Simple Substitutions Guide for Baking

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Introduction: Simple Substitutions Guide for Baking

With everyone currently restricted to their houses, there's a lot more of cooking and baking happening, and everyone's out of ingredients! Stores are running out of staples, and we're all trying to think of substitutions for certain ingredients, and this is where this guide comes in.

Baking is a science, and there's science behind substituting one ingredient for another and making it work. The ingredient that's being swapped should be similar in it's state, fat content, viscosity, sweetness, acidity and texture.

The cardinal rule to remember - whenever substituting an ingredient in a recipe, always do it one ingredient at a time, so that in case it doesn't work out, you know where to correct it.

This instructable discusses possible substitutions for 12 common ingredients used in baking-

  • Eggs
  • Flour
  • Butter
  • Sugars
  • Baking Powder
  • Baking Soda
  • Milk
  • Buttermilk
  • Heavy Cream
  • Chocolate
  • Yogurt
  • Parchment Paper

Step 1: Eggs

Eggs help in binding and leavening. They add moisture, colour and taste to the baked goods.
One egg is about 60 g.

Possible Substitutes-

  • Soda/ Sparkling Water/ Carbonated Water-
    1 egg = 1/4 cup soda/ Sparkling Water/ Carbonated Water
  • Fruits -
    1 egg = 1/4 cup (60 grams) of mashed bananas
    1 egg = 1/4 cup (60 grams) of avocados
  • Ground Flax seeds/ Chia seeds
    1 egg = 1 tbsp of ground flax or chia seeds + 3 tbsp water
  • Mayonnaise
    1 egg = 3 tbsp mayonnaise

Substitutes for Egg whites -

  • Aquafaba (leftover liquid in canned beans and chickpeas).
    1 egg white = 3 tbsp of aquafaba

Substitutes for Egg yolks -

  • Soy lecithin
    1 egg yolk= 1 tbsp of soy lecithin

Step 2: Flour

Flour is essential, but tricky to substitute. Normally, all-purpose flour can be swapped for 1/4 to 1/2 whole wheat flour, but it will change the texture and make the baked good more dense. Lower-protein flours (eg. cake flour) are more suited to tender baked goods, such as cakes and cookies. Higher-protein flours (bread flour, high-gluten) are important when structure and chew are desired, most importantly in bread.
All-purpose flour is called so because it can be used for essentially all baking purposes.

Possible Substitutions-

Cake Flour -

  • It contains lower-protein content when compared to All-purpose flour, which is necessary when baking sponge cakes.
  • To substitute all-purpose flour for cake flour, simply swap 2 tbsp corn starch for the same amount of all-purpose flour per cup.

Bread Flour-

  • 1 cup bread flour = 1 cup all-purpose flour

Self-rising flour-

  • 1 cup of Self-rising flour = 1 cup all-purpose flour + 1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder + 1/4 tsp salt.

Step 3: Butter

Butter functions as a leavening agent while baking and provides texture and flavour. It can be easily swapped for other fats.

Possible Substitutes-

  • 1 cup butter = 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup butter = 1 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup butter = 3/4 cup olive oil

Always substitute fats in the same state. For example, vegetable oil should be used as a replacement for melted butter (as they're both in liquid state).

You can even use Nut butters as a substitute (but keep in mind they have their own peculiar flavours).

Other second line substitutes can include avocados, mashed bananas and full fat yogurts. Add these to the batter slowly until the desired consistency is reached.

Substitutes to avoid- margarine and shortening.

Step 4: Sugars

As a rule of thumb, to maintain the texture and consistency of your batter/dough, replace a dry sugar with another dry sugar and a liquid sugar with another liquid sugar only.

Granulated Sugar Substitute-

  • 1 cup granulated sugar = 1 cup brown sugar

Brown sugar is basically white sugar with molasses in it and it has a deeper flavour but not enough to change the texture or consistency of your dough, so it's an easy swap.

Brown Sugar Substitutes-

  • 1 cup brown sugar = 1 cup granulated sugar + 1 tbsp molasses
  • 1 cup brown sugar = 1 cup granulated sugar + 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 cup brown sugar = 1 cup of raw sugars (turbinado or demerara)

Brown sugar has many substitutes, mainly by increasing the molasses content. However, if you don't have any of the above at home, simply substitute 1 cup of brown sugar for 1 cup of white granulated sugar.

Substituting Honey / Agave/ Maple syrup-

  • 1 cup of sugar = 2/3 cup of honey + 1/4 tsp baking soda
    Wen using honey, it adds more moisture to the batter/ dough, so reduce your overall liquids in your recipe by 1/4 cup for each cup of honey used. Keep in mind that substituting honey will change the texture of your goods making them less airy and brown faster while cooking.

