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Help with replacing oil in cake recipe with sparkling water? vegan recipe

Hi I recently heard when baking desserts (I assume cakes and cookies, not sure what else) you can sub out the oil and eggs and butter etc and just use club soda.
However instead of club soda I would like to use sparkling water (I looked this up and supposedly they are the same). I want to use sparkling water vs club soda because I want to be sure of the source of my water and enjoy cooking with water I know comes from a protected spring and is pharmaceutical/drug run-off free!

I am going to be making this vegan cupcake recipe for thanksgiving, http://www.chow.com/recipes/10794-bas...

and since there is already going to be tons of oil in the frosting I figure why not try and eliminate every possible negative I can to make this as healthy as can be.

I am curious if I can simply remove the 1/3 cup oil and instead of the 1 cup soymilk use 1 cup sparkling water? I do not know if I need to up/down the amount of water if so, remove/keep the vinegar, etc... I'm also curious if I need to keep/remove the baking soda and powder. I am not sure of these things.

Can I please get some advice on how to make this work? Thank you very much

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  1. Oil is in the recipe to help keep it moist and to help with browning. If you take it out and add water (soda water, sparkling water is still water), you will not get a moist product. The soymilk will also give it more moisture than straight up water. You can add pureed applesauce or prunes to help give it moisture. You would need to reduce the liquid content because water does not have the viscosity like oil. You need the leavening to help the batter rise regardless. I'm assuming the vinegar is to help the chocolate.

    If I were making the recipe, I'd add the fruit puree in the place of the oil and keep the soy milk instead of sparkling water.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Cherylptw

      hey thanks. ok so you don't recommend it? maybe i will experiment myself since i tend to just ask everyone's opinion without trying things for myself. you haven't heard of people replacing the oil, butter, and eggs with club soda?
      i heard it was possible that is why i was asking.

      ok so you recommend applesauce at least in place of oil. how much would you recommend i reduce the sugar by to compensate for the added sugar in the applesauce?
      can you also help with how much should i reduce the water by if i do indeed replace the soymilk with it?

      1. re: curiousaboutcafos

        I have never heard of replacing oil or eggs with water; is that a vegan thing? I'm not vegan so that's why I'm asking, but I do bake commercially.

        I am familiar with trying to reduce fat content in baked goods and I know that fruit purees are used to replace part or all butter or oil. If you're using unsweetened applesauce, no need to reduce the sugar. You may want to slightly reduce the sugar by 1-2 tablespoons if using sweetened prune puree.

        Eggs, that's a different story. Eggs are used to give product moisture & height, but they can be replaced by processing flax seeds with a bit of water. Here is a resource for that: http://photos.happyherbivore.com/pdf/...

        Your recipe calls for one cup soymilk and 1/3 cup oil. If you want to use the water for the soymilk, sub cup for cup. If you don't want to use fruit puree for the oil and want to use water for that as well, I'd do maybe 3 tablespoons in place of the 1/3 cup oil. Mix that up then see if its too thick. If so, add the rest two tablespoons water.

        Your substitutions may work, my concern would be whether your cupcakes will be dry. I would love to know where you heard that club soda which is water, will do the same things as butter or oil and eggs.

        1. re: Cherylptw

          another sub for eggs other than flax seeds is using ¼ cup of tofu + ¼ tsp of baking soda… this replaces leavening and structural/protein functions.

          1. re: Emme

            hey thanks unfortunately i don't risk cooking with any soy or flax products even fermented as i don't want to risk the phyto-estrogens.
            what i COULD use is those egg replacers that are simply potato flour, tapioca/corn, etc..
            i will experiment thank you!!

