3 Dairy Substitutes to Make Baking Vegan Desserts a Piece of Cake
Going vegan is growing in popularity. Beyonce’s vegan meal delivery service, James Cameron’s vegan school and concerns about the impact animal agriculture has on our health and environmental sustainability is drawing main-stream media attention to the animal-free lifestyle.
With increased interest in and curiosity about going vegan, concerns are often raised about giving up foods like baked goods that traditionally rely on butter, eggs and milk for production. Reducing your intake of animal-based foods doesn’t have to cramp your cookie consumption. It’s actually really easy to make animal-free versions of your favorite cookies, cakes, muffins, brownies and more with some simple recipe substitutions. Here are three dairy substitutes to make yummy vegan desserts.
Dairy-free milk alternatives abound on grocery store shelves. You can purchase vegan milks made from almonds, cashews, soy, hemp, oats, quinoa, hazelnuts, coconut and other animal-free ingredients or, to avoid unnecessary additives, just make your own at home. Recipes calling for traditional dairy milk can be made vegan by using any non-dairy milk alternative. Note that if a recipe calls for whole milk or cream, it is best to use a higher-fat milk like coconut milk to best replicate the consistency. If you’re making a savory recipe, be sure to use unsweetened non-dairy milk to avoid unnecessary added sugar.
Eggs are used in baking to add structure, leavening, color and flavor to baked goods. Though it is difficult to replicate an egg’s unique molecular structure and properties when baking without animal products, there are several suitable vegan options. Commercial egg replacers made from wheat gluten (like Bob’s Red Mill) or tapioca flour (like Ener-G) are designed to substitute eggs in baked goods that require a leavening agent. Silken tofu is another vegan egg alternative with a quarter-cup of tofu replacing the equivalent of one egg. For a less processed whole food option at home, you can make a “flax egg” or “chia egg” by combining 1 tablespoon of ground flax seed (or 1 tablespoon of chia seeds) with 3 tablespoons of water to substitute one egg. The ground flax and chia seeds will absorb water some of the water giving it a gelatinous consistency like an egg white.
Butter is used to add fat and flavor to baked goods and can easily be swapped out for plant-based oils. Vegan butter-like spreads and sticks (such as EarthBalance) are readily available in most grocery stores and can be substituted for butter. A less processed option is to use coconut oil, which can be used solid at room temperature or melted into a liquid oil depending on what is required by the recipe.