Substitution Solutions for Wheat, Dairy, Eggs and Sugar


No wheat, no dairy, no eggs, no sugar? No Problem!

Baking can become a daunting task when standard ingredients like wheat, eggs, dairy or sugar are no longer an option. The following tips and suggestions from chef Rebecca Reilly will restore confidence in the kitchen and help you create baked goods that everyone will love. If you’re just beginning a special diet, expect a little trial and error as you master the basics of using new ingredients. Baking is a science and experimenting is part of the fun. Once you determine which ingredients work best for you, enjoy the sweet taste of success. Bake on! 

Wheat Substitutes

No Wheat
Every type of wheat flour (including whole wheat, white and all-purpose flour) contains gluten. Gluten is the protein in wheat and it is what gives structure and elasticity to baked items. When wheat is omitted from a recipe, the end product can be hard and crumbly if the right alternative isn’t used. There are a wide variety of gluten-free flours available. It’s best to use a combination of them instead of just one type. Here’s how to develop your own favorite gluten-free flour mix:

Choose a Flour Blend
One cup of wheat flour equals one cup of gluten-free flour or flour blend.

Use a blend of equal amounts of two or three of these gluten-free flours:brown rice, millet, chickpea (garbanzo), sorghum, amaranth.

Add Elasticity
Because you’re using gluten-free flours, you’ll need to add an ingredient (a substitute for gluten) that will provide structure and elasticity to the baked good:

Add xanthan gum or guar gum. Add 1 teaspoon per cup of flour for bread, pizza, rolls and other yeast containing-products and ½ teaspoon per cup of flour for pastries.

Play with Texture
There are other gluten-free flours, such as cornstarch, potato starch and arrowroot that can be added to your mix. These flours lighten and soften the texture of baked goods. Tapioca flour, sometimes called tapioca starch, gives baked goods a crispy crust and good mouth-feel, including a bit of “chew.” Use these flours sparingly—no more than ¼ cup per 1 cup of flour blend. Too much tapioca produces a rubbery texture. Too much potato starch yields a texture that almost dissolves in your mouth.

Sweet rice flour, a great choice for pastry and pasta, increases elasticity. It can be used in larger quantities in baking— up to ½ cup per 1 cup of flour blend.

Power it Up
For added protein and extra fiber, remove 2 to 4 tablespoons of a gluten-free flour blend and replace it with an equal amount of Montina, teff, quinoa, mesquite, oat, buckwheat, or bean flour. You can also boost the nutritional content of commercially prepared gluten-free mixes this way.

For more fiber, replace up to 25 percent of a gluten-free flour blend with coconut flour, flax meal, rice bran or nut meal. The extra fiber in these flours absorbs moisture, so add a bit more liquid (2 tablespoons per cup of liquid) to your recipe.

No Dairy
Dairy products add fat, protein and calcium to baked items. There are lots of terrific and effective dairy-free alternative to try:

Moove Over
Replace 1 cup cow’s milk with 1 cup soy, rice, oat, cashew or almond milk; add 1 tablespoon oil per cup. For added sweetness, replace 1 cup cow’s milk with 1 cup fruit juice.

A Butter Alternative
Replace 1 cup butter with 1 cup margarine of choice or organic palm fruit shortening or organic coconut oil.

Melt Down
Replace 1 cup melted butter with 1 cup oil of choice or melted organic coconut oil.

Sour Milk
Replace 1 cup buttermilk with 1 cup milk of choice plus 1 teaspoon vinegar or 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Let sit for 15 minutes. Or use ¾ cup milk of choice plus ¼ cup yogurt of choice. Or use 1 cup nondairy yogurt or nondairy sour cream.

Dairy Substitutes

No Eggs
Eggs add liquid (1/4 cup each), fat and protein to bakery items. They act as a binder and help leaven which affects the texture and density of baked goods. Here are some good egg substitutes:

Just the Flax, Ma’am
Replace 1 whole egg with flax gel— Combine 1 tablespoon flax meal with 3 tablespoons hot water per egg; let sit for 5 to 10 minutes or until mixture thickens. (For highest nutrient content, use a coffee grinder to grind fresh flax seed as needed.)

Choose Fruit
Use ¼ cup applesauce, prune puree or mashed banana to replace one egg. Replace 1 egg yolk with 1 to 2 tablespoons applesauce, prune puree, mashed banana or flax gel.

Other Egg Replacers
Replace one egg using Egg Replacer, following package instructions. Replace 1 egg white with 1 tablespoon agar powder plus 1 tablespoon water, blended until smooth. Or use 1 tablespoon gelatin or pectin (pectin has an acidic aftertaste), moistened in 3 tablespoons warm water plus 1 teaspoon double acting baking powder. Or use 2 tablespoons water mixed with 1 tablespoon oil and 2 teaspoons baking powder.

Egg-cellent Advice
To improve baking texture when replacing eggs, use one or a combination of these techniques:

Add 1 tablespoon granulated lecithin plus 2 tablespoons additional liquid per egg replaced.

Add 1 tablespoon Brown Rice Cream cereal, cornmeal or brown rice bran per egg to improve stability for leavening.

Add an extra pinch of baking powder or baking soda to lighten density. (Don’t overdo it; baking power and baking soda impart a strong taste.)

No White Sugar
Sweeteners add tenderness, flavor, color and moisture to baked goods. With liquid sweeteners, baked goods brown more quickly and the texture is chewier. If you use a liquid alternative, the liquid in your recipe should be adjusted accordingly.  Try these  favorite sugar alternatives:

Replace 1 cup sugar with ¾ cup honey plus a pinch of baking soda; decrease the liquid in your recipe by 2 tablespoons.

Replace 1 cup sugar with 11/3 cups molasses and reduce the liquid in your recipe by 5 tablespoons.

Tapioca or Agave
Replace 1 cup sugar with 1 cup tapioca syrup or agave nectar and reduce the liquid in your recipe by 2 tablespoons.

Maple Syrup
Replace 1 cup sugar with  ¾ cup maple syrup and reduce the liquid in your recipe by 3 tablespoons.

Fruit Juice
Replace 1 cup sugar with ¾ cup fruit juice and reduce the liquid in your recipe by 3 tablespoons. LW