Skip to main content

Vegan Baking Cheat Sheet


Karina's Vegan Baking Cheat Sheet


Baking gluten-free and vegan translates to one simple truth that is hard to teach. Because it can only be learned by experience. This one simple truth?

Unlearn everything you think you know- or thought you understood- about baking.

All those mandatory Home Economics classes about kneading bread dough for ten minutes to improve elasticity or leavening a cake with beaten egg whites won't help your inner Betty Crocker to bloom if you're gluten-free and vegan. In fact, clinging to old notions about what works- and what doesn't- might lead you down a rather prickly circuitous path to ruin. Not to mention, your personal Culinary Museum of Failure. But don't let this bare bones truth inhibit you.

In fact, let it free you.

Embrace your unlearning. Cast your tightly gripped assumptions about butter and cream and spelt and yolks out the kitchen screen door. Give them a boot. Wish them Vaya con Dios, because Kansas, Dorothy, is going bye bye. Welcome to Oz.

Some gluten-free folks bake vegan for ethical reasons- they don't eat anything with a face. Others are dairy-free or egg-free due to additional food allergies (common among celiacs and those on the neuro-diverse autism spectrum).

Whatever your reasons for baking g-free vegan, I welcome you with open arms. I've been baking without gluten for seven-plus years. And June 2009 marks my second anniversary for baking strictly vegan- no dairy, no eggs, and just to keep life interesting, no soy. Or beans. My body is less than fond of anything in the legume family. That's why you won't find me using tofu, soy milk or chick pea flour in my recipes. (But if they float your boat, have at 'em.)




One important note about gluten-free treats and ingredients-

My philosophy is that a treat should taste like a treat- especially if you bake with a limited palate. For sweetening I use organic golden brown sugar. I don't pretend my Buckwheat Chocolate Chip Cookie is health food. It's a cookie. If you need to balance your diet, make a soup chock full of seasonal veggies. Eat a crisp green salad topped with hemp or salba seeds. Whip up a fruit smoothie with rice protein powder. And if you crave a cookie, then go enjoy a cookie. Take a walk. Stretch. Breathe. A little sugar is not going to hurt you- unless you need to eat low glycemic; the choice then, is to use organic raw agave nectar (basically, fructose, which is metabolized by the liver and impacts blood sugar with less of a bang). But- and you suspected there was a but, right?- too much agave, like too much sugar, isn't necessarily a "healthier choice", either. Fructose- in any form- is still sugar, and should be enjoyed in moderation.

In the spirit of moderation, I follow two approaches- a traditional Mediterranean Diet approach to cooking that emphasizes extra virgin olive oil as the main fat (I use olive oil in place of butter as an Italian inspired bread dip, drizzled on baked potatoes, and whisked in salad dressings), plenty of fresh vegetables,  gluten-free whole grains, and garlic with herbs. In cooking I use a higher smoke point avocado oil. The second approach I favor is a fusion of Asian and California vegan cooking that features fresh stir-fries, rice, and rice noodles, Thai-inspired sauces with coconut milk, salads, seaweed, non-GMO organic tofu, soaked nuts and vegetarian sushi.

For shortening in baking I use raw organic coconut oil, or sometimes Spectrum Organic Shortening made from palm oil. If you can use one of the organic non-trans fat vegan margarine spreads on the market, they should work in my recipes as long as the blend is suitable for baking (some light blends contain too much water for use in baking or cooking).

I'm starting to experiment with more nut flours and coconut flour in baking. If you'd like to add a nut flour to your g-free flour mix, feel free to replace 1/4 to 1/2 cup of one of the higher protein flours I use (such as quinoa or buckwheat) with nut meal or coconut flour. Note: nut meals create a chewier texture; and coconut flour absorbs liquid, so use less liquid with coconut flour, or the result will be heavy.




