Switching to Grain-free Vegan baking took me forever! I tried following the rules for Gluten-Free baking…but I needed to make too many substitutions. So even the rules for Gluten-Free Baking didn’t apply to baking without multiple allergens!
I felt like I was doing it all wrong. Every time I turned around there was a hidden grain in one baking mix or another….and every recipe called for butter, eggs, or milk.
In this post, I’m going to share my favorite ingredients for Grain-Free Vegan Baking with you. You’ll get the inside scoop on how I get them to work together to mimic the taste, texture and flavor of baked goods made with traditional ingredients.
How do we do it?
We Break The Recipe!
We’re going to use alternative ingredients to create delicious Gluten-Free treats; without the grains, dairy, eggs, soy, corn, almond, or cashew. You’ll never notice the missing ingredients! Why make a recipe, when you can Break A Recipe?
DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING I GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH MY LINKS, AT NO COST TO YOU.
Welcome to Break A Recipe!
My name is Nina, I’m a food nerd who bakes without gluten, grain, dairy, egg, soy, corn, almond, peanuts, and sesame. Which means all my baking is accidentally vegan.
When I tell people I bake without gluten, grains, dairy, egg, soy, corn, almond, cashew, and sesame, they ask “What’s left to use?”
I say “Unicorn Farts, of course!”
If this is your first time visiting, thank you so much! I truly appreciate you taking time to read this blog post and check out the recommended ingredients as you “figure it out”.
If this is your first time visiting, thank you for stopping by! If you are a returning reader, Grain-Free VIP, newsletter subscriber, or Facebook group member, thank you for all your help! You keep me on my toes. You inspire me to Break New Recipes each week.
Life is better with foodie friends, and I’m thankful to call you mine!
I would love it if you would come behind the scenes with me every week and let me tell you more about it in my newsletter. You can subscribe on the right hand side on a desktop, after the recipe in the blog post, or after the blogpost on a mobile device. I’m a food nerd and I love having foodie friends!
Why Would I Need To Bake Without Grains, Dairy, Egg, Soy, Corn, Almond, and Cashew?
My allergies made it impossible to think of using grains, dairy, eggs or soy. I felt so stuck! It wasn’t as if I hadn’t tried…
I tried everything…I bought everything…and I was broke and still without the delicious treats I desperately wanted to bake. (It’s a story far too many people have lived!)
It wasn’t that the recipes didn’t work…they were amazing recipes. I just couldn’t make them the way the chefs and food bloggers had intended .
I needed to make so many substitutions to the recipes that I couldn’t get a baked good that tasted like the treats I craved!
Have you ever found a recipe for bread or cake that was free of gluten, grain, dairy, egg, soy, corn, almond, and cashew?
Because in 2012, I sure couldn’t!
I searched all the food blogs I could find, and found recipes that were positively mouth watering. Just one problem…
I couldn’t eat them safely!
I either made the recipes with the allergens and dealt with the effects; or I made them without the allergens and got bricks, shingles, or sheet rock! Once I made a batch of cookies that tasted like socks!
(God bless the well meaning woman from church who gave me the recipe!).
I need to make a change…but what could I do?
This was the moment I thought that if I couldn’t make other people’s recipes wouldn’t work, maybe I could try one of my own…
Why Make A Recipe, When You Can Break A Recipe?
Since I’m not a trained chef, I needed to figure out how ingredients that were safe for me would work together.
I remember staring into my Lazy Susan, looking at bags of expired ingredients and feeling so disappointed!
How did I let all that go to waste?
Why didn’t I use what I bought?
Why did I never have the right ingredients for the recipe I truly wanted to make?
Why did it cost so much to eat foods that were safe for me? And where on Earth could I find recipes that were Grain-free & Vegan?
Why did the recipes never taste like the original the baked good I was trying to make?
I felt like I was spinning in a tornado of substitutions and going nowhere!
I decided to give up substituting.
I ditched the multitude flours and slimed things down to ingredients that I knew were safe for me.
Now Let’s Get Back To Our Gluten-Free Ingredients
I made a list of ingredients that I enjoyed and could play with safely. At that time, I also made a compromise…I would continue to use eggs in my baking until I could find a way to replace them safely…
So many gluten free recipes relied on eggs, and every grain-free recipe did as well. (I finally broke that egg-replacer recipe around 2019…and I have been so thankful for it ever since!)
In the ten years in between that moment and today, I’ve learned a lot about how to Break Recipes, and how to make ingredients work together.
There was a lot of trial and error…but when the non-vegan, grain lovers go for seconds, it’s a high endorsement for sure.
Let’s take a look at the Vegan Grain-Free Ingredients I use most frequently and see how they work in our baking!
What Ingredients Do I Use In Gluten-Free Vegan Baking?
