Vegan baking can be challenging until you get a handle on the best egg and dairy alternatives. But mastering vegan gluten-free baking isn’t as easy as swapping in all-purpose gluten-free flour blends. We turned to Jaime Schwartz, head chef and owner of Southern California-based Starry Lane Bakery, the only vegan and gluten-free bakery in the country that regularly tests their products and uses only ingredients from companies verified to be free of all allergens, to give us the scoop on scrumptious vegan gluten-free baked goods.
Find acceptable substitutes
“The hardest part of gluten-free and vegan baking is finding acceptable substitutes for ingredients,” says Schwartz, who has experimented with many vegan gluten-free recipes to come up with the most irresistible allergen-free cookies, macaroons, biscotti, brownies, cupcakes and more. The key is to keep experimenting with different ingredients until you find the perfect combinations.
“There are many commercially available gluten-free flour mixes out there however one flour mix doesn’t necessarily work for everything you want to bake,” says Schwartz. The baking expert has found that the best baked goods result from customizing flour blends. “Using the gluten-free flour blend as a base is fine but we recommend tweaking it to your personal taste. For example if you want a crisper cookie try adding more rice flour to the blend; for a chewy cookie add a little sorghum flour.”
Schwartz admits that vegan baking tends to be a little less of a science experiment, but that it can still be difficult to find the right substitutes for eggs and dairy.
Egg substitutes: “For egg substitutes you have to remember you’re replacing two different actions – the binding action as well as the rising action of the eggs,” she explains. ”We have found that boiled ground flax seed is a good replacement for the binding the product while baking powder can be used as a rising agent.” She recommends about 1-1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1 tablespoon of the flax seed mixture for each egg you are replacing.
Milk substitutes: Peruse the dairy-free section of your market and you’ll find many milk alternatives, including coconut-, almond-, rice-, soy-, and hemp-based substitutes. Schwartz suggests experimenting with different replacements until you find one that works for your baked goods. “After much trial and error we have also found that coconut milk works best as a dairy milk replacement at least for us,” she adds.
Just keep baking
Learning to bake vegan and gluten-free may seem daunting but it really just takes some time to try recipes, determine the ingredients that work best for you, and then relying on your recipe modifications as the foundations for your baked goods. ”It’s all about figuring out the best substitute and ratios for each ingredient so the products come out the way you like them,” Schwartz states. ”It may take a few misses before you hit it out of the park but once you do you’ll be able to make all your favorite goodies at home.”
Starry Lane Bakery
If you don’t have time to experiment or simply love sinking your teeth into bakery goodies, Starry Lane Bakery will ship anywhere in the United States. Don’t worry, you won’t break the bank by having vegan gluten-free bakery items delivered to your door. “Our treats are extremely affordable both in our brick and mortor store as well as on our website,” says Schwartz. Cookies start out at less than a dollar each!