          2. re: Cherylptw

            i just heard of it supposedly it was recommended by the hungry girl (a tv chef) . . it makes sense to me. i'm not knowledgeable about biology or science but the carbonation in the club soda/sparkling water should create some sort of rise.

            i will consider the applesauce thank you for your help :)

            unfortunately no flax seeds over here! i like to cook as risk-free as possible especially when cooking for others. we don't know the safety of phyto-estrogens yet and i don't want to risk it.

            i've considered using coconut milk in place of the soymilk but don't want to alter the flavor too much. am i being too worry-some? would the coconut alter it negatively?

            thank you very much cherylptw for your help, AWESOME!

            i heard about the club soda thing by: i was reading a review on vitacost for an arrowhead mills organic chocolate cake mix and one of the reviewers claimed they had heard about this on tv.

            i will do some experimenting thank you!

            1. re: curiousaboutcafos

              There is an infomercial where the hostess cooks a cake substituting soda for egg and oil

              This is nothing new, Weight Watchers "did this" years ago

              I am on a smart phone on cellular with slow service, otherwise I could find some links

              1. re: Alan408

                a quick google shows this with boxed mixes. they already have some fat in them.

              2. re: curiousaboutcafos

                I've heard of Hungry Girl; haven't watched her show though...I think using coconut milk is an excellent idea. It will give you the fat & moisture you need for the recipe. Although coconut pairs extremely well with chocolate, I don't think you would taste it much in this recipe since you would only be using one cup.

                I understand the soda water mixed with the baking soda and powder might give it a rise, but again, my concern was the possible lack of moisture. I think you should make the recipe and see how it comes out. Please post your results. Good luck!

                1. re: curiousaboutcafos

                  Make an "egg" with chia seeds. One TB chia seeds with 3TB water, mix and let sit about 15-20min.

                  Use whatever nut milk instead of soymilk- coconut would be best since it has a thicker viscous quality, or the almond/coconut from almond breeze, or cashew, or whatever.

                  But at the end of the day it is a cupcake- aka a delicious indulgent dessert you have a small portion of rarely.
                  A not yummy "healthy" cupcake is just sad.....

          3. Look up recipes for Wacky Cake. It was developed during World War II when there was food rationing. No eggs, butter or milk is used in the recipes. It does use oil, vinegar and water.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Antilope

              hey thanks i am aware of this. king arthur flour does a version called their "cake pan cake".

              the point with this post and this whole idea was i was trying to eliminate what i could to just make it "better" for lack of a better word. there is already going to be 1 cup oil or vegan shortening in the frosting so why not try and eliminate what you can in the cake part? i only thought of this because i heard that you can do this with for example boxed cake mixes, take out the butter eggs and oil and use club soda..

              thanks anyway i will look into the wacky cake

              1. re: curiousaboutcafos

                Cake mixes often already have some fat (typically partially hydrogenated oils) and dry milk powder in them, however.

                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                  yes unfortunately.

                  but i first heard of this while reading a review for an organic cake with no hydrogenated oils (arrowhead mills chocolate) and the reviewer supposedly had already tried it with good results.

                  i'm the kind of person who doesn't really analyze my desserts too much so maybe i'm more of the type of person this substitution would work for vs a butter/cream loving person.
                  thanks though.. :)

            2. with regards to this specific recipe, the vinegar reacts with the baking powder to provide extra leavening. it's a somewhat common substitute for eggs, the combo of baking soda and vinegar/lemon juice. don't remove it. in fact, the combo of vinegar and soy milk is actually a vegan mimic for buttermilk.

              without eggs, you are wont to replace their function. they operate in both leavening and structural capacity. the leavening is accounted for by the baking soda/ vinegar combo. the soy milk, due to its protein, is going to provide some structural contribution, as well as a little bit of flavor support.

              without the oil, the cake will not have a tender, moist crumb, as mentioned. and with just water, eliminating the soy milk, the cake will have less flavor, and be over tougher. it will take longer for the cake to set, producing a very much less than optimal product.

              you can substitute all the oil with unsweetened applesauce (no need to alter sugar), which produces an alternate texture to normal cupcakes, not bad, just slightly different. you can also sub half of the oil with applesauce.

              1. Subbing soda for oil in baked goods is a Weight Watchers thing.

                  1. Hi--I'm vegan and I've never heard of subbing water for oil in a recipe. As the others have all noted, the oil does an important job in baking, and removing it will result in something...not very cupcake like.