Karina's Vegan G-Free Baking Cheat Sheet


My favorite protein rich gluten-free flours in vegan baking:

Sorghum flour
Almond flour
Hazelnut flour
Buckwheat flour
Millet flour
Quinoa flour
Brown rice flour
Coconut flour

More choices:

Cornmeal (certified GF)
Teff flour
Amaranth flour
Chick pea and bean flours
Soy flour

A blend of at least two gluten-free flours is best. Add a little starch or two to help the heavier g-free flours rise and stretch. In summer heat and humidity keep flours stored in the fridge (bean and brown rice flours especially can spoil quickly).

Starches for lightness and stretch:

Arrowroot starch
Potato starch (NOT potato flour)
Tapioca starch
Cornstarch

Add some flaxseed meal for fiber.

You need a gum:

In gluten-free baking, xanthan gum helps add viscosity and stretchy give to batters and doughs. Some folks are highly suspicious of xanthan gum, a mold derived additive grown on cellulose (usually corn), but to me, xanthan isn't all that scary; it is odorless and tasteless (if it isn't, you've got a bad batch). It doesn't come cheap; but a bag will last you for months; store it in the fridge.

For those who can handle legumes, guar gum is a cheaper, similar binding product made from guar beans. Note: those with sensitive digestion may react to guar gum (some report it works as a laxative).

For those of you baking gum-free, one alternative is to add a tablespoon of arrowroot starch to your basic g-free flour mix. It doesn't exactly replicate the viscosity that xanthan gum gives dough and batters, but. Hey. It helps. Flax seed gel helps a bit, as well.

Replacing eggs:

For most egg-free recipes, I use powdered Ener-G Egg Replacer mixed with warm water. 1 tablespoon powdered replacer whisked with 4 tablespoons warm water equals 2 eggs. This works in cakes, cookies, muffins, and breads. It does not replace eggs in a custard based recipe, unfortunately.

If avoiding corn or potato starch, substitute 1 tablespoon tapioca starch or arrowroot starch plus 3 tablespoons water for each egg called for in recipe to help binding. You will need to increase leavening a bit to compensate; add 1/4 teaspoon baking powder.

Flax seed is a choice (for those not allergic to flax seeds). Use two tablespoons ground flax meal plus 1/8 teaspoon baking powder blended with 3 tablespoons of water for each egg called for in recipe.

Chia seeds can also- theoretically- be used as a gel for gluten-free baking. From the genus Salvia hispanica, chia is a plant in the Mint family- an excellent alternative for those of us allergic to flax seed.Just be careful it doesn't make the batter too gummy. Bake thoroughly.

Banana: Try a half mashed ripe banana plus 1/4 teaspoon baking powder for each egg.

Mayo: Use 3 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise in place of one egg, for binding. I would add a little extra leavening- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder.

Tofu: Try using 1/4 cup silken tofu for one egg for binding; I would add a little extra leavening- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder.

Replacing Dairy:

This is the easiest part of vegan baking. Use your favorite non-dairy milk alternative in place of milk. To create a sour buttermilk taste, add a 1/2 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice or light tasting vinegar to the non-dairy milk. Or add a tablespoon of Vegenaise. You can also use juice- in an apple cake or muffin, try apple juice or cider. In cakes and scones try orange juice, pineapple juice, or pear juice.

For replacing yogurt, any g-free non-dairy yogurt should work.

Replacing butter:

As mentioned above in the introduction, I use light olive oil or organic coconut oil in baking and it works like a charm (as well as being good for you). Start with LESS oil than the butter called for. At least 1 to 3 tablespoons less.

Other choices include Spectrum Organic Shortening (you can sub one to one for butter), or grapeseed oil, canola and safflower oil (use less than the amount of butter called for).

Fruit puree can also work as a fat sub, but some tinkering may be necessary. Start with only subbing half the fat and go slow. Mix up the batter and make sure it's not too heavy. Applesauce, pumpkin, squash and sweet potato puree can all add low fat body to batters and breads. You may have to compensate for the added flavor- use extra spice (ginger, cinnamon) or more vanilla extract. Choose your pairings for compatibility- stronger tastes like sweet potato go better with deeper flavors like molasses, ginger and pie spices, for instance.

