I am delighted to have my friend Allyson Kramer of Manifest Vegan guest post here today. While I am not vegan myself, we are a dairy free family and I also have a child with an egg allergy. Dairy free substitutes are actually quite easy to navigate when cooking and baking, but eggs are a different matter altogether. Yes, it is still possible enjoy delicious baked goods made with egg alternatives, you just need a little time and patience to experiment (okay, a lot of time and patience). Something that seems to be a rare commodity when raising a busy, food allergic family!
Allyson has kindly offered to share her substitution tips with us today as well as her brilliant solution to a recipe riddle that has eluded me for the past couple of years: gluten free, corn free (grain free in fact), dairy free, egg free and soy free vanilla pudding. Pudding that has a texture similar to the famous brand named box, not the slimy texture that seems to accompany other corn free alternative starches.
I think I have a bonafide blogger crush.
Which is definitely confirmed by our mutual love of nasal jewelery.
Allyson Kramer is a cookbook author and founder of the blog manifestvegan.com, which she launched in 2009 as a way to communicate her love of vegan cooking and recipe development to the world. Shortly after the site’s launch, Allyson was diagnosed with Celiac disease, and she began focusing solely on gluten-free, vegan recipes. Allyson develops all of the recipes and photos that appear on the site and has become an authority on vegan and gluten-free cuisine. She resides in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids and adopted animal friends.
No eggs, no milk? No problem!
How is it possible to bake or cook without dairy or eggs?
This is often the first concern of people who are thinking about eliminating dairy and eggs from their diets–especially those of us who are avid bakers. And even more so for those of us who are avid gluten-free bakers! Most baked goods recipes contain the obligatory stick of butter and several eggs. With gluten-free recipes in particular, you’ll often find a large amount of eggs called for because eggs balance out the lack of gluten —acting as a binder as well as making many baked goods rise. But eggs aren’t the only solution. In fact, it’s not the actual eggs, butter or milk that’s necessary to achieve great results in baking, but the qualities and chemistry of those ingredients that make a recipe work. Whether it be rising power, binding capabilities, adding fat to a recipe, or simply just thinning a batter, you can find these properties in many plant based foods—and they yield just as good results as their animal based counterparts.
For instance, if a replacement for heavy cream is desired, a dairy-free minded person would need to figure out which type of plant based food is similar to heavy cream. Heavy cream is thick, of course creamy, mild tasting, and full of fat. If you’ve ever cooked a Thai or a South Indian curry, you’ll know that canned coconut milk possesses all these qualities. It’s thick like cream, cooks like cream, and is quite high in fat like cream. It’s even a similar color, which makes it a fabulous substitute 1:1 for heavy cream. I’ve used it successfully in everything from homemade caramels to ice cream, and have never been disappointed with the results.
Sometimes the math is easy as simply using almond or soy milk in place of cows’ milk, but other times, it takes some experimentation to figure out what works best in dairy and egg free baking. I’m going to share my list of substitutions that I’ve been using and discovering from others over the past 15 years since I first started eliminating dairy and eggs from my diet.
Follow these simple guidelines for delectable egg and dairy-free baking:
2 % milk:
Almond milk, soymilk, hemp milk and coconut milk (from a carton such as So Delicious brand) all make great substitutes for cows’ milk holding the same consistency and a similar flavor to 2 % milk. For cooking or sauces, I highly recommend using almond or coconut milk, as soy and hemp tend to curdle or separate when heated. Use cup for cup like 2% milk in baking and simply drinking, and keep refrigerated. You can locate these non-dairy milks where dairy milk is sold in most supermarkets and/or natural food stores. My favorite non-dairy milk is unsweetened almond milk as I find it produces results most similar to cows’ milk. The flavor is slightly sweet, and it’s low calorie to boot!
If you prefer thinner milk for drinking or cereal topping with a consistency and calorie count similar to skim milk, go with rice milk. It’s thinner in color, texture, and even flavor, lower in fat, and has a milder flavor than soy or coconut milk. Oftentimes rice milk is sold in aseptic packaging(shelf stable) generally along with a grocery’s organic foods, or near the other non-dairy milks.
