Easy Swaps for Allergen-Free Baking
Baking is a beloved pastime. Pulling a fluffy loaf of bread or easy-to-share pan of brownies out of the oven can be one of life's simplest pleasures. But what happens when you're allergic to a common baking ingredient?
Avoid letting your food allergies or sensitivities prevent you from creating a pan of decadent cookies or a rave-worthy pies. Instead of dairy, gluten, and eggs, opt for these easy allergen-free swaps create delicious baked goods without the off-limit ingredients.
Replacing dairy is actually a relatively simple baking swap. With the current large selection of dairy-free 'milk' products on the market, ranging in everything from coconut to cashew, you're spoiled for options. Most milk substitutes can be switched 1 for 1 when in a baking recipe, just make sure that you're using dairy-free options that have a similar thickness to dairy milk (steer away from watery varieties like rice or potato milks) to avoid a texture difference in your final product.
If you're trying to replace buttermilk, mix 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice with 1 cup of your milk alternative of choice and set it aside for a few minutes. The acidity of the lemon juice will 'curdle' the dairy-free milk, resulting in a thicker texture and more sour flavor similar to buttermilk.
Since wheat flour is almost always the base ingredient for baked goods, gluten-free baking can sometimes be a tricky task. Despite this potential set back, there are a wealth of gluten-free baking products on the market. Most grocery stores now carry gluten-free flour varieties, plus the starches and gums that are necessary for baking sans gluten. Which flours you should use depends on which recipe you're attempting to make gluten-free. Many bakers opt for a mild-tasting mixture of white rice flour with potato and tapioca starches when making desserts, but sometimes heartier grain flours are better to add a distinct flavor and texture. For specific gluten-free options, and recipes to use them in, read further in our Gluten-Free Flour, Grains, and Starches Guide and Gluten-Free Cookbook.
It can sometimes be a struggle to find specific, egg-free baking recipes. Whether it's yolks, whites, or the whole thing, eggs are a common ingredient for most baked goods. The main issue with eggs is that they're used for a variety of reasons like binding, rising, or glazing baked recipes. If you can pinpoint the main function of the eggs in your baking recipe, then you can easily swap them out with some simple replacer options.
- Flaxseed: To replace one egg, mix together 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed with 3 tablespoons warm water. Set aside for a minute until the mixtures 'gels' and then mix into your baking recipe. This shouldn't affect the taste and the gelatinized flaxseed will act as a great binder, but for lighter colored dessert (like chocolate chip cookies or vanilla cake) the seeds will change the color of the finished product.
- Banana: If you don't mind a strong flavor addition, mashed banana is a naturally sweet binder for baked goods. 1/4 cup of finely mashed or pureed banana replaces one egg and can be mixed into recipes before baking.
- Aquafaba: Don't pour out that bean liquid! Aquafaba is an easy ingredient to use as an egg replacer. Simply substitute one egg by mixing 3 tablespoons of aquafaba into your recipe before baking. Aquafaba also whips wonderfully into stiff, white peaks, making it a great replacer for egg whites in baking or cocktail recipes.
- Baking soda: A common baking ingredient to begin with, baking soda makes a powerful rising agent when combined with the pantry staple of vinegar. While vinegar in your baked goods might sour you on the idea of using baking soda, most recipes need such a small amount that you can't taste it in the final product. To replace one egg, combine 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 1 tablespoon of white vinegar into your batter just before baking. This method works best on small dishes like cupcakes or a pan of brownies, since with larger baking recipes (like a sheet cake) the middle can occasionally sink in.
- Aquafaba: Adding a glaze to your recipe just before baking can result in a wonderfully shiny and Instagram-able baked good. An easy egg-free way to achieve this is to use a pastry brush to coat dishes with a thin layer of aquafaba to achieve a smooth finish.