Step 5: Baking Powder

Baking Powder is sodium bicarbonate paired with an acid. It is a complete leavening agent by itself and doesn't need any activator.

Possible Substitutes-

  • 1 tsp of baking powder = 1/4 tsp baking soda + 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp of baking powder = 1/4 tsp baking soda + 1/2 tsp vinegar
  • 1 tsp of baking powder = 1/4 tsp baking soda + 1/2 tsp lemon juice

Baking soda needs an agent to activate it's leavening powers, hence the acid (cream of tartar/ vinegar/
lemon juice.

Second line substitute-

  • Butter milk- it is acidic in nature and combining buttermilk with baking soda can produce the same leavening effect as baking powder.
    1 tsp of baking powder = 1/2 a cup of buttermilk and 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda ( be careful to decrease the amount of other liquids you add to your recipe to compensate for the amount of buttermilk added)

Substitute by Whipping Egg-Whites-

Baked goods such as sponge cakes, souffles and pancakes owe their light texture and airiness to the whipped egg whites in it. Whipping the egg whites vigorously creates air bubbles that increases the volume of the batter while making it light.

To make your egg whites perfectly light and fluffy, beat them at a low speed until they're foamy, and then increase the speed until the beaten eggs form soft peaks. Gently fold your remaining ingredients into the whipped egg whites.


Step 6: Baking Soda

Baking Powder is sodium bicarbonate without with an acid. It is an incomplete leavening agent and needs an acidic component to activate it.

Possible Substitutes-

  • 1 tsp of baking soda = 3 tsps of baking powder

Substitute by Whipping Egg-Whites -

To make your egg whites perfectly light and fluffy, beat them at a low speed until they're foamy, and then increase the speed until the beaten eggs form soft peaks. Gently fold your remaining ingredients into the whipped egg whites.

Step 7: Milk

Milk is generally an easy swap, and for most recipes, the percentage of milk fats are not that important to the actual recipe.

WHOLE MILK-

  • 1 cup whole milk = 1 cup skim milk + 1 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 cup whole milk = 1/4 cup condensed milk + 3/4 cup water

Vegan Substitutes-

  • 1 cup whole milk = 1 cup almond/ oat/ coconut/ cashew/ soy milk

SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK-

  • 1 14-ounce can = 3/4 cup white sugar + 3/4 cup milk
    Bring to a boil while stirring continuously until thickened. Takes about 30-45 minutes.

EVAPORATED MILK-

  • 1 cup evaporated milk = 1 cup half & half

Step 8: Buttermilk

It gives baked goods a light and moist texture. Its acidity activates the baking soda in recipes and acts as a raising agent. it's commonly used for biscuits, pancakes, waffles, muffins, and cakes.

Possible Substitutes-

  • 1 cup of buttermilk = 1 cup normal milk +1 tbsp (15 ml) of vinegar
  • 1 cup of buttermilk = 1 cup normal milk +1 tbsp (15 ml) of lemon juice
  • 1 cup of buttermilk = 1 cup normal milk +1 tbsp (15 ml) of 1 and 3/4 teaspoons (5 g) of cream of tartar

Second line substitutes-

  • 1 cup of buttermilk = 3/4 cup of sour cream with 1/4 cup of water or milk and mix until smooth.
  • 1 cup of buttermilk = 3/4 cup of plain yogurt/ curd with 1/4 cup of water or milk and mix until smooth.

Vegan options-

  • 1 cup of buttermilk = 1 cup almond milk +1 tbsp (15 ml) of vinegar/ lemon juice
  • 1 cup of buttermilk = 1 cup soy milk +1 tbsp (15 ml) of vinegar/ lemon juice
  • 1 cup of buttermilk = 1 cup coconut milk +1 tbsp (15 ml) of vinegar/ lemon juice

Step 9: Heavy Cream

Heavy Cream is made from the high-fat part of fresh milk and has 36–40% fat.

Possible Substitutes-

  • 1 cup of heavy cream = 3/4 cup of milk + 1/4 cup of melted butter (does not whip well)
  • 1 cup of heavy cream = 7/8 cup of half-and-half +1/8 cup of melted butter (can be used for whipping)

Vegan Substitutes-

  • 1 cup of heavy cream = 1 cup of coconut cream (can be used for whipping but has a strong flavour)
  • 1 cup of heavy cream = 2/3 cup of soy milk +1/3 cup of olive oil (does not whip well)

Step 10: Chocolate

Well, chocolate is chocolate, and can't be entire swapped out. But there are certain fixes-

