Post courtesy of Courtney Mayhew, with some minor additions added in.
How to Veganize your baking and why it's so important.
Yep, it's true people...you can make amazing baked goods without any butter, eggs, or milk. It's easy, delicious, and best of all, cruelty free! I have never met a vegan dessert that I didn't like and I am willing to bet that you won't either. One common misconception, is that vegan treats are healthy, "so I can eat as much as I want, right?" Wrong. Vegan treats ARE healthier. They are not made with high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, and cholesterol laden dairy products. But, they still include sugar and oil and can be high in calories just like any other dessert. I love to bake and end up making multiple desserts each week. I often bring them to work to share or send them with my husband to his shop. And my favorite thing to do is bake with a friend and then split the batches.
Here are some simple ways to ditch the dairy and eggs for a cruelty free delicious vegan baked good.
Instead of eggs use flaxseed, silken tofu, or Ener-G egg replacer.
WHY? 95% of the chickens in the Unites States raised for egg laying are confined to small battery cages with less than half a square foot for living space. Their beaks are clipped without anesthetic to prevent them from pecking at other hens. They are not able to spread their wings, roost, dust bathe, create pecking orders, or forage; they are denied all of their natural instincts, never even seeing the sunlight. The inhibited movement often causes their feet to actually grow around the hard, mesh wire of the cages. Because a factory farm shed often houses hundred of thousands, if not millions of hens, there will be many dead birds lying in cages among the living. Some have even been found petrified before they are removed! It's not surprising that these animals are then forced to eat antibiotic laced feed in order to keep disease at bay. Egg laying is a cyclical process and waiting for this natural process does not allow for maximization of profits. Thus, many egg farmers use a process called "forced molting" in which hens are starved for up to 12 days. This cruel starvation stresses the hen's bodies into another egg laying cycle. Not convinced yet?! Egg laying chicken breeds have been genetically engineered to provide maximum egg production. They do not grow large enough to be profitable in the meat industry. Because of this, hundreds of thousands of male chicks are killed each day through cruel methods such as suffocation in plastic bags, gassing, or being thrown alive into grinders. And once the hens productivity is no longer profitable, they are killed in the same manor. Some are even slaughtered for low grade chicken meat products. I hope this has convinced you.
HOW? 1 tablespoon finely ground flaxseeds with 3 tablespoons water replaces one egg. Simply grind the flax seeds in your blender or coffee grinder then transfer to a bowl, add the water, and beat or whisk until the mixture becomes gooey. Be sure to buy whole flax seeds and grind them yourself. The nutrient quality quickly diminishes after they are ground.
WHEN? Flaxseeds have a slightly nutty taste so I tend to use them in whole grain muffins or cookies where they add nice flavor. I also add them to smoothies. Flax seeds are abundant in most B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and antioxidants. Flax seeds can promote better digestive health, decrease inflammation, and lower cholesterol.
SILKEN TOFU (I recommend Mori-Nu extra firm)
HOW? 1/4 cup of blended silken tofu equals one egg, make sure it is creamy without any chunks. Silken tofu can make your cookies more fluffy, so add 1 teaspoon arrowroot or corn starch in these recipes.
WHEN? It works best in dense baked goods such as brownies or cakes.
ENER-G EGG REPLACER
HOW? 1 1/2 teaspoons ener-g plus 2 tablespoons warm water is equivalent to one egg. I whisk this together in small bowl or my food processor until frothy.
WHEN? It works really well in cookies and in cheesecake. I love this stuff and use it all of the time. The box may seem a little pricey, but it lasts a really long time.
Banana. One half mashed banana equals one egg. This works well in breads, muffins, or pancakes. Sometimes the flavor of banana can be overpowering, so I tend to use this only when I'm making something banana flavored-makes sense.
Soy yogurt. 1/4 cup soy yogurt is equivalent to one egg. This works really good in cupcakes and make them super moist. I have even used coconut milk yogurt with the same results. I use non dairy yogurt as an egg substitute in waffles also.
Instead of milk, use a nondairy milk such as soy, almond, or rice milk. I like Almond Breeze but also use a lot of Rice Dream for baking. I always get the unsweetened original but the vanilla flavors work well also (they just have a little more sugar). If you need buttermilk, just add one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to your non dairy milk and let sit for about 5 minutes (lemon juice will work as well). There are also several non dairy creamers available and I have mostly used these in scone recipes.
Instead of butter use a non dairy butter such as earth balance (it comes in sticks for baking and shortening sticks too)! You can also use canola oil in place of butter. 1/2 cup butter is equivalent to 1/3 cup oil. The latter will make your baked goods really moist and yummy!
