Vegan baking can seem daunting, but it really isn’t! It’s honestly just a matter of swapping out animal-derived ingredients with plant-based alternatives. If you’re adapting a classic recipe to be vegan, here are my favourite whole plant-based substitutions for common ingredient:
Replace cream with coconut cream
The rich thickness of coconut cream makes an excellent substitution for heavy cream. Simply substitute at a 1:1 ratio. You can even whip up coconut cream to create a “whipped cream”. Make sure you are using a full-fat coconut cream as lower fat version contain more water and won’t be as thick and creamy. A good tip if you want to whip coconut cream is to place it in the fridge the night before so that the thickest cream part firms up and becomes scoopable and that way you can separate it from the watery part before whipping it.
Replace egg whites with aquafaba
A.K.A the liquid from a can of chickpeas. This is often thrown out but actually works magic in desserts. This is because the chickpeas are cooked in this liquid, so it will contain protein and carbohydrates that allow it to be whipped into stiff peaks much like egg whites. Aquafaba is great for making vegan meringue. To use it, simply drain the chickpeas and place the liquid in a bowl, add cream of tartar, sugar and then use a beater to whip it until it fluffs up into stiff peaks.
Replace butter with coconut oil
Coconut oil has a melting temperature of 25 degrees C, which allows it to act similarly to butter in many ways. It can also be used to replace other types of oils. Simply melt the coconut oil if you are replacing another oil or have the coconut oil at room temperature if replacing butter. Coconut oil is great in every dessert, especially ones where you want to have that melt-in-your-mouth texture, like vegan chocolates, pie crusts, cheesecakes and truffles. Coconut oil is the answer! Simply substitute coconut oil in a 1:1 ratio. You can also use coconut oil to grease baking pans.
Replace eggs with applesauce, chia eggs or flax eggs in baked goods
Applesauce is readily available in supermarket shelves and the thick mushy texture acts as a great binding agent much like egg. Alternatively, you can opt to make a chia or flax-egg by mixing 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed or chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of warm water for every egg you want to replace. The polysaccharides in flax & chia seeds form a gel when combined with water, helping to prove structure to baked goods.
Replace milk with plant-based milks
Replace Parmesan cheese with nutritional yeast
Definitely go ahead and experiment. Give things a try and don’t be afraid if something doesn’t work out. The more you play around the more you will understand how things work and figure out personal references. These are just some ideas for plant-based ingredient substitutions but aren’t any hard-and-fast rules and different combinations can still produce similar outcomes.