How do I know it’s done?

One of the major changes during quarantine seems to be a huge increase in home cooking and baking. I had another call yesterday about an under-baked cake so this seems like a great time to review just how to know when your baked product is done.

Freshly baked loaves of bread.

When cooking meat or poultry, we always suggest purchasing an instant read thermometer to check for doneness. We know that it is difficult to look at meat and know if it is cooked thoroughly enough to be safe to eat. With baked products, it is mostly a quality issue if a food has been cooked long enough to be done.

Over the years, there have been various methods for checking to see if a cake or pie has been cooked long enough. I have done a bit of research to learn what temperatures indicate your product has cooked long enough.

I received an instant read thermometer for a Christmas gift. I had been baking bread weekly for a year and a half and I wanted to know the internal temperature of my loaves so I could bake a more consistent loaf. I know that a loaf of bread should sound a bit hollow if it is cooked but it was really a guessing game until I sliced into the loaf. I have learned that the degree of browning can not always be considered as bread recipes vary as do bakers preferences. Now that I have a thermometer, I check to see if the internal temperature of a loaf of bread is between 180-190 °F. If I make a crusty, rustic loaf, the temperature should be 200-201 °F.

The internal temperature for cakes varies quite a bit depending on the type of cake you choose to make. The old stand by of using a wooden toothpick is still a valid way to check for doneness. If you use wood, cake crumbs will stick to the toothpick and you can see that the cake is baked and not doughy. If you choose a metal or plastic toothpick, crumbs will not adhere making it difficult to know if the cake is ready to take out of the oven. You can also lightly press near the center of the cake with a fingertip to gauge doneness. If the cake springs back, it is done. If you wait for the cake to pull away form the side of the pan, it may be overcooked.

Cookies are another product that can be hard to know if they are done. Some cookies appear under-baked when they are actually done. Start peeking at cookies about 5 minutes before the recipe indicates they should be done. If you want a soft, chewy cookie, take them out a bit earlier than a cookie than a cookie you want to have crisp. You can tell a cookie is done if you gently press it with a finger and it leaves a slight imprint. A crispy cookie should be more firm and be lightly browned around the edges. Brownies, which I think land in the cookie category, should appear slightly underdone in the center. Test with a wooden toothpick; you should have a few gooey crumbs stuck to the toothpick.

Custard pies can be a challenge to know when they are done. We always advised inserting a knife half way between the edge and the center of the pie to detect doneness. The knife should come out mostly clean and the pie should still have a bit of “jiggle” when moved. Now I find advice to use the thermometer instead of the knife. The slit from the knife can cause a crack in the pie filling. Internal temperature for the custard pie should be 170-175°F. If you are baking a fruit pie, make sure that the crust is browned and the filling is bubbling throughout the pie. If you do not see the bubbling, then the pie likely will not thicken. Starchy thickeners like flour, cornstarch, or tapioca need to heat long enough to bubble or they will not thicken when the pie cools.

I do not have room to cover every baked product so I tried to cover the most common foods. Please call or email us at AnswerLine if you have questions when you are baking. We enjoy helping others with a hobby that we all love.

Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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Kitchen Shortcuts

I feel we have all been doing a little more meal preparation due to our stay-at-home orders recently. At least I have. It has been good to use some of the kitchen shortcuts I have learned over the years.

Here are a few of my favorites and most used:

Ice cream is a favorite at our house so I use this shortcut on a regular basis but it is also very helpful if you are serving ice cream for a gathering. Pre-scoop ice cream and return it to the freezer so it will be ready to go when you need it. You can put the scoops on a cookie sheet or in individual muffin cups in muffin papers.

Use muffin cups to freeze stock or broth to use in soups at a later date. You can also use ice cube trays to freeze the stock. Once the stock has frozen, you can transfer the cups or cubes to a freezer bag to take up less room in your freezer.

Freeze fresh mozzarella cheese to make it easier to grate. In addition, to save yourself time and money, shred your own cheese from a block and store it in the freezer.

If you have a baking project you want to do right away and you don’t have time to allow the butter or eggs to come to room temperature you can soften the butter more quickly by cutting it up in small pieces or shredding it. To warm eggs up put them in a bowl of warm water for 5-10 minutes.