                    May I point out something, though? There's 1/3 c. of oil in the recipe. That's about 5 1/3 tablespoons. The recipe makes 12 cupcakes. That's really a pretty small amount of oil per cupcake. The one cup of oil for the frosting adds a little over a tablespoon more per cupcake (16 Tbsp=1 cup). So we're not talking about huge amounts of fat here.

                    If you still want to skew on the less fat side, you could replace the oil with the fruit puree, as suggested, or I would try subbing healthier olive oil for the canola. Or just be careful about the amount of frosting you put on each one.

                    In the end, I tend to think, "they're cupcakes, they're supposed to be dessert, not dinner." It's okay for them not to be 100% healthy. Good luck!

                    1. sorry just thought i'd add these…

                      http://www.ehow.com/how_8288466_subst... this link suggests doing a sub for half of the water and eggs and testing if the texture (which will be more chewy) is acceptable, and if so, then trying replacing all. caveat -- this is with a cake mix…

                      here's one that doesn't use a cake mix

                      1. wacky cake - heh we called this crater cake as the method we used involved bubbling the baking soda and vinegar on the surface.

                        club soda vs. sparkling water vs. seltzer - really little difference except for the salt content and maybe potassium.

                        and I have to echo skippy's comment filtered into my own voice: you've already gone vegan so where does the self-deprivation stop? you are allowed to be healthy and supportive of sustainable, non-predatory industries and still enjoy a few little things. (although check that bag of sugar to make sure it wasn't filtered through bone meal or if you use honey consider the slave labor involved in that endeavor)

                        15 Replies
                        1. re: hill food

                          Honey isn't vegan

                          I can't imagine cake tasting good as you describe it.
                          I would much prefer an apple at that point, really.

                          1. re: hill food

                            ok whoa whoa whoa settle down there.

                            i am not vegan. the highest up the food chain i eat are clams and oysters. i make sure to have a big serving once-twice a week, and this is because i don't feel 100% vegan is right for me at this time. i have found the perfect little solution to this life-crushing problem of mine, i have found the least sentient beings i am comfortable consuming. it really is working out perfectly for me. as far as desserts i enjoy baking them vegan; the last pumpkin-cranberry cake vegan dessert i made turned out tasting better than any cream/butter/milk/egg-filled cake i used to make in my pre- days! http://www.food.com/recipe/pumpkin-cr...

                            self-deprivation? slow down tootsie. i enjoy desserts as much as anyone else, my only point is if i am already going to be using such a huge amount of fat in the frosting, why not do what i can to eliminate it in the cake part since fat isn't something like a fruit or vegetable which we know are good for us?
                            this was all this all was.. i had heard it was possible to replace said ingredients with a carbonated water and so this idea took flight. it doesn't mean i HAVE to follow through with this, i just wanted to hear others opinions and get advice. what i should just do is make a test-version before thanksgiving, i tend to always ask for opinions and advice of others vs doing it myself.

                            and check sugar is vegan, non bone-char filtered! you are posting in the topic of someone who KNOWS his food better than he knows how to speak, write, read, walk!

                            i do appreciate your input though :
                            )self-deprived vegan i am not, though really those are the true angels of our world :)

                            1. re: curiousaboutcafos

                              fat is not the devil. we need it to survive and evolved eating it off animals.

                              are you planning to use that vegan "buttercream" chow recipe too? blech. what a boatload of frankenfactured non-foods.

                              maybe something like this instead?




                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                That whipped coconut cream from ohsheglows is genius, stupid easy, and crazy good....!

                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                  hey got you covered.
                                  no margarine-user here!!

                                  the fat will be replaced with refined coconut oil, water will sub in for the soy creamer/milk, and the sugar will be reduced to 2 cups!
                                  i have made the frosting recipe below and it is perfect! another 1.5 cups is not necessary!

                                  http://www.food.com/recipe/pumpkin-cr... scroll down to directions, step 6

                                  thanks for watching out for those suspect oils/margarines/fats!

