Author and registered dietitian Abbey Sharp of Abbey’s Kitchen tells Global News baking truly is a science.
“If you can’t find a specific ingredient, I would try to choose a recipe using the alternative just in case the substitution isn’t a perfect one to one,” she said.
“But if you do happen to see some baking essentials at your store, stock up.”
Shahzadi Devje, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator based in Toronto, tells Global News if you’re new to baking, stick to versatile staples.
These include flour, leaveners (like baking powder, yeast, baking soda) and sweeteners (like sugar, dates or ripe fruit).
“It may seem obvious, but select recipes (and) make a list of ingredients before you head to the store,” she said.
“One tip I’ve learned over the years is to schedule my baking ventures, because the texture of certain ingredients can make a difference,” Devje sadded.
“For instance, butter is the basis for many baked goods and having it at the right temperature is key in achieving the correct texture of many baking creations.”
This means if you’e going to use butter, make sure it is out of the fridge and at room temperature an hour before baking.
Below, both dietitians break down some of the best substitutes for common (and popular) baking ingredients.
For eggs, Sharp says there are many substitutes. She recommends “flax eggs” or “chia eggs” by mixing one part ground chia or flax and two and half parts water.
“(These) are great for making nutrient dense cookies or muffins.”
“If you just need glue for breading when making something like chicken nuggets, I often use mustard.”
Devje recommends unsweetened apple sauce (1/4 cup of sauce for one egg).
“Because yeast is a living organism, you can’t find an actual substitute for it,” Devje said.
“You could experiment with baking soda, which is also a leavening agent.”
She recommends adding lemon juice or cream of tartar to activate the baking soda. “This combo helps to produce soft-textured baked goods.”
For one tsp of yeast, swap with 1/2 tsp of baking soda plus 1/2 tsp of lemon juice, she said.
Don’t have baking powder? Mix 1/4 tsp baking soda with 1/2 tsp of cream of tartar, Sharp said.
“If you don’t have cream of tartar you can use another acid like lemon juice, yogurt or buttermilk.”
Devje adds vinegar is also key here. For 1 tsp of baking powder, combine 1/2 tsp vinegar with 1/4 tsp of baking soda to add to your recipes, she said.
“This will help to create fluffy baked goodies. I would suggest using white vinegar as it is not as pungent as, say balsamic vinegar, and won’t affect the taste or colour of your final product.”
For baking soda, Sharp says you can use baking powder or use self-rising flour in place of all-purpose flour.
“Whipped egg whites can also help give you that rise without baking soda,” she said.
If you want to get creative, turn to club soda.
“Because of its carbonated properties, club soda acts as a raising agent and brings volume and fluffiness to recipes,” Devje said. “Bear in mind that you would need to remove the same amount of liquid from the recipe that you would add in the form of club soda.”
For butter, Sharp recommends coconut oil, margarine, mashed bananas or applesauce as a substitute.
Devje adds if you’re out of butter, you need to figure out the purpose of butter in the recipe. Nut butters, she says, are great in dough recipes to add moisture.
“They’re an exceptional nutrient-dense swap for butter in baked goods. Besides protein, nuts butters provide healthy fats, fibre, vitamins and minerals.”
For buttermilk, mix one cup of milk with a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar, Sharp said.
Devje adds buttermilk brings a delicate and light texture to baked recipes, and ideal for things like cakes, bread, pancakes, waffles and biscuits.
“My last tip is to use silken tofu, blended with lemon juice or vinegar to create a vegan buttermilk replacement.”
Coconut cream can be whipped to make whipped cream, Sharp said. “You can also sometimes use a full-fat Greek yogurt which will also reduce the fat and increase the protein in the recipe.”
You can also just mix milk and butter, Devje says, to replace regular cream.
“If you’re looking for a plant-based alternative to cream, use a blended mix of olive oil and soy milk to replace it. To substitute for one cup of cream, combine 3/4 cup soy milk with 1/4 cup of olive oil,” she said.
Sharp recommends maple syrup or agave.
Devje says molasses (black treacle) can be used as substitutions for honey as well. “In particular, molasses contain vitamins and minerals, and the blackstrap variety is also rich in iron.”
She also says you can get away with dried fruits like figs, dates, raisins, sultanas and cranberries.
“Additionally, fresh fruits such as ripe bananas, berries, apples, pears are also excellent sweet alternatives.”
Swap in one cup all purpose flour with 1/2 tsp salt and 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, Sharp said.
You can also replace this with baking soda with cream of tartar.
Any non-dairy milk can substitute milk, Sharp said, or you can get evaporated milk and mix it with water (1/2 cup of evaporated milk plus 1/2 cup of water will equal one cup of milk).
Devje agrees, adding there are many options. “Besides water mixed with butter, you can also use dairy alternatives such as plant-based kinds of milk.”