Vegan bak­ing may seem impos­si­ble, espe­cially if you are some­one who has been sub­jected to some awful vegan baked goods. But it’s not veg­an­ism mak­ing them bad. Think of how many con­ven­tional baked goods you have had that were lack­lus­ter or down­right gross. Dry, crumbly cake, hard cook­ies, soggy pies, we’ve all eaten them. And let’s be hon­est.. if it was your first time eat­ing a vegan baked good don’t you think you might have been expect­ing some­thing to taste dif­fer­ent, and so it did? It’s not about what’s in it (or what’s not for that mat­ter), it about tech­nique and hav­ing a well-written recipe to work from.

But back to vegan bak­ing. No eggs? No but­ter? Ah, but there is so much to be sam­pled and tasted on the food spec­trum that not only is vegan bak­ing pos­si­ble, it’s cholesterol-free, tastes deli­cious and can be as chal­leng­ing or as sim­ple as you want it to be. You don’t need to invest in obscure, hard-to-find ingre­di­ents, you can bake delec­table cre­ations with many ingre­di­ents you have on hard or are avail­able at your local gro­cery store.

But first, a vegan bak­ing primer.

Sug­ars– Sugar cane is refined using ani­mal bone char­coal fil­ters. While the bone isn’t actu­ally processed into the sugar, it is a by-product that many veg­ans tend to avoid. This is not nor­mally true for beet sugar and also can vary, so do some online inves­ti­gat­ing or con­tact the com­pany to be sure. There are many alter­na­tive sug­ars out there, so keep an eye out and don’t be afraid to exper­i­ment. Sucanat, organic sug­ars, evap­o­rated cane juice, turbinado, the list goes on and on. And then there are the liq­uid sweet­en­ers such as agave and maple syrup. I tend to use organic cane or evap­o­rated cane juice most fre­quently. I find my best deals on organic cane at Costco, believe it or not! Your local health-food store or co-op usu­ally have great deals on sugar when you buy in bulk.

But­ter– Clearly not vegan. Oil is a great, less processed alter­na­tive that works with many recipes. If you do use oil, how­ever, you will have to adjust your other liq­uids, so it can take some per­fect­ing when veg­a­niz­ing a fam­ily favorite. There are sev­eral vegan mar­garines out there, includ­ing Earth Bal­ance (which recently changed it’s pack­ag­ing so make sure you are get­ting the vegan one and not a but­ter blend), Willow’s Run and Spec­trum. You can use it stick for stick in replac­ing but­ter, and it bakes like a charm.

I real­ize, how­ever, that not every­one has access to stores that stock explic­itly vegan mar­garine. Or even if you do, they can be pricey and, by-golly, you want to make cook­ies! There is hope! They aren’t as healthy, but there are acci­den­tally vegan mar­garines out there. I have exper­i­mented with sev­eral of them to see how well they bake and have yet to encounter a prob­lem. One that I can find read­ily in the Pac NW is Nucoa. Acci­den­tally vegan and great for bak­ing. Do some label read­ing to see what’s avail­able in your neigh­bor­hood. Vegan short­en­ing is also avail­able, so no wor­ries there either.

Milk– How now, vegan cow? Well, there is always soy milk, which is becom­ing so com­mon­place that I have even seen it at gas sta­tions! But don’t stop there, try almond milk, oat milk, rice milk, hazel­nut milk. A dif­fer­ent milk for each day of the week and they are all yummy and moo-free. For bak­ing pur­poses, I tend to use soy when I want a higher fat con­tent, for exam­ple with mak­ing a cake or a cream fill­ing. I also use almond milk and oat milk reg­u­larly with great results.

Eggs– Replac­ing eggs in baked goods seems like a daunt­ing task when you first take the plunge into vegan bak­ing, but it turns out that it’s sim­ple, tasty and effec­tive. Some egg replac­ers, or binders, work bet­ter than oth­ers, so if at first you don’t suc­ceed… well, it’ll still taste good, so stuff your face!

To replace 1 egg try:

1/4 cup mashed banana
1/4 cup unsweet­ened apple­sauce
1/4 cup pureed silken tofu
1 tbsp ground flaxseed, whipped up with 3 tbsp water (let it sit for a few min­utes after mix­ing to thicken)
1/4 cup soy yogurt
1/4 cup sour milk– nut or grain milk of your choice with a lit­tle bit of lemon juice or vine­gar to sour. (Be sure to add a lit­tle bak­ing soda to the recipe if there isn’t any already to ensure the desired chem­i­cal reac­tion.)
Egg replacer, pre­pared accord­ing to box instructions

Some work bet­ter for cer­tain things than oth­ers. I find flaxseed works best for things that are chewy or in yeasted baked goods. Apple­sauce works best in cook­ies or quick breads, and you’ll never be able to taste it. Yogurt, tofu and sour milk work won­ders in cakes. I tend to avoid the boxed egg replacer. It’s essen­tially a mix of dif­fer­ent starches. It can dry out some baked goods. In some cases where all I need is a lit­tle starch, I will use a bit of corn or tapi­oca starch. As a rule of thumb, use more liq­uidy binders in more liq­uidy baked goods. For exam­ple, I would never use sour milk in cookie dough because the dough would not hold together. Sour milk is best used in items that are in a self-contained pan like quick breads or a cake.

Some peo­ple might think it’s weird to use some of these things in their baked goods. Apple­sauce? Flaxseed? But why aren’t eggs weird? Because you are used to it. Because it’s con­ven­tional. Because, frankly, it’s habit. I have played with count­less fam­ily recipes that on my first round of veg­a­niz­ing all I did was omit the eggs and I’ll be darned– it didn’t change a thing. Don’t be afraid to try and play.

Omni­vores have one option: eggs. With all of these options, and count­less more (pump­kin puree, shred­ded pears, zuc­chini, cooked oat­meal) there are bound­less tex­tures to be refined, tak­ing each baked good to it’s full poten­tial as indi­vid­ual treats, with­out a blan­ket use of ingre­di­ents just ’cause it’s always been done that way.


0 Responses to vegan baking?!

  1. moe says:

    this was a very help­ful post, thank you so much! i got a lot out of it.

  2. sweetie says:

    excel­lent amount of detail in this post! thank you.

  3. V Chopra says:

    Great post. I am a new vegan and appre­ci­ate the info. I’ve been using egg replacer in all my recipes, so your dis­cus­sion of the var­i­ous options is really useful :)