Chop herbs with a pizza wheel.

Use an ice cream scoop to portion out muffin batter. It is much faster than using two spoons and prevents you from having to add or subtract batter from cups already filled. Adding or subtracting batter causes overmixing which leads to tunnels in muffins.

If you have accidentally gotten a fragment of egg shell in with your bowl of unbeaten eggs, using half an egg shell to dig it out is very helpful. The fragment clings to the egg shell half.

An egg slicer works nicely to slice fruits like strawberries and bananas.

A melon baller works well to seed tomatoes. Seeding tomatoes makes your sauce thicker.

I know it is not quite sweet corn season yet but an easy way to cut corn off the cob is to use a bundt pan. Place the ear of corn on the raised center section and as you use a knife to cut the kernels off they fall directly into the pan and make for easy and neat retrieval.

To peel a ripe kiwi cut both ends off the fruit then insert a spoon between the skin and the flesh and turn the kiwi. The fruit will come out in one piece and be ready to slice.

I’m sure you all have favorite kitchen short cuts you like to use that you learned from a mother, grandmother, friend or favorite Family and Consumer Sciences teacher. Be sure to pass them along to others!

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is here to HELP!

While AnswerLine has been providing information and resources for Iowa consumers with home and family questions for over 40 years, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has been serving Iowans since the early 1900s.  The Mission of ISU Extension and Outreach is to engage citizens through research‐based educational programs and extend the resources of Iowa State University across Iowa. AnswerLine is just one of the entities of extension outreach. Let me introduce you to some of the other resources available to help individuals and families navigate issues that may concern them. 

  1. Stay informed on general ISU Extension and Outreach resources and opportunities through the Extension home page and news feed.
  2. The Iowa 4-H team has at-home learning resources which are publicly available for members and families to use.
  3. Iowa Concern offers free and confidential calls and emails 24/7 to help with stress management, financial issues, legal aid, and crisis resources.
  4. The ISU Horticulture and Home Pest news page offers download publications, how to improve your garden videos, and a Hortline for answers to lawn and garden questions.
  5. Get help with meal planning and food budgeting through the Spend Smart Eat Smart website.
  6. Visit the Beginning Farmer, Women in Ag and Ag Decision Maker websites for updates on programs and helpful resources from the Farm Management team. You can also contact the farm management field specialists with your questions. 
  7. Preserve the Taste of Summer offers a number of publications and resources for safe food preservation techniques.
  8. For great information on home gardens, farmer’s markets and u-pick operations, plant sales, and more or how to become a Master Gardener, the Master Gardener Program site is a must.
  9. When Teens don’t know who to talk to, Teen Line can help with a variety of issues that affect Teens and their families.
  10. Use the ISU Extension Staff Directory when looking for a specific person or persons in a specific area of expertise.  The Contact page offers additional resources and provides a form to send an email with questions, concerns, or suggestions. Ask An Expert is always available for questions; those questions come to AnswerLine where we either answer the query or send it to someone in Extension (Iowa or elsewhere) that can better answer it.

Besides these resources, one can always find help at the ISU Extension and Outreach extension offices located in each of Iowa’s counties, on social media outlets, and the many blogs written by Extension staff on current topics.  At the present time, most ISU Extension and Outreach in-person events throughout the state have been canceled through May 31 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  However, ISU Extension and Outreach staff remain committed to serving Iowans during this difficult time; phones and emails are being answered by Extension staff at the county and state levels.  Please check out the resources available that may provide the help you seek and watch for updates on how ISU Extension and Outreach will proceed to serve Iowans after May 31.

Marlene Geiger

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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Jelly and Jam Time

Raspberry jam in a canning jar

May is often the beginning of jelly and jam making time for callers. We often get calls from first time jelly makers. This year there is a resurgence in both gardening and home food preservation. I have already had several calls from people making jam this spring.

Freezer jam or jelly is easier to make than cooked jam or jelly as freezer style does not need to be processed through the boiling water bath canner. You will often need pectin to make freezer jam but it can also be made with Jello. You should know that any jam made with Jello is considered freezer jam and can not be processed in a boiling water bath canner. But any jam that is not freezer jam MUST be processed through the boiling water bath canner unless it is stored in the refrigerator.

