14 brilliant swaps so you DON’T have to rush out to the store right now

By Stacey Ballis
March 31, 2020
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Everyone is doing a deep dive into baking these days, from Pandemic Pies, to Corona Cakes, to COVID Cookies... and the number of sourdough starters currently proliferating is nothing short of staggering. Bread, meanwhile, has been one of the top Google searches since social distancing began. We are all turning to baking in times of trouble, and with good reason.

But: There are flour and yeast shortages nationwide, and the price of eggs is rising. So, what do you do if you want to bake but you are out of some basics? Answer? Smart substitutions!

While there are good recipes for cakes that use oil instead of butter or are leavened with baking soda and vinegar instead of eggs, there's more help if you're low on pandemic pantry staples. Please note, these often will not act EXACTLY like what they are trying to replace (if you use applesauce instead of egg, you cannot make a meringue), so judge your initial recipe well and make smart decisions!

What to Do If You Are Out Of…

Baking powder: Baking powder is a combination of baking soda and cream of tartar. To replace one teaspoon of baking powder in a recipe, combine 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda with 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar.

Baking soda: One teaspoon of baking soda can be replaced with 4 teaspoons baking powder.

Butter: If the butter is supposed to be creamed or solid, use an equal amount of margarine, shortening, or solid coconut oil. For melted, you can use a melted version of any of those, or any neutral flavored oil. You can also swap in unsweetened applesauce or pureed canned beans.

Buttermilk: For one cup of buttermilk you can use a cup of yogurt, or a tablespoon of lemon juice with enough milk added to make a cup.

Cocoa powder: For every quarter cup of cocoa powder, use 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate chopped superfine or melted.

Cream: For a cup of heavy cream in recipes (not for whipping) you can use 7/8 of a cup of half and half with 1/8 cup melted butter mixed in; half a cup of whole milk plus half a cup of plain Greek full fat yogurt; 1 cup of evaporated milk; or 3/4 cup whole milk with 1/3 cup melted butter mixed in.

Eggs: You can swap any of the following in for one egg when baking: 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 1/4 cup mashed banana, 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce.

Egg whites: For every egg white, use two tablespoons of aquafaba, the liquid from a can of chickpeas. It will whip to a meringue-like consistency, and you can use it to make meringues or other fluffy baked goods that need whipped egg whites.

Lemon juice: Substitute an equal amount of white vinegar, lime juice, or dry white wine.

Sour cream: Swap an equal amount of full fat yogurt or a tablespoon of lemon juice with enough heavy cream to make a cup.

Sugar: For 1 cup granulated sugar you can use 1 cup light or dark brown sugar; 11/4 cups powdered sugar; ¾ cup liquid sugar (honey, corn syrup, date syrup, maple syrup, agave); or a cup of date sugar, coconut sugar, honey crystals, maple sugar, jaggery, or other granulated sugar alternative.

Light brown sugar: Substitute dark brown sugar or half white sugar and half dark brown sugar.

Dark brown sugar: Substitute light brown sugar, or to make 1 cup, mix 1/4 cup molasses with 1 cup white granulated sugar.

Yogurt: Substitute an equal amount of buttermilk or sour cream.