                                  1. re: curiousaboutcafos

                                    that earth balance "butter"? soy oil and "flavor" from corn? holy crap seed oil and gmo garbage, batman. sorry, yuk.

                                2. re: curiousaboutcafos

                                  heh - I'm not judging or criticizing, just always curious about the choices people make. I'm never even really asking for justification.

                                  seriously there's not much difference in the varieties of bubbly water types (although between brands there can be quite a bit)

                                  depending on the flavor of the cake I'd bet coconut milk could work really well.

                                  magiesmom - (here I go again with the curiosity) how is honey not vegan? it's pollen, granted processed by non-humans, and secreted, so I suppose contains elements of... ok I just answered my own question. in that train of logic then milk would simply be grass and hay 'processed'...etc.

                                  1. re: hill food

                                    re: honey not being vegan
                                    it's about bees being mistreated, and basically used as slaves to produce honey. i am not a vegan, and would and do use honey for baking, though i just don't like the taste of honey myself. that said, i watched a really sad piece about bees used for honey production, and the ways they are treated and crammed into hives. i know every story has two sides, but it definitely made me more conscious. i suppose "free range honey" might be next.

                                    1. re: Emme

                                      oh we're going OT but, bees do it to each other in the wild. this time of year all the superfluous drones not needed over the winter are sealed outside of the hive to freeze and die ("lose them, we'll hatch more!")

                                      1. re: hill food

                                        i know… i'm just saying, it was sort of sad to see humans compounding it in the documentary. like i said, i use honey, so i have no room to talk. and as magiesmom said, it's a no products from animals thing, but i've heard a number of vegans say that they understand it's not quite like milk, where it comes from the cow's udder, but that the bees work to produce it and so they're slaves… i know. then again, when you know exactly how honey is made, it seems slightly less appealing… at least to me.

                                        1. re: Emme

                                          it's basically bee poop, but they'd be making it with or without human intervention.

                                          cows would be making milk too, but i am no way justifying most large-scale commercial dairy farming practices.

                                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                                            or bee vomit ;)

                                            to keep it OT… a good substitute for a vegan cake is a combo of agave and molasses :)

                                    2. re: hill food

                                      honey comes from bees. they are animals.
                                      milk comes from mammals.
                                      I tis not about them being mistreated imo, it is simply that vegans ( of whcih I am certainly not one, I am an omnivore)
                                      do not eat animal products.
                                      They don't eat humanely raised animals; they don't eat any animals.

                                      1. re: magiesmom

                                        Exactly. Vegan= no animals or products, (honey=animal product)
                                        often eithical vegans also avoid leather, wool, and silk.

                                    3. re: curiousaboutcafos

                                      If it were me I would prefer a more toothsome, tender cake (using oil) to a greasy frosting. Powdered sugar or such would be enough on a good cake base.

                                      the basic components of cake are flour, some sort of sugar some sort of leavening (chemical, egg whites, whatever) and some fat - butter, oil, egg yolk - which gives a tender delicate crumb. Without the latter, the cake may be sweet but it will not be much of a cake..

                                  2. both the oil and soymilk are there to add moisture to the cake.

                                    even if unicorns draw it from their own magic well, water of any sort will not do the same thing.

                                    sub coconut oil and coconut milk, add some unsweetened coconut flakes to the recipe and accept a slightly altered flavor profile.

                                    the suggestion elsewhere of wacky cake is a good one. it's a snap to make, moist and delicious. just sub a healthier oil.

                                    vegan desserts can be challenging enough, no reason to wear a hairshirt while baking and eating them.

                                    they're cupcakes. they're supposed to be a treat.

                                    1. Sounds like a horrible pinterest idea. Try mashed black beans.

                                      1. Use the oil in the cupcake recipe. Halve the frosting recipe. If you're not vegan, make real buttercream instead of using chemically processed vegetable oils.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: jaykayen

                                          hey just wanted to say thank you a ton! your idea to halve the frosting literally saved the day! it literally breathed new life back into this whole crapboat that it was becoming.

