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- Why Eggs and Butter Are So Important in Baking
- Vegan Binders for Baking
- Vegan Substitutes for Butter
- Trial and Error
Vegan Substitutes For Butter & More
Chances are you began eating a plant-based diet in hopes to live a healthier lifestyle. Although the typical vegan is pictured to eat nothing more than kale and avocado toast, it is fair to say that even vegans enjoy indulging themselves in an unhealthy treat every once and a while. If you’re like me and have a major sweet tooth, then baked goods are your go-to.
If you’ve tried to recreate your grandma’s famous chocolate chip cookies, you may have discovered that vegan baking is easier said than done. More often than not, vegan bakes goods come out dry and crumbly. So how do you avoid making vegan treats that taste like you’re chewing on cardboard?
The key to plant-based baking is to use the right vegan baking substitutes. By using vegan substitutes for butter, eggs, and other animal products, you can make baked goods that are both vegan-friendly and tasty.
Why Eggs and Butter Are So Important in Baking
When it comes to vegan baking, it goes without saying that you can’t just remove the eggs and butter from a recipe and call it a day. These non-vegan ingredients are important to the texture and taste of baked goods
Because of their high protein content, eggs are often used as binders in baking. This helps to add structure to baked goods. They also help make a fluffy texture and give essential moisture to baked goods. On the other hand, the fat in butter serves to add a flaky, “melt in your mouth” texture to baked goods.
When adapting a recipe for your plant-based diet, you need to use vegan baking substitutes that serve as binders and provided needed moisture. Let’s explore the various vegan substitutes for butter and eggs.
Vegan Binders for Baking
From my experience, the key to vegan treats is finding a good binder to replace eggs. This is how you avoid crumbly baked goods that fall apart with the first bite. Although you can find prepackaged vegan egg substitutes—such as this powdered egg replacer—here are some natural alternatives that you might already have in your pantry.
Chia seeds are a popular vegan egg substitute for baking. To replace one large egg in a recipe, simply combine one tablespoon of chia seeds with two and a half tablespoons of water. Let the mixture sit until it forms a jello-like texture. That’s it!
Have you ever noticed the gooey liquid that comes in a can of chickpeas? This substance is called aquafaba and—believe it or not—it is a great substitute for egg whites in baking. Just as you would with egg whites, you can whip aquafaba to create a fluffy binder to use in macarons and meringues. A good rule of thumb is to use three tablespoons of aquafaba in place of one large egg.
Another great vegan egg substitute for baking is ground flaxseed. To create a “flax egg”, combine one tablespoon of ground flaxseed with three tablespoons of water. Allow the mixture to sit until it becomes gooey. One flax egg is equivalent to one large chicken egg.
Vegan Substitutes for Butter
The key to finding a vegan-friendly substitute for butter is to pick ingredients that have similar fat content. The fat from butter is what provides baked goods with a flaky and fluffy texture.
Solid coconut oil is a great substitute for “room temperature” butter in baking. It provides the recipe with a high-fat content, which is needed for many pastry doughs. Use a one-to-one ratio when substituting coconut oil for butter. You can also use melted coconut oil when a recipe calls for melted butter.
You can find a variety of processed vegan butters on the market. Vegan butter is often made from a mixture of oils and can come in the form of sticks and spreads. The best vegan butter for baking is one that is formulated to “act” like real butter. This means that it has similar moisture and fat content to butter. Some good vegan butter brands include Miyoko’s and Earth Balance. Like with coconut oil, use a one-to-one ratio when substituting vegan butter for regular butter.
Although applesauce will not work as a butter substitute in all recipes, it can be an easy alternative for moist cakes and muffins. It is a great option if you want to make low-fat treats. However, do not use applesauce in pie crusts and cookies, as it will likely provide too much moisture. Use half the amount of unsweetened applesauce as the recipe calls for butter.
Trial and Error
What vegan baking comes down to is trial and error. Vegan baking is tricky. It can take a few tries to know which egg and butter substitutes are best for different recipes. So if you’re trying to “veganize” that chocolate cake recipe from childhood, it may take experimenting to get the taste and texture just right—but experimentation is part of the fun of baking, right?
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