If you are vegan, cooking for someone who is vegan or considering taking up a vegan lifestyle yourself, one of the most important things to get right is vegan baking.
Vegan baking ingredients are a little different to what you might have traditionally used.
So what are the vegan essentials for your baking cupboard? And what if you are also looking for gluten free options too?
Understanding and using these ‘free from’ home baking alternatives are the first steps on your new culinary journey!
When switching to vegan baking, the ingredient that looms largest is eggs. Eggs act as a binding agent, and add texture and leavening.
Popular alternatives to eggs in baking include:
Many vegan bakers consider ready-made egg replacer products to be one of their most important vegan essentials.
Butter provides moisture and flavour in baking. It helps to hydrate the flour and starches, and aids with binding the ingredients together.
Some recipes call for mashed banana or mashed avocado to provide that fatty alternative to butter in your baking.
When it comes to cooking, reliable butter alternatives include olive oil, coconut oil, vegetable stock, or avocado oil.
For example, you might want to try Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Avocado Oil.
This oil is a rich emerald green colour, made from a single cold-pressed method. It is a richer, more luxurious fat to add to your vegan cooking. And so flavoursome that it should be added at the end of the process (or drizzled on salad if you want to enjoy that flavour to its maximum!)
When frying or roasting, try coconut oil or olive oil instead.
All flour is suitable for vegans, because the production of flour does not utilise any animal products.
However, many following a vegan diet also look for gluten free alternatives. Gluten is also avoided by those with celiac disease, for whom gluten causes an immune reaction.
You can swap out ordinary flour for gluten free alternatives at a ratio of one to one.
For example, almond flour is a popular alternative – try Holland & Barrett Almond Flour for your baking needs.
Almond flour is subtly sweet, with nutty hints to it, and works particularly well when making macaroons or biscuits.
Coconut flour has quite a different flavour. Coconut flours such as Holland and Barrett Coconut Flour or Bobs Red Mill Organic Coconut Flour are made from the dried, pressed meat of a mature coconut, left over once the coconut milk has been extracted.
Coconut flour’s natural sweetness makes it delicious in cakes and vegan chocolates, and it is naturally wheat free and grain free.
Another gluten free flour option which is suitable for vegans is buckwheat flour. You might like to try Holland and Barrett Buckwheat Flour.
This natural ingredient is best suited to savoury bakes, such as pancakes, bread, noodles and pasta.
If you are baking cakes or breads, try adding one teaspoon of xanthum gum to your gluten free flour to act as a raising agent.
These are available to buy from specialist retailers, including Holland and Barrett. Bobs Red Mill Xanthum Gum is an emulsifier and binder, adding volume to your gluten free cookies, cakes and bread.
Arrowroot powder can also be used in place of xanthum gum. The general rule is that half a teaspoon of arrowroot powder is needed for each cup of wheat flour.
If the recipe calls for a partial cup, round up the amount of arrowroot powder you need.
Stock your gluten free baking cupboard with Holland & Barrett Organic Arrowroot.
When experimenting with gluten free baking and gluten free baking ingredients, feel free to be a little flexible with the recipe.
Some alternative gluten free flours can be a little drier, so it is worth trying out additional liquid ingredients such as water or oil, to help create a moist bake.