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7 no-fail baking substitutions that won’t ruin your recipe

By Carolyn Malcoun, July 5, 2011 - 10:55am

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I’m more of a cook than a baker. So while I have an arsenal of dried herbs and spices and savory condiments, my baking cupboard is slightly more bare. Since I don’t keep tabs on what’s in there, there have been times that I’ve realized that I’m missing a ingredient or two after I’ve already embarked on a baking project. While I have a grocery store less than a mile from my house, it’s usually not worth the inconvenience to me to go get what I’m missing—especially when I have a perfectly good substitute in my kitchen already! Here are 7 no-fail baking substitutions you can make without ruining your recipes.

Must-Read: 20+ Easy Baking Substitutions Guide

Missing Ingredient: Buttermilk
What to substitute for buttermilk: If you don’t keep buttermilk on hand, you have a couple of options. You can swap 1 cup nonfat or low-fat milk mixed with 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar for each cup of buttermilk. Or keep a can of nonfat buttermilk powder in your refrigerator—look for it in the baking aisle. Mix according to package directions. Plain yogurt also will work as a buttermilk substitute.

Recipes to Try: Buttermilk Biscuits and 19 More Ways to Use Extra Buttermilk

Missing Ingredient: Whole-Wheat Flour
What to substitute for whole-wheat flour: While we love the whole-grain properties of whole-wheat flours, if you run out while baking, you can substitute an equal amount of all-purpose flour.

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Missing Ingredient: Sour Cream
What to substitute for sour cream: If you’re out of sour cream (or don’t normally buy it) but have plain yogurt in your fridge, you can swap it cup for cup.

Recipes to Try: 5-Ingredient Dip Recipes Perfect for Summer Parties

Missing Ingredient: Butter
What to substitute for butter: Whether you run out of butter or just want to make your favorite baking recipe healthier, here’s a rule of thumb: Try substituting canola oil for up to half the butter in cakes or other baked goods. Replacing some of the butter with oil reduces the overall saturated fat in a recipe.

Missing Ingredient: Brown Sugar
What to substitute for brown sugar: Brown sugar has a nutty, caramelized flavor that is best mimicked by combining 1 cup of granulated sugar with 2 tablespoons molasses.

Missing Ingredient: Baking Powder
What to substitute for baking powder: You thought you had baking powder but you really had baking soda. (Why do their names have to be so similar?!?) Replace 1 teaspoon baking powder with 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar plus 1/4 teaspoon baking soda.

Missing Ingredient: Vanilla Beans
What to substitute for vanilla beans: If your eyes popped out of your head when you saw the price of vanilla beans, don’t fret. You can substitute 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract for each vanilla bean.

What on-the-fly baking swap have you made that worked?

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TAGS: Carolyn Malcoun, Healthy Cooking Blog

Carolyn Malcoun
A graduate of New England Culinary Institute and University of Wisconsin with a degree in journalism, Carolyn pairs her long-standing love for food with writing as EatingWell's senior food editor. Carolyn’s culinary interest is rooted in her childhood; she grew up making thousands of Christmas cookies every year with her mom and picking leaves off bunches of parsley to make tabbouleh with her dad. Away from the kitchen, Carolyn enjoys seeking out rare craft beers and exploring the outdoors with her husband, young daughter and dog.

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