Jam and jelly recipes should be followed exactly as written. You should not experiment with these recipes, add extra ingredients, or double these recipes. Following the recipe as written is the only way to guarantee a safe product when you intend to process it in the boiling water bath canner.

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has some recipes available in the Preserve the Taste of Summer publications and the National Center for Home Food Preservation also has safe, tested recipes.

If you need a little help when you get started making jelly or jam this year, call us at AnswerLine. We are always glad to help.

Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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Caring for Cloth Masks

As the world makes a slow comeback from the coronavirus pandemic, the CDC is now recommending individuals wear a new piece of ‘attire’, the face mask or any face covering, any time one goes out where social distancing is hard to practice such as to grocery stores, pharmacies, or other places where other people are likely to be present in number.  In recent days, many retail outlets are requiring this new attire of their customers. Employers, too, may be requiring employees who are unable to maintain the recommended 6 foot distance from others during the course of essential work functions to wear masks. It seems that for the foreseeable future, the face mask or covering of the nose and mouth will be a necessary part of our attire.

Hand washing and social distancing remain the critical means of disease prevention. When going out for essentials or required in the workplace, cloth masks are becoming essential attire.  While not as effective as clinical masks, properly made cloth masks can help slow the spread of COVID-19 by blocking large droplets from coughs and sneezes. 

Many have put their DIY skills to work and created cloth masks at home for themselves and others.  In a previous blog, I shared guidelines for DIY face masks.  However, acquiring a face mask is only step one.  Step two is wearing it to limit the spread of germs.  STEP THREE IS CARING FOR IT TO KEEP IT EFFECTIVE AND SAFE.  There are differing reports on whether coronavirus can live on clothing or cloth.  The general thought is that the coronavirus is more likely to live on hard surfaces than soft surfaces like fabric.  Despite that, the CDC urges laundering of cloth masks after each use, daily, or when wet or soiled.  When regular use is required, having multiple masks will be necessary. 

A piece by Kansas State University Environmental Health and Safety says a washing machine and dryer is adequate for cleaning.  The Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab suggests that face masks be washed with hot water (160֯F) in the washing machine and tumbled dried on high heat with other similar items.  Masks can also be hand washed by lathering masks with soap and scrubbing for 20 seconds or more with warm to hot water, rinsing, and tossing into the dryer.  Non-scented/allergy-free detergents should be used for laundering masks per guidelines from the University of Iowa and dryer sheets should not be used.  Further, masks can be ironed on the cotton or linen setting to further kill any remaining germs provided the masks are made of cotton.  Sanitizing face masks in the microwave, oven, or boiling water is not recommended.   A mask that is damaged or that no longer fits properly to the face should be disposed and replaced.

If filters are being used in conjunction with a cloth mask, filters too, need to be properly cleaned or replaced.  Coffee filters and paper towels are not washable so should be replaced after each use.  HVAC filters and non-woven interfacings are washable so can be laundered in the same way as the mask; however, the filter’s effectiveness decreases with each washing and will eventually disintegrate.

Masks need to be carefully removed from the face after use.  Individuals should take care not to touch their eyes, nose, or mouth when removing the mask; only the elastic ear pieces or head/neck ties should be handled.  Used masks should be placed outside down on a piece of paper or in a bag until laundering with hand washing following immediately.

As discussed above, cloth masks can provide limited protection.  Proper care of the mask is important to provide protection and to maintain the health of the wearer. 

Marlene Geiger

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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Sourdough bread with instant sourdough!

Yeast packet inside bread pan

A few weeks before all our lives changed and we went into quarantine, I saw this instant sourdough package while I was shopping. I was intrigued as I love sourdough bread but don’t want to have to manage a sourdough starter. It seemed like more work than it was worth. I also know that it can be dangerous to use a “natural starter” grown from naturally occurring yeasts. The main danger there is that we don’t know what bacteria might grow in the starter alongside the wild yeast.

