Baking, Vegan-Style

As a baker, I want to make sure every baked good is delicious, has good consistency, and is baked properly.  There are some obvious challenges when baking vegan foods.  I’m sure many of us have experienced them first-hand, myself included.  So for all of you bakers, here are some tips on vegan substitutions to ensure the quality of your vegan baked goods.


Many cake batters start by creaming butter and sugar together.  As vegan bakers, we could use some kind of vegan butter replacement, like the baking sticks of Earth Balance.   If you want to use more natural ingredients, however, you could use coconut oil.  You can use refined coconut oil for a neutral flavor and unrefined coconut oil to give a sweet coconut taste.

Coconut oil is solid at room temperature (under 76 degrees), similar to butter.  This allows it to get the same texture and similar result when creaming it with sugar.  This is a one-to-one substitution, making it a fairly simple swap.  

Note that if the oil is very firm, you may need to heat it slightly to get it to room temperature.  Five seconds in the microwave should take care of it.  Also, make sure that the other ingredients are at room temperature.  If you use cold ingredients, the coconut oil may seize up.

Butter substitutes

Often, oil can be substituted 1:1 for butter.  Neutral oils are best.  Strong-tasting oils will flavor the baked goods.  Fruit purees often can take the place of oil in baked goods.  

Milk substitutes

Remember that dairy substitutes will always add to the flavor profile.  Use unsweetened, unflavored plant-milks instead of the vanilla or sweetened options.   If you need buttermilk, try souring soy milk with lemon juice or vinegar like you do with dairy milk.  This works well for recipes like pancakes, such as our Vegan Oatmeal Pancakes.

Egg substitutes

It’s certainly possible to successfully use egg substitutes.  Remember, different types of baking will require different types of egg substitutes.  

What is the purpose of the egg in the recipe?  For moisture, try a fruit puree.  This is perfect for recipes like quick breads, such as the Applesauce Raisin Bread.  For binding, try mixing ground flaxseed or chia seeds with waters.  For leavening, try a baking soda and vinegar mixture.  A lot of our cake recipes, like our Chocolate Cake, Lenten Mocha Chocolate Cake or Basic (Unintentional) Vegan White Cake recipe, use this substitution.  For “stiff egg whites”, use aquafaba, the liquid from a can of chickpeas.  There are many options – just choose the right substitute for the purpose of the egg in your recipe.

Hopefully these tips will help you with your recipes.  If you have any other tips, please add a comment below.

Happy baking! 

4 Responses

  • Thank you so much for these tips! They are all quite excellent and I’m sure will be so helpful as I do some holiday baking. It’s so nice to give Lenten treats to families who are trying to keep the fast.

    • I’m so glad to hear that the tips helps!

      As someone whose extended family primarily are not Orthodox, it is great to be able to participate in some of the baking activities while still keeping the fast. Family time together is important!

      If you come across any other tips, please feel free to let me know 🙂 I’m always looking for more ideas to improve the baked goods, especially around this time of year.

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