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.
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.
Replace 1 egg with
VINEGAR AND BAKING SODA – 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 tablespoon vinegar combined.
UNSWEETENED APPLESAUCE, YOGURT, SILKEN TOFU, or MASHED BANANAS – ¼ cup of any.
GROUND FLAXSEED – 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed, 3 tablespoons water, combine and allow to sit until thick and gelatinous.
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.
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.
POWDERED SUGAR, BROWN SUGAR, RAW SUGAR, MAPLE SUGAR, COCONUT SUGAR – 1 cup of any.
Replace 1 cup packed brown sugar with
SUGAR AND MOLASSES – 1 cup white sugar and ¼ cup unsulphured molasses.
COCONUT SUGAR – 1 cup.
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.