Everything you need to know to make vegan baking your new project
Who doesn’t love a slice of decadent cake or a comforting cookie now and again? Baked goods are one of life’s pleasures, and when those goods are home-baked, that’s the cherry on the cake (we couldn’t resist, sorry!).
Re-learning cookery using only plant products can feel pretty daunting. To many, vegan baking sounds like a whole other difficulty level. The reality is, it’s simple when you know how.
The Best Vegan Swaps
Eggs are crucial in non-vegan baking. It can thicken, glue, glaze, emulsify, add moisture, provide structure, give lift and stabilise a bake. So when it comes to swapping them you might feel a bit lost.
Okay, so we admit it – we haven’t found one single plant-based alternative that can do everything an egg can. But there are some substitutes that come close. Pick and choose your fave:
Ground flaxseeds, chia seeds and xanthum gum all produce a sort of binding gel when mixed with water. 1tbsp seeds: 3 tbsp water left for 10 minutes should form a gloopy gum equivalent to 1 egg that does a pretty good job of binding most bakes. The egg sub of choice for many vegan bakers.
Mashed banana, apple sauce and pumpkin puree are full of polysaccharides: long chains of sugar molecules that behave a bit like proteins. They’re not *the best* for lift, so best for denser bakes like muffins. ¼ cup puree (1 mashed banana) is about equivalent to 1 egg.
Magical ‘bean water’ left over from cooking chickpeas. When whisked, it behaves like egg whites, foaming up to provide the lightness needed for airy sponges and even vegan meringues. ¼ cup aquafaba (straight from a tin of chickpeas is best) replaces 1 egg.
With the vast array of plant ‘milks’ now available, this one isn’t so tricky. Swap out dairy milk for any unsweetened plant-based milk sub and you get the same moisture and richness.
Milk Chocolate Spread
Chocolate spread can often be used in place of melted milk chocolate, and we’ve got two scrummy vegan options for you to try.
Butter and lard are quite easily replaced with vegan spread (vegetable/olive oil based) and coconut oil – you can get a ‘cuisine’ version if you don’t want that coconutty flavour. Beware: replacing a solid fat (e.g. butter) for a liquid one (e.g. oil) can have mixed results, because less air is locked in during the mixing stage. Try to swap like for like.
The solid portion at the top of a refrigerated can of coconut milk makes a good substitute for cream in sweet dishes. It even whips up nice and thick.
Where baking calls for cream cheese try our Organic Almond Crème as a direct swap.
So, where to start? Here are our super simple tips:
- Follow a recipe. While you’re getting used to baking the vegan way, it’s a great idea to put some tried and true recipes to the test. You can experiment as you build your confidence and knowledge!
- Weigh your ingredients. Eyeballing is for when you’re pro! Choose one system of measurement and stick with it (i.e. don’t switch between units mid recipe). Use a digital scale if you can and consider investing in some baking cups if you don’t have them already.
- Line and grease your pans so your bakes come out nicely!
- Always pre-heat your oven.
- It’s ok to take shortcuts! Some things are just easier to buy in. Ready rolled puff pastry is often vegan and much less faff than making yourself!
We’ve compiled our top 10 favourite recipes for baked classics, vegan style!
- Pancakes. These fluffy, American style pancakes are actually gluten free too.
- Carrot cake. Classic, fool-proof, delicious.
- Brownies. Squidgy, moist and decadent, with cherries for a little surprise.
- Cheesecake. We can’t even with this. Vegan nut*lla? Yes please. No Bake? Sold.
- Chocolate chip cookies. One bowl goodness. You’re welcome.
- Victoria sponge. Simple, light and begging to be sliced up and served with a good cup of tea.
- Apple pie. Always a hit! For a shortcut, buy in ready rolled shortcrust pasty for the crust.
- Millionaire’s shortbread. Yum!
- Puff pastry pie. Wow your family with this choccy snowflake, which is deceptively easy to make.
- Meringues. These little kisses are too cute. Chickpea water. We still can’t get over it!
Now it’s time for you to have a go, and bring your touch of heart to it! There’s more baking inspo in the desert section of our recipe page and we also love Minimalist Baker, Bosh and Lazy Cat Kitchen for reliable, simple recipes. We’d love to see your vegan bakes! Tag us on Social if you’ve been bitten by the baking bug. #BonsanBaking @bonsanvegan.
On your marks, get set, bake!