There are a few good non-dairy whipped creams on the market, which can be found in natural foods stores or bigger chain stores that also cater to natural foods. Look for it next to the organic whipped cream.
Also good is whipped coconut cream, which can be obtained from a good quality can of full fat coconut milk. Simply place the can in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, and the thickest part of the milk will rise to the top. Skim it off and whip with an electric mixer (make sure your bowl and utensils are very cold) on high to get dairy free whipped cream.
- Margarine: The most commonly thought of dairy free replacement for butter is margarine, but many brands of margarine on the market contain one form of dairy or another, making it an unsuitable substitute for those who cannot or choose not to eat dairy. One brand of margarine that is 100% dairy free and works exactly like butter is Earth Balance non-dairy buttery spread. It’s available in sticks as well as soy free. Use 1:1 for regular butter in baking and cooking. There are other brands of non-dairy margarine available too, just be sure to check the ingredients for any hidden dairy—such as whey, butterfat, milk solids, etc.
- Coconut Oil: Coconut oil can easily be found in natural foods stores or Asian markets in jars or plastic tubs. I’ve even located big plastic containers of the stuff quite cheap from major supermarkets. Unrefined coconut oil has a pleasant coco-nutty taste, and refined actually tastes and bakes much like shortening. Coconut oil will become liquid just above room temperature, so store in a cool place if you desire a solid butter for baking or cooking. Use cup for cup like butter. Coconut oil also works great for sautéing.
- Non-Hydrogenated Shortening: Usually less sought after but non-hydrogenated shortening is an equally agreeable option for butter replacement in baking. This type of shortening is commonly found in most organic sections of grocery stores or natural foods stores. Use as you would regular shortening in place of butter for baking.
You can make your own condensed milk by combining 2 cans (about 3 cups) full fat coconut milk + 2 cups granulated sugar. Heat over medium heat until boiling, stirring often, and then lower heat slightly. Stir occasionally to prevent burning and let simmer until reduced by half in volume.
Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice to 8 ounces of non-dairy milk, (unsweetened) and let rest for 5 minutes until curdled to create a non-dairy buttermilk. Use cup for cup like buttermilk.
A homemade sour cream can be made by soaking 2 cups raw cashews for several hours, drain, and blend with 2 tablespoons lemon juice and just enough water to make creamy. Be sure to blend until completely smooth and you’ll have a quick and easy dairy free sour cream. An easy, off the shelf, substitute for sour cream is simply purchasing a dairy-free brand such a Tofutti which can generally be found next to other dairy-free refrigerated items.
Dairy-free cream cheese is another product that can easily be located at most chain supermarkets and natural food stores. Tofutti brand is a common one and it can be found along with refrigerated cheese substitutes and other dairy-free products. Use 1:1 as a replacement for dairy cream cheese or Neufchâtel.
And, because I believe wholeheartedly in the pairing of coffee or tea with baked goods…
There are a few varieties of dairy-free coffee creamer on the market, made of both soy and coconut, which do not contain any dairy at all (many “non-dairy” creamers actually do contain dairy, in one way or another, so be sure to check labels!). These include the big brands such as Silk and SoDelicious, which are often found next to the coffee creamers in chain groceries or natural foods stores. However, I find that a simple can of full fat coconut creamer (found in Asian groceries or along with Asian foods in chain markets), shaken to mix, works just as well as any of these and produces a very rich and creamy cup of Joe.
Baking Without Eggs:
Bananas, Applesauce or canned Pumpkin:
This old standby is still a good one to use, especially when baking items with a moist texture. About 1/2 of a banana or 1/4 cup applesauce replaces 1 egg in soft cookies, cakes, muffins and sweet quick breads. Another benefit of baking with these fruits is that you can generally cut down a little on the oil called for in the recipe as well.
