Whether it is for dietary reasons or ethical ones, many of us are switching to vegan and gluten-free baking as a way to health up some of our favourite baked treats. Unlike cooking unfortunately, baking is a pretty strict science, and a simple one to one replacement of staples like flour, eggs, and butter for animal-free options just doesn’t cut it in the V/GF kitchen. Tooth breaking cookie dough anyone? No thanks. Learning to throw away the rules of traditional baking, and embracing some new ones is the first step to success when it comes to whipping up baked goodness in the kitchen. Here are some of our tips and tricks that help get you started in creating your next culinary (vegan & gluten-free!) masterpiece.
Replacing flour is the trickiest piece of gluten-free baking. Gluten is the protein that gives stretch and elasticity to dough, helping to create the texture of cookies, cakes and breads that we have all come to know and love. Using a blend of at least two different gluten-free flours is best as it helps balance out heaviness, and keeps flavours from being overpowering. If you are looking to up the protein content of your treat, you can also substitute ¼ cup of the flour with a gluten-free protein like fermented Vegan proteins+
or Vegan proteins+
. Next you need a little starch or a gum to help give the dough a little stretch, and bring a touch of lightness to the mix (GF treats can be known to be a bit on the heavy side), otherwise you may end up with a pile of crumbs. While different baked goods may vary, try starting with 70% flour to 30% starch ratio. If you still find your recipe is lacking in lightness add ½ -1 tsp of xanthan or guar gum to each cup of flour. Gluten Free Flour Options
- Tapioca Starch
- Potato Starch
When replacing eggs you first need to ask yourself what role they play in the recipe; binding (i.e. helping it stay together, or a dense and thick dessert) or leavening (i.e. helping the baked good rise, or a light and fluffy dessert). For binding, vegetarian protein sources like fermented Vegan proteins+ or Vegan proteins+ are great, because they retain the moisture that is in the recipe, helping bring the mixture together. Try swapping 1-2 Tbsp of protein powder for each egg, but go slow, as you don’t want the mixture to clump together too much. For leavening try tinkering with baking soda or baking powder. Baking soda and baking powder both create tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide, which causes the dough or batter to rise as it is baked. For 1 egg try..
|2 tsp baking soda + 2 Tbsp warm water or..
|1 tsp baking powder + 1 tsp vinegar
Thankfully the wide variety of dairy-free options on the market makes swapping out cow’s milk a breeze, and can often be substituted one for one in your favourite recipes. When thinking about which non-dairy milk to choose, think about the texture of the final dessert. Coconut and soy milk are often better suited for rich desserts, where almond, rice, and hemp are better for those that are on the lighter side. When purchasing milk alternatives be sure to always choose an unsweetened kind so you can control the sweetness of the finished product.
Just like dairy, replacing butter is quite easy and can often times be substituted one for one. Coconut oil is our top pick when it comes to swapping out butter, but brands like Earth Balance also offer some great options to help keep that buttery taste. Oils like virgin olive oil, or grapeseed oil can also be used, but you may want to try using a bit less (1-3 tablespoons) than what is originally called for. Fruit purees, like banana, pumpkin, or apple can also be substitute for butter, and are a great way to reduce the overall fat content of your dessert. Depending on your recipe you want to start slow with replacing the fat. Try subbing half the fat for fruit puree and see how that goes, moving on from there until you get the desired texture. Remember fat equals flavour, so you may also want to bump up the spice in your recipe to ensure your dish stays flavourful. References
Vegan Baking Cheat Sheet. Gluten Free Goddess. Accessed Online:http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.ca/2009/05/vegan-g-free-baking-cheat-sheet.html
The Ultimate Vegan Baking Cheat Sheet. Accessed Online: http://www.peta.org/living/food/baking-cheat-sheet/
How to Use Xanthan Gum and Guar Gum in Gluten Free Cooking. Accessed Online:http://glutenfreecooking.about.com/od/glutenfreecookingbasics/a/xanthanguargums.htm
A guide to gluten-free flours and starches. Accessed Online: http://blog.freepeople.com/2013/06/guide-glutenfree-flours-starches/