A lot of people come and ask me about Vegan Baking. The questions range from what is vegan baking to is it even possible to try it in India.
It can seem like a mystery how something that doesn’t contain any cream, milk, eggs, butter, and (sacré bleu!) white sugar is even considered a baked product. But, trust me, vegan baking can be flavourful and texture-rich. And to boot, it’s healthy.
What does it mean to be vegan? There’s some debate around this definition. For me, simply put, being vegan means not eating any thing that contains no animal products and not even products derived indirectly or directly from animals. For example, refined white sugar in many places is bleached using bone ash from animals. So that makes it non-vegan. Honey comes from bees, so that makes it non-vegan. And so on.
Some people follow veganism due to their life and food philosophy and some due to health/dietary constraints.
In any case, vegan baking is not a significant trend as yet, but a growing one. As you start venturing into that area, the first thing to remember is that it is not as complex as it may seem and a lot of the ingredients in your pantry can work very well.
1. Choice of Flour:
The selection of the flour is entirely yours. This element is not impacted by whether you are baking vegan goods. So whatever flour you choose is fine – my suggestion would be to focus on whole flours like whole wheat, millets and so on.
2. Choice of Fat:
Butter can easily be replaced with flavorless oils like Canola, Sunflower, Rice Bran, the right variant of Olive Oil. All of these are readily available in your local stores. There are some other very fun fats that you can include in your baking. I love Apple Butter ( it is very easy to make at home and used extensively used in Vegan Baking).
Here’s my recipe for Homemade Vegan Apple Butter:
- 4 Apples, peeled, cored and chopped
- 2 cups Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 cup cane sugar 1-2 tbsp spice mix ( powdered cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger)
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
- Combine the apples, apple cider, cane sugar in a baking dish put it in the oven for 20 minutes till the apples soften.
- You can do this step on the gas as well – but it needs to be slow cooked and not pressure-cooked.
- Remove from the heat and stir in spice mix.
- Puree the mixture in a blender and put it back into the dish and into the oven. You need to check and mix after every 30 minutes. This should take about an hour or even 1 ½-2 hours if the apples are not already softened.
- Remember to check consistency – it is thick and sticky, but not like jam. Remove from the oven and let cool completely, then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 5 days.
And, these healthy recipes using Apple Butter should ease you into the Ovenderful world of vegan baking 🙂
- 1 cup oats , dry roasted
- 1/4 cup pistachio
- 1 tbsp apple butter
- 2 tbsp organic chia seeds , soaked in 1/4 cup water
- 2 tbsp organic preservative-free fig and Raisin Jam
- Mix the chia seeds and jam well. Keep aside.
- Mix the set roasted oats with chopped pistachios and the apple butter.
- Spoon in a thin layer of the oats mixture into a prepared baking tray.
- Then layer it with the chia seeds – jam mix.
- Top it with another layer of oats mix.
- Bake at 170 degrees Celsius in a preheated oven.
- Cool off before slicing it into squares.
- 1 cup dry roasted oats
- 2 small bananas mashed
- 2 tbsps cane sugar
- 1-2 tbsps apple butter
- Chopped Almonds (or any other nuts you like, I thought raisins might make it too sweet so I excluded those)
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
- Dry roast the oats and keep them in a bowl.
- Mix the banana and cane sugar thoroughly.
- Add the apple butter and whisk well.
- Finally add the Oats and the Almonds. Cool it in the fridge wrapped in cling film for about 30 minutes.
- Use a spoon to drop them onto the prepared baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes. Cool off and store.
The experiments are endless, and I’ve tried tons on my blog Ovenderful.
3. Replacing Eggs and White Sugar:
Curd replaces eggs in many bakes. But since curd is also an animal derived product and dairy, egg replacers like flax seeds, applesauce and mashed bananas can be used. These work very well in vegan baking. And instead of refined white sugar, using Raw Sugar, Jaggery, Coconut Sugar and fruit-based sweeteners is a great alternative. All of these products are available in online stores. My recommendation for Raw Sugar and Jaggery would be Conscious Food’s organic version.
All in all, vegan baking can be extremely nutritious since you are incorporating the best of what plant-based ingredients have to offer. The range is immense. Here is another one of my favourite recipes.
- ¾ cup whole wheat flour
- ¾ cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup jaggery powder
- 1 cup hot water
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup coconut (desiccated)
- 1 teaspoon soda
- 1 tbsp clove powder
- 1 tbsp cinnamon powder
- 1 tsp cardamom powder
- 1 tsp nutmeg powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C.
- Butter, dust one 7×3 inch loaf tin and line the bottom with parchment paper.
- Mix clove powder, cinnamon powder, cardamom powder and nutmeg powder together in a bowl to make a mixed spiced powder.
- Combine hot water, jaggery and sugar in a large bowl.
- Let the mixture cool.
- Add oil and vanilla essence.
- Whisk together flours, soda and spice mix.
- Add flour mix to wet mix till well incorporated.
- Fold in dessicated coconut. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
- Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or till a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Stand for 10 minutes before turning onto wire rack.
- Let it cool completely cool and serve