Thursday, 6 June 2013

Baking Dairy Free

Loyal long-term followers of this blog will know full well that I've never claimed to be Nigella - in fact quite the opposite! And, if the newer followers among you take time to flick through the few recipes on this blog, I'm sure it won't take you very long to agree. However, I can actually follow a recipe (well, usually, anyway) and in the few years that I've been doing this dairy free thing, I've learned a thing or two that might help out those of you who are completely new to this game and want to do some baking.

I love the philosophy on this tin
I wonder if, when you were first faced with the prospect of going dairy free you felt the same way as I did?

I was devastated. 

I loved dairy and without it in my life, I felt like eating was never going to be quite the same again - for as long as it lasted, anyway! For a while my food was certainly restricted. I well remember my first dairy free Christmas. Although The Hub did a marvellous job with the turkey, and potatoes dinner was rather dry minus gravy (did you know chicken gravy is made with milk?) and lacked a dessert. 

I eventually came to the conclusion that the way to deal with this - to bring yumminess back into my life, was to return to baking, so I started looking for recipes. However, I learned that you don't necessarily need to acquire a whole new repertoire of recipes - although you can if you like. You can actually bake many of the recipes that you used to - using dairy free alternatives instead. You just need to find some and experiment a bit, to find out what suits you. 

These days there are lots of dairy free substitutes that really can do the job. Here are some that we like to use:

Dairy free milk
Perhaps the most important aspect of going dairy free is choosing the right milk substitute. Some may be unsuitable for dietary reasons (like nut allergies) or because of age (rice milk is unsuitable for children under five, soya for children under six months - at the very least). The following post outlines some of the most common dairy free milk substitutes and shares some of the ways in which we have used them:

Dairy free fats
Okay, butter it certainly 'aint, but there are a number of acceptable alternatives for margarine. 

Pure also have recipes online
We started off with Pure as a spread and Stork margarine (the block variety) for baking. You can read more about Pure here. Since then, we have also used Vitalite. All of these have worked well in cakes and scones etc. and are available in major supermarkets (who also now have their own brand dairy free margarines). 

Having said that, I've yet to really get to grips with pastry making, so don't shoot me, if it doesn't work quite as well, for that!

Flora Cuisine is a liquid form of baking fat, which my sister favours - she reckons she gets really good results with it, but it's no good for me, as it contains soya. See this for information about conversion for use in recipes and recipe ideas.

Trex is a vegetable-based shortening, that is also suitable to use. 

Vegetable cooking oil can also be used as a substitute, but requires a little more experience to adapt (in my humble opinion). Advice on using this, can be found here.

A newer form of fat, that has become quite trendy, is coconut oil, which can be bought from most health food stores. I've yet to get to grips with this one, I've ony used it for frying pancakes, so far, but really want to try it out more.

Dairy free cream
Scone without cream, anyone?
If you're going to get in to dairy free baking, at some point you're going to require a form of cream - even if it's just to accompany your scones. If you're okay with soya, then Alpro probably have you covered and you can find their products quite easily in most supermarkets. If not, or if you'd like to see what else is out there, then look no further than this post:

Dairy free yoghurt
If you're okay with soya, as before, Alpro seem to have this one covered. I've not used any of these in baking just yet, but as I'm unable to tolerate soya, I have tried the following dairy and soya free yoghurts:

Wot no dairy! Wot no soya!

Dairy free cheese
Now, if your taste is for something more savoury, such as 'cheese scones', these posts might come in handy:

Since posting these, I've come across even more 'cheeses' available from the Alternative Stores - an online Vegan store. So there's plenty of choice!

Dairy free chocolate
Mmm! Chocolate!
Yes, well, those of you that know me well, will know that I'd have to bring the subject of chocolate up sooner or later! Sometimes, chocolate is called for in baking - especially if I'm the one who's baking!

In terms of a bar of chocolate, I usually use dairy, egg and gluten free Kinnerton's dark chocolate. If chocolate chips are called for, I tend to use Plamil's. They're a bit pricey, but work really well. That said, I'm sure most dairy free chocolates would work fine.

If you'd like to know what else is out there, see this post, here: Oo! Ah! Chocolat!

Dairy free baking cheats
If you can't bake... cheat!
Ok, so some times, life, time, energy run short and some baking help may be required! Some ready mixes in the supermarkets are, quite surprisingly, dairy free! However, personally, being gluten free, I turn to Hale and Hearty or Mrs Crimble's packet mixes. They've always worked well for me. You can buy these in the Free From sections of the larger supermarkets, online and also in good health food shops. 

There are others, made by Orgran and Glebe Farm, which are available from health food shops.

Other dairy free baking 'cheats' can be found in this post:

How to cheat at baking dairy free

And for icing cheats: The icing on the cake

Dairy free recipes
Now, having said all I have about not needing recipes that are specifically dairy free, it's still nice to know where to look if you need one. There are loads out there that are absolutely brilliant, but here are a few bloggers that I've picked out for your attention. Some of these are specifically for allergies, others are Vegan, which means that they're dairy and egg free - as well as meat, of course!

If, after all that I've left anything off this list, then please come back to me and ask! 

Adios amigos - 'til next time! Meanwhile, enjoy your baking!!

Update: Dec. 2013
I have added a link to an American blog which has since created a similar page, with American products. It also has some other useful tips which I am sure could come in useful.

Some cunning allergy free baking substitutes via Pinterest!

Just seen this article on Veganising cakes - Amazeballs!

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