                                          it's the little things like this that can really make something a lot healthier without sacrificing the taste AT ALL! i remember plenty of cupcakes back in the day with a thin layer of frosting vs a STACK and can't remember ever giving a darn!

                                          thanks! you saved everything!

                                        2. I get your concerns on the phyto estrogens. I would do one cup of bubbly water and keep the oil for your recipe. Best compromise for moisture and flavor. Frosting is great, but if you are putting frosting on sawdust textured baked goods, well, it's sawdust flavored baked goods with frosting.

                                          1. i would definitely experiment with the sparking water. it works but the cake is dry and doesn't keep very well. i personally wouldn't serve it beyond my family or myself. when my son was a toddler he was allergic to egg so I'd experiment with different variations and ratio of ingredients. the wacky cake is great, but keep in mind there is oil in there. a 1/4 cup of oil shouldn't be too bad and it'll help bind everything together in a cohesive way. maybe change the kind of oil? i use coconut oil but read that it's not much better than other oils however, if you use extra virgin coconut oil it may be better than canola oil.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: trolley

                                              hey thanks! the problem with coconut oil, while i believe it's one of the healthiest up there with olive, is this first time cooking with it, while cooking my morning home fries with it literally 30 seconds after heating it in the pan (it was smoking, i know smoking oil is bad but literally you can't cook without it smoking, and this is refined surprisingly) and it had this horrible smell.
                                              did some research and supposedly it's more known as a "soapy" smell from the lauric acid.

                                              my idea is to use the coconut oil in the frosting since there will be no heating.

                                              thanks for the tips!

                                              1. re: curiousaboutcafos

                                                I am surprised with the level of concern you have you use refined coconut oil.

                                                ANd I cook with it all the time; no smoke.

                                                1. re: magiesmom

                                                  too high of heat or a cheap thin pan might cause smoking, but yeah, i cook with coconut oil all the time without issue.

                                                2. re: curiousaboutcafos

                                                  just an fyi, i don't like to fry with coconut oil on stove top but keep in mind baking with it is an entirely different ball game. i think coconut oil imparts a weird flavor on stir frys. the only time i liked it was when i made a stir fry of rice and curry powder kind of like a briyani.
                                                  I replace regular oil with coconut oil for a pumpkin muffin and the results are fantastic. this is coming from a traditionalist too. I'm all about butter, sugar and eggs but when uncontrollable circumstances befell our family with food allergies i was forced out of my comfort zone. try it.

                                              2. hey i just want to say thanks to each and every one of you! AWESOME that I got literally reply after reply, help after help, advice after advice, tip after tip!

                                                i'm going to replace the oil with applesauce and replace the soymilk with coconut milk! i think we will have a winner here folks!!!

                                                baking will commence Wednesday I will let you know how they turned out!

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: curiousaboutcafos

                                                  I second the recommendation for wacky cake. It's a great one. However, it does usually have some oil.

                                                2. I've heard of "recipes" that sub fizzy water for oil and eggs when using Bisquik and boxed cake mixes. It sounds ghastly but I am guessing would work, from a chemistry point of view. Mixes are designed to be pretty goof proof. However, I'm with most of the rest of the crew here--subbing water of any kind in a scratch recipe is not going to work. You are messing with the chemistry. My best guess is that the cupcakes will be flat, heavy, and dense.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Erika L

                                                    That's what I figure. Cake mixes were originally made so you just added water. Housewives wouldn't use the original versions because it was too easy, so they produced the add egg and oil versions we have now. However, cake mixes are a highly scientific lab creation, and bear little resemblance to a scratch recipe.

                                                    I think I'd try substituting eggs *or* oil, but not both, and only in a simple, one bowl cake. Any recipe that involves separating the eggs and/or beating and folding them in probably won't substitute well.

                                                  2. The responses you get would have more of the voice of experience, and less criticism, if you posted questions like this on the Vegan & Vegetarian board.