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Plantbased Baking – The Best Alternatives

May 18, 2020

For many people, vegan or healthy baking sounds like there are sacrifices to be made – but there doesn’t have to be! Where I couldn’t imagine myself baking cakes without eggs, butter and cream in the past it has now become a wonderful new habit for me to bake vegan and fits perfectly into a wholesome sustainable Zero Waste lifestyle! In this article, you will learn how you can easily exchange animal ingredients for vegetable ones.

The best alternatives for eggs, milk & butter + how to bake healthier yet tasty treats

First things first: Not every cake recipe can be made vegan – I tried to ‘veganise’ a cake recipe with 7 eggs for example, and that did not work! But particularly for beginners, it is actually easier to use vegan recipes and many recipe books and the inexhaustible internet offer a great selection.

At first, I will introduce you to simple substitutes that are suitable replacements of eggs, butter & co. In part two, I will help you to make healthier cakes by making them lighter and adding ingredients with more protein, vitamins and minerals. In this way, you can bake and enjoy even more cake because it’s healthier than ever before!

Plant-based baking

Eggs

There are endless possibilities to replace eggs during baking! Depending on the recipe and what you have at home, choose your alternative:

Fruit

1 egg = ½ ripe banana

1 egg = 3 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce

These alternatives are particularly suitable for recipes with 1-3 eggs and where the cake does not have to rise very much. Both alternatives mainly replace moisture. Since banana shows a remarkable taste, I prefer to use it for fruit cakes or chocolate recipes, where flavours match wonderfully.

Applesauce will add a more inconspicuous taste and is, therefore, more versatile than bananas.

Since both alternatives sweeten your dough, you can reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe accordingly! I often replace the missing sugar with a little more flour to maintain consistency.

In total, I have already replaced up to 3 eggs in a cake with these alternatives. I have both of them readily available and freeze apple sauce & ripe bananas in small portions. Often, I also prepare a bigger portion of fresh apple sauce and use the rest for another recipe.

Baking soda + Vinegar

1 egg = 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1EL vinegar

Mix baking soda well with flour before baking and add the vinegar to the dough at the very end. You won’t taste any vinegar in your cake, I promise! With this alternative, I replace eggs in cakes that are supposed to become fluffy and light.

Seeds

1 egg = 1 tablespoon finely ground linseed and 3 tablespoons of water

1 egg = 1 tablespoon finely ground chia seeds and 3 tablespoons of water

Allow the mixture to swell briefly before adding it to the cake batter. I often use this mixture for pancakes, but it is suitable for any cake!

Aquafaba

Whipped egg white – dripping water from chickpeas or beans

Mash drained water from soaking chickpeas or beans well with your blender and use it in your cake dough for an extra fluffy consistency! I use aquafaba without any additives. Some people add xanthan gum or tartar powder as stabilizers. I don’t have that at home. Since I soak chickpeas etc myself, the consistency of my Aquafaba varies well depending on the consistency. Just try out how it works best for you!

Butter

100 g butter = 80 ml vegetable oil

This was the first adjustment I made to my cake recipes when I started to live Zero Waste! Butter is always packaged, so I needed an alternative. The above-mentioned ratio is suitable for most cake recipes. Only shortcrust doughs and cookie doughs often become quite crumbly. Here, I recommend using a more solid kind of oil, e.g. coconut butter.

I recommend using refined oil for baking. Firstly, the valuable properties of native oils often suffer during the baking process. On the other hand, the taste of native oils in the cake is often too strong.

Why do I not use margarine as an alternative? Well firstly, margarine is always wrapped and causes waste, secondly it often contains animal ingredients or palm fat. Moreover, you often find hydrogenated fats on the ingredients list of margarine.

Cow’s milk = Vegetable milk

That’s it. Milk can easily be replaced by vegetable milk. We collected our favourite 10 DIY recipes here.  You can also make yoghurt and cream variations from vegetable milk and use them in your recipe. In most cakes, you’ll hardly notice a taste difference!

Honey

Instead of honey, you can use various types of vegetable syrup. I have hardly had to replace honey in recipes until now – but with a simple syrup it works out fine in terms of consistency. For example, you can use maple syrup, homemade caramel sugar syrup, agave syrup, …

Healthy baking

Many cake recipes are quite unhealthy and contain large amounts of sugar and fat. Must eating cake be a sin? I don’t think so!  I love to adapt rich, sweet cake recipes to make them healthier without sacrificing delicious taste. Often, the real taste of the ingredients becomes so much more apparent when we skip unnecessary fat and sugar. This supports the development of your taste buds to taste nuances of aromas such as cocoa and spices…a healthy and delicious experience!

– I like to mix wheat flour with nut flours to vary flavours of cakes. Nut flours contain more protein and minerals than white wheat flour. I usually use up to 20% nut flour to replace it. In general, I prefer wholemeal flour to white flour. The slightly nuttier taste also goes well with some sweet pastries. Be careful, both flours absorb more liquid. Therefore, add more vegetable milk or egg substitute so that the consistence of your cake does not get too dry.

– To reduce the amount of fat, I replace the indicated amount of butter or margarine with half applesauce and half oil. Pure nut spreads can also replace a part of the oil. Almond spread tastes rather neutral, other nut spreads often have a more unique taste.

– Many recipes for cakes and tarts are very sweet. I like to experiment and leave out up to 50% sugar! This way, the taste of the other ingredients becomes more apparent and over time, you get used to a lower sugar level.

Birch sugar (xylitol) is a tooth-friendly and low-calorie, light alternative to conventional sugar. Just replace the desired amount of sugar 1 to 1 with birch sugar! Alternatives such as rice or agave syrup are also conceivable, but not always healthier.

– Instead of recipes with milk chocolate, which contains a lot of sugar, I like to prepare recipes with dark chocolate or pure cocoa powder. This way I can easily use less fat and sugar and enjoy a more intense cocoa taste!

– Try not to use artificial colour from the tube when baking! If you crave a colourful cake, I recommend to try out natural colours. Berry puree or cherries, for example, help to colour fillings pink. Turmeric gives dough a yellow colour and is a healthy add-on to your spice cake.

– Try Raw Food Cakes based on dates & nuts. Although they are very high in calories, they contain more valuable minerals and vitamins than baked cakes and are at least as tasty! In addition, the unprocessed fats they contain are of higher quality.

Beetroot, zucchini, carrot or pumpkin in a cake? No, it is not yet time for Halloween. But vegetables in a cake dough are not as scary as they sound! Especially in a chocolate cake you usually can’t taste them at all. This is a great way to hide vegetables, use up leftovers and make cakes healthier!

Beans or chickpeas are a healthy basis especially for chocolate cakes. They contain more protein and fibre than flour that you would otherwise use as a basis. There are many recipes for bean-based cakes! I especially like juicy chocolate brownies with a bean base.

What do I bake?

My favourite recipes include chocolate cakes and raw food cakes such as this raw passionfruit Cheese Cake I also like to top a raw cake base with homemade, raw chocolate sauce and banana!

My family back home in Europe loves apple pie and fruit cakes with crumble. One of my brother’s favourites is also Sacher Cake – that’s why I made a healthy, light adaptation of this otherwise pretty heavy, chocolate loaded piece of Austrian heritage! Watch this space – and enjoy!

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