Want to have your cake and make it vegan, too? There are lots of vegan baking recipes, tips, tricks, and techniques that you can use to reimagine your favorite classic desserts. And while the old days of vegan baking might have been defined by crumbly cookies and dry pastries, today’s recipes are as delicious as their non-vegan counterparts—and as indulgent, too.
Below, we’re covering all of the basics that you need to know about baking vegan recipes, with a handy guide to vegan baking substitutes (including how to replace egg in vegan baking), the ingredients you should always have on hand, and common issues you might come across in the kitchen.
The Basics of Vegan Baking
It’s easier than you might think to nix the use of animal products in your baked goods. Here are some of the foundational elements of baking vegan recipes that you need to know to get started.
What is Vegan Baking?
Baking vegan simply means baking without the use of any animal-derived products.
Common animal products found in baked goods like cookies, cakes, pies, and pastries include eggs, butter, and milk or cream. With some creative substitutions, however, you can achieve similarly stunning results in taste and texture with vegan ingredients instead, which is better for both animals and the planet.
Is Vegan Baking Healthier?
Vegan baking recipes are certainly healthier for the environment, but a dessert is still a dessert. When you’re baking vegan, you’ll still want to pay attention to things like portion size and the quality of your ingredients, as well as your use of added sugar.
That being said, many vegan substitutes, including vegan baking egg substitutes, are naturally lower in things like cholesterol and saturated fat. And you can also make other health-conscious substitutions, such as replacing all-purpose flour with oat or almond flour. Overall though, dessert is meant to be a treat, so stick to the flavors you love and just aim for moderation.
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8 Essential Vegan Baking Ingredients
Stocking a vegan kitchen is a cinch, since many of the items that you’ll need are shelf-stable. Here’s what to make sure you always have on hand.
- Flour: All types of flours are vegan, so just go with whatever you prefer—or keep an assortment.
- Ground flaxseed meal: This makes a great vegan egg substitute for baking.
- Chia seeds: Similar to flax seeds, chia seeds can also be used as egg substitutes for vegan baking.
- Baking powder: Is baking powder vegan? You bet! Use this leavening agent to add height and airiness to your vegan desserts.
- Baking soda: Another leavening agent, sometimes used with baking powder and sometimes used instead of it.
- Cocoa powder: Opt for dark chocolate and Dutch-processed cocoa powders for the richest chocolate flavor.
- Vegetable oil: This neutral, vegan-friendly oil can be used in a cinch in place of butter.
- Organic, unrefined, or raw sugar: Many standard granulated sugars are bleached with bone char, which puts them in the non-vegan camp. Fortunately, there are many vegan sugars out there, including organic, unrefined, and raw varieties, as well as beet sugar.
Common Issues With Vegan Baking
Most vegan baking issues occur when you’re converting a standard recipe into a vegan one, since substitutions may not always be as cut and dry as they seem. Fortunately, most problems have a simple explanation and just require a bit of tweaking to get right—including these common ones.
The problem: Desserts that are too dense.
The culprit: If your vegan desserts are coming out too dense, try sifting your flour for enhanced aeration or not mixing your batter quite so much. You may also want to look into alternate vegan baking egg substitutes.
The problem: Desserts that are too dry.
The culprit: Moisture and fat are key to a moist dessert, so try upping the amounts you use in your recipe. It’s also possible you’re overbaking your dessert or baking it at too high of a temperature.
The problem: Desserts that have a slightly off flavor.
The culprit: Commercial vegan baking substitutes like vegan butter and non-dairy milks can all affect the overall flavor of your dessert. If you’re not happy with the end result, switch up your substitutes and try again.
How to Substitute Eggs in Vegan Baking
Finding the right vegan egg substitute for baking can make all of the difference in your desserts. Try out these options for how to substitute eggs in vegan baking to add structure, color, and flavor to your baked goods without having to venture down the dairy aisle.
