Baking. It's the final frontier in Kitchenland. The precision, the heaping teaspoonfuls of identical looking powders, the goopy liquids, the awkward and impossible-to-clean equipment... it's enough to scare anyone away. And for vegans, figuring out the proper substitutes for dairy and eggs can be downright frightening.
But fear not. There are so many wonderfully delicious spoils to reap from your labor, and many who conquer their Fear of the Flour even find a meditative quality in the alchemical magic that occurs when coconut crème and vanilla extract meet.
Milk can easily be replaced 1:1 with any nondairy milk. Anything butter can do, coconut oil can do better. Melt it, whip it, fold it. Plus, it's healthier, so much tastier and it doesn't harm any cows. Coconut oil is also loaded with healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, and it gives treats like cookies and cakes a smooth sweetness that's actually not too coconutty.
Replacing eggs is a bit trickier depending on the recipe. In some cases you can use ground flax seeds mixed with water until they get an egg-like consistency. In other situations you may end up using tofu or cornstarch or even applesauce. The more you tool around with recipes, the easier it will be to find the most suitable egg replacement.
Most vegans don't use honey (bees work so hard to make that stuff!), and white sugar is also not vegan because it's bleached through bones (seriously!). Substitute 1:1 with an organic sugar, raw sugar or Sucanat. For honey, you can replace with brown rice syrup, maple syrup or agave nectar.
The best way to get started is with a little help from some friends. Recipes can instill you with a sense of the basics, and from there the real fun begins as you explore variations on all of your favorite themes.
Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero's "Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar" and "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World" are must-haves for anyone who wants to make delicious tasting vegan baked goods. They fear nothing and have perfected amazing vegan recipes that have converted even the biggest butter cookie lovers.
BabyCakes founder, Erin McKenna also has put together some great recipes that reveal secrets found at her bakeries. Her newest book, "BabyCakes Covers the Classics: Gluten-Free Vegan Recipes from Donuts to Snickerdoodles" was just released earlier this month.
Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger
Photo: Andrea Manitsas