Healthy and Vegan Baking Substitutions/Replacements
Now you can have your cake and eat it too. With these simple substitutions and baking tips you can adapt any recipe into a vegan recipe or a healty recipe with the same great results.
*****How to Replace Sugar in Recipes
The following replace 1 cup of sugar in any recipe:
- 3/4 cup Agave Nectar, Reduce liquids by 1/3
- 3/4 cup Barley Malt Syrup, Reduce liquids by 1/4
- 1 cup Brown Rice Syrup, Reduce liquids by 1/4
- 2/3 Date Sugar (do not reduce liquids)
- 1 cup Fruit Syrup, Reduce liquids by 1/4
- 3/4 cup Honey, Reduce liquids by 1/8
- 3/4 Maple Syrup; Reduce liquids by 1/8
- 1 cup Pure Maple Syrup; Reduce liquids by 3 tbsp, add 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 cup Sucanat (do not reduce liquids)
- 1 tsp powdered Stevia (do not reduce liquid)
You can also reduce the original called for amount of sugar by one-forth. For example, if the recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar you can safely reduce it to 3/4 cup of sugar without running into problems.
*****How to Replace Fat in Recipes
The following replace fats (oil, butter, margarine) in a 1:1 ratio
- Applesauce - applesauce is virtually flavorless when used in fat-free baking and usually does not effect the texture or denisty. Baked goods made with applesauce can still be light and fluffy while remaining healthful and moist. Try this popular fat-free vegan recipe for Carrot Cake Cupcakes.
- Pureed beans - beans add a boost of protein but also tend to make baked goods denser and fudgey. Beans work best in recipes for brownies and oatmeal cookies. For appearances and taste, be sure to match your beans with your baked goods, using black beans for dark and chocolate treats and white beans for light-colored treats. Try this almost fat-free vegan recipe for Black Bean Brownies.
- Canned pure pumpkin - canned pumpkin works as an excellent fat replacer and adds a nice hint of pumpkin to baked goods. Try it with muffins, chocolatey treats and anything with oatmeal or spices.
- Shredded zucchini - using shredded zucchini is a great way to slip vegetables into a treat while also cutting the fat. The zucchini really lends itself to the flavors in the baked goods and also keeps it moist. You cannot see, smell or taste the zucchini when used in chocolate treats, fooling even the pickiest children. Try these Chocolate-Zucchini Muffins and see how well zucchini works as a fat substitute.
- Non-hydrogenated Tofutti Cream Cheese works as an excellent replacement for shortening in dough and biscuit recipes where butter or shortening is supposed to be cut into the flour or dough. Try this vegan recipe for low-fat whole wheat biscuits.
*****Substitutions for Milk
There are a variety of non-dairy milk beverages on the market that can replace milk in recipes. They come sweetened and unsweetened, flavored and plain and are derived from many sources. Rice milk, Soy milk, Oat Milk, Almond Milk, Hemp Milk and Coconut Milk are just a few of the many options. Any of these non-dairy milks can replace milk 1:1 in any baking recipe. There are also many low fat and fat-free non-dairy milks on the market.
When baking, its best to use sweetened or unsweetened plain milk and vanilla if you are in a pinch (but reduce the amount of vanilla extract called for in a recipe).
*****Substitutions for Buttermilk
To replace buttermilk, combine 1 cup of soy milk with 1 tsp of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Whisk until foamy and bubbly. This soy buttermilk mixture can replace buttermilk 1:1 in any baking recipe.
*****Substitutions for Butter and Shortening
Margarine, vegan butters such as Earth Balance, and oil can replace butter 1:1 in any recipe. Likewise margarine, vegan butters or vegetable shortening can be used to replace animal shortening in any recipe.
*****Substitutions for Egg Replacement
Bananas, flax seeds, applesauce, cornstarch — there are so many ways to replace eggs!
*****Substitutions for All-Purpose Flour
- Whole wheat pastry flour - whole wheat pastry flour is just as light and fluffy as all-purpose flour but has not been nearly as processed and still contains fiber, vitamins and other nutrients.
- White whole wheat flour - if you can’t find whole wheat pastry flour, try using white whole wheat flour. It’s not as light as whole wheat pastry but it is still lighter than whole wheat flour.
- Whole wheat flour - whole wheat flour is a heathy substitution but often makes baked goods heavy and more dense.
- Spelt flour - spelt is light and fluffy and adds a nice nutty taste to baked goods. While not gluten-free, it is a great option for those looking to use less wheat but do not have an allergy.
- Gluten-free all purpose blends - usually made from bean based flours, gluten-free all-purpose blends often add a boost of protein and may also be lower in calories than wheat flours.
General Baking Tips
- Always spoon your flour into your measuring cup lightly and gently. Scooping flour out of the bag or eye-balling your measurement will lead you astray by about two ounces. Any overages in flour will result in dense baked goods or other failures.
- Gently stir the batter until just combined unless the directions state otherwise. Over stirring or whipping the batter intensely will negatively effect the end result of your baked good.
- Know your oven temperature and find where the hot spots are using a oven thermometer.
- When cooking fat-free, try not to bake over 350F regardless of what the original recipe states. Your baked goods may burn or dry out at a higher temperature with the fats removed.
- Be careful about how many changes and adaptions you make in a recipe. When making a change or substitution, think about the big picture and ask yourself, “What does that ingredient do?” Some recipes can handle a lot of substitutions and adaptions, others cannot.
- Key baking ingredients such as baking powder and baking soda cannot be substituted or swapped. It is also recommended you do not increase or decrease the called for amount.
- Baking pans change cooking times. Be mindful of what baking pan you are using. Is it a regular non-stock, glass or a dark pan?
Fixing Sticking Problems with Fat-Free Baking
- “Sticking” is the biggest problem with fat-free baking. Use non-stick pans when possible or in the alternative, use parchment paper or lightly grease your pan before baking. If you are using paper cups, be sure to spray the liners with an oil spray can first. Allow the baked goods to fully cool before trying to peel the liners off.