Healthy Vegan Baking Essentials

Friday, March 09, 2018

Since transitioning to a vegan diet a little over two years ago, I've been on something of a baking journey. I'd always loved cooking tasty meals, but I didn't bake all that often because all of my favourite baked goods could be picked up from just about any shop or bakery. But, while there's an endless list of easily accessible accidentally vegan foods that's growing by the day, it's not always that easy to find delicious and healthy vegan cakes, cookies and pastries from your average supermarket, so learning to master the art of vegan baking was a must for me because, while I'm quite happy with three square meals most days, some days a baked good is 100% necessary. Taking on vegan baking can be daunting and, trust me when I say, there have been a fair few flops in my vegan baking journey, but after plenty of experimentation and my fair share of treats, I've found a few tips and tricks that make baking healthy and delicious vegan treats a breeze. So, whether you're a new vegan, a seasoned vegan who just hasn't quite cracked vegan baking yet or just someone who fancies trying out some plant-based baking, this is the post for you!

Coconut milk. And I'm not talking the low fat stuff, I'm talking the creamy milk that comes in a can. Coconut milk is a lifesaver when it comes to making moist and fluffy cakes and brownies without oil or dairy free butter. I use coconut milk to replace the fat in traditional cake recipes as well as making up the liquid component to give batter the right consistency and it works a treat!

Flax egg. Ground flax is a key component in almost every recipe I bake and it's my favourite egg replacer. Simply mix a tablespoon of ground flax with three tablespoons of water, leave to thicken and you've got yourself the perfect binding agent for cakes and cookies.

Bicarbonate of soda. While flax egg acts as an egg replacer in terms of binding, it doesn't give your bakes the fluffy texture that normal eggs provide, but I've found that a combination of bicarbonate of soda and a little self-raising flour gives my bakes the the perfect rise and fluffy consistency that you want from a cake or muffin.

Apples & bananas. Like coconut milk, apples made into an apple sauce and mashed ripe bananas make a great (and easy) fat replacer in cakes and buns. Bananas work a treat in banana bread but aren't always the best option for recipes that you don't want to taste of bananas, so if you're not a fan of banana, apple sauce works in the same way but with a much more subtle taste. Apples and bananas are one of my favourite fat replacers because they add plenty of moisture to my bakes as well as adding a little sweetness too.

Natural sweeteners. When it comes to baked treats, I live by the philosophy 'the sweeter the better' so natural sweetness are an essential in my pantry. There are a ton of natural sweeteners to choose from but my favourites are maple syrup, because who doesn't love maple syrup?! Date syrup which provides a really rich, caramelly flavour and coconut sugar which can be used in exactly the same way as normal sugar.

Vegan baking isn't rocket science, but it does take some getting used to, but with these pantry essentials, you're set up for baking success!

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