Substitutions in Baking: How to Use What’s In Your Pantry
Have you ever been in the middle of a recipe, only to find that you have no baking soda, corn syrup, or cream of tartar? Or maybe you’ve started baking what you thought was a healthy recipe, only to find out it actually contains two cups of flour and four sticks of butter. Either way, there are a number of ways that you can work around recipes and make them your own by trying substitutions in baking. Check out some of the easy and healthy swaps that you can make!
Dry Ingredient Substitutions
Dry ingredients are often thought of as pantry staples. But since we go through them much more slowly than other ingredients, it can be easy to run out without noticing. Here are some easy substitutions in baking for dry ingredients.
Cake Flour Substitute
Cake flour is often called for in light recipes like angel food and chiffon cakes. If you don’t have cake flour on hand, you can substitute 1 cup of cake flour with a mixture of all-purpose flour and cornstarch. Add two tablespoons of cornstarch to a cup measure, then top off the rest of the cup with all-purpose flour.
Sugar Substitutes in Baking
There are a number of substitutes for sugar, from maple syrup to honey. Here are some of the most common replacements:
- Honey: Substitute 1 cup of sugar with ¾ cup of honey. Reduce other liquid in the recipe by 2-4 tbsps to make up for the texture difference.
- Maple Syrup: Replace 1 cup of sugar with ¾ cup of maple syrup. Taking out 3 tbsps of other liquids in the recipe will help achieve the correct consistency.
- Agave: Exchange 1 cup of sugar for ⅔ cup of agave syrup. Reduce liquid elsewhere in the recipe by ¼ cup.
- Stevia: Instead of 1 cup of sugar, use just 1 tsp of stevia. In order to make up for the volume difference, add applesauce, yogurt, or apple butter, which will provide volume, as well as natural sweetness.
Baking Powder Substitute
The best baking powder substitute is cream of tartar mixed with baking soda. To replace 1 teaspoon of baking powder, use half a teaspoon of cream of tartar and one quarter teaspoon baking soda.
Baking Soda Substitute
If you have baking powder on hand, but are all out of baking soda, you can make an easy swap. Replace 1 teaspoon of baking soda with 4 teaspoons of baking powder for a simple substitution.
What Can I Use If I Don’t Have Baking Powder Or Baking Soda?
There is no direct substitution for leavening if you are out of both baking powder or soda. Unless you have self-rising flour (flour with a leavening agent and salt) on hand, your best bet is to whip or overbeat your eggs. This will add extra air into your mixture. That being said, your baked goods won’t turn out quite as well as when you’re using a true leavening agent.
Wet Ingredient Substitutions
Wet ingredients can be a bit more forgiving than dry. The two main aspects you need to consider are the moisture content of the substitute and the overall flavor. With taste and texture in mind, here are some simple substitutes for wet ingredients.
Corn Syrup Substitute
Corn syrup is becoming more and more common in baking recipes, but many cooks would rather opt for another sweetener. Here are a few simple options:
- Sugar: Replace 1 cup of corn syrup with 1 cup of sugar dissolved into ¼ cup of warm water.
- Honey: Swap 1 cup of corn syrup with 1 cup of honey.
- Maple Syrup: Substitute 1 cup of corn syrup with 1 cup of maple syrup.
Apple Cider Vinegar Substitute
If you’re all out of apple cider vinegar, or simply don’t want to buy a whole bottle for a few tablespoons, you can substitute it with white vinegar in the same quantity. If you’re concerned about sweetness, you can always add a little extra white or brown sugar to your recipe to sweeten it up.
Substitutes for Milk in Baking
Luckily, there are now dozens of milk alternatives for those who choose not to drink it or who are lactose intolerant. In addition to the typical alternatives, like soy milk, almond milk, oat milk, and rice milk, there are a number of more creative alternatives as well:
- Cream: Replace 1 cup of milk with ⅔ cup of cream and ⅓ cup of water. This substitution works better in denser, heavier recipes that don’t need to be light and airy.