Oh marvelous chickpea flour, it has so many uses. First it adds protein to my grain-free flour blend, and it takes the place of egg in my egg replacer recipe, I also use it in my Vegan Eggs, a great recipe for breakfast.
When people hear I bake with chickpea, they usually tell me they don’t like the taste of chickpeas. Sure…but we’re going to balance the flavor of chickpea with coconut…when we do, the flavors neutralize each other!
You won’t be able to tell there’s chickpea flour in the baking. I’ve asked people what they think I use, and no one has ever been able to detect the flavor of chickpea. Not one single person has ever detected chickpea in my breads, cookies, cakes, pies, or pizza!
When we use chickpea flour to take the place of egg, the way I do in my Grain-Free Vegan Brownies, in my Best Breakfast Bread, Egg replacer, Snickerdoodle Cookies, or in my Birthday Cake recipe, it gets added with the wet ingredients. When you see this in the recipe, it’s not a mistake. It’s how we Break The Recipe!
This simple technique of mixing the chickpea flour with the wet ingredients allows the batter to thicken up and develop the flavor and texture we expect from baked goods made with traditional ingredients!
If you need to substitute chickpea flour, please check out the advice in this link. My two favorite substitutes are white bean flour and fava bean flour. Please use the option that is safest for you. If I can help you with substituting, please contact me using the form found here and I’ll do my best to help you Break The Recipe in a way that is safe for you.
2. Coconut Milk
I like using the coconut milk in the carton when a recipe calls for “milk”. My favorite brand is So Delicious. Coconut is my duct tape, I can make almost anything with it. Any time a recipe calls for “milk” this is what I use. When a recipe calls for whole milk, I’ll use the full fat coconut milk in the can, and when a recipe calls for cream, I’ll go with canned coconut cream.
Coconut milk is used in my Marvelous Mini-Loaves, my Grain-Free Vegan Sandwich Bread, Savory Herb & Garlic Rolls, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Snickerdoodle cookies, Vegan Eggs, Creamy Garlic Dressing, Vegan Mayonnaise.
So why coconut milk? Well I’m allergic to dairy, and grain, and almond. I can use cashew milk safely, and I often do. I find that coconut milk in the carton acts most like 2% dairy milk and is the easiest to work with when breaking recipes.
If coconut milk is not safe for you, please use a milk that is safe and that you enjoy. The best recipe is the one that you can enjoy safely with those you love. Almost any dairy-free milk found in the refrigerator section or carton will work. The important thing is that the milk is safe for you and those you are sharing your recipe with!
Tapioca flour has no flavor of its own, it is one of the three flours that I use in my grain free flour blend. My grain-free flour blend uses chickpea, tapioca, and coconut flour to mimic the structure of white flour. It’s amazing in breads, desserts, and more!
In my grain-free flour blend, tapioca mimics the starch component in white flour. While many gluten-free baked goods are known for their heavy texture, my Maple Vanilla Cupcakes and Cereal Bars taste like homemade baked goods because tapioca flour lightens the flour blend. This gives our grain-free flour blend the approximate amount of starch as white flour.
We blend up the grain-free flour blend in 5 minutes and then we bake like normal. Tapioca flour works like any other starch, which means it’s marvelous for making sauces and gravies. I also use it in my Vegan Cheese Sauce, and dairy free mozzarella. It gives a silky texture to my Fast Mac’n Cheese.
There are coconut lovers and there are coconut haters. I will not try and change minds on this. I confess, that once upon a time I was a coconut hater. The only coconut I had ever eaten was sweetened artificially with God only knows what. It turns out it was the taste of the sweeter that I disliked, not the coconut. I enjoy the flavor of coconut.
In my grain-free flour blend, coconut flour adds fiber, adding nutrition and texture to the baked goods. You won’t notice a fibrous texture to the baked goods, you’ll just think you’re eating something made with a slightly sweeter white flour.
5. Coconut Oil
The more ingredients a recipe has, the greater potential it contains allergen for a guest. Since we are using coconut milk and coconut flour in our Grain-Free Flour Blend, we’ll use coconut oil as our fat. For the healthiest option, use organic coconut oil. For an option that doesn’t taste like coconut, use refined coconut oil.
One of the great things about using refined coconut oil, is it doesn’t taste like coconut. So we get a baked good that tastes more like the traditional version, and less like coconut! Refined coconut oil is more processed than organic coconut oil. If that’s your occasional indulgence…it’s much healthier than anything you’ll get from a drive through!
Speaking of healthy, if you’re looking for a healthy treat, check out these cereal bars!
Most people know cream of tartar because it’s one of the two active ingredients in double acting baking powder. A bi-product of the wine making process, cream of tartar is a leavening agent. When combined with baking soda, it creates gas and gives extra lift to our baked goods.
So why aren’t we using baking powder? I’m so glad you asked! (Told you, I’m a food nerd)
Two reasons…baking powder includes corn starch and if you’re grain free or have a corn allergy, that’s a problem. A second reason it’s a problem is because gluten-free baking often retains too much moisture!
