As a vegan newbie, or someone looking to learn more about vegan baking, it's best to leave the science experiments to the experts and purchase a vegan cookbook. Avoid substituting vegan ingredients in regular recipes, because it often results in a disastrous, disappointing experience. I've baked from dozens of vegan cookbooks, but these three offer moist, succulent, and totally indulgent vegan baked goods (minus the cholesterol and extra fat). Here's what makes them so good, plus which recipes you've got to try.
- The Joy of Vegan Baking ($11): Colleen Patrick-Goudreau offers decadent but doable recipes from vegan scones to cheesecake to cobblers. Several of the recipes use a buttermilk blend made of almond or soy milk and a teaspoon of white vinegar, which gives the goods a tart and tangy flavor, tenderizes the gluten in the flour, and helps the batter rise quickly. The result is soft, fluffy vegan treats. For breakfast, I love making the "Blueberry Lemon Muffins." I dare you not to lick the bowl clean.
Read more about my other favorites.
- Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World ($11): Chef pair Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero developed 75 recipes for vegan cupcakes and icings, and it's safe to say I've tried at least 65 of them. Canola oil is used rather than margarine or butter replacements and provides moistness and neutral flavor. Some recipes also call for soy yogurt, which gives the cupcakes a fluffy, light quality and cuts down on fat. My favorite recipes from the cookbook are the "Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcakes With Cinnamon Icing" and the "Pistachio Rosewater Cupcakes With Rosewater Glaze."
- Babycakes Covers the Classics ($14): Erin McKenna includes vegan and gluten-free recipes for specialty cakes, cookies, and donuts. Even if you aren't gluten-free, it's fun to experiment with gluten-free flours and ingredients. Coconut oil and applesauce are a few key ingredients in this cookbook to give the baked goods a fluffy yet moist mouth feel. The recipe for "Thin Mints" tastes practically identical to the Girl Scout favorite and also tastes great when frozen.