Creating vegan and healthy baked goods to treat yourself, your family and friends can often start of as intimidating and does not produce the desired results. Don’t give up just yet – it takes some getting used to and parting from our old habits but the results are divine and worth a few blunders along the way. Soon you’ll be an expert in creating dairy, egg, sugar and gluten-free goods and no one will believe your creations are completely guilt-free.
To make the transition easier I have created this guide to vegan and gluten-free substitutes that can be used in your desserts. Another good way of getting started is by using already adapted recipes that will help you get a sense of how to use an entirely new set of ingredients in your kitchen.
Vegan milk and cream substitutes
In vegan cooking we usually substitute regular milk with different kinds of plant-based milks, such as soy, oat, rice, coconut and almond milk. Each of these milks has its own set of characteristics and a specific flavour, so we’re always careful with choosing the right one for our recipe. While soy and coconut milks add fullness to a recipe and work great with creamy textures, rice and almond milks produce lighter results. The richness of regular cream is easily recreated by using coconut milk with a higher fat content.
Curdling of soy milk
In order to help soy milk taste more like regular milk, we can gently curdle it before use. All we need to do is to add a few drops of apple cider to the soy milk and stir. This causes the protein in the soy milk to curdle and allows us to discover a whole new pallet of aromas as well as thicken the milk.
Vegan egg substitutes
Eggs work as binders in recipes and give desserts a specific texture that cannot be recreated without using good substitutes. You can substitute one egg by using:
- Flax seeds – 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds mixed with 3 tablespoons of water
- Silken tofu – ¼ cup of silken tofu, blended smooth
- Chia seeds – 1 tablespoon of chia seeds mixed with 3 tablespoons of water
Vegan butter substitutes
Even though margarine seems like an obvious solution, we try to use it as little as possible due to a high trans-fat content. Instead, use coconut oil that is very healthy and has a high nutritional value or alternatively use cold-pressed rapseed oil.
There are many gluten-free flours to choose from and we always try to use a mixture of at least three of these flours – the base flour, a protein-rich flour and a starch-rich flour.
Examples: amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa, millet, almond, sunseed, soy…
The resulting texture is compact and we usually need to add more liquid to the recipe.
Examples: rice, oat
We use them as a base for gluten-free recipes.
Coconut flour has specific characteristics and is usually not used as a substitute in a 1:1 ratio. As it absorbs a lot of moisture, we also have to add more liquid to the recipe.
How do we use xanthan gum?
Xanthan gum adds viscosity and elasticity to gluten-free baked good and therefore takes on the role of gluten. An alternative to using xanthan gum is guar gum but you could also use ground flax or chia seeds.
Starch adds crumble and crunch to baked goods so we use it in cookies and pie dough. When the recipe calls for smaller quantities of starch, use corn starch, if you need larger quantities, use tapioca flour.
Baking temperature and time
Bake your gluten-free goods at a temperature that is 5 degrees Celsius lower than the usual temperature. Often you will need to subtly extend time in the oven.