Storing G-Free Vegan Baked Goods

Freeze it. If you're not eating all of it, it's best to slice, wrap in foil, bag, and freeze it. Even cookies. It seems like a pain to do this for simple things like cookies and brownies, but it's worth the effort. It will keep your goodies fresh. And one advantage is you'll have a store of ready-to-go treats on hand.


Troubleshooting in vegan g-free baking:

The cake or bread did not rise; or it rose and fell:

Too much liquid and not enough structure (sugar is structure, if you lessen it or replace it with agave, your batter may be too wet or too gummy), or too much leavening (it rose too fast then collapsed). Try using less liquid.

The oven temperature was too high or too low (every oven has its own personality). Test your oven with an oven thermometer- you might be surprised.

The pan was too small. If there is too much batter in a pan, the middle is thicker and takes longer to bake.

The pan was too big. A larger pan than called for results in a thinner, flatter end result.

You used frozen fruit and the batter got cold. Or you chill your flours or liquid ingredients; next time bring all ingredients to room temperature; use hot liquid.

Or mix your batter and let it sit for ten minutes.

Tips:

Batters should resemble slightly thicker, stickier versions of their wheat based counterparts. If a batter is too thin, add more g-free flour (not starch). If a batter is too thick add a tablespoon of warm water at a time until it reaches the right consistency. How will you know it when you see it? After baking awhile, you will develop an intuition about batters, and how they behave in your oven, at your altitude, season, and weather.

Karina's Notes on gluten-free vegan batter:

Gluten-free vegan batters are a tad different than wheat and white flour batters. They are stiffer at first, then stretch and get sticky as the xanthan gum and egg replacer do their thing.

If the batter "climbs" the beaters, slow down the speed and slightly lift the beaters to encourage the batter to move back down into the bowl. Move your beater around the bowl in figure eights, at a slight angle. Practice your technique- soon you'll be winging around gluten-free vegan baking like a pro.

Vegan G-free Dough:

Yeasted g-free bread dough (and pizza dough) is less like traditional dough and more resembles a thick cake batter; you spread it with wet hands or spatula. If it's too thick, I find the loaf turns out too dense. Check the consistency while mixing and adjust the wet to dry ratio if you need to.

Weather and humidity can influence dough; I find I need to tweak dough from time to time- adding an extra tablespoon of warm water if it's too thick, or a tablespoon of sorghum flour if it's too thin- like a thin cake batter. It needs to be more like thick cake or muffin batter.

If the weather is very humid, use less honey or agave- they are both humectant and attract moisture. Use less liquid as well- too much liquid makes a loaf gummy or sunken.

Use metal pans for baking. I use (Chicago Metallic).

If you use glass baking pans, read the manufacturer's guidelines for glass pans; you may need to alter oven temperature by lowering it 25 degrees F.

I don't care for silicone baking pans. I'm not sure gluten-free flours do either.

Trouble: The cake, bread, cookie, muffin wasn't done in the center; or it was gummy in the center.

Check the cake, bread etc before removing it from the oven. If the center of a cake, muffin or bread is soft, wiggly or depressed, bake it longer until it is firm to a light touch. Don't be afraid to bake it for another ten minutes or more if it needs it.

Test with a wooden pick. It should be clean when it's done.

Note that every oven is slightly different, and your oven temperature may be hotter or cooler than mine; adjust the baking times to your oven. If you consistently need 5 extra minutes baking time, expect that. Or if you seem to need less, check for doneness sooner.

High altitude baking needs longer baking times. Some egg-free recipes, such as brownies, are really tough to bake at high altitude. You might try increasing oven temperature by 25 degrees F.

Your pan might be too large, or the batter too wet.

Using seed gels for an egg replacer can produce a gummy center. Even hemp seed "milk" might do this.

