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Baking dairy free??? Help!

My daughter is allergic to dairy, so I've learned to adapt accordingly. I've yet to experiment with baking dairy free, so I'm asking for any help! We use Smart Balance butter alternative for cooking, but how about for baking? Is there a dairy free butter substitute that works well in cookies or cakes?

Thanks so much for the info in advance!

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  1. I've had good luck with recipes from this site:


    The vegan brownies take some time to make but are really chocolatey and everyone likes them. They're cakey and I prefer fudgey, though. Is she allergic to eggs, too? If not, there are a lot of recipes out there that use oil instead of butter. Is there something special you're looking for? A lot of greek cookies use oil instead of butter and shortening is a good option, if she can have eggs.

    1. She can eat eggs....no problem. I'm thinking ahead to Christmas and all the cookies that everyone will have that she will NOT be able to eat. I want to make some to tote along so she doesn't feel left out! (We buy her dairy free cookies at several organic stores or buy the ol' standby Joe Joe's from TJ's, but I love to bake and want to treat her)

      1 Reply
      1. re: stacylyn

        My kids love those vegan brownies. I was wrong about the Greek cookies. I thought I'd used oil but I just checked my recipes. Cookies, like chinese almond cookies, use lard. Very flakey but the cookie dough doesn't taste good (part of cookie making here).

      2. Butter has some unique properties: it is a emulsion of fat, water, sugar and proteins that is solid at room temperature. The sugar and proteins give it its special flavor and coloring properties; the water helps create flakiness. Oils that are liquid at room temp cannot do this. Coconut oil, which is solid at room temp, can be better than other oils. Look for recipes and information that take notes of these differences rather than passing over them.

        1. I've baked with non-dairy margarine for years to deal with kosher issues. Fleishman's makes an unsalted corn oil margarine that works fine--not quite as tasty as a product as you get with butter, but close enough that your daughter won't feel deprived. Look for any product that says is it "parve" or "pareve"--or just has a kosher symbol with a small "p" next to it; that means there is no dairy in it.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Marion Morgenthal

            I use the Fleischman's parve margarine for baking all the time. It tastes really good in cookies and you can substitute it for butter in the same amount. Just make sure you pick up the right one in the supermarket- because many supermarkets only carry the Dairy packages.

            Also, Earth Balance makes a good non-dairy (parve) margarine.

            If you're in a city with a kosher supermarket, you'll find a lot of different brands of non dairy margarine sticks. The supermarket I go to has about 6 different brands.

          2. Kosher cookbooks contain tons of recipes using vegetable oil as the sole fat. They often taste delicious. You might want to try a kosher recipe site or buy a kosher cookbook.

            1. I have used clarified butter in dairy-free diets with much success.
              Bittersweet chocolate is a perfect replacement for milk chocolate or you can use carob.
              The Italian s use olive oil in n makes of their pastries and corn oil will substitute, if you don't like the stronger flavor of EVOO (I hate when the ghost of Rachel Ray makes me use that word.)

              2 Replies
              1. re: Kelli2006

                I would NOT use clarified butter for someone who is allergic!!! There is almost always residual stuff left in the oil, which might be okay for someone who is only mildly allergic. As far as chocolate goes, most bittersweet chocolate has dairy in it or has been processed on dairy equipment. Even most unsweetened baking chocolate has dairy in it (Baker's for example, Nestle's and Hershey's chips both have dairy) You need to be very careful when dealing with allergy. Trader Joe's has a really nice chocolate chip that is pareve (dairy-free). Also, choclat.com has chocolate chips that are inexpensive and excellent. They also have bar chocolate. For a very dark tasting chocolate, try Scharffenberger (onlythe larger bars are pareve). I love Lindt, but it is made on dairy equipment and might be reactive to allergics.
                penny eisenberg (Amazing Dairy-free Desserts)

                1. re: Kelli2006

                  No, Italian pastries are typically made with butter. There are a few exceptions, but those are special or unusual due exactly to the use of oil.

                2. Wow....excellent info and I will definitely check your cookbook out. I love to bake and hate to have to exclude her from helpin' out and eating all the goodies!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: stacylyn

                    About the kosher cookbooks- a lot of them- Kosher by Design comes to mind- give recipes that are typically dairy and ways to make them non dairy.

