1/2 a large, very ripe banana mashed. Not keen on adding different flavors to your recipe? Try 2 Tbsp flour, 1/2 Tbsp shortening, 1/2 tsp baking powder and 2 tsp water (whisked together, of course).

Common Ingredient #2: Butter. This one isn't quite as easy -- but can still be done. There are many margarines and butter substitutes on the market. One of my favorites is Earth Balance. Shortening, like Crisco, is also vegan, but not as healthy. You may also use oil (like Canola). Just remember, for each cup of butter called for in the recipe, use 3/4 cup of oil.

Common Ingredient #3: Milk. You have a lot of options available to you with this substitution. One of my favorites is substituting light coconut milk for the milk in any given recipe. You may also use plain soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, etc. -- which are available at most grocery stores in the natural foods department. Just keep in mind your final result when picking a substitute, as the flavor of the "milk" will have an impact.

Common Ingredient #4: Chocolate chips (chocolate in general). For this one, you must read your food package labels. Some chocolate chips (of course, not those that are milk chocolate) are vegan -- like semi-sweet or dark chocolate. Just check the label to ensure they don't include dairy. You may also substitute carob chips in cookie recipes. Sunspire makes a great semi-sweet chocolate chip that I use frequently. These "special" chocolates can be found in your natural foods section at the grocery store.

Of course, this isn't an exhaustive list. And I'll be sure to post more tips & tricks in future posts -- but, for now, these are the basics. Master these four key substitutions, and you can convert most any "normal" baking recipe into a vegan one. Not only that, you'll become more aware of your flexibility with baking. Really, that's a big plus. It doesn't need to be a rigid practice. Instead, baking can be an art.

Enjoy! And check out these recent vegan recipes:

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