I bought the starter but didn’t have time or motivation to make the bread until we began working from home and I had a bit more time on my hands. I found a recipe on-line that didn’t look too involved or too difficult.

brown sourdough starter in bowl on top of flour

I was glad that I had the recipe a few weeks before I wanted to bake the bread as that gave me plenty of time to read the recipe and plan for a day that I had time and space necessary.

dough ready to shape

The recipe is not complex or hard to understand. Mainly, it takes a lot of time. The directions are to mix the bread, cover and let rise for two hours, refrigerate for two more hours and then shape the dough and let raise for one more hour. This can easily fill an entire morning or afternoon. You do have the option to refrigerate overnight (instead of only two hours) and then continue the process the next day. The bread bakes for an additional 30 minutes at the end of the process.

It was hard to wait for the bread to be cool enough to slice, but when I did, I loved the loaf. I will buy some more Instant Sourdough yeast the next time I see some available at the store.

Fresh loaf of Instant Sourdough bread sliced on a platter

Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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Mask Makers, Mask Makers, We Love You!

Experienced and inexperienced sewers alike have found their way to a sewing machine in recent times.  For some, sewing is their hobby or passion and they have a love affair with their machine.  Others, have dug an old machine out of the back of the closet, dusted it off, oiled it, and once again have learned how to thread it.  And still others who have never owned a machine and/or perhaps have never used a machine, have purchased one or borrowed one from a friend, and are experiencing the joy of using (or frustration) of having a sewing machine.  What all of these sewers have in common is a drive to help others by making masks and other PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) that is in short supply as we combat COVID-19.

MY HAT IS OFF to all those who are giving of their time, talent, or donations to help our frontline workers as well as friends, neighbors, and loved ones.  While many do it in the quiet of their home and donate as they desire, others have achieved some fame for their outreach.  There have been numerous stories of this selflessness including Iowa 4-H members who have exceeded their goal of 10,000 masks.

I, too, opened my sewing machine and made several dozen masks for a local group.  As I started this venture in March, I was frustrated by the mixed information that was coming forth from varying agencies and individual groups.  Each had a different idea of what was the best mask and each wanted a given style which in most cases was unlike someone else’s.  As the need grew, so did the number of mask styles and the formation of groups, locally and nationally.  As I write today, there is an unknown number of mask styles available online with YouTube tutorials showing how to make them.  Really anybody can do it!  And for the most part, most groups are now accepting masks regardless of pattern as long as they meet CDC guidelines. 

So if one is interested in joining the cause, here’s some basic information:

  1. Masks should meet the latest CDC guidelines.  If masks are to be made for a designated group, check their specific guidelines to be sure that your work will be used.
  2. For open donations, the exact style is entirely up to the donor.  Masks may be made with elastic, ties, nose pieces, or pockets for filters.  After trying many different patterns, the one I found to be the fastest and easiest for me was shown on YouTube by The Brick Ballroom.  When elastic ran out, it was easy to convert to ties.  It is also easy to add a channel for a nose piece and accommodates a filter if desired.  JoAnn Fabrics has mask kits available free of charge.
  3. Fabric used must be new, washable, tightly woven, cotton or cotton blend.  Quilting fabrics (scraps or yardage) are perfect.
  4. Masks should be made in a coronavirus-free home.
  5. Use clean hands and sew in a clean, smoke-free place.
  6. Package donations in clear plastic, zipper lock bags.

If one is unsure of where to send or take their masks, one place is Mask Helpers, a clearing house created by Keokuk, IA brothers who help connect those who need free, non-medical grade, reusable masks with those who are able to make and donate them.   They also provide information on how to send the masks without leaving the safety of your home.

Again thank you to all the Mask Makers.  We LOVE you!

Marlene Geiger

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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How to store bread

Many of us may have been finding time recently to do more baking. If you were fortunate enough to be able to find a supply of yeast, you may have been baking your own bread. It tastes delicious right out of the oven but can become stale very quickly. So where is the best place to store bread to keep it the freshest the longest?

If you want to keep your bread for more than a day or two, the freezer is your best option. Make sure your bread is completely cool before packaging it so moisture is not trapped which affects the texture and quality of the crust. Freezing greatly slows down the staling process and reheating the bread in an oven or toaster makes the bread springy and chewy again.

To freeze bread, wrap it in plastic then again in foil. Place it in a freezer bag or some other airtight packaging and use a straw to suck out extra air in the bag before sealing it. Bread stored in the freezer will remain safe indefinitely but for best quality you will want to use it within 6 months.

