Gluten-Free, Allergen Free Baking Substitutions
Since we have been around the food allergic and celiac community for 15+ years, we have noticed one big thing when it comes to using baking mixes. It seems like many people don’t follow the directions, not our mixes in particular, just in general. We thought we would ask you all if this is true for you. Not as a way to shame anyone, but much the opposite. We want to know why people generally don’t follow directions for any kind of mix, ours included. What we found is that most people that don’t follow directions is because either the added ingredients don’t fit their specific needs, or they don’t have the added ingredients needed to make the product. The other group is people that love to be creative on their own. By all means, be creative and let us know if you create some new magic with our mixes!
For those that either added ingredients don’t fit your needs or you don’t have the ingredients needed, we have you covered! We have spent over a decade trying all of the alternative ingredients you can think of that are also safe for our family. We don't want you to feel the way the lady in this picture does. All of our product pages have alternative added ingredients other than what is on the back of our mixes. Only so much text fits on our bags… We have gone to great lengths to give as many alternative added ingredients as we can and do our best to use simple products that are easy to find and as affordable as possible. That being said, if our alternative ingredients don’t fit your needs, please let us know. We are more than happy to be the ones to experiment with other alternatives so you don’t have to. It is so important to us that we provide you all with options that work and work well to give you the best results possible. We want you to be able to use our mixes without having to think about or come up with some alternative that may or may not give you a great final result. Leave that to us.
All that being said, we thought it would be good to write a whole post about alternative ingredients. I have given whole hour long presentations on this very topic and ran out of time, it can be complicated. Understand, all of what we put in here, is from our own personal experiences. We have tried so many things over the years because our family together has a list of foods we can’t eat so long that it would take a scroll to write it all down. This was all because our family had these exact needs too. Now we get to teach you all we have learned, it’s a joy for us to be able to pass on what we learned the hard and long way. This will be a long read, but we’ll do our best to make it as concise and helpful as possible. It will live here on our blog so you can come back anytime to look back through it. There are only a few items below because our mixes really require very little added ingredients.
Eggs- These babies are so intricate and perform so many jobs when used in baking. This is where I’ll do my best to keep this simple, egg replacement is a can of worms on the web for me. I have seen charts online for egg replacement that drive me CRAZY! Ok, that’s enough about that. The reason they drive me crazy is because they are very misleading and set you all up for failure. The lists do not take into account all the different roles an egg plays in baking. This is SUPER important to know and understand when baking egg free. Eggs do many things: give lift/rise, binding, moisture, structure, emulsification/creaminess, and fat that is needed for many reasons. Now think about those charts you see online that have things like, banana, applesauce, oil, flax, chia, avocado, etc. None of these items replace all of the amazing jobs that an egg performs, hence my huge problem with the lists. When baking egg free, you need to decide what part of the egg performance you are needing *most* since egg replacers can’t replace all of the jobs of the egg. Here are a few examples:
- Chewy cookies- the most important thing you want from an egg would be it’s binding capability
- Bread- the most important thing you want from an egg is, lift/rise. Ok two things, structure too.
- Crunchy cookies- the most important thing you want from an egg is binding, then structure
Here is a list of egg replacers and the function of an egg that they can replace. Please take these into consideration when baking without eggs. We’re here to help if you have questions.
- Apple sauce- great for moisture, that’s it
- Banana- great for moisture, that’s it
- Oil- great for moisture and fat
- Flax- great for binding, structure, moisture, fat
- Chia- great for binding, structure, moisture, fat
- Avocado- great for moisture, emulsification, and fat
- Powdered egg replacers- great for binding and structure, rise but will rise far less than other options
- Aquafaba (garbanzo/chickpea water from a can)- great for moisture, structure but less than an egg, lift/rise
- Egg whites- we often call for egg whites, not a whole egg. This is because the whites of eggs are great for lift/rise, structure, and protein which is great for gluten-free baking. Gluten-free products can tend to be dense so egg whites are a great way to avoid that and give you nice and fluffy results. Using a whole egg will make for denser and heavier end results. There are times when we call for whole eggs when a recipe needs it. Be sure to follow those directions!
Oil/Fat- if you need to substitute oil/fat, One important thing to be sure to do is stick with whatever type of oil or fat is in the added ingredients. If a liquid oil is listed, substitute it with a liquid oil, not a solid fat. If a solid fat, like shortening or butter, is listed, be sure to stick with a solid fat. Here is a simple list of substitutions.
- Liquid oil, feel free to use any light tasting oil. Canola, avocado, light tasting olive oil all work the same.
- Solid fat- butter, shortening, and coconut oil all behave differently and will make the end result different. That being said, you can often exchange them for one another, but know that the results will not be what we intended. I know some people have an issue with shortening for health reasons. When we call for it, it is because we have tried the other options and believe shortening is the best option for a great outcome. We use organic Spectrum fair trade palm shortening, for us it’s the best option. Again, you can use the other substitutions mentioned knowing the result won’t be exactly like what we intend. There are times when we will NOT recommend one of the substitutions listed and this is because in our testing the other/s didn’t work.
- Applesauce for oil. This can be done with up to half of the oil, but not the whole amount called for oil. For example, if 1 Cup of oil is called for, you could do ½ Cup apple sauce and ½ Cup oil. We do not recommend swapping all of the oil for applesauce, it will drastically change the end result in a negative way. Most of our recipes already call for half apple sauce and half oil. In that case, don’t substitute any more applesauce for the oil. If you are needing to add fat for health reasons (our daughter needed this because she was failing to thrive due to food allergies), you can make the recipe with oil only and no applesauce. For example, our recipe called for ½ Cup apple sauce and ½ Cup oil, use 1 Cup oil and no applesauce. You could also add melted butter to the top of the final product if you are needing more fat. For example, you could make one of our muffins and drizzle melted butter on top.
Dairy- the only time we ever call for dairy is milk. Any milk that works for you should work just fine. If not, we’ll make specific comments in the recipe. We most often use coconut milk beverage in a carton, not coconut cream from a can. It behaves the most similarly to dairy milk. We have tried rice milk, oat milk, and almond milk in most of our recipes and they all work just fine. If we call for butter, dairy or non-dairy butter will work. Pretty simple there.
White Vinegar- this is used to help the baking soda in our recipes to bubble creating nice air pockets and rise. An acid is required for this so apple cider vinegar or lemon juice can be substituted 1:1 for white vinegar.
Yeast- Our pizza crust was specifically made to be yeast free. We do have a yeasted pizza crust recipe using the same mix. If you can’t have yeast, stick to the original recipe. We also have a yeast free focaccia recipe on our blog, The Scoop, using our sandwich bread mix. We have tried really hard to create yeast free recipes that work well and taste delicious. If you are wanting yeast free sandwich bread, we really suggest you make flatbread with our yeast free pizza crust mix or the focaccia. I know some people just want a piece of sandwich bread. We have made our sandwich bread yeast free and it’s decent for not having yeast. Know that it will not rise anywhere near what a yeasted loaf would and will be more dense. We tried many different combinations to see how we could get the best rise without yeast. The best result was adding 1 teaspoon of baking powder and using room temperature plain sparkling water. Follow the rest of the directions on the mix. We don't suggest using more baking soda as the mix already has some in it and adding more will likely give it a bad flavor. If you do make yeast free bread it will require using egg whites. Using an alternative won’t work unfortunately, it’s too many substitutions and the structure of the bread just won’t be good.
We hope all of this information is helpful to you. Please let us know if you have any other questions, we really strive to ensure you can have amazing food AND be able to eat safely.