Vegan baking can seem a little overwhelming if you’re just starting out. The best way to learn how to perfect vegan baking is to get into your kitchen and bake. Here are the top 11 things that can go wrong with vegan baking and how to troubleshoot them.
TOP 11 VEGAN BAKING PROBLEMS
1. DENSE RESULT
- This can be caused by not using the right egg replacer.
- Over mixing batter is another reason which causes over development of the gluten and a dense result.
- If your oven isn’t heated to the correct temperature before you put your cake in, it can cause it to not bake properly.
- Using too much flour and not aerating and sifting your flour before you bake can be another reason.
- Where possible, use cake flour instead of plain all purpose flour for cakes, as it’s lower in protein than plain flour, and it is finer, lighter, and softer. It’s bleached, which weakens the grain making it less dense. It also produces less gluten.
2. OVER BROWNING
- Your oven may be too hot or hotter in certain places.
- Using darker cake pans can also cause browning as dark metals absorb more heat than lighter melts.
- Using baking strips can help with browning as it helps to regulate the heat. You can also try loosely covering the pan with a sheet of foil, making sure not to touch the batter surface. Flouring the surface of your cake tins after greasing helps slightly. (learn how to make your own baking strips)
See my blog here about how to troubleshoot your oven if it’s baking unevenly.
3. TUNNELLING OR HOLES
This is when air tunnels or holes appear in a cake after it’s baked. This is generally caused by over-mixing the batter which causes the gluten to over develop. When this happens the raising agents have nowhere to go and push through the cake causing holes as it bakes. Make sure to be extra gentle with your batter and only mixed until just combined.
4. TOO DRY
- There are a few reasons this could be happening – your oven is too hot.
- You have baked the cake for too long.
- You haven’t added enough moisture or fat to your batter.
5. USING THE WRONG EGG REPLACER
Not every egg replacer works for every recipe. There are many different types as mentioned earlier. You need to find the right replacer for the action required. Also, keep in mind if you’re just trying to replace eggs in a non vegan recipe the chances of your bake failing are high. Vegan baking tends to have different components to create a successful bake. If you’re just swapping out your eggs with applesauce this can cause your cake to become dense as you have also added extra moisture.
I have a list of vegan egg replacer options here.
6. VEGANISING A NON VEGAN RECIPE
I would always recommend finding a vegan version of the recipe you’re trying to veganaise. This will save so much time and money on ingredients as turning a non vegan recipe vegan isn’t always as simple as just replacing your ingredients. Some vegan ingredients react differently in baking and this needs to be taken into consideration. Here are some quick examples – some egg replacers will add extra moisture, some margarines contain more water than dairy butters and gluten free flours weigh differently to non gluten free flours.
7. CHOOSING THE RIGHT OIL
Coconut oil isn’t a vegan recipe requirement when baking. Always opt for a neutral flavoured oil like an organic canola oil, sunflower or extra virgin olive oil so it doesn’t affect the flavour of your baking.
I have written an article about how to choose the right oil here.
- Sinking can occur for a few reasons: you may have overfilled your pan or your oven is too hot.
- You may have added too much raising agents to your batter which causes it to rise too quickly and then sink as your batter doesn’t have enough structure to hold the height or there isn’t enough room for the cake to continue to grow.
- Always fill your pans no higher than just above half way and use the recommended tin sizes as instructed by the recipe.
9. WEIRD FLAVOURS
- If your baking is coming out with a weird flavour it can be due to some of the following things. Your vegan butter – some vegan butters can have a pancake type flavour in baking. This flavour can also be present if you’re baking your cake at too high a temperature.
- If you’re finding weird nutty flavours I would advise using a high quality vanilla bean paste and doubling the amount that you use. Vanilla will balance out the nutty flavours in your baking.
- If it’s a weird salty after taste your recipe may contain too much salt.
- Vegan butter and margarine does usually contain salt so keep that in mind. The other reason is you have added too much baking powder and soda to your recipe.
10. GUMMY STREAKS
- If you’re noticing gummy streaks in your cake that look uncooked it could be caused by a few things:
- Either there is too much moisture or fat in your mixture. Whenever I notice streaks whilst testing recipes, I find that I have added too much butter.
- You have over mixed your batter which can cause your batter to collapse, become dense and create streaks.
11. CAKE NOT RISING
- This can be caused by a few things already mentioned such as using the wrong egg replacer or over mixing. I always recommend using fresh raising agents. Generally, baking soda and baking powder only stay active for 3 months after opening. Make sure to store in airtight containers in the fridge and always use the correct amount.
- Also, your oven may have not heated your oven to the correct temperature.
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