Whether you’re new to veganism, a long-term member of the team, or just looking for some dairy-free alternatives for your recipes, here’s a list of tips and tricks to help you mix up some delicious treats that are free from animal products.
Before you get started, it’s a good idea to weigh and measure out your ingredients before you begin, making sure you have enough of each and taking into account any replacement ratios. You may also want to grease your pans with non-dairy butter or use baking paper.
Butter is an invaluable ingredient in almost all bakes, so finding the right replacement is important. While some vegans are fine with using margarine, others consider it an unhealthy option due to its high level of hydrogenated oils. Other healthier options include avocados (yes, really!), olive oil (¾ cup of oil to 1 cup of butter), and coconut oil.
If you’re new to veganism, or you’re trying out a recipe for a vegan friend, then you may not know that Honey is a no-no. It's made by bees for their own consumption and a lot of vegans won't eat it for this reason. Instead, try looking to other natural sweeteners like maple syrup, date syrup, or agave.
On a similar note, you’ll have to swap out milk/white chocolate for dark chocolate or raw cacao. Make sure you check the ingredients before you add it to your basket though, as some brands still use whey or milk products.
Eggs are used in baking to add moisture, lift, structure, and bind ingredients. Vegan replacements can be bought in powder form, but you can also make your own in a variety of ways – such as ground flax seeds with water, or mashed banana (½ a banana = 1 egg).
Aquafaba (bean water) works exactly like egg whites and can even be Spoons & Whisks into meringue. A few drops of natural sweetener will mask the bean-like flavour. Drain it straight from a tin of chickpeas, or boil dried beans in a pan of water for a few hours until it transforms into aquafaba. Mastering this technique will open the door to a whole range of tasty vegan pavlovas and mousses.
There are plenty of options when it comes to substituting cows milk in recipes. Soy milk, almond milk and coconut milk can all be used on a 1:1 ratio, with almond being a little thinner and coconut being a little thicker in consistency. Try to buy unsweetened versions for more versatility, and sweeten them how you like.
Ready-made vegan pastry can be purchased from your local supermarket, so all you need to do is roll it out, lay it in your pie dish, and top it with your sweet or savoury filling. You might not get into The Great British Bake Off doing it this way, but it’s not technically cheating.
Fridge-set a tin of full-fat coconut cream overnight and freeze a metal mixing bowl for an hour before you’re ready. Scoop out the thickened coconut cream into the bowl, leaving behind any liquid for a tasty smoothie, and whisk it together with 1tbsp maple syrup and 1tsp vanilla extract. Voilà! A great cream alternative for your bakes.
A great advantage of vegan baking, besides the obvious, is that you can safely taste your mixture as there are no raw eggs in it. Grab a teaspoon and try a small amount every now and then, adding flavour as needed to give your bakes a mouth-watering taste.