There is no need to forego favorite family recipes, even if following a free-from diet. With the right ingredient substitutions, those beloved holiday desserts will make the transition flawlessly. The most important thing to consider when making substitutions is the purpose of the original ingredient.
Take buttermilk for example. It adds a slight tang and subtle richness to recipes; the acid in buttermilk tenderizes the gluten in batter to produce baked goods with a softer texture; and the acid reacts with baking soda to help quick breads and cakes rise. Fortunately, all of these needs can be met with a quick, homemade substitute.
Dairy-Free Buttermilk Alternative
Yields 1 cup
- 1 tbsp white vinegar, or apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice
- plain or unsweetened soy milk, or rice milk, or hemp milk alternative
- Place the vinegar or lemon juice in a glass measuring cup and add enough milk alternative to reach 1 cup. Stir, and allow to stand and thicken for about 5 minutes.
Note: Milk alternative does not curdle the way dairy milk does.
Sour cream has similar properties to buttermilk, but its thickness also adds structure to recipes. You can substitute a store-bought sour cream alternative, but making your own is easy and economical.
Silken ‘Sour Cream’
Yields 1-1 1/4 cups
- 1 12.3 oz (349 g) package firm silken tofu
- 1 tbsp grapeseed or canola oil
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp agave nectar or sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender, and process until the mixture is creamy.
- Refrigerate until ready to use.
Egg alternatives require a bit more finesse, since the best substitute will depend on the recipe. My favorite egg substitute for muffins and cookies is the “flax egg”. The seeds gel when combined with water, and take on an egg white consistency.
Note: The mixture won’t whip like egg whites, but you can add an extra ¼ teaspoon of baking powder per egg for extra lift.
Seed ‘Egg Whites’
Yields 1 egg equivalent
- 1 tbsp flax seeds or chia seeds
- 3 tbsp hot water
- Blend the seeds in a spice grinder until finely ground.
- Combine the ground seeds and water in a small dish, and let the mixture sit for at least 5 minutes to gel.
- Then cool before adding it to your recipe.
Alisa Fleming is a contributing editor to Allergic Living magazine and the author of Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance and Casein Free Living, and founder of Godairyfree.org.