Too much fruit puree, frozen fruit, or too much liquid can all produce a gummy center.

I find that agave increases moisture in a recipe- like honey, it's a humectant. If the center is gummy, cut back on the agave- especially if it's humid.

Tips:

Measure the dry ingredients with dry nested cups - not glass liquid measuring cups.

Measure wet ingredients in glass measuring cups for liquid- not dry nested cups (there is a difference in volume!).

Spoon or pour dry ingredients into dry measuring cups and level off- do not scoop the cup into the flour bag.

Make sure your ingredients are room temperature.

Let your batter or dough rest after mixed. Gluten-free flours often benefit from a little extra batter time. Let the batter sit in the baking pan ten minutes before baking it.

If cookies spread too rapidly, chill dough for an hour first. Try using a silicone baking sheet liner. Try using a dark metal cookie sheet.

Weather affects ingredients. Flours can absorb humidity. Storing them in the fridge also adds dampness. You may need to use less liquid on rainy or humid days. Start with two tablespoons less.


The Vegan Baking Cheat Sheet is © 2009-2016 Gluten-Free Goddess. All rights reserved.




TRENDING

Gluten-Free Goddess Raspberry Jam Bars

Sweet and simple raspberry jam bars. Let's be honest. I am here today to tempt you. To coax you. To seduce you with a gluten-free dessert worthy of every single luscious calorie. In full transparency, I am admitting up front these are not fat-free. Or sugar-free. These aren't diet food. They're not proper for breakfast (unless you serve them with Champagne). And you won't be able to sigh ever-so-wistfully at parties and mention, off hand, how hard it is to eat gluten-free at family gatherings and parties. Because, Darling Reader, you'll score zero sympathy points once people sink their teeth into the luscious raspberry jam filling nestled between buttery toasted coconut-almond crunch topping and tender hazelnut cookie crust. Nope. In fact, these decadent raspberry coconut-almond bars should come with a warning:   Be careful who you share these with. Because they are sure to fall madly in love with you. Seriously. Karina xox

Gluten-Free Baking Tips + Substitutions

Need wheat-free gluten-free baking tips? Help is Here. Here's what works- and what doesn't- in quirky Gluten-Free Baking and Substitution Land. From Karina, Gluten-Free Goddess®. Baking Substitutions for Wheat-Free, Gluten-Free and More Notes on GF Flours: Gluten-free non-wheat flours generally fall into three basic weights- light starch, all-purpose medium, or heavier whole grain. A blend of medium and heavy flours with some starch mixed in to lighten, tenderize, and help bind the batter or dough works best, and tastes best (too much starch can result in a gummy texture). Light, starchy GF flours include sweet rice flour, white rice flour, and the ubiquitous gluten-free starches- tapioca starch, cornstarch, potato starch (NOT potato flour, which is whole different animal) and arrowroot starch. Medium flours are akin to 'all purpose flour'- these include sorghum flour, certified gluten-free oat flour, and superfine brown rice flour. If you cannot find sorg

Gluten-Free Goddess Blueberry Muffins- No Xanthan Gum

Baking Without Xanthan Gum, I Am. When I first set foot on this lonely gluten-free road (it was 2001, remember, pre-gluten-free boon; there was nary a gluten-free bagel or wheat-free blueberry muffin in sight), I wrestled with converting my beloved tried and true wheat flour recipes, gamely baking and tossing too many gluten-free hockey pucks and brick loaves to count. Until I discovered xanthan gum- the weirdo secret ingredient that gave gluten-free batter and dough a hint of that elusive stretchy tenderness that gluten once gifted. Xanthan gum was a find. And it has been a nifty little problem solver for many years. Until it wasn't. After a decade or so of cooking, baking, and eating strictly gluten-free I began to feel- shall we say- less than wonderful after eating something with xanthan gum (or guar gum, or locust bean gum, or carrageenan). Ingredients my grandmother never heard of. Ingredients I never used to eat. Or bake with. I had a gluten-free shakabuk

