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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, April 20, 2024

Confessions of a Cooking Fanatic: Substitution secrets

Flax seeds and aquafaba and oat milk, oh my!

Confessions of a Cooking Fanatic

Graphic by Rachel Wong

My journey with substitutions began when I was a senior in high school. I was planning to visit one of my dearest friends in college and decided to bring her a batch of dairy-free chocolate chip cookies, made with coconut oil. Then one of my closest friends in college didn’t eat eggs, so the chocolate chip cookie recipe evolved to include a flax egg.

So when embarking on a commitment to further explore baking (and vegan baking, at that), I was prepared with some solid substitutions in hand.

  1. Chocolate Chip Cookies

While this is a solid chocolate chip cookie recipe, I believe I baked these for too long. The recipe wasn’t kidding when it recommended taking the cookies out of the oven when the centers were barely set. When searching for a good chocolate chip cookie recipe, I was looking for one that didn’t call for browned butter (I don’t have a vegan butter that does this yet) and one that I could confidently bring together with a fork, silicone spatula and elbow grease. However, when committing to the elbow grease route, be careful to avoid over mixing.

  1. Strawberry Sumac Cake

I was so excited for this recipe — and it delivered! This recipe brings to light one of the best perks of the New York Times Cooking app: the comments. Now, some comments are absolutely insane (someone once complained that ashwagandha was not a great substitute in Eric Kim’s Matcha Latte cookies), but some offer great advice. In this case, one commenter suggested doubling the sumac in the cake. Because this was an olive oil cake, I only needed to swap out the half and half with a mixture of oat creamer and oat milk and swap out three eggs with three tablespoons of aquafaba (the liquid that chickpeas come in). Because the recipe requires the eggs to be whipped, aquafaba is a better substitute than flax seed eggs because it will adequately whip. For example, aquafaba is used in several vegan meringue recipes.

  1. English Scones

I stumbled across this recipe when looking for a good Sunday morning baking project with a friend. We chose this recipe simply because it produced more scones than similar recipes. Vegan butter and oat milk served as substitutions for butter and whole milk. This recipe is a solid base, so we added spices (cardamom) and dried fruit (prunes, leftover from this recipe). It brought me so much joy to reheat these scones throughout the week.