These are one of the most common vegan egg substitutes for baking. To make a flax egg, just combine one tablespoon of ground flaxseed meal with three tablespoons of water. Stir together and let sit in the fridge for about 15 minutes, or until the mixture thickens up.
Another great solution for how to replace egg in vegan baking: chia seeds. Combine one tablespoon of chia seeds with three tablespoons of water, stir together and let thicken.
Applesauce might be one of the most surprising egg substitutes for vegan baking. To use it, replace each egg in your recipe with a quarter cup of unsweetened applesauce. You can add an extra ½ teaspoon of baking powder to your batter afterward if you’re worried about it getting weighed down.
Another of the great vegan egg substitutes in baking is aquafaba, which is the viscous liquid from a can of beans—traditionally garbanzo beans (chickpeas). Use three tablespoons of aquafaba in place of one large egg, or two tablespoons in place of one large egg white.
Vegan Baking Substitutes
How can you replace butter in a vegan cake? What about whipped cream? Here’s a quick look at vegan baking substitutes that look and (for the most part) taste like the real deal.
We already talked about vegan egg substitutes for baking, but it’s helpful to know just how many options you have. In addition to the flax eggs, chia eggs, applesauce replacement, and aquafaba replacement mentioned above, you can also explore tofu, tapioca starch, and commercial egg substitute powders and liquids in your baking recipes.
Just like with vegan egg substitutes in baking, you have a lot of choices when it comes to replacing butter in a vegan recipe. Vegetable oil is an excellent way to go, but you can also get great results with non-dairy yogurt, nut butter, mashed bananas, applesauce, or coconut oil.
Plant-based milks such as soy milk, coconut milk, and oat milk can almost always be subbed into your vegan desserts on a one-to-one ratio to the amount of cow’s milk in a recipe. Where things get tricky is if a recipe requires milk proteins in order to set—such as with a pudding. In that case, you’ll want to look at a vegan pudding recipe in particular, instead of trying to substitute on your own.
Cream is thicker and richer than milk, so finding a substitute for it requires more than just a sub in of a non-dairy counterpart. To make it work, add fat to your non-dairy milk, such as adding coconut oil to your oat milk. You can also just use full-fat coconut cream.
Whipped coconut cream, coconut milk, or aquafaba can all serve as a tasty alternative to whipped cream. Add a bit of vegan-friendly sugar and some vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste to nail the flavor.
Vegan Baking Classes
You’ll find plenty of Skillshare classes that can help you master the art of vegan baking. Here are some fantastic ones to start with.
Author and vegan baker Samita Sarkar covers everything from cakes and cupcakes to cinnamon rolls and cherry pie in this mouthwatering course for beginner vegan bakers.
Follow along with pastry arts instructor Amy Kimmel as she shows how to turn one easy dough recipe into all sorts of impressive vegan desserts.
Vegan baker Molly Jane tackles the world’s simplest vegan cookies with helpful tips that ensure even first-timers can end up with perfect results.
Vegan Baking Cookbooks to Try
If you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and start making unbelievable vegan desserts, then you’ve got plenty of guides to get you there. We’ve narrowed it down to five that are worth adding to your library right away:
- The Joy of Vegan Baking: The Compassionate Cooks’ Traditional Treats and Sinful Sweets by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau
- Whole Food Vegan Baking: Delicious Recipes Using Healthy, Natural Ingredients by Annie Markowitz, PhD
- Modern Vegan Baking: The Ultimate Resource for Sweet and Savory Baked Goods by Gretchen Price
- Incredible Plant-Based Desserts: Colorful Vegan Cakes, Cookies, Tarts, and Other Epic Delights by Anthea Cheng
- Flying Apron’s Gluten-Free & Vegan Baking Book by Jennifer Katzinger
You don’t need animal-derived products to create delicious desserts. Try your hand at vegan baking and discover a new approach to fantastic baked goods.
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