by Erin Trauth
Last week, we talked about some easy vegan egg replacements for your adventures in bakingland. Moving onward in our series of vegan baking replacement basics, the next ingredient the vegan must tackle is dairy milk. Used in everything from puddings to cake mixes, dairy milk is quite often the liquid base for several baked goods that we vegans can’t, of course, go without.
Now, one might initially think, “Well, silly iEatGrass, I’ll just replace regular milk with almond/soy/hemp milk.” Not so fast, baking bucko.
Beyond just making the batter mix together more easily, milk acts as an important structure-setter in many baked goods – meaning it helps the starch in the flour configure properly during the baking process. It also adds proteins which build the batter to its proper form during cooking, and, of course, provides your recipe with that ooey-gooey baked moistness we all know and love. Bottom line, texture matters in baked goods (ever bitten into a cake that didn’t rise correctly?!), and too much of a “liquid” feel in the chosen vegan milk replacer could cause your cake to collapse or make your brownies less-than-luscious. So, your dairy milk replacement really matters, and the perfect choice will give your baked goods the moistness and structural base you need to wow all your discerning taste testers.
According to my very official and oh-so-strenuous research (Hey, baking cakes is a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it), the best dairy milk substitute in baking endeavors is soy milk. Due to its similar fat content, soymilk seems to have the same structural effect as old faithful. Side note: whenever possible, go for the organic variation to avoid those nasty GMOs found in many conventional soy products.
Almond milk is a close runner-up to soy milk. Once again, the high fat content mimics dairy milk. Rice and hemp milk, however, should probably be your last choices – they don’t have the fat content and therefore will make for less structured baked goods. Regardless of what you use, the count is the same – recipes calling for 1 cup of milk take 1 cup of soy milk.
For recipes calling for buttermilk, you have to a bit more work (but not much). Just mix together equal amounts soy milk and lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Allow the mixture to thicken for about five minutes before adding to your mix. You won’t get the same exact texture as buttermilk with this method, but it will be darn well close.
Choosing the right dairy milk replacement will get you the fluffy cakes and succulent brownies you’re craving. Have you used any of the dairy milk replacements listed in this article before? How’d it go? Any other tips for us?