It can be daunting staring down the baking aisle as a vegan. All those shiny new boxes of fun-sounding baking mixes that could easily bring you brownies, layer cakes, pancakes and cookies in a flash, but for some people — and not just vegans — those standard “add-in” ingredients like milk, eggs and butter just don’t work.
So if you are avoiding one or all of those ingredients (dairy, eggs, etc.) I’m going to show you how easy it is to make simple substitutions in order to veganize almost any baking mix! And not only veganize it, but also how-to add in some added nutrition benefits to your baked goods — just as I did for the basic Blueberry Muffin Mix (below).
Step One: Read the Ingredients
No matter what you plan on doing with the box of baking mix know that before you can “veganize” it, you have to make sure the base mix is free of a few items: dairy, eggs and even other animal products like gelatin. The dairy part is usually pretty easy. The ingredients will either have a CONTAINS: MILK or CONTAINS: DAIRY at the end of the list. Sometimes a CONTAINS: EGGS will be present but not always. Other red flag ingredients most commonly found include: milk powder, butter, dairy powder, dried milk, butterfat and more. And also be warned, you probably want to stay away from any baking mixes containing natural or artificial food colorings, as those sources can sometimes be from animals. However, if the food coloring is spinach or beets you’re good to go.
Step Two: Read the Add-In’s
After you have scanned the ingredients and verified that the ingredients inside the box are animal-free, you want to check the back of the box for the add-in’s. Of course, once most people see eggs, butter and milk as must-have items they turn away, but fear not: these items can all happily be subbed out for vegan ingredients. In fact, I have yet to find a vegan baking mix (containing non-vegan add-in’s) that I can’t happily veganize.
Step Three: Vegan Baking Substitutions
Butter: vegan butter, aka Earth Balance Buttery Sticks or Spread
Shortening: vegan shortening, aka Earth Balance Shortening Sticks
Sour Cream: Vegan “tofu” Sour Cream, Tofutti or Follow Your Heart brand
Chocolate chips – Vegan chocolate chips – some dark chocolate and semi-sweet chips are vegan as well
Milk: non-dairy milk (soy, hemp, almond, rice)
Eggs: a few options (see next step)
Step Four: Those Pesky Eggs
Most people can easily figure out how to sub milk and butter, but when it comes to eggs, things aren’t so simple.
For a straight up fluffy baking mix — like for a cake, muffins, pancakes or breads — I always use my favorite product: Ener-G Egg Replacer. However, be sure to read the instructions on the box carefully. Ener-G Eggs are awesome — they leave you with super fluffy, bouncy baked goods that you won’t believe are vegan — but if (and only if) if they are probably mixed.
Now if you don’t care much about the fluff factor or your baked goods, you can use a few other items to replace the volume and density of eggs:
- canned pumpkin or butternut squash
- mashed banana
- mashed sweet potato
- potato starch
- flax seeds crushed and mixed with water
- nut meal mixed with water
- silken tofu
- soy yogurt
- vital wheat gluten
That said, it will take a few tests and tries to see how these items fit your favorite baking recipes. But once you experiment, you will see the diversity that egg replacers can offer in the taste, texture and nutrition of your baked goods.
Step Five: Boost it Up!
My favorite thing thing to do with a basic baking mix is to give it a boost of nutrition. I’ll add in a handful of healthy nuts, a scoop of flax seeds, top breads with oats or wheat germ, pr even spices like cinnamon and nutmeg add a warm kick. And for the blueberry cake below, I added in several nutrition boosting ingredients!
Veganized Blueberry Bluebird Cake
makes one 9″ round
1 box of Blueberry Muffin Mix (for 12 muffins)
calls for: 3 eggs, 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup vegan butter, softened
1 cup soy milk
3 eggs worth of Ener-G Egg Replacer (about 2-3 Tbsp + water to activate)
optional: dot top with 2-4 bits of vegan butter – and drizzle with 1 Tbsp of maple syrup.
Nutrition Boosting Add-in’s
1 cup frozen wild blueberries (even though the mix already contained blueberries)
1/2 cup slivered almonds (topping)
2 tbsp wheat germ (topping)
1 Tbsp hemp protein powder (soy protein was in the milk, so now I added hemp – another complete protein)
Mix all ingredients together. Fold in the extra blueberries and egg replacer. Add the add-in toppings. Optional: buttery top and maple drizzle.
Bake for about 35 minutes (since making a cake)