When it comes to baking, it’s all about the butter, right? That’s why you might be surprised to learn that Craftsy’s own Man About Cake, Joshua John Russell, has been living dairy-free for more than 10 years, ever since he learned that both the lactose (sugar) and casein (protein) in milk don’t agree with him. According to JJR, you can make just about anything without dairy, and he promises you can’t tell the difference. All it takes is willingness to embrace a little trial and error. Here’s how!
Experiment with butter substitutes like vegan butter and coconut oil, and milk alternatives like almond milk, coconut milk and soy milk. (Make sure to pick the unsweetened variety for a taste that’s closest to the real deal, and keep in mind that the flavors of nut milk will come through in your finished dessert.) Coconut cream and non-dairy creamer are good substitutes if your recipe calls for heavy cream, and if you need buttermilk, make your own — just add a tablespoon of vinegar to one cup nut milk.
Think Like for Like
Just follow common sense and a few simple rules.
Butter It Up (Sort of)
Make up for any missing butter flavor with a little extra vanilla. Also, go easy on the salt (or skip it entirely), since butter alternatives often contain some salt already, and it’s easy to go overboard. If a mixture like a frosting ends up on the salty side, add a little powdered sugar to compensate.
Many dairy substitutes include nut products, so your previously nut-free blondies may actually be no-nos for for your allergic friends. Make sure to caution eaters about potentially “hidden” nuts in your baked goodies.
Get Creative and Be Bold!
According to Joshua, going dairy-free is all about experimenting and keeping an open mind. And if you’re still not convinced… we’re pretty sure one bite of JJR’s famous vanilla cake recipe will change your mind.