You see a recipe with an image beside it that makes your mouth water so you pull out baking pans and ingredients only to find that you are missing something vital. Or you prefer not to use all the processed ingredients called for. Or, if you’re like many people these days, you have sensitivities to many of the ingredients
But, guess what? You CAN have your cake and eat it too....literally! (Couldn’t resist!)
The good news is that there are usually many substitutions you can make for ingredients that you don’t have, can’t eat or prefer not to use!
Fats that are solid at room temperature can give food a crumbly texture. They are called shorteners as they break down gluten into shorter strands hindering the formation of gluten (which would make the dough more stretchy) by preventing the flour from absorbing water.
There are a couple of substitutions you can make for lard or shortening:
Coconut Oil is actually my favourite substitution, since coconut oil has the same consistency as shortening when it is at room temperature. Anything warmer than room temperature (approximately 20 degrees Celsius or 68 degrees Fahrenheit) will become liquid and anything colder will become very hard and will not be easy to measure. I have had great success using coconut oil in equal measure to shortening or butter.
Butter is another great substitute, and if you’re not vegan, is accepted as a healthier option these days with diets like the Keto Diet being popular. There is no magic shortening to butter
conversion. Generally, you can use butter or margarine in place of shortening as a one-to-one swap. Making this substitution may slightly alter the texture of your baked goods. Shortening is 100 percent fat, while Butter and margarine are about 85 percent fat and 15 percent water. This additional liquid may change the consistency of the sweets you bake.
Eggs serve several purposes in baking. They contribute to the structure, color, flavour and consistency of baked goods in the following ways:
Binding: Eggs help combine ingredients and hold them together, which gives food its structure and prevents it from falling apart.
Leavening: Eggs trap pockets of air in foods, causing them to expand during heating. This helps foods puff up or rise, giving baked goods their volume and light, airy texture.
Moisture: The liquid from eggs is absorbed into the other ingredients in a recipe, which helps add moisture to the finished product.
Flavor and appearance: Eggs help carry the flavors of other ingredients and brown when exposed to heat. They help improve the taste of baked goods and contribute to their golden-brown appearance.
- Flaxseeds and chia seeds are both tiny seeds that are highly nutritious. You can grind the seeds yourself at home or buy ready-made seed meal from the store. To replace one egg, whisk together 1 tablespoon (7 grams) of ground chia or flax seeds with 3 tablespoons (45 grams) of water until fully absorbed and thickened. Doing so may cause baked goods to become heavy and dense. Also, it may result in a nuttier flavor, so it works best in products like pancakes, waffles, muffins, breads and cookies.
- Apple Sauce - Using ¼ cup (about 65 grams) of applesauce can replace one egg in most recipes. It's best to use unsweetened applesauce. If you're using a sweetened variety, you should reduce the amount of sugar or sweetener in the recipe itself.
- Mashed Banana - If you prefer that your finished product not have a banana flavour, other puréed fruits like pumpkin and avocado work too and may not affect the flavor as much. Whichever fruit you choose to use, you can replace each egg with ¼ cup (65 grams) of purée. Baked goods made with puréed fruits may not brown as deeply, but they will be very dense and moist. This substitution works best in cakes, muffins, brownies and quick breads.
- Both yogurt and buttermilk are good substitutes for eggs. It's best to use plain yogurt, as flavored and sweetened varieties may alter the flavor of your recipe. You can use ¼ cup (60 grams) of yogurt or buttermilk for each egg that needs to be replaced. This substitution works best for muffins, cakes and cupcakes.
Sugar is the ingredient that everyone loves to hate and we are all looking for the perfect substitute. My favourites are honey and maple syrup, but many people also like stevia and Lakanto, with which I have not yet experimented.
Here are some tips for substituting:
- Raw, unpasteurized honey has many great nutrients in its profile. Although the living enzymes may be destroyed by the heat of baking, many of the minerals remain, making it a very healthy option. Substitute one cup of sugar for ¾ cups of honey and be sure to decrease the liquid in the recipe by 2-4 tsp.
- Maple syrup is much the same as honey in that it contains many healthy nutrients, some of which will remain after baking. As with honey, substitute ¾ cups of maple syrup for every cup of sugar. Decrease liquids by 3 tablespoons per ¾ cups of maple syrup.
- Stevia is a little more tricky. For every cup of sugar, substitute 1 tsp of stevia. For 1 tablespoon of sugar, substitute 1/8 of a teaspoon of stevia. For 1 tsp. of sugar, substitute just a pinch of stevia.
Making delicious food shouldn’t be complicated. The worst that can happen is that it doesn’t turn out exactly as you wanted it to. That’s doesn’t mean it won’t be delicious. And you never know, you might stumble on something that you didn’t know could be so delicious!
Experiment and HAVE FUN!