When you are ready to use your bread, defrost it at room temperature in it’s wrapping. If you unwrap the bread while it is still cold, condensation will form on the exterior compromising the texture. The bread will thaw at room temperature in about 3 hours. When the bread is fully defrosted you can unwrap it and reheat it at 300-350 degrees F for @10 minutes to crisp up the crust.

We have callers who want to store bread in their refrigerator to keep it fresh. Storing bread in the refrigerator is not a good idea however. The refrigerator draws moisture out of the bread causing it to go stale faster.

If your bread does happen to go stale before you were hoping – never fear! To revive it try flicking a little water on the crust, wrapping it in foil, and heating it in a 300 degree oven for 5-10 minutes. Or consider using the stale bread to make bread pudding, French toast, or croutons.

If you are not going to be able to use your whole loaf of bread at one time out of the freezer you may want to consider slicing it before freezing it so you are able to pull out smaller amounts. You can defrost individual slices in the toaster.

If you are interested in trying to make your own bread, Spend Smart Eat Smart has a recipe for No Knead Whole Wheat bread. It is easy, delicious, and less expensive than purchasing whole wheat bread at the store. Enjoy!

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Steaming Vegetables

Recently an AnswerLine client called with concerns related to the safety of microwaving steam bag vegetables such as those sold under the Birds Eye Steamfresh label. These bags are sold with the vegetables inside as stand-alone products containing just vegetables or with sauces or seasonings. In general, microwaving foods in plastic containers may carry some health risks due to the transmission of BPA and pthalates from the plastic to the food. However, the bags being used for the steamed vegetable products are specifically manufactured for microwave steaming and do not contain BPA or pthalates.  These bags are designed for a one-time use.  If there is any concern, the packages can be opened and the vegetables steamed or prepared by another method.

Whether you purchase the microwave steam bag vegetables or not, there are advantages to steaming vegetables.  Frozen vegetables are usually flash frozen right after picking.  As a result, frozen vegetables may be more nutrient dense than fresh vegetables that have spent time in transit, sitting in a warehouse, or on display at the store. 

Steaming by way of the microwave, stove top, or pressure cooker are healthy ways to cook vegetables to prevent nutrient loss and retain flavor, texture, and color.  Steaming also helps to retain the water-soluble vitamins and minerals that would otherwise leech into cooking water.  Water soluble vitamins are also heat sensitive, so quick cooking times helps to reduce nutrient loss.  Vegetable nutrients along with fiber and phytochemicals, help to lower risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, obesity, cancer, and vision loss.

Steam bag vegetables can be used in the same way as any frozen vegetable.  While steam bags do add cost to the vegetables, there definitely is convenience in using the steam bag packaging as there is virtually no clean up involved.  One doesn’t need to be confined to using an entire bag when a smaller amount is needed.  The bag can be opened and a smaller portion taken out and steamed using another method. For additional information on steaming vegetables, check out Cooking Fresh Vegetables by Purdue University.

Steaming is also a great way to prepare frozen vegetables for use in a salad. One should not thaw frozen vegetables and eat them without cooking.  Blanching prior to freezing stops the aging of vegetables but does not necessarily take care of contaminants that may be found in the field such as salmonella, listeria, and E.coli; contaminants can penetrate the tiny cell walls which are broken when the vegetables are blanched.  All vegetables are packaged as ready-to-cook, not as ready-to-eat. Therefore, vegetables should be cooked to 165 degrees for that reason. In most cases this temperature can be reached by steaming the vegetables to tender-crisp and then letting them sit in a closed container for 5 minutes before serving.

Bottom line is that the best cooking method for frozen (and fresh) vegetables is steaming.  If accomplishing that is by using pre-packaged steam bag vegetables, know that it is safe when package directions are followed.  Besides nutrient retention, steamed vegetables will have better flavor and more desirable textures.

Marlene Geiger

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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Substitute Ingredients for Coronavirus Baking

When people feel anxious, they look for something to do, a distraction of sorts, and baking provides just that for many people.  During these challenging times, it seems that people are baking more at home than previously and psychologists have coined the baking frenzy as “coronavirus baking” or “stress baking”. I, too, have found myself baking more while at home to fill in what we don’t have on hand and maybe for a distraction, too. One thing is for sure, I have more time now for baking than I had before.