Use 1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds (flaxseed meal) + 2 tablespoons water for each egg you are replacing. You can source flaxseeds whole and grind them yourself in a spice grinder, or buy pre-ground flaxseeds–labeled as “meal”–at many grocery stores. Flaxseed meal works best to replace eggs in cookies, brownies and bars.
Although these little guys are pretty fun all by themselves, when grinded in a spice grinder and then added with about 3 times as much water (1 tablespoon chia + 3 tablespoons water = 1 egg), they become a really wonderful binder for baked goods. Like flax, chia works best in cookies, brownies and bars.
This works great in applications where an eggy consistency is desired, such as in cheesecakes or spongy textured cakes. Use about 1/4 cup blended silken tofu per large egg in recipes.
Vinegar or Lemon Juice:
This is an easy egg replacer when baking cakes and muffins as long as there is baking powder also included in the recipe. Use 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice per egg and be sure to add it at the very end of the recipe once you’ve mixed in all the other ingredients for the batter. If you are using 4 or more “eggs”, it’s best to stick with neutral tasting vinegars such as rice vinegar, or use lemon juice so that the vinegar flavor isn’t overwhelming.
Scrambled Eggs and Eggy Dishes:
Extra Firm Tofu:
This works well in recipes where you really want an eggy texture, such as in quiches or frittatas. Used along with black salt (found in Indian markets) to create an egg taste, the tofu becomes an unbelievably egg-like dish. Be sure to drain well and press to remove all the water before using. There are contraptions for this, but I simply wrap mine up in clean kitchen towels, place between two plates, and weight it down with two heavybags of flour or cans until most of the water has been pressed out of the tofu.
To make a quick tofu scramble, simply drain and press your tofu, season with a little salt (black salt recommended) and turmeric, and sauté along with some green onions, garlic, and herbs. Makes a deliciously quick breakfast!
Gram Flour/ Chickpea Flour:
This flour—a ground version of the incredibly versatile chickpea–is an amazing replacement for eggs in baked dishes such as quiche or even cakes. If you’re trying to recreate an egg flavored cake or bread, use gram flour as your main gluten-free flour, and you’ll get a very eggy result.
When mixed with a bit of water to thin to scramble batter consistency, along with a touch of oil, and a little salt, you can actually fry this stuff up in a non-stick pan just like a scrambled egg, and the results are strikingly similar. If using to make pudding, or as a thickening agent in other recipes, be sure to toast the flour lightly in a pan to get rid of any raw flavor of the flour. Uncooked gram flour doesn’t have the most appealing taste, but once cooked, the flavor turns warm and buttery.
Vanilla Pudding: Gluten Free, Corn Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free and Soy Free
The following recipe is a great example of turning to plants to replace eggs. Gram flour—also known as besan, chickpea flour or garbanzo bean flour–is used to make this rich and creamy vanilla custard. The color is a bit darker than a typical vanilla pudding, but the warm vanilla flavor and creamy texture makes for one very comforting and familiar treat.
Photo credit: Allyson Kramer, Manifest Vegan
Recipes that will make you lick your computer monitor
(all photos courtesy of Allyson Kramer, Manifest Vegan)
Ube (Purple Yam) Ice Cream - this has to be the most beautiful ice cream I have ever seen in my life!
Mouth watering yet? Yeah, mine too.
And you should see the drool marks I’ve left all over my copy of Allyson’s new cookbook, Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats: Cut Out the Gluten and Enjoy an Even Healthier Vegan Diet with Recipes for Fabulous, Allergy-Free Fare. This cookbook is filled with tempting recipes which I have earmarked for when my boys’ unrelenting summer schedule slows down enough that I can get reacquainted with my kitchen.
Although, I bet I could lure them away from the pool with Allyson’s Mock Turtle recipe, made healthier with a dairy free caramel derived from Medjool dates (no refined sugars!).
Would you like a free copy of Allyson’s cookbook?
Thought ya might.
Allyson has graciously offered to give THREE Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom readers a free copy of her cookbook, Great Gluten Free Vegan Eats!
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