How to swap this for that to make it vegan

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have been dabbling a bit in vegan baking of late.  I guess it was triggered by veganuary, albeit I did explore vegan baking a bit when I was the prep chef at Lynwood & Co.  Although I will write about my recent vegan bakes shortly, I thought that I would share the fundamentals of vegan baking with you.

As you will be aware, the principal of veganism is that no animal-derived ingredients are used or consumed.  This means that when ‘baking vegan’ certain traditional baking ingredients e.g. eggs, milk, butter, honey etc. need to be replaced with non animal-derived ingredients.

With so many non-dairy milks on the market, replacing milk in baking is pretty straight-forward.  Common varieties are soya, almond, oat, rice and coconut.  It is best to use a unsweetened variety of non-dairy milk when substituting for milk as adding a sweetened non-dairy milk, without adjusting the sugar in the recipe is likely to affect the overall sweetness of the bake.  Hazelnut milk and chocolate soya milk can also be used when baking chocolate cakes, albeit that the sugar in the recipe will need to be reduced.

Quite a few recipes call for buttermilk.  For a simple buttermilk replacement, add 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar per 250ml of soya milk.  Stir with a fork, and leave to curdle for a few minutes before using.

As with milk, replacing oil and fat in vegan recipes is also quite straight forward.  The role of oil and fat in baking is three-fold: (1) bind ingredients together; (2) add moisture and (3) provide depth of flavour.

A range of oils can be used in vegan baking.  A commonly used oil is rapeseed oil as it is light in flavour, as well as can withstand high temperatures.   Coconut oil, is also good for baking, albeit that it has a more distinctive flavour than rapeseed oil.  As coconut oil is solid at room temperature but liquid when melted, it is quite versatile i.e. it can be used to replace a solid or liquid fat.

Although vegan margarine is more processed than the likes of coconut oil, it does have a role to play in vegan baking.  Vegan margarine is most suitable for bakes which require the ‘taste’ that the vegan margarine offers e.g.  cookies.

If you are thinking of replacing butter with oil, for half a cup of butter (110g) use third a cup of oil.

Again, replacing honey in vegan baking is relatively straightforward.  There are a variety of alternative sweeteners to honey e.g maple syrup, agave nectar.  You can also use sweeteners such as rice and date syrup, albeit that date syrup has a stronger flavour and is darker in colour so is only suitable for some bakes e.g. flapjacks or bakes containing dates.   Sugar beet, granulated sugar, labelled suitable for vegans is also a suitable for vegan baking.

Although at first sight it might appear that eggs are more difficult to replace than other ingredients, there are in fact a number of egg substitutes.  As www.onegreenplanet.org suggest ‘Why did it ever come about that eggs got used in a cake in the first place? Well who knows, especially when there are so many cheaper-to-use and just-as-effective options out there – as war-time housewives discovered when eggs were rationed and in short supply.’

That being said, eggs or egg substitutes have an important role to play in baking.  They are used to bind, help retain moisture, create the crumb texture, lift, thicken and add colour and flavour.  Common egg substitutes and their uses include:

  • Apple sauce (3-4 tbsp unsweetened apple sauce): brownies, muffins and cakes
  • Chia seeds (1 tbsp of ground chia seeds with 3 tbsp of water, allowed to sit for 5-10 minutes until thickened – mix with fork before adding to other ingredients): cookies
  • Mashed banana (half a banana): brownies, muffins and cakes
  • Ground flaxseed mixed with water (1 tbsp of ground flaxseeds with 3 tbsp of water): good for muffins, breads and cookies
  • Silken tofu (3-4 tbsp of silken tofu processed in blender until smooth): brownies, custard pies and thick cakes
  • Soy yoghurt (3-4 tbsp)
  • Starches (2 tbsp arrowroot, cornstarch, potato starch with 3 tbsp water): breads and cakes
  • Vegan buttermilk (soya milk mixed with apple cider vinegar): for bakes requiring buttermilk
  • Mashed vegetables (3-4 tbsp mashed potato, sweet potato, canned pumpkin, canned squash): savoury breads and muffins.
  • Vinegar and baking soda (1 tsp baking soda with 1 tbsp of white or apple cider vinegar): cakes and quick breads.

(Sources: www.veganuary.com and www.onegreenplanet.org)

And for something a little different,  aquafaba (brine from chick peas) meringues:

  •  90ml  aquafaba (liquid from a can of chickpeas)
  • ¼  tsp Cream of Tartar
  • 100g white sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

Method

  • Place the chickpea liquid and cream of tartar into the bowl of an electric mixer.
  • Start at slow speed and whip until foamy.
  • Gradually increase the speed until white and glossy and stiff peaks start to form.
  • Add the sugar in slowly while whipping at fast speed.
  • Add in the vanilla.
  • Keep whipping until glossy stiff peaks form.
  • Preheat your oven to 121°C.
  • Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  • Pipe the meringue mix into cookie shapes onto the parchment lined tray.
  • Place the meringues into the oven and bake for 45 minutes.  After 45 minutes, switch off the oven but DON’T OPEN IT.  Leave the oven off, but don’t open it for one hour.
  • Remove the meringues from the oven after the combined cooking time.
  • When cool place in an airtight container and store them in the fridge.

(Source: www.lovingitvegan.com)

Although I have talked about vegan substitutes in traditional recipes, there are many vegan recipes on the Internet, which don’t require any substitution at all.

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