                    If there are any specific recipes you have in mind, let me know because almost everything I bake is parve/non dairy.

                  2. Smart Balance bakes really well. I use it regularly. They also have sticks so it's much easier to measure out.

                    Also look for a copy of Mani Niall's sugar free book, he often has dairy free recipes as well, and they're all fantastic. The Post Punk Kitchen, mentioned in the first post, is another great resource. It's got great sections about substitutions of all sorts.

                    1. My chocolate chip cookie recipe--the one I got from my mom--doesn't have any dairy in it. For fat it calls for shortening. We don't like soft chocolate chip cookies.

                      1 c. shortening
                      1 c. brown sugar
                      1/2 c. white sugar
                      2 eggs
                      1 tsp vanilla
                      2 1/2 c. flour
                      1 tsp. baking soda
                      1/2 tsp. salt
                      1/2 c. chopped pecans (if you want them)
                      12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

                      Cream first five ingredients, then add dry ingredients. Stir in nuts and chips. Drop by teaspoonfuls on ungreased baking sheet and bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes.

                      I think it's basically the Toll House recipe with some adjustments my mom made based on her tastes.

                      1. Hi! My daughter has a severe, life-threatening milk allergy. We have been a dairy-free home for over 3 years now (in addition to an egg, peanut and tree nut-free home). I bake constantly- cookies, muffins, brownies, cakes, pancakes, breads, etc. The best "butter" I have found is Earth Balance. It tastes great and works well in recipes. Clarified butter is not okay for milk allergic people. Also, depending on your daughter's severity, be careful with kosher. We use it as a good start, but, because of the level of her severity, we can't use any products that are produced on shared equipment with milk (aka "may contain" statements). The best dairy-free chocolate out there is Divvies. It is made specifically for milk allergies, but satisfies even the biggest chocolate critics (me!). We used Trader Joe's for awhile but had to stop when they added "may contains milk". Most of my recipes use good, old fashioned Hershey's Unsweetened Cocoa. If you are looking for a good cookbook, try "What's to Eat? The Milk, Egg, and Nut Free Cookbook." In addition, any cookbook from FAAN (Food Allergy Network, www.foodallergy.org), is really good. Hope this helps!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: jontrout

                          Regarding your concern about being careful with kosher non-dairy products, in order to carry a recognized kosher certification, any product labelled "pareve" has never come into contact with milk products.

                        2. There are tons of recipes for baking, substitute ideas, and lists of products to buy at http://www.godairyfree.org. I hope it helps!

                          1. Duncan Hines is beginning to change all it's cake mixes to Parev (dairy free). Make sure the labels have an OU without the D. OU is Orthodox Union and the D stands for dairy but they are changing after much pressure and you should be able to find them arriving in stores now without the D.
                            Anything kosher without a D is dairy free. If it says OU with P then those products are dairy free.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: smartie

                              I don't want to get into a whole kosher labelling thing - I personally don't even care about it - but doesn't OU - P mean Kosher for Passover NOT pareve?

                              1. re: Nyleve

                                You took the words right out of my fingertips, Nyleve. Yes, "P" stands for Passover. OU/P, therefore, is not necessarily pareve.

                                1. re: FlavoursGal

                                  Usually a product will say "OU parve" or OUp if it's parve and OU-P or OUpassover if it's for passover. You can always call up the compnay that makes the product for more info- i do it all the time.

                            2. I use applesauce in place of butter and oil when I bake, and I've been happy with the results. It doesn't quite work with everything (like when making a graham cracker crust), but it generally does the trick for me.

                              1. stacylyn, you might want to give coconut oil a try. It's trans-fat free, and its saturated fats are supposedly heart-healthy. Make sure to buy organic, non-hydrogenated coconut oil, available in natural foods stores.

                                It's in semi-solid form, with a texture and appearance very similar to Crisco. I've used it very successfully in pie crusts, in place of butter and/or shortening.

                                1. Yes, I forgot to mention, I use Earth Balance as well, both the shortening and buttery sticks are great. However, most of the time I just replace the butter/margarine with oil. Typically in the amount of 1/2 to 3/4 of butter the recipe calls for. So, if it calls for 1 cup of butter, I would use 1/2 to 3/4 the amount of oil depending on the recipes. My "tollhouse" cookies turn out great with just 1/2 cup of oil. I use extra-light olive oil, it has no pronounced flavor and can multitask for baking and cooking. Coconut oil is a great idea as well, as someone above mentioned.

