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The Substitutes

Baking With No Milk or Eggs

By Alisa Fleming

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 1-1⅓ 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


  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender, and process until the mixture is creamy.
  2. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Next: Replacing Egg White



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