The joys of vegan baking


If you could save an animal just by baking cookies, you’d jump at the chance, wouldn’t you? That’s exactly what vegan bakers do every day. There are cookbooks full of great vegan recipes out there for you to try, and it’s not hard at all to adapt your old favorites. Here are some suggestions:

Dairy products are the easiest to switch. Milk can be replaced with plain soymilk without really affecting the flavor of baked goods, and vanilla or chocolate soy milk works really well with desserts.

To make “buttermilk,” just add a tablespoon of vinegar to any flavor soy milk and let it sit about ten minutes. I make a great chocolate buttermilk cake this way.

Butter can be replaced by shortening or vegan margarine, but don’t use a spread. Find a vegan stick margarine. We use Nucoa brand; my husband made his family’s butter-intensive holiday rolls with it and they turned out great.

For cream, you can blend silken tofu and soy milk until you get the right consistency. If you’re making something sweet or chocolatey you can use coconut milk. You can even chill it and whip it into a nice icing.

Honey is also easy to replace. Try brown rice syrup or maple syrup. If you don’t like those, you can find fruit juice sweeteners and honey substitutes in natural foods stores or at online vegan stores.

Eggs can be a little trickier because they both bind your dough together and help make it light and fluffy, depending on your recipe. For denser things, like breads and pancakes, you can try bananas or mashed tofu (one mashed banana or one to two tablespoons tofu per egg). For cakes you can use pureed fruit of any kind. I have a great, moist cake recipe that uses one regular can of any kind of fruit you like.

If you want an egg substitute that won’t affect flavor, is easy to use, and is even low in calories, try to find Ener-G egg replacer. It’s made of starches. Once I found this stuff I started using it in everything-breads, pancakes, cookies, cornbread. They even have recipes for sponge cake and quiche on the back of the box. If you can’t find or don’t want to look for this stuff, you can try 1 or 2 teaspoons of soy flour or ground flax seed whisked together with two tablespoons of warm water.

Vegan baking can be a great way to express both your ethics and your creativity at the same time. Saving animals doesn’t mean giving up family traditions or tasty treats, it just means making them better.