Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tips for Allergen Free Baking

The top allergens in baking are nuts, milk, gluten and eggs. 

It is not always possible to eliminate all allergens at the same time, during baking, as the texture of the product may be drastically altered.

But, here are a few tips when baking without them: 


Goat’s and sheep’s milk are not possible alternatives to cow’s milk because they all contain casein, which means that the immune system is unlikely to differentiate between the different milks.

Substitutes are soya milk, rice milk, almond milk and coconut milk.  Although, soya is closely linked to nuts.

The texture and even-rising of baked goods such as cakes, cupcakes and quick breads is achieved by creaming butter and granulated sugar; margarine is the easiest substitute in these recipes. Most margarines contain casein, however, therefore reading labels is important. Blossom is one of the few margarines that doesn’t contain dairy. 

Oils, such as Canola, generally work best in recipes that use liquid sugars such as honey, maple syrup or molasses; combined with a baking agent, a solid fat like ground nuts and an emulsifying ingredient like eggs or an egg substitute.

When using oils it is advisable to start off using one or two tablespoons less than the amount of butter that would have been used.

Oil-based vegan and dairy-free cakes that do not use eggs are often a little dense. This can be remedied by combining oil with a solid fat, such as ground nuts or chocolate. For example, combining melted dairy-free chocolate, oil and soya yoghurt with dry ingredients allows the cake to remain moist and rich.

Replacing butter with margarine in biscuit and shortbread recipes usually works as the butter is used for richness and density and not for the lift. Oil can also be used in these recipes, with the correct combination of ingredients. 

Applesauce and other fruit purees or jams add body and moisture to batters and can be a healthier alternative to using fats. 


Alternatives to wheat include corn, rice, quinoa, amaranth, millet and buckwheat. 

Gluten-free flours are generally light, medium or heavy in texture.

The heavier grains tend to contain more protein. Flours like buckwheat, quinoa, millet, cornmeal, nut meal, and bean or legume flours are similar to baking with whole-wheat flour.

Medium flours are similar to all-purpose flour; these include sorghum and superfine brown rice flour.

Light flours include white rice flour and starches such as tapioca starch, corn starch and potato starch (not potato flour).

A blend of medium and heavy flours combined with some starch to lighten and help bind the batter or dough seems to work best.

Example (For breads, muffins, biscuits, cakes and cupcakes):


1 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup millet, almond or buckwheat flour
1 cup tapioca, potato or corn starch
1 teaspoon xanthan gum

Ready-made flour mixes include: Glutagon, Orgran and Entice and can be found at some large food chains, such as Pick ‘n Pay, health food shops and Dischem.

Daniela Govetto of Daisy Health Foods and Entice says, “We focused on rice for our flour because it is totally digestible and digests without fermentation. That way, a person with a food allergy will not experience any symptoms during digestion.” 


In a cake, for example, the eggs serve as a leavening agent, helping to make the cake light and fluffy. In baked goods such as biscuits and muffins, the eggs add moisture and act as a binder, gluing all the other ingredients together.

Generally, the fewer eggs a recipe calls for, the easier they will be to substitute. If a biscuit recipe calls for one egg, using an egg substitute will work much better than in a recipe that requires three or four eggs.

An Egg Replacer, such as that made by Ogran, is very versatile and is available in most health food stores and Dischem. It works best in baked goods, such as biscuits, muffins and cakes, by following the directions on the packaging.

Ground flax seeds can be used for binding by mixing two tablespoons with 1/8 teaspoon baking powder and three tablespoons water for each egg called for.

Bananas and applesauce add the perfect amount of thick moisture, like eggs, but they don’t help dishes to rise or to become light and fluffy. Baking powder and baking soda is needed in these recipes.

Tofu can be used in recipes such as quiches as the texture is similar to that of eggs. Use 1/4 cup tofu for every egg replaced and add some extra baking powder.


  1. Thanks for this very interesting article!! It really is a challenge to change existing recipes to their dairy-free, gluten-free or egg-free versions. I have definitely had a fair share of flops in my time. This will definitely help :)

  2. It's a pleasure :) I hope you find success using these tips - I too have had my fair share of flops hee hee. Good luck!

  3. Thanks so much for directing me via twitter to this post today Leaine. Much appreciated. I am kind of afraid to bake this cake without eggs...have never done it before...have you baked a nice moist decadent chocolate cake before without eggs? xx