                                  1. Hi there,

                                    I know it's been a long time since you posted this, but I was wondering if you ever found Spectrum Palm Oil Shortening - you can use it in all cookies, cakes, pies etc. Dairy and Soy free!

                                    1. We're vegan so use no animal products. I also have a niece with galactosemia so can have no dairy. We use Earth Balance for baking. For recipes which call for milk we substitute almond or rice mylk. We like Blue Diamond vanilla almond mylk. For recipes calling for buttermilk, use milk substitute and add 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar per cup of mylk. Let me know if you want names of good vegan or dairy-free cookbooks.

                                      1. I have been lactose intolerant for years. The best butter substitutes for baking are Earth Balance, tub margarine or Soy Garden (I like this even better than Earth Balance) tub margarine, Earth Balance buttery sticks or Earth Balance Shortening sticks. Also, Spectrum Naturals Organic shortening, nonhydrogenated, and a new product that recently came to my local Whole Foods, Jungle shortening, nonhydrogenated safflower/palm fruit oil are very good in pie crusts. This company also makes a coconut frosting that is dairy free as well. You can always make a pat in the pan pie crust using vegetable oil, cakes made with veg oil, and other baked goods subbing with oil for butter. I've never used prune puree or applesauce in baked goods, but I've heard subbing with these ingredients in some cake and cookie recipes can be quite good. I use Smart Balance with flax oil in my chocolate frosting as well as Fleishman's unsalted tub margarine, transfat free per serving, in frosting recipes. Godairy free.com is a very good site, as someone already mentioned. If you google dairy free baking, you'll come across some other sites that are also very good, I just can't remember them off hand. I don't love vegan recipes, as I'm an egg lover, but there are some good ones out there. You don't have to give up great desserts if you're dairy challenged or have a severe dairy allergy. I've done just fine for over 20 years.

                                        1. Vegan Chocolate Cake (I make this all the time and it makes great cupcakes)

                                          No one would ever suspect that this dark, elegant, scrumptious cake is both egg-less and dairy-less. It's economical and low-cholesterol, and what's more, it goes into the oven in 6 minutes with no mixing bowl to clean because the batter is mixed directly in the baking pan. You may be surprised to see vinegar in the ingredient list, but it's not a mistake. The combination of vinegar and baking soda helps the cake to rise. When cool, cut and serve the cake directly from the pan using small metal spatula or pie server; it cannot be easily turned out onto a serving plate.

                                          However, if you have time for a 12-minute cake, you can mix the batter in a bowl, line the bottom of the cake pan with parchment paper, and generously oil the sides of the pan and dust with flour. Then the cake can be removed from the pan with no trouble at all, for a more elegant presentation or for a layer cake.

                                          For the chocolate glaze, use a good-quality chocolate, such as Callebaut or Valrhona. Or try it with your favorite frosting or a dusting of confectioners' sugar or topped with whipped cream, ice cream, or sliced fruit.

                                          Serves 8
                                          Preparation time for cake: 6 minutes
                                          Baking time: 30 minutes
                                          Preparation time for glaze: 15 minutes
                                          Chilling time (if using glaze) 30 minutes
                                          Equipment: 9-inch round or 8-inch square cake pan, 2-cup measuring cup, double boiler

                                          Cake Ingredients
                                          1 ½ cups unbleached white flour
                                          ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
                                          1 teaspoon baking soda
                                          ½ teaspoon salt
                                          1 cup sugar
                                          ½ cup vegetable oil
                                          1 cup cold water or coffee
                                          2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
                                          2 tablespoons cider vinegar

                                          Chocolate Glaze
                                          ½ pound semi-sweet chocolate
                                          ¾ cup hot water
                                          ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

                                          Preheat the oven to 375º.

                                          Sift together the flour, cocoa, soda, salt, and sugar directly into the cake pan. In the measuring cup, measure and mix together the oil, cold water or coffee, and vanilla. Pour the liquid ingredients into the baking pan and mix the batter with a fork or a small whisk. When the batter is smooth, add the vinegar and stir quickly. There will be pale swirls in the batter as the baking soda and vinegar react. Stir just until the vinegar is evenly distributed throughout the batter.

