25 Tips – A Vegan Baking 101 Session

Vegan baking can seem a bit scary if you’ve never tried it before, but this list of 25 tips is a basic vegan baking 101 session you can refer back to whenever you have questions!  I bet you’re thinking the same things I did when I made the switch. Things such as “how can you make a cake without the eggs?”

“Will I have to settle for less tasty food?” “Is this going to cost me an arm and a leg???” And these are all valid questions. But I quickly found out that all these questions can be easily answered! I’ve created this list as a basic vegan baking guide so that we can all get out of the dark and start enjoying baking again!

I want to start by saying that if you’re new to vegan baking my best advice is to follow recipes that have already been written for vegan baking. It’s intimidating enough to start using applesauce instead of eggs without trying to do the conversions and measurements yourself.

Once you’ve gotten pretty good at making tried and tested recipes you can start to experiment with making your own vegan versions of traditional foods. For me, that’s where the fun starts! Let’s take a look at this basic vegan baking guide.

 Vegan Baking 101

Vegan baking doesn’t have to be more expensive!

I started my vegan baking journey about 4 years ago and my number one concern was how much extra money it was costing to purchase specialty ingredients.

 But, that’s because I was only using recipes that called for a ridiculous amount of items I’ve never even heard of. After 4 years of baking and a lot of trial and error I decided that my baking style would focus on everyday affordable ingredients. 

Now that doesn’t mean I won’t splurge on something that I think I’ll use a lot, but it did mean no more buying every version of flour in the health food store. For example, I use all purpose flour for most of my recipes or buy a gluten free flour that is a 1 to 1 swap.

At first I was purchasing oat flour, rice flour, wheat flour, white-wheat flour and on and on and on. Do what you think is right for you and your family. My family’s budget can’t take the hit of a multitude of specialty ingredients.

Most vegan egg substitutes are cheaper than buying eggs

For example, you can get a bag of Bob’s Red Mill vegan Egg Replacer for about $5. The container is enough to make 34 substitute eggs. You’re saving money in the long run for this replacer. The same goes for many other replacements (not an affiliate post).

Vegan baked goods should taste great

If you’ve made a cake that tastes less than stellar it’s probably because something went wrong, or the recipe wasn’t written fool proof to begin with. Vegan baked goods, done right, shouldn’t taste noticeably vegan. There are probably a few exceptions to this, but I can’t think of any at the moment.

Your batter will often be thicker than the non-vegan version and that’s okay! Since a lot of vegan baking is done at a lower temperature for longer times the batter will have enough time to properly bake through.We call this ‘low and slow’.

Mise En Place

A French term for “everything in its place”. What this means is gather all your ingredients before you begin INCLUDING measuring everything. It’s such a disappointment to get halfway through a recipe to realize you needed something important and you’re out.  Or that you only have a small portion of the amount needed.

This also effects the time it takes to whip something up. If the recipe says it takes 5 minutes to put together and you haven’t prepared you could spend way more time than that making the recipe. Plan and prep to save yourself the headache! This goes for reading the recipe all the way through before beginning. Make sure you know what you’re getting into!

Get an oven thermometer and use it 

Even brand-new ovens can have hot spots or temperature knobs that are inaccurate. They’re not expensive and they’ll save you money in the long run by not wasting ingredients on flat, burned, underdone baked goods. I use my KitchenAid oven thermometer that I got on Amazon for about $15 (not an affiliate link).

 Get to know your oven

Does it have hot spots? You can tell by how your baked goods rise/don’t rise or brown/don’t brown. You can work around hot spots by moving your racks around or (gasp) rotating your baked goods halfway through baking. It’s not ideal, but if you’re concerned with hot spots it is an option.

Learn your vegan baking ingredient substitutions

I go more in dept about how to substitute dairy and egg products on my post 32 Tips for Conquering Vegan Baking. If you want to know more about which ingredients make the best substitutions I suggest reading this post too.

 Add seasoning to everything

Even your desserts. Salt enhances flavor and just a small pinch goes a long way.

You do not need to substitute the exact number of eggs

Let me clarify that statement. Eggs play many parts in baking and doing an exact 1 to 1 swap for each egg could actually hurt your baking. For example if a recipe calls for 3 eggs and instead of reasoning out what the egg is for you simply use 3 vegan egg replacers your bake is probably not going to work.