Gluten-Free Goddess Brownies- The Best

Why bake a gluten-free brownie from scratch and not a mix? While baking mixes are perfectly acceptable in a pinch, and no doubt a boon to busy cooks on a gluten-free diet (well, honestly, who isn't busy, preoccupied, overwhelmed, and anxious these days, I ask you?), your taste buds will tell you why. In a heart beat, Darling. A dark chocolate brownie made from scratch is deeply delicious and decadent. Impressive, even. Company worthy. Dare I say, date night worthy. I'm not kidding. This brownie recipe is swoon inducing. (You know what they say about chocolate.)  But here's the best part. Throwing this recipe together takes only a few minutes longer than opening up a box of mix. In fact, you can whip up these luscious gooey babies in a mere ten minutes. In less time than it takes you to scan your daily dose of cute animals IG feed.  Seriously.  So what is more rewarding? Watching baby donkeys frolic on Instagram or stirring together this rich, tender, dark chocolat

Gluten-Free Lasagna In a Casserole Style Slow Cooker

Slow Cooker Lasagna As it Should Be. Delicious! And perfect for old fashioned family comfort food. It's been a long time since I flirted with a new kitchen appliance. Truthfully? I barely have room for the few gems I still have, after all these moves. Though I've got more room these days, post apartment living. We're finally in a house. And the days of a kitchen without an oven are in the rearview mirror.  You remember those rental days, right?  In Rental World they don't always give you a full size, actual oven. They might just give you a four burner cooktop. And a rickety microwave.  So what's a gluten-free lasagna craving girl gonna do? Make a mug of chai.  Cruise Amazon.  Because this. A  Crock-Pot Casserole Manual Slow Cooker .   Brilliant. My first lasagna in this new Crock Pot Casserole Slow Cooker Please note: This is NOT a sponsored post.  I assembled this classic family style lasagna at noon today-

Gluten-Free Goddess Bread Recipe - dairy-free and rice-free, too

One Delicious Loaf... Man shall not live by bread alone, so the famous saying goes. In other words, we need ideas to feed us, too. We need awareness. Conscious action. An expression and celebration of the spirit. And yet (here's the sticky part, folks) almost every spiritual tradition includes the bread we shall not solely live by, whether it be a hand-torn loaf, a paper thin wafer, a piece of matzoh, a curve of naan, or a sprinkle of cornmeal. Breaking bread and sharing grain is a cherished and beloved symbol for community, celebration and tribal nourishment. From Holy Communion to the Super Bowl gatherings around an elevating principle or a family milestone (from birth to marriage to funerals) include the simple but connecting gesture of sharing food. Because cooking makes us human. And eating illustrates our kinship with the entire animal kingdom. Humans are animals, after all, interlinked and cousined by astonishingly similar DNA and subatomic particles from the

Gluten-Free Goddess Zucchini Breakfast Cake

Zucchini Cake! Yep. What's for breakfast, you ask? Cereal? Yogurt? #Boring Instead, let's eat cake.  A tasty breakfast cake inspired by those lovely  maple sweetened almond zucchini mini-muffins . Remember those? I sure do.  They've become one of our favorite grab-and-go gluten-free treats. I tuck a bag of them- fresh out of the freezer- into my (bulging) purse/backpack/tote whenever we venture far afield. Because, well. You never know. And even if we are still stuck at home, isolating ourselves week after week like champs... today I remembered those zucchini muffins and thought--- hmmmmm.  What. If. We. Make. Zucchini. Cake. For breakfast!? Because. #notboring Karina xox Gluten-Free Goddess Zucchini Breakfast Cake Recipe By Karina Allrich May 2012. Sweetened only with a half cup pure maple syrup, this cake is not overly sweet. Which makes it perfect for breakfast or a mid-afternoon snack. Almond meal, sorghum flour and quinoa flakes add protein and nutritio