Ingredient Substitutions for Baking
Don’t be afraid to substitute yellow squash for zucchini in your favorite bread recipe.
As holiday baking season revs up, recognizing that you have easy ingredient substitutions on hand will save you time and money, as well as make healthier food. While in the baking isle of our local grocery store recently, I noticed boxes labeled ‘quick bread’. If you would like to counter a boxed product with one that is healthy, simple and cheap, here are some ways to accomplish it. With any number of ingredient substitutions, you can bake your own quick bread from your garden bounty and pantry without running to the grocery store.
Don’t buy what you can grow. Even squash can grow in container gardens; I am learning there is no excuse for not gardening basic vegetables. If you have a bumper crop of yellow squash rather than zucchini or pumpkins, use it as a replacement. Olive oil is a good replacement for vegetable oil or corn oil, yet so is applesauce! An equal exchange of applesauce will replace oil in baked muffin-type breads. If you use a sweetened applesauce, you can skip the sugar altogether too, or replace it with brown sugar or honey if your applesauce is not sweetened or you just want a sweeter product. If you have a taste aversion to any of these ingredient substitution flavors, liberally add a spice like cinnamon or nutmeg or ginger to your recipe.
Eggs really shouldn’t be substituted, but here’s a quick side note. A good egg makes a good recipe, and baking generally requires eggs. If you can not or do not want to keep chickens, make friends with a neighbor who does! Buy them or barter for them, but keep good eggs on hand; your recipes and thereby your taste buds and tummy will thank you.
Yet another option is to add your own healthy ingredients to a boxed mix. You could toss in a handful of ground flax seed, or whole oats, or chopped nuts, or the pulp from your morning juice, or some dried fruit to add texture and nutrients. As you add a heavy, dry ingredient, add a bit of oil or applesauce or pumpkin butter to keep your batter thin enough to bake a moist bread or cake. Canned crushed pineapple (without the juice; just squeeze it out) works well in baked breads and cakes too. Orange pulp mixes well with cranberries. Coconut flakes work well in carrot or chocolate cakes. Raisins and oats work well together, although adding more moisture is advisable in that combination. And, of course, I’ve never met a baked good that did not pair well with a handful of chocolate chips thrown in. If that seems irritatingly random and cavalier, consider that our great-grandmothers more than likely did not have written recipes, yet could probably bake a more delicious, nutritious zucchini or pumpkin bread without the help of Betty Crocker or a trip to the nearest grocery store. So can you!
Nicole Lorenz does try to keep box mixes on hand as quick starters to add extra ingredients and ingredient substitutions to, and is willing to admit it. She does not believe you should think of it as cheating, because her great-grandmothers did not leave any recopies to follow.