                                          Bake for 25 to 30 minutes and set aside to cool.

                                          To make the optional glaze, melt the chocolate in a double boiler, microwave oven, or reset the oven to 300º and melt the chocolate in the oven for about 15 minutes in a small ovenproof bowl or heavy skillet. Stir the hot water and vanilla into the melted chocolate until smooth. Spoon the glaze over the cooled cake. Refrigerate the glazed cake for at least 30 minutes before serving.

                                          Reprinted from Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts , Copyright © 1997 by Moosewood, Inc. Clarkson N. Potter, Inc. New York, publisher.

                                          I also use earth balance to make frosting, everyone loves it and no one guesses it is vegan. Peanut butter and confectionary sugar also make a good frosting.

                                          You may also want to look into getting "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World." It is on my list and is supposed to be very good.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: adventuresinbaking

                                            This has been the standard chocolate cake recipe in our family for decades. We are not dairy sensitive at all, but this cake is so easy and so good that it is our favorite! I have made it hundreds of times and I don't even bother to sift or keep things separated. I just mix the dry together, mix the wet together, throw it in a bowl, mix to combine - into the pan and oven it goes (and yes, you can mix right in the pan, but I find using a bowl easier). Fast, perfect and so moist every time! Plus, I always have the ingredients on hand, so can be made without a trip to the store. When we had the time, we used to make it with sliced marshmallows on top (put on in a layer right out of the oven so they melt a little) and then a fudge or ganache frosting on the top once it's cool. No calories at all!

                                            There is also a spice version that we make if you're not in the mood for chocolate. I can dig it out if anyone wants it. Basically, spices are substituted for the cocoa and raisins and nuts can be added.

                                              1. re: adventuresinbaking

                                                consider it done! :) I reread your recipe to make sure amounts were the same and it varies slightly from mine (the chocolate version). Mine uses 1/3 C oil and only 1 tsp of vanilla and only 1 Tbl of vinegar.

                                                But that said, the spice version substitutes the following for the cocoa:
                                                1/2 tsp ground cloves
                                                1 tsp cinnamon
                                                1 tsp nutmeg
                                                I usually add a handful of raisins, but I'm sure it would be good with nuts too. Also, use the WATER not the coffee with this version.

                                                Also, I know that is less than 1/3 C substituting for the cocoa, but I've never had a problem. But I would suggest going with my amounts of oil, vanilla and vinegar in this case, instead of yours, otherwise, it might end up too soupy. ??

                                                I have a good childhood memory of delivering a piece of the spice cake hot to my dad at the end of our driveway while he was shoveling snow. :)

                                          2. Check out "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World" for a collection of 75 dairy-free cake recipes.

                                            1. I am intolerant to milk protein, so I have to stay milk free as well, along with not being able to eat egg whites. Due to the fact that I have been on various diets in the past such as gluten free, non dairy, etc etc., I have had a run in with a lot of "allergen free" products. ...and for the most part, I was disappointed, and it made me feel different when I had to prepare different desserts, etc. So, what I found was the best option for me was to find "normal" foods that were dairy free, such as many brands of pie, and believe it or not Passion Flakies!!! Now there is a huge difference between dairy allergy and dairy intolerance (which is what I have), so some commercial products may not be suitable for your situation. Pies from scratch at home are delicious ways of the whole family sharing the same dessert. I also made a lot of different nut brittles or nut and caramel concoctions. When it comes to xmas cookies, there are a lot of recipes that my mom makes that use oil instead of butter, and do not contain other dairy. As for the dairy free butter substitute, I don't eat it regularly but I was pleased with Fleischmann's (sp?) parve margerine. Good Luck!

                                              1. Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks and their shortening will work better for baking than smart balance, but I also prefer to simply substitute oil. It is less expensive, and healthier, plus you usually need less oil as a sub.

                                                Since you are just interested in dairy-free (vegan baking in some cases may be too much), try the website http://www.godairyfree.org for recipes, subs, etc.

                                                Also, the cookbook Go Dairy Free is great - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0979...