So we Break The Recipe, and eliminate the corn starch!
When we eliminate the corn starch, we eliminate unnecessary moisture and the undesirable gooey texture that gluten-free baked goods are some times known for.
I’m not sure why but cream of tartar is unbelievably expensive at the grocery store near me. I get mine on line. Here’s the link to the brand I use in case it’s helpful.
I addition to using cream of tartar in my Grain-Free Sandwich Bread, Savory Herb & Garlic Rolls, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Grain-Free Vegan Brownies, Mini-Cakes, and Birthday Cake; I also use it in my egg replacer, and Vegan Eggs.
7. Baking Soda
What would a kitchen be without baking soda? We use baking soda to create gas to produce the air pockets we adore in our baking. If you aren’t sure how important the “crumb” texture is, try leaving the leavening agent out of you’re baking. It’s the kind of mistake we only make once!
You can just tell your friends you were Breaking The Recipe, and blame me if you do!
Make sure to have a separate box or jar for the fridge and another for baking. It’s even useful for cleaning!
Why flavoring and not extract? Because extract is made with alcohol and that means grain is involved. Grain can sneak itself into so many ingredients. I do my best to eliminate it when I can.
If you prefer to use vanilla extract and it’s safe for you, please do. If you have a grain allergy and you need to avoid anything with alcohol, click here to check out my preferred brand.
9. Xanthan Gum
The closest I’ll ever get to baking with unicorn farts, xanthan gum makes the magic happen! It thickens, it emulsifies, it foams. It creates structure and allows the CO2 pockets created by the yeast or other leavening agents to remain after the yeast is removed from the oven.
The most frequently asked question about xanthan gum is—“Does it contain: dairy, soy, wheat, or corn?” These are the most common ingredients used in creating xanthan gum. So people are right to ask.
I have found Authentic Foods Xanthan Gum, a brand that is free of all these allergens! It’s made from cabbage. I haven’t had anyone tell me they dislike it. It’s high quality, allergen friendly, and it gets the job done!
When people ask you how you get your grain-free vegan baked goods so fluffy and light, you can tell them the secret is the Unicorn Farts!
That’s It? What About Sweeteners?
You’re right, there’s no way I would ever write about baking without talking about sugar!
Best described as sweet with a caramel like flavor, coconut sugar is delicious! It also has a lower glycemic index than cane sugar and is thought to cause less inflammation than cane sugar.
Other than using it in my Grain-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies, I use it whenever a recipe calls for brown sugar. It has the same deep rich flavor with a little caramel bonus. If coconut sugar is unsafe for you, you can use brown sugar in its place.
One of my followers who cannot have cane sugar, used coconut sugar in our Vegan, Grain-Free Brownies, and got rave reviews!
In our recipe for Simple Salmon & Cilantro the coconut sugar mixes with the ginger, cilantro, garlic, and salt to give our salmon a bright, sweet, and citrusy flavor. Because of the coconut sugar, the edges of the salmon will become crispy. Coconut sugar also gives our salmon less of a “fishy” taste.
(beet sugar or cane sugar)– In addition to being responsible for sweetening our cookies and cakes, sugar a vital ingredient when baking with yeast! The sugar feeds the yeast. As the yeast grows, it consumes the sugar and produces carbon dioxide. That’s how we get those beautiful little air pockets in the bread. If there’s no sugar there’s very little rise.
Now let’s talk type of sugar–both beet sugar and cane sugar are white sugars. Of these two, beet sugar is less inflammatory than cane sugar. If you are concerned about inflammation, I would go with beet sugar. It’s what I use when I cook and bake.
These ingredients are what I use in my own kitchen. As an amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. If you purchase anything through an affiliate link, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for helping to “keep the lights on,” here at Break A Recipe.
Why do I stick with these ingredients?
Using these simple ingredients takes a lot of the brain work out of baking for me. By baking with these ingredients, I get baked goods that look and taste like the traditional version of the food I’m craving. I know how they work together, so it’s just a matter of a few tests before I can Break A Recipe! Why make a Recipe, when you can Break A Recipe?
Just What Can Be Baked With These Ingredients?
Here’s a quick peek at my instagram to see what I’ve been cooking lately.
Before You Go…
Thank you for reading, for taking the time to understand how gluten-free ingredients work together, and for taking a chance on a recipes made with unique ingredients!
You’ll find they’re easy to work with, easy to make, and your body will feel much better after eating them. If you’re cooking this someone with allergies, thank you for supporting them. You’re an amazing friend. Pin this post so you can share it with those who need it, and find it later!
Please tell me how your recipe turned out when you make it. Click here to reach me directly. You can also find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest using the links below. I really enjoy your feedback and comments. I can’t wait to hear how your recipe turned out!