Top Ingredient Substitutions for Baking


Ingredient SubstitutionThese ingredient substitutions are for times you decide to bake on the spur of the moment (or not) and find you are missing a key ingredient.  Hopefully, you will find it on this list.

I don’t keep every flour there is in the house.  But I do know how to make pastry flour, cake flour and self rising flour so I don’t have to.  As long as you have granulated sugar, there are easy fixes for other sugars you may not have.

When I first started in business, I had never heard of leaf or sheet gelatin.  I used the granulated. Because there are so many different strengths of leaf gelatin, I stuck with granulated and use that to this day.

If you know of other ingredient substitutions, please let me know so we can keep the list growing.

1.  To Make Cake Flour –When cake flour is called for in a recipe and none is to be found in the pantry, remove 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour per cup and add 2 tablespoons cornstarch.  Whisk together to combine completely.  Use as called for.

2.  To Make Self Rising Flour – Sometimes a recipe calls for self rising flour.  I don’t stock it in my kitchen and I bake a lot.  It can easily be made by combining 1 cup all purpose flour, 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Whisk together completely and use in the amount called for.

3.  To Make Pastry Flour –   For 1 cup of  pastry flour, combine 2/3 cup all purpose flour and 1/3 cup cake flour.  Whisk well.

4.  To Make Buttermilk or Sour Milk – To make a substitute for buttermilk or sour milk called for in a recipe, remove 1 tablespoon whole or 2% milk per cup and add 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar.  It will probably curdle but that is fine.

5.  To Make Baking Powder –  For each teaspoon combine 1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch.

6.  To Make Brown  Sugar – For each cup of light brown sugar, measure 1 cup granulated sugar.  Remove 1 tablespoon and substitute 1 tablespoon light or dark molasses.  For dark brown sugar, remove 2 tablespoons sugar and substitute 2 tablespoons molasses.

7.  To Make Powdered Sugar –  Place 1 cup of granulated sugar in a blender (do not use a food processor, it won’t work).  Add 1 teaspoon cornstarch.  Blend until powdered.

8. To Make Superfine Sugar – Superfine sugar is suggested when it is necessary to dissolve sugar quickly and completely.   Egg whites in particular, especially for meringues call for superfine sugar.  Place sugar in a processor bowl and process 10 to 20 seconds until very, very fine.

9.  Gelatin – There are 4 strengths of gelatin sheets – Bronze, silver, gold and platinum.  They require soaking the sheets in water at which point, they are lifted out and added to a hot liquid.  Because they are different strengths, which will set differently, I never used them.  I used powdered gelatin 250 bloom strength.  Knox gelatin sold in grocery stores is fine.  Each envelope contains 2 1/2 teaspoons, enough to jell 2 cups of liquid or 1 1/2 cups of solids.  It must always be softened or “bloomed” in cold water, then added to a hot mixture directly or heated to liquefy if the mixture it is being added to is cold.

10.  Marshmallow Crème –  In the top of a double boiler, combine 1 pound of marshmallows with 1/4 cup cornsyrup.  Heat until the marshmallow melts, whisking occasionally.

11. Vanilla Extract – per 1 teaspoon extract use 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or powder.

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Pastry has not only been my profession, but my passion. If there is anything in particular you would like to see or any questions about baking or pastry, please let me know. Be sure to subscribe so you don't miss a post.

10 thoughts on “Top Ingredient Substitutions for Baking

  1. Alicia

    I can’t wait to share this with my cooking class students. Be on the lookout for new blog followers!!

  2. Mary Soucy

    Bless your heart, Helen!! Such a treasure to have these all in one document I can print out, put in a sleeve and tack on the inside of my cupboard door!

    I am thrilled that I have discovered your site — I have learned so much. You CAN teach an old dog new tricks! Pastry always made me nervous, