One of the great joys of baking is discovery. Nothing beats whipping different ingredients together to see something delicious take shape. Though relying on recipes is the best way to get good at baking, nothing beats ingenuity and knowing how to tweak certain recipes when the need arises without sacrificing the overall quality of the dish.
Knowing the most common baking substitutes can truly boost your kitchen confidence. Here’s a quick guide.
What are some of the most common baking substitutes?
1. Baking powder
Most baking recipes call for this leavening agent that causes breads and cakes to rise. Not to be confused with baking soda, baking powder actually contains baking soda as well as some acids.
If you’ve run out of this ingredient, simply mix ½ teaspoon cream of tartar with ¼ teaspoon of baking soda. You can also substitute baking powder by mixing ⅓ cup of buttermilk with ¼ teaspoon of baking soda.
2. Baking soda
Baking soda is responsible for the light, fluffy quality of baked goods. We repeat: baking soda and baking powder are not interchangeable, but you can use baking powder to replace baking soda by simply tweaking the measurement.
How? If a recipe calls for ¼ teaspoon of baking soda and you don’t want to head to the store to get some, simply replace it with a teaspoon of baking powder. If you need ½ teaspoon of baking soda, you could also replace it with a cup of yoghurt or buttermilk.
3. Brown sugar
Recipes call for brown sugar to sweeten baked goods. Brown sugar is viewed by many as better than refined white sugar because it has a little bit more minerals like calcium, iron, and potassium.
If you suddenly run out of this healthy option while baking, don’t worry! White sugar can still be of use because it’s a key ingredient in replicating brown sugar. How? For every cup of white sugar, just add two tablespoons of molasses. You can also replace a cup of brown sugar with ¼ cup of confectioners’ sugar.
4. Bread crumbs
This ingredient can improve the taste and texture of both sweet and savoury baked goods. They can help make the crust of a cake or serve as pizza toppings. If you run out of bread crumbs, you can replace it with crushed cornflakes, crushed potato chips, cracker crumbs or ground oats.
Running out of butter isn’t an option for many bakers, but if it does happen, here’s what you can do: if a recipe calls for salted butter, replace it with margarine or a cup of shortening mixed with half a teaspoon of salt. For unsalted butter, replace a cup of butter with a cup of shortening.
If you haven’t stocked up on this baking ingredient, don’t fret. You can still add that tangy flavour to bread, cakes, and biscuits that you won’t get if you just use milk.
How? Just add a a tablespoon of lemon juice to a cup of milk. Or you can even just use a cup of yoghurt if a recipe calls for a cup of buttermilk.
Ah, chocolate. It’s hard to imagine anything replacing its sweet, rich flavour. But it can be done. If a recipe calls for unsweetened chocolate and you’ve run out of it, simply take three tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa and mix in a tablespoon of unsalted butter or vegetable oil.
Yes, it’s possible to run out of this common thickening ingredient that’s used in pies and pudding recipes. So what should you do when this happens? Three tablespoons of flour for every tablespoon of cornstarch should do the trick. Or if you don’t have flour on hand, replace it with with two teaspoons of tapioca or rice starch for every tablespoon of cornstarch required.
This rich and thick ingredient adds a delightful flavour to many baked goods like puddings and cakes.
Heavy cream, which is made up of about 36 to 40 percent milkfat, is used to thicken sauces and when whipped, as a flavourful dessert topping.
Light whipping cream, which has 30 to 36 milkfat content, can be used in soups, sauces, and topping baked desserts.
If a recipe calls for either of the two and you don’t have time to make a quick trip to the store, it can be replaced with a cup of evaporated milk.
Eggs play an important role in baking. When whipped and used in cake batter, egg whites act as a leavening agent in cakes (or what makes the cake rise). Whole eggs also act as a thickening and binding agent. Just as there are several uses for eggs, there are also a couple of ways to replace eggs in recipes.
Flour asks as a thickening agent used early in the baking process along with other dry ingredients like sugar and baking powder. Thanks to flour, baked goods retain their structure.
If a recipe calls for cake flour and you have none on hand, combine two tablespoons of cornstarch with two tablespoons of all-purpose flour. To replace self-rising flour, combine a cup of all-purpose flour with 1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder and a teaspoon of salt.
12. Lemon Juice
For new cooks, adding lemon juice when baking might seem odd, but it actually helps boost the fresh flavours of a dish. For every tablespoon of lemon juice, you can replace it with half a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.
13. Sour cream
When we think of sour cream, we often associate it with savoury dishes, liked baked potatoes. But it can also be used to add a tangy flavour to certain cakes. What if you’re out of sour cream? Don’t despair, a cup of plain yoghurt will work just as fine.
14. Vanilla Extract
The key role of vanilla extract in baking is to enhance and bring out the flavours of other ingredients. If you’re out of this ingredient, remember that a teaspoon of bourbon is just as effective as a teaspoon of vanilla extract.
15. Whole Milk
If you are out of whole milk, you can melt two tablespoons of butter and stir it into a cup of skim milk.
What are other baking substitutes you think should make it to this list? Let us know in the comments below.