WHY? We are the only species that drinks the milk from another species and we are the only species that continues to consume milk after we are weaned from our mothers. Cows make milk for the same reason we make milk--to feed their own babies. Instead, we take away their babies, feed them a milk replacer, and sell their milk. Cows are repeatedly impregnated in order to keep up with milk production and they are milked twice daily every day of their lives. A cow will naturally produce 16 pounds of milk per day, enough to feed her baby. Contrary to popular belief, cows actually don't need to be milked! When left alone, cows produce the perfect amount of milk to feed their calves, which means milking them is unnecessary. Dairy cattle today are pumped full of hormones and antibiotics in order to increase their milk production to an average of 50 pounds per day! Guess where those hormones and antibiotics end up. That's right, in their milk! Not only that, but the overproduction of milk causes half of these cows to develop mastitis, a bacterial infection of the udder. Cows are milked regardless of whether they are afflicted, so you're also getting some pus in that milk. That's right. Got pus? Cows have a natural lifespan of 25 years and are typically able to produce milk for 8 to 9 years. Because of the stress caused by factory farms, dairy cattle in the US are deemed worthless by the industry at age 4 or 5. They are then sent for slaughter--over one third of the ground beef consumed in this country comes from spent dairy cows. You must also face the fact that the veal industry is directly connected with the milk industry, so if you are still consuming dairy products you are also supporting the slaughter of malnourished, inhumanely confined calves. The male calves are tethered to their stall, which is not even large enough for them to turn around. They become caked in feces and are often found with open sores. They are fed formula, because that milk which was meant for them was stolen for human consumption. They are purposely made to be iron-deficient, for the white coloration of their flesh. These practices are so cruel that they are banned in Europe.
So, yesterday, Rachel and I got our vegan bake on. We made two different recipes from Vegan Cookies Invade your Cookie Jar by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. Then we also made peanut butter ice cream from Veganomicon (same authors). I also love their cookbook Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. And I must not forget to mention another one of my favorites, The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. The first cookies, Ooh La Las, resemble your favorite choclate sandwich cookie. Yes, oreos are vegan, but isn't so much better to make your own superior version? They are absolutely delcious, with soft choclate cookies and a cream filling that tastes identical to the originals. We also made Deluxe Cocoa Brownies. These beauties are super fudgy and great served with the peanut butter ice cream!
Ooh La Las (I dare you to eat just one!)
For the cookies:
3/4 cup nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening at room temp (we used earth balance)--make sure it is soft enough before using
1 cup sugar
2 t pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup nondairy milk (we used rice milk)
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch cocoa powder
1/4 cup black cocoa powder (we just used more of the regular)
2 t cornstarch
1/2 t salt
1/4 t baking soda
For the filling:
1/4 cup nonhydrogenated margarine at room temperature
1/4 cup nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening at room temperature
2 1/2 to 3 cups powdered sugar (sifted)
1 t pure vanilla extract
In a large mixing bowl, cream the shortening and the sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, add the vanilla and non dairy milk and mix. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until the dough holds together (it is a little sticky). We sifted in our flour and cocoa powder to prevent clumping. We recommend refrigerating for at least 10 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Divide the dough into four pieces and roll each one into a ball. Place a piece of parchment paper on a flat surface, flatten a ball of dough onto the parchment paper, and place another piece of parchment paper over it to prevent sticking. Roll out your dough into a circle that is approximately 10 inches in circumference, making it about 1/8 inch thick. Using a 1 1/2 inch cookie cutter, make circles in the dough, leaving about 3/4 inch between each circle. We used a glass and had to use flour to keep it from sticking. Lift away the remaining dough. Transfer the entire sheet of parchment paper to your cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Repeat the process with the remaining dough until all of it is used up (or save the extra dough for your husband!).
Now prepare the filling.
Use a hand mixer on medium high speed to cream together the margarine and shortening. Add the powdered sugar in 1/2 cup increments until thoroughly combined. It will be really stiff and pliable. Mix in the vanilla. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Roll the filling into grape sized round pieces. Smash each piece onto the flat side of a cookie and then sandwich another cookie on top gently pushing it down. Make sure the cookies are fully cooled and press gently to avoid cracking. Store in a tightly sealed container and if hot out, refrigerate until you are ready to eat.
The recipe yield is 3 dozen. Ours were a little bigger, so we made just over 2 dozen.
Deluxe Cocoa Brownies
(serve these with peanut butter ice cream, recipe to follow)
Yield: 12 brownies
3 ounces firm silken tofu
1/4 cup nondairy milk
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
2 t vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 T cornstarch
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8x10 brownie pan with parchment paper, making sure it curves up a little onto the sides (do not skip this step).
Puree the tofu, non dairy milk, and oil in a blender or food processor until smooth and fluffy. Transfer to a mixing bowl and use a fork to vigorously mix in the sugar. Add the vanilla. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt. Use a spatula to fold and mix the batter until smooth. Transfer the batter to your pan and smooth out the top. Bake for 30-32 minutes and let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving (if you can wait that long)!
Do not over bake as this will cause them to be slightly dry. For some variation, fold in 1 cup chopped walnuts or 3/4 cup chocolate chips into the batter.
Peanut Butter Ice Cream
Yield: 1 1/2 pints
1/2 cup cream of coconut milk**
1 cup non dairy milk (we used almond)
1 cup sugar
6 ounces firm silken tofu (we used Mori-Nu)
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 T vanilla
Combine all ingredients in your blender. Once creamy, pour into your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer's instructions. I have a Cuisinart automatic ice cream maker. It is really easy to use, easy to clean up, and it makes delicious ice cream! here
**Place a can of coconut milk (not light) in your refrigerator over night. All of the cream will rise to the top. Carefully scoop this out for your recipe. Save the rest of the coconut milk for use in a soup (it can be frozen).