Want to be a successful vegan baker? I hope the following FAQs will help you improve your baking skills. If you have a favourite recipe and it’s not vegan, chances are you can make it vegan. I grew up in household that was always well-stocked with homemade goodies like buttery chocolate chip cookies, banana bread with eggs and lemon meringue pie. Instead of going without these foods, I veganize them!
As you can tell by many of the recipes on this blog, I tend to healthify my baking, and I also love creating raw desserts made with whole, uncooked ingredients. I’m not an advocate of over-processed foods, and I only use vegan margarine or soy-based cream cheese on rare occasions. If you can make a dessert a little more nutritious, why wouldn’t you? It’s easy to do by just following a few basic guidelines. Happy baking!
What kind of ingredients do you use?
For best results, I use good quality, organic and fair trade ingredients when possible. Read more about what kinds of ingredients I use here: What “vegan” means in baking
You use a lot of fresh flours, nuts and seeds. Why?
Whole flours, nuts and seeds should be fresh for the best flavour and nutrition. I often buy grains, nuts and seeds in their raw, whole form and grind them into flour using a spice grinder or high-speed blender. The oils in these foods can go off after being exposed to oxygen for too long, so it’s best to buy from a reliable store, and smell and taste before using. This is particularly important for flax meal—it is best to buy the whole seed and grind it in a high-speed blender or spice grinder as needed.
What do you use in place of butter?
If a recipe calls for melted butter or margarine, I sometimes use a light, high-quality cooking oil, such as organic sunflower or canola oil. Virgin, cold-pressed coconut oil is also a great substitute; it works a lot like shortening and it adds a subtle coconut flavour. For those recipes where oil won’t work, I use Earth Balance vegan margarine.
How do you substitute eggs?
Replacing eggs is probably one of the most challenging aspects of vegan baking. They bind, leaven and give structure to baked goods. Different egg replacers work best in different recipes, so be prepared to do a little experimenting. Options to replace one egg include: 1 tbsp ground flax or chia seeds + 2 tbsp of water; 1/4 cup firm silken tofu; 1 1/2 tsp Ener-G egg replacer + 2 tbsp water; 1/2 mashed banana; or 1 tsp apple cider vinegar + 1 cup of nondairy milk. Read more about it here: Baking without eggs
What kind of nondairy milk do you use?
My preference is almond milk, but soy, rice, coconut and hemp milk all work like regular milk, too. Keep in mind that some are thinner than others. If you want a thicker consistency, use full-fat soy or coconut milk rather than rice milk. Coconut cream or refrigerated coconut milk are the best replacements for whipping cream. For evaporated nondairy milk, bring 2 1/2 cups soy milk to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly until the volume is reduced to 1 cup. Cool and refrigerate. For buttermilk, add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup of nondairy milk and let sit until curdled.
What about sugar?
I use a lot less sugar in my baking than I used to because there are so many better options. Experiment with using natural sweeteners, such as dates, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, agave nectar, coconut sugar or Sucanat (unrefined cane sugar). If substituting a liquid sweetener for granulated sugar, make sure to reduce the recipe’s liquid ingredients (typically water or milk) by about 3.5 ounces (105 ml) per cup. Read more about sugar alternatives here: Baking without sugar
What substitute do you use for gelatin?
Agar, a substance derived from red algae, can be used in place of gelatin. The secret to using agar flakes is to soak them in cool or room-temperature liquid for at least 10 minutes before cooking. This is the same process as letting non-vegan gelatin “bloom.”
Why do you make some of your desserts raw?
Because they’re much better for you! Basically, the enzymes, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, protein, essential fats and fibre that come from food are the building blocks that our bodies need to function. Cooking or baking foods destroys these vital and essential nutrients our bodies need for growth, repair and maintenance. I know from experience that when I am eating at least 80% raw (including desserts!), I have more energy, more mental focus, and I also know that I am feeding my body what it needs to thrive, not just survive.
Are all your recipes gluten-free?
No. I don’t have a gluten sensitivity so I occasionally use gluten flours like spelt, kamut and whole wheat. If you’re looking specifically for gluten-free recipes, check out the gluten-free category in my recipes section. Also keep in mind that the rolled oats called for in my recipes should be gluten-free certified. Oats don’t naturally contain gluten, but unfortunately most commercial brands can be contaminated by contact with grains that do.