If a recipe calls for that many eggs they’re probably serving double dutty as added fat, and raising agent. So instead of replaceing 3 eggs, you’ll really only need to replace one or two with the egg replacer while also increasing the amount of levening agent. It can be tricky to know how many eggs to replace and what other ingredients to add or subtract.

That’s why I recommend getting your feet wet with tried and true recipes first.

Don’t waste time trying to veganize a recipe with more than 3 whole eggs

It’s not worth the headache! Egg whites only is a different story as you can use aquafaba to replace most whipped egg whites. 

You’ll need to up the amount of your leavening agent when substituting vegan eggs

Eggs help baked goods rise and you’ll need the extra umf! 

Remember that baking soda needs to be activated with vinegar

I like using apple cider vinegar for the added health benefits, but white vinegar will get the job done.

 Controversial tip…

Do not rotate your pans halfway through baking unless you know your oven has some pretty big hot spots. It lets out a surprising amount of heat every time you open the oven door making for uneven temperatures. Your baked goods will take longer to bake and may even cause some baked goods to ‘sink’ or deflate. Avoid Deflate Gate baking haha!

When baking vegan gluten free, make sure you have a quality flour alternative

You can find good recipes for making your own gluten free flour. Or you can purchase a gluten free flour that substitutes 1 to 1 with all purpose flour. It’s a huge disappointment when your perfect ball of dough turns into a pancake in the oven. 

Use the correct size pan for the job

For example, a recipe for cupcakes will not have the same baking time as the recipe for a cake. You can always use trial and error to adjust baking times, but this is an ‘at your own risk’ warning. I’ve had many conversions fail miserably because the recipe was written for a certain size and I just didn’t listen. 

You can use refrigerated coconut oil in place of cold butter

Really it’s true! It won’t have the same buttery flavor that store bought vegan butters have (or even this Homemade Vegan Butter version), but if you’re just concerned with the added fat for the recipe you can make this switch without a problem. This works well in pie crust recipes where you need to cut in a cold fat.

You’ll use about ¼ less oil because butter is about 20% water and there’s no water in oils.

You can substitute melted vegan butter for the oil in a recipe

Make sure it’s unsalted butter as oils don’t contain salt. 

Do not scoop the flour straight from the container

This compacts the flour and you’ll end up with too much. Most if not all good recipes use the scoop and sweep method. This is where you take a spoon or scoop to transfer the flour from the container to the measuring cup to just overflow. Then just take a flat edged utensil (the back of a knife works great) to sweep off the excess flour.

You now have the proper amount of flour needed for your recipe. If you want even more precise measurements you can use the volume of the ingredient. For example a cup of flour is about 130 grams. But that may differ some based on if the cup is compact. 

Don’t try to veganize a boxed mix

This is my personal experience talking. They’re not designed for vegan baking, so why would we waste our time and money on something that might not work? Mine never have so my advice, skip that section of the baking isle. You’ll save time, money and disappointment if you just bake from scratch. 

Do not forget to swap out the honey

This tip comes from the vegan blog Kitchn and reminds us to swap out honey for another sweetener to stay vegan. This might be a touchy subject as I know not all vegans consider honey off limits. But for those trying to stick to a strict vegan diet it’s a great tip. You can read more tips on the blog post 5 Important Tips for the Vegan Baker.

Vegan baking lets you be more creative

I have always loved baking, but I found that after I went vegan I enjoyed it even more! There are so many alternatives to traditional ingredients out there waiting to be discovered. And I’ve never had baked goods with such depth of flavor. 

Understand the use of eggs

Each recipe uses eggs for different things. Some use it as a binder, some for extra moisture. Others use it as a raising agent. You’ll have to review the you’re making to choose the correct substitute. You can read more about egg substitutions on my post 32 Tips for Conquering Vegan Baking.

Use unsweetened, unflavored milk alternatives

Remember to look for the unsweetened versions of plant-based milk for baking. Many plant-based milks add sweeteners or flavors, but you’ll be doing that yourself so you can skip the extra sugar. Also, flavored milk will effect the taste of your bakes.

Unsalted vegan butter is your friend

Just like wanting our milk unsweetened we want our butter unsalted so we can control how much salt is in our food.

Ready to try out some vegan baking basic recipes? Here are a few of my favorite easy to follow recipes

Thank you for reading this post, and I hope you found something in here that you find helpful. What are some of your vegan baking basics? I’d love to hear from you so drop me a comment! Come say hello on Instagram @veganbakingathome and make sure to post a photo of your finished bakes with hashtag #veganbakingathome!

Until next time!

Allison Bost

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