Replacing ingredients in baking

How can you replace eggs in baking? What can be used to replace sugar in cakes? Which product can I use instead of baking soda? How can I make a normal baking recipe vegan? And what if I no longer have any nuts at home? Questions like these come up, for example, when you want to bake spontaneously, a certain ingredient is missing and unfortunately there is no supermarket open or nearby. On this page I would like to give you some practical tips on how you can substitute baking ingredients.

There are many possible reasons for this – be it health-related (vegan baking, gluten-free baking, lactose-free baking, food allergies etc) or simply because there are no eggs, sugar, flour and butter left. Most (but not all) of the tips for substituting baking ingredients I have already implemented myself. Since every recipe is different and the consistency in baking sometimes changes even through small experiments, there is of course no guarantee .

Baking without egg: How can you replace eggs?

  • Eggs are one of the main ingredients in many baking recipes because they make cakes and the like fluffy and bind the ingredients together. If you want to bake vegan or cannot tolerate eggs, you can also use fruit and other plant-based alternatives as egg substitutes. Example: Instead of an egg, finely mash or puree half a ripe banana and add it to the cake batter. Personally, I love this variant because the pastry becomes extra moist; however, this egg substitute reaches its limits in recipes with a lot of eggs in the pastry.
  • Applesauce can also replace eggs in baking. Use 60-80 grams of applesauce per egg (best suited for moister doughs such as muffin doughs or those for moist sponge cakes). I recommend unsweetened applesauce as an egg substitute; otherwise, it is essential to adjust the amount of sugar as well as the amount of liquid.
  • Soy flour instead of egg is a bit more advanced. Stirred into two tablespoons of water, one tablespoon of soy flour can replace one egg.
  • Egg substitute powder works on a similar principle, but tastes more neutral than soy flour. Be sure to read the package instructions; usually you need to mix one teaspoon of egg substitute powder with a few tablespoons of water for each egg.
  • Ground linseeds instead of eggs and chia seeds are particularly suitable for savoury pastries because of their slightly nutty taste. The flax seeds also need to be mixed with water; for every two tablespoons of ground seeds, add about 2-3 tablespoons of water.
  • A reader wrote to us that she has been replacing eggs with vinegar in cakes for years. Specifically, she takes per egg: 2 tbsp mild apple vinegar, about 1 tsp baking powder, about 1 tbsp potato starch and some flour. The cake has to cool well; you can’t taste the vinegar. I tested vinegar in this vegan chocolate cake, for example.

Baking without butter: How can you replace butter?

  • When replacing butter in cakes and the like, I don’t think there are any general tips like “just use quark instead of butter”, even if such advice is circulating on the net. It depends on the type of dough and the specific recipe. You can find a detailed test on baking without butter here. In general, there are the following possibilities:
  • Half-fat butter instead of butter does indeed often work, for example in many cakes, especially those made from sponge dough, and in some biscuit recipes. Simply replace the butter with the same amount of half-fat butter.
  • Margarine (including vegan margarine) and oil can also replace butter, depending on the type of dough. I’ve even made shortbread with vegan margarine, which tasted good, though not quite as tasty as with regular butter.
  • If you want to substitute oil for butter in the cake, a smaller amount will do. A rule of thumb is that in sponge cakes, about 100 grams of butter is equivalent to 80 grams of oil.
  • Quark as a butter substitute is particularly suitable if you only replace part of the fat. You can do the same with applesauce.
  • Yoghurt and semolina as well as buttermilk or cream can also replace butter in baking, but the result will have a different consistency.

Baking without sugar: How to replace sugar, icing sugar, honey?

  • For (healthier) tips on baking without sugar, I refer you to my own category on this topic. There you will find experiences on baking with erythritol, stevia, coconut blossom sugar, etc. as well as sugar-free baking recipes.
  • Instead of sugar, you can use alternative sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup, agave syrup and other fruit sweeteners. With honey and maple syrup, for example, 80 grams are sufficient to obtain the same sweetening power as 100 grams of sugar. Depending on the recipe, the amount of liquid must also be adjusted.
  • If you no longer have any icing sugar at home, you can simply grind normal sugar very finely. I often do this and run the sugar through several rounds in the food processor or kitchen chopper until it is nice and fine.

Baking without flour: How can you replace flour and cornflour?

  • Coconut flour, almond flour and nut flour are mainly used in low carb baking. Unfortunately, you cannot replace normal flour 1:1 with the lower-carbohydrate flours and really have to proceed recipe by recipe. You can find tips and recipes for these substitute flours in my keto cake category.
  • Coconut flour, almond flour and nut flour are mainly used in low carb baking. Unfortunately, you cannot replace normal flour 1:1 with the lower-carbohydrate flours and really have to proceed recipe by recipe. You can find tips and recipes for these substitute flours in my keto cake category.
  • Wholemeal flour instead of regular flour, on the other hand, is almost always possible. However, to prevent the cake batter or similar from becoming too dry, you should increase the amount of liquid (water or milk) in the recipe if you are not using white flour. A basic rule is that for every 100 grams of wholemeal flour, about one to two additional tablespoons of liquid are needed.
  • Light spelt flour is particularly suitable as a substitute for wheat flour. It not only tastes and looks almost like wheat, but also has very similar baking properties. You can use it for all types of dough. Like wheat flour, however, it contains gluten, so it is not suitable for people with gluten intolerance.
  • Instead of cornflour, other binding agents such as guar gum can sometimes be used in baking. However, I have no experience with this yet. In cake recipes that contain, for example, one part flour and one part cornflour, I sometimes just use flour – this has never led to any problems.
  • As a substitute for custard powder, cornflour is suitable, as the normal custard powder packets consist almost exclusively of starch (and a little salt and flavouring, depending on the variety) anyway. If you want to swap the ingredients, you only need to know that there are about 40 grams in a packet of custard powder.

Baking without dairy products: How can you replace milk, yoghurt, cream?

  • For vegans or people with lactose intolerance, milk can actually be easily replaced by plant-based alternatives such as soy milk, oat milk, rice milk or almond milk. Depending on the alternative, the pastry also gets a slight additional flavour, which of course you should like. Personally, I often use oat milk because I just like the taste.
  • Coconut milk instead of milk is suitable for creamier fillings or exotic pastries, for example.
  • Soy yoghurt, soy curd and soy cream are a good alternative for baking, especially for vegans.
  • Replacing buttermilk can be done in the following ways: You can simply use yoghurt instead of buttermilk, or kefir. An alternative, simple buttermilk substitute is normal (cow) milk plus some lemon juice.

Baking without raising agents: How can baking powder and baking soda be replaced?

  • Instead of baking powder, high-proof alcohol such as rum or brandy also ensures that pastries rise beautifully. But use it carefully !
  • Mineral water with a lot of carbonic acid makes the dough fluffy, just like baking powder; I use my instinct when dosing.
  • In addition, baking powder can be replaced in many recipes by baking soda plus an acidic dairy product such as buttermilk or lemon juice. This baking powder alternative is used in most muffin recipes anyway. However, do not substitute baking powder and baking soda 1:1; you need much less baking soda for the same effect.
  • Of course, it works the other way round too: If you don’t have any baking soda at home, you can use (more, about twice as much) baking powder instead. Baking powder consists partly of baking soda anyway.

Baking without gelatine: How can you replace gelatine?

Since gelatine is made from animal tissue, vegans understandably like to avoid this baking ingredient. A suitable substitute for gelatine is agar-agar, a vegetable alternative made from dried seaweed. Agar-agar is sold as a powder and must first be boiled briefly with water or similar before use.

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Replacing ingredients in baking
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