The Best Vegan Baking Ingredients, According to Cookbook Author Jenné Claiborne
Since becoming vegan in 2011, Jenné Claiborne has established herself as a mainstay in the space by sharing her creative, inspired takes on classics—all prepared sans animal products. She chronicles her recipes on her site Sweet Potato Soul, which is also the name of her cookbook ($15.29, amazon.com). In preparation for the holidays and all the associated kitchen projects, we asked Claiborne to share her go-to ingredient swaps and tips for vegan baking.
The best vegan egg substitute says Claiborne is a flax egg. "It's simply ground flax mixed with water," she explains. She uses a 1:2 ratio, so one tablespoon ground flax to two tablespoons water. "You can use it for pancakes, muffins, cakes, and more. It'll even hold together veggie burgers and lentil meatloaf." (The Vegan Banana Bread shown above, uses a flax egg.) For extra airiness and rise in baked goods, she adds one tablespoon apple cider vinegar to the mixture. For recipes that require egg whites, Claiborne suggests aquafaba, the liquid from cooked chickpeas.
Her gold standard is Earth Balance ($3.78, walmart.com), though Country Crock's Plant Butter ($2.98, walmart.com) makes her go-to list as well. She's heard good things about Miyoko's Creamery Organic Vegan Butter ($7.49, target.com), but as she has a cashew allergy, she can't try it.
Soy milk from Trader Joes or Eden is Claiborne's preference for baking, though she's quick to clarify that it needs to be a version where the only ingredients are soy beans and water. "It has a neutral flavor and will not mess up your recipe." she explains. Pro-tip: Add one to three teaspoons vinegar to soy milk and you've got vegan buttermilk.
After soy milk, she recommends Califia Farms and Oatly oat milks for baking. Stay creative, she says, and try out a few alt milks to figure out your favorite plant-based milk for recipes.
Vegan Baking Tips
"Vegan baking can be just as good and better than baking with animal products," Claiborne says. But it takes patience: You may just have to try a recipe a few times until it works as a vegan recipe, and be prepared to get creative with substitutions. "For example, in my sweet potato pie, I didn't want to use tofu (a common egg replacer for sweet potato and pumpkin pie, and chocolate mousse), so I landed on butternut squash to replace the egg and create the perfect firm and smooth pie filling. It took me a long time to figure that out."