I am so excited that this site is a stop along Allyson Kramer’s blog book tour for Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats From Around the World: Fantastic, Allergy-Free Ethnic Recipes.
Allyson is an inspiring recipe developer, writer and author. When we talked about I might share her fabulous new book with you we both realized the perfect way was for her to write a piece for my Vegan 101 Series! You are going to love her practical advice on vegan baking and I implore you to get her new book ASAP! Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats Around the World is the cookbook for vegans cooking for omnivore family and friends. Allyson’s recipes are hearty, healthful versions of recipes that many meat-eaters remember or want. From Save the Fishies Cakes to English Cottage Pie you will feel as if you traveled the world after reading this book and your eyes will be opened to entirely new culinary adventures!
Take it away, Allyson!
An Easy—But Essential–Vegan Baking Primer
Hi everyone! My name is Allyson Kramer, and I am very excited to be guest posting on JL’s fabulous site, where she asked me to share a basic primer for easy and delicious vegan baking. As a fervent blogger, cookbook author and recipe developer who specializes in vegan and gluten-free recipes, baking has become almost second nature to me, but it took a good bit of experimentation and know-how to arrive here. Over the years I have learned a ton and I am happy to share with those of you who may be new to baking a few simple, but invaluable, tricks of the trade.
I want to stress that vegan baking isn’t all that different from “regular” baking; mostly it’s just a matter of changing up the ingredients. However, there are many important considerations to keep in mind with baking in general, whether it be regular, vegan, or even gluten-free. Baking is a little different than cooking, because oftentimes arriving at a tasty baked treat requires a much more scientific approach—rather than shooting from the hip, so to speak. Temperatures, consistency, timing, ingredients, and technique all play an important role in a fantastic end result—it’s much more than just combining ingredients and applying heat. I have been baking for over 20 years, and I am still constantly learning new methods to create better and tastier baked goods.
But baking isn’t a difficult task if you follow a few standard guidelines. If you’re new to baking, and you’d like to make it work for you–minus the frustration–here are a few good tips to follow:
Basic Equipment Needed
- Parchment paper or silicone baking mats
- Variety of mixing bowls ranging from large to small
- Wire cooling rack
- Sturdy long handled spoon for mixing
- Spice grinder (especially handy for grinding flax and chia seeds for binding)
- Sturdy plastic spatula
- Rubber spatula
- Baking pans and muffin pans
- Measuring spoons
- Measuring cups
- Kitchen scale (especially handy for gluten-free baking where for weights are important)
Common Egg Replacers
Baking Powder Whizzed with Water: about 1 baking powder mixed with 2 tablespoons water = 1 egg
Flaxseed: grind into meal and mix with water. 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal mixed with 2 tablespoons water and left to set 5 minutes = 1 egg
Chia: grind into a meal and mix with water. 1/2 tablespoon chia mixed with 3 tablespoons water and left t set for 5 minutes = 1 egg
Vinegar: in cakes and muffins, vinegar can often be used in place of eggs as long as a rising agent is also in the ingredient list. 1 tablespoon of vinegar = 1 egg; however, don’t attempt to replace more than 4 eggs at a time using this method.
20 Simple Tips and Tricks
1) Always read a recipe all the way through before starting to ensure that you have the correct equipment and ingredients on hand to complete the recipe.
2) When making muffins or cupcakes, never fill the muffin tin completely with batter, but aim for 3/4 full to avoid batter overflowing while baking and rising.
3) When baking with multiple flours, such as in gluten-free baking, be sure to whisk and sift all the flours together before incorporating into wet ingredients.
4) As you prepare batter and looser doughs, be sure to scrape the sides of the mixing bowls to incorporate all ingredients evenly.
5) When measuring out sticky ingredients, such as molasses, brown rice syrup or goopy batters, lightly brush the measuring cups with a bit of olive or coconut oil to prevent sticking.
6) Always preheat your oven at the exact time the recipe suggests it, and never attempt to skip this step (if in a rush) unless directed, otherwise your baked good will not bake evenly or correctly. Also, avoid opening the oven door unnecessarily while baking to prevent sudden temperature changes. If you’d like to check on your baked good, utilize the internal light feature on your oven.
7) When using berries, such as blueberries or blackberries, coat them in a bit of flour before folding into the batter or dough to prevent unsightly staining.
8) If you have a new oven, or one that is older, calibrate! This can be done by simply purchasing an inexpensive oven thermometer and measuring against the temperature setting on the oven. If the oven reads differently than the thermometer, you’re going to need to adjust for recipes. Even 10 degrees difference can make a huge difference with a baked good.
9) Unless otherwise instructed, set your baking racks inside your oven to the center for even temperature control.
10) Use the timing guides for baked good as just that, guides. When baking cakes and muffins, I tend to rely more on the knife method: insert a flat butter knife into the center of the baked good. If when you pull it out, no batter clings to the knife, then it is cooked all the way through and is ready.
11) When baking gluten-free goodies, do not be tempted to open the oven door until the suggested baking time is up! Even a slight change in temperature can be jarring enough to break the structure of a gluten-free baked good, since there is no gluten protein to keep it strong pre-baking.
12) When greasing and flouring a pan to create a chocolate cake, use cocoa powder to “flour” the pan
13) Never grease a cookie sheet unless directed. Cookie dough can be placed directly onto an ungreased sheet for baking.
14) Pretty much all drop cookies should appear slightly under baked when first removed from the oven; at this point, leave them on the rack before attempting to remove them with a flat sturdy spatula and transfer to a wire rack.
15) When a recipe states a suggested time frame, such as 20 to 25 minutes, check on the baked good at the minimum suggested time to avoid over baking.
16) To ensure a flawless iced cake, plan to make enough icing to cover the cake twice. The first layer is called the “crumb coat” and should be applied evenly but somewhat thinly. This coat is there to trap the crumbs from the outside of the cake. Once the first layer is applied, freeze the iced cake for about 10 to 15 minutes to trap the crumbs and then ice the cake with a second layer to ensure smooth frosting application.
17) Avoid over stirring a cake, brownie, and muffin batter unless instructed in the recipe, especially when adding in ingredients at the end. Usually stirring just until mixed is all you need
18) Never attempt to frost cakes, cookies or any other baked good while still hot. Wait until the baked good is completely cool before beginning.
19) Many recipes utilize baking powder and baking soda. Make sure that yours is fresh and replace often, even if the box isn’t used up completely—the quality of these ingredients can make or break a baked good.
20) Stick to the written measurements precisely, and once you’ve made it the suggested way, if you’d like, change up the recipe only slightly. A vast difference in flour versus liquid content can be the difference from something delectable to something inedible
Follow these basic guidelines, add a bit of practice and persistence, and you’ll be an expert in no time!
Thank you so much, Allyson, for a fantastic overview of vegan baking! And congratulations on your gorgeous new book. Readers, be sure to check out Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats Around the World!