Bittersweet chocolate-

  • 1 ounce = 1/2 ounce unsweetened chocolate + 1 tbsp granulated white sugar

Unsweetened chocolate-

  • 1 ounce = 3 tbsp cocoa powder + 1 tbsp butter or vegetable oil

Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder-

  • 3 tbsp = 3 tbsp cocoa powder + 1/8 tsp baking soda

Cocoa Powder-

  • 3 tbsp (20 g) = 1 ounce (30 grams) unsweetened chocolate bar
    but reduce butter/ oil in recipe by 1 tbsp as chocolate bars usually already contain cocoa butter

Step 11: Yogurt

Possible Substitutes-

  • 1 cup yogurt = 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup yogurt = 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup yogurt = 1 cup heavy cream + 1 tbsp lemon juice

Step 12: Parchment Paper

Parchment paper is essential in baking as it helps make the surface non-stick, so that cakes and cookies can slide right off.

Possible substitutes-

  • Foil
  • Silicone baking mat
  • Extra grease
  • Magazine paper

FOIL - Foil can be used as a replacement, but it does conduct heat much better than parchment paper. This will result in the base of your cookies spreading more and getting more brown and crisp.

SILICONE BAKING MATS - these are a good substitutes for parchment paper if you have them at home. But keep in mind that silicone mats will cause your cookies to spread out resulting in a flatter cookie. If you're baking cakes, silicone moulds will cause your cake to dome, as the cake batter on the edges will keep slipping and won't rise as much.

EXTRA GREASE- a simple alternative by just heavily coating the surface with butter/ oil. It will work, but again will result in spreading out of the cookies to an extent.

MAGAZINE PAPER- the shiny paper comes in newspapers or magazines is a very good alternative. Make sure to grease your pan/sheet, then place the magazine paper, then again grease the surface and it'll make a really good alternative to parchment paper.

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    16 Comments

    0
    MrErdreich
    MrErdreich

    1 year ago

    This is the guide of my dreams. Thank you!

    0
    advaym
    advaym

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you!
    I'm glad you liked it

    0
    JohnC964
    JohnC964

    1 year ago

    The butter equations don’t look quite right. There are two equations for coconut oil. 😀

    0
    advaym
    advaym

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you for pointing out the error. I've corrected it now.

    The appropriate substitutions are-
    • 1 cup butter = 1 cup vegetable oil
    • 1 cup butter = 1 cup coconut oil
    • 1 cup butter = 3/4 cup olive oil
    0
    Marve48
    Marve48

    1 year ago on Step 12

    This is a fantastic, well informed instructable. Well done. My hat is off to you!

    0
    advaym
    advaym

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you,
    I'm glad you find it helpful.

    0
    jordan.newman
    jordan.newman

    Tip 1 year ago

    Very helpful! I've also had success substituting 1/4 cup of applesauce per egg. Although I've read that if you do so, you should add a bit of baking powder if the recipe doesn't already call for any.

    0
    jose m
    jose m

    1 year ago

    This is so helpful, I've already bookmarked it for future use.
    You, sir, have earned my vote for the contest, I hope you win!

    0
    advaym
    advaym

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you so much, I really appreciate it.

    0
    beaker947
    beaker947

    Tip 1 year ago

    Applesauce (unsweetened) can also be used as a substitute for butter. Whatever the amount of butter needed, an equal amount of applesauce can be substituted.

    0
    advaym
    advaym

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks!
    I'll try it sometime

    0
    ELECTRONFLYER1
    ELECTRONFLYER1

    1 year ago

    Years ago it was common place to substitue butter milk by adding one tsp of vinegar to milk and wait one hour.

    0
    advaym
    advaym

    Reply 1 year ago

    Yes, even i've always followed that technique to get buttermilk for baking!

    0
    cjraabe
    cjraabe

    1 year ago

    This is like an anthology. Thank you so much. Cooks and bakers know many of these, but finding them all in one place with the caveats is a treasure. This will be in my recipe file.

    0
    advaym
    advaym

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you! I'm so glad you liked it.
    That was my main purpose behind this instructable, to create a single source of information of all possible substitutes for baking.
    Please also vote for it in the Kitchen Compromises Challenge. Thank you.

    0
    57thcork
    57thcork

    1 year ago

    Thanks for a great and useful Instructible.

    I am diabetic, so I always look for ways to keep blood sugar low.

    Some "Sugar Free" biscuits (cookies) use Maltitol as a sugar replacement which actually causes a rise in blood sugar like sugar does, however an alternative which works is Erythritol and is available as Granulated, a golden version which has Steviol and a small amount of caramel and also an icing sugar version. Consuming too much would have a laxative effect, however in moderation I can still bake and enjoy real sugar free cakes and biscuits.
    I am thinking about putting some of my recipes in an Instructible, just have to take some photos and do a bit of writing.!