- Half and Half: Substitute 1 cup of milk with 1 cup of half and half. Again, try not to use this substitution in light cakes, as the half and half will weigh your batter down.
- Evaporated Milk: Exchange 1 cup of milk for ½ cup of evaporated milk and ½ cup of water. Because evaporated milk is sweeter than traditional milk, consider cutting back some of the sugar in your recipe to avoid overpowering it.
Healthy Baking Substitutions
There are a number of ways that you can substitute oil, butter, sugar, and eggs in recipes. Whether you’re trying to accommodate a dietary restriction or just looking to lighten up a sweet recipe, these healthy ingredient substitutions will give you plenty of options for baking.
White Flour Baking Substitutes
Cutting out traditional flour can help add fiber and protein while reducing the amount of carbohydrates in the recipe. Here are a couple of easy swaps for flour, and the recipe types they work best in:
- Black Beans: Replace 1 cup of flour with 1 cup of black beans for super rich and fudgy brownies. The cocoa hides the bean flavor nicely, but if you’re apprehensive, start with half and half.
- Whole Wheat Flour: Substitute 1 cup of regular white flour with whole wheat for added protein and fiber. This one is a simple swap, so it works well in nearly all baking recipes.
- Nut-Based Flour: Swap 1 cup of white flour with ¾ cup of nut-based flour like almond flour. In order to help your baked good rise, add ½ tsp of a leavening agent like baking powder.
Oil and Butter Substitutes for Baking
There are a number of substitutes for butter, oil, and margarine in baking. Here are some of our favorite healthy alternatives:
- Applesauce: Substitute 1 cup of butter with ½ cup applesauce and ½ fat (butter, margarine, or oil). Try with sweet breads, muffins, and box mixes!
- Prunes: Substitute 1 cup of butter with ¾ cup of prunes blended thoroughly with ¼ cup of boiling water. Try this substitution with darker baked goods, like brownies and chocolate cake / cupcakes.
- Pureed Avocado: Substitute 1 cup of butter with 1 cup of avocado. This substitution works well in brownies and other chocolate sweets.
- Banana: Substitute 1 cup of butter with 1 cup of mashed bananas. Try this substitute in cookies or brownies for a soft, cakey texture.
Sugar Substitutes in Baked Goods
Many people want to cut down on sugar in their baked goods for health reasons. Here are a few easy substitutes to cut back the sugar in your cookies, cakes, and breads:
- Applesauce: Substitute 1 cup of sugar with 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce. In order to keep your batter from getting too wet, cut out ¼ cup of liquid elsewhere in your recipe for every cup of sugar replaced. This trick works great in all sorts of baked goods, from cakes to cookies.
- Bananas: Replace 1 cup of sugar with 1 cup of over-ripened bananas, pureed with a few tablespoons of water. The riper the bananas, the sweeter your baked goods will be.
Egg Substitutions in Baking
Whether you’re baking for a vegan friend or are just out of eggs, there are two replacements you can use for eggs in baking:
- Chia Seeds: Replace 1 egg with 1 tbsp of chia seeds and 1 cup of water. Let the mixture sit for 10 to 15 minutes until it forms a gel. This substitution is multi-purpose and works in all sorts of baked goods. Just don’t try it in angel food cake or anything where the eggs are the star of the show.
- Flax Meal: Substitute 1 egg with 1 tbsp of flax meal and 3 tbsp of water and let it sit for 10 minutes. This substitute works great in breads and cakes.
A Final Disclaimer
Keep in mind that all of these suggestions are substitutions in baking, meaning that the recipe in question probably won’t come out exactly the same way. Whenever possible, buy the ingredients the recipe calls for from your local grocery store.
Don’t feel like browsing the shelves or running out for one missing ingredient? Order your groceries online for pick-up or delivery from Stauffers of Kissel Hill.