Baking substitutions

This article was originally published in December 2012

Missing a key ingredient as you mix up that cookie dough or cake batter? No problem. Here’s how to make do when items from your mise en place turn out to be missing in action.


Missing ingredient: Brown sugar

Combine 1 cup granulated sugar with 2 tablespoons molasses to achieve a similar caramelized flavor. Then, bake Wheat-free Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Missing ingredient: Buttermilk

Replace the tart creaminess of 1 cup buttermilk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar mixed with enough nonfat or low-fat milk to make 1 cup. Then, bake these Pear Oatmeal Muffins.

Missing ingredient: Molasses

Replace the deep, sticky richness of 1 cup molasses with either 1 cup honey, 1 cup maple syrup or 3/4 cup light or dark brown sugar heated to dissolve in 1/4 cup liquid. Then, bake Crystallized Ginger and Molasses Cookies.

Missing ingredient: Cream of tartar

Replace 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar with 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar or lemon juice to function as an acid in your recipe. Then, bake Gluten-free Buttermilk Biscuits.

Missing ingredient: Allspice

Replace 1 teaspoon of this fragrant spice with a blend of 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ginger and 1/4 teaspoon cloves. Then, bake Cranberry-Pear Turnovers.

Missing ingredient: Baking powder

Replace 1 teaspoon of this acid and base, which helps activate other ingredients, with 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar plus 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. Then, bake Almond Aniseed Biscotti.

Missing ingredient: Superfine sugar

Place granulated sugar into a blender and run on high speed for about 15 to 20 seconds. Now you’re ready to tackle meringues, crème brûlée and other dainty treats.

Missing ingredient: Unsweetened chocolate

Replace 1 ounce (a square) with 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa plus 1 tablespoon melted butter. Then, bake these Triple Dark Chocolate Brownies.

Missing ingredient: Sour cream

Replace 1 cup sour cream with 1 cup plain yogurt, or, with 3/4 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt plus 1/3 cup melted butter. Then, bake Good Morning Coffee Cake.

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