11 Must-Have Ingredients for Vegan Baking
Inspired by The Great British Bake Off but want to make sure your food doesn’t harm animals? Vegan baking is an easy way to make your favourite recipes cruelty-free, which is also healthier for you and better for the planet.
The following are the store-cupboard staples that no self-respecting vegan baker should be without. Read on to discover how easy it is to veganise your muffins, cakes, biscuits and other sweet treats!
- Cocoa powder: One tablespoon of this rich chocolaty goodness contains 12 calories, 1 gram of protein and only a tenth of a gram of sugar. Most high-quality cocoa is vegan, but double-check the ingredients to make sure no pesky dairy ingredients have been added.
- Soya milk, almond milk or rice milk: Plant-based milks are ideal for baking and can easily be substituted for milk from cows in traditional recipes. In addition to sparing animals suffering, they’re also lower in fat. Soya, almond and rice milk have the most neutral flavour, but if you’re after something richer, a tin of coconut milk makes for a decadent dessert.
- Vegan margarine: This is the butter of the vegan world but without the high saturated-fat levels of dairy foods. It can be made of sunflower oil, soya bean oil or even coconut oil.
- Avocados, bananas and applesauce: These can all function as egg replacers. Just mash avocados or bananas into a smooth paste and add them to your batter. The consistency of these fruits in baking acts as a binding agent, which means your cakes won’t be dry or crumbly but will be free of cholesterol.
- Coconut oil: This oil is lighter in consistency than olive or vegetable oil and has a milder taste that’s perfect for baking. Coconut oil is a solid, as opposed to a liquid, oil, and it takes only a few minutes for it to melt over very low heat (or a few seconds in the microwave). It’s prized for being one of the richest oils for naturally occurring saturated fats (the good kind that helps keep your heart, hair and skin healthy).
- Peanut butter: A spread which can be enjoyed sweet or savoury – what more could you ask for? Whether you like it crunchy or smooth, peanut butter is great for keeping you full longer while also containing “good fats”, so there’s no need to go for those low-fat options. It adds a lovely nutty taste to brownies, cakes and biscuits.
- Silken tofu: For vegan cheesecakes, quiches and other moist dishes, tofu is your best option. Use a blender to achieve the perfect creamy texture. A quarter cup of blended tofu can substitute for one egg in traditional recipes.
- Dark chocolate: Dark chocolate adds a richer taste to your baked goods than milk chocolate and is filled with nutritious properties, including fibre, iron, magnesium, copper and zinc.
- Maple syrup and agave nectar: Both of these delicious natural sugars can serve as cruelty-free replacements for honey. They’re great for vegan baking not only because of their sweetness but also because of their health benefits. Agave nectar has a low glycemic index, making it a far healthier baking choice than processed sugar, while maple syrup contains antioxidants and is, of course, delicious.
- Medjool dates: These dates are perfect for baking, as they’re naturally sweet and a great source of fibre. They also maintain your blood sugar levels, boost energy levels, help fight arteriosclerosis, kick-start your digestion and are filled with minerals.
- Almonds: They’re a great addition to baked goods and can either be ground into almond flour, which acts as a flour replacer (especially useful for gluten-free vegans) or be used to increase the nutrients level of a tasty treat.
Now you’ve got your ingredients – it’s time to get baking!