Baking triggers all kinds of positive feelings and plays welcome tricks on the brain whether one is stressed or not.  Such pleasures as creativity, memories of happy times, using energy in a focused, engaged, or mindful way, and enjoying tangible or measurable accomplishments come to mind.

With people staying at home, the urge to bake may strike only to find that ingredients needed are not on the shelf.  Or, even more unimaginable, with more people baking, there is a shortage of baking supplies in some areas. 

When this happens, we look to other ingredients to substitute for what is missing.  Bear in mind, that baking is more of an ‘exact science’  so when substitutes are used, baked products will perhaps be slightly different in taste, texture, appearance, and quality, but will result in an edible baked product that can be enjoyed.  Having tried these various substitutes over time, I have found that some substitutes are better for one baking situation than others; it’s very much trial and error. Most good cookbooks provide a listing of emergency substitutions; substitutions can also be found online.  (A good, printable chart is available from Colorado State University and includes many substitutions beyond baking.)  Despite these good resources, sometimes desperate times call for more desperate measures using less common substitutions.  To that end, here are some substitutes for common baking ingredients that one may not find in the usual lists of emergency lists.

Butter Replacers
Replace 1 cup butter with

NUT BUTTERS – Nut butters need to be combined with an equal part oil to get a 1:1 butter replacement.  (i.e., combine 1/2 cup nut butter with 1/2 cup oil to equal 1 cup butter.)

Oil – ¾ cup.  Choose an oil with a light flavor.

COOKED BEANS – 1 cup mashed beans; use black beans for chocolate baking and light beans such as cannellini for light backing.

AVOCADO – 1 cup mashed avocado.

UNSWEETENED APPLESAUCE OR PUMPKIN/SQUASH PUREE – 1 cup sauce or puree; reduce liquid in recipe slightly if possible.

Egg Replacers
Replace 1 egg with

VINEGAR AND BAKING SODA – 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 tablespoon vinegar combined.


GROUND FLAXSEED – 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed, 3 tablespoons water, combine and allow to sit until thick and gelatinous.

Baking Soda
Replace 1 teaspoon baking soda with

BAKING POWDER – 3 teaspoons baking powder; reduce salt, and replace acidic ingredients (buttermilk, yogurt, lemon juice, etc) with non-acidic ingredients, if possible.

EGG WHITES – 2 egg whites whipped to stiff peaks, fold in.  Measure egg whites and reduce any liquid used in the recipe by the same amount. 

CLUB SODA (sodium bicarbonate) – replace any liquid in the recipe with club soda.

Baking Powder
Replace 1 teaspoon baking powder with

BAKING SODA – 1/3 teaspoon baking soda and ½ teaspoon cream of tartar.

BUTTERMILK, SOUR MILK, PLAIN YOGURT – ¼ teaspoon baking soda and ½ cup buttermilk, sour milk or yogurt.  Decrease liquid in recipe by ½ cup.  (Sour milk can be made by adding ½ tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice to ½ cup sweet milk.)

MOLASSES – ¼ teaspoon baking soda and ¼ cup molasses; reduce liquids and sugars used in recipe.

White Granulated Sugar
Replace 1 cup sugar with

HONEY AND MAPLE SYRUP – ¾ cup honey or maple syrup.  Reduce liquid in recipe by 3 tablespoons. Add a pinch of baking soda to honey to reduce acidity.

AGAVE NECTAR – 2/3 cup agave.  Reduce liquid in recipe by 2-4 tablespoons and oven temperature by 25 percent.


Brown Sugar
Replace 1 cup packed brown sugar with

SUGAR AND MOLASSES – 1 cup white sugar and ¼ cup unsulphured molasses.


All-Purpose Flour
Replace 1 cup flour with


Go ahead and make your brownies, cakes, cookies, muffins, or biscuits if it calms your nerves or helps put your mind at ease. I’ll probably be doing the same.  And know that the same pleasures derived from baking can be experienced even if we have to substitute an ingredient and settle for a product that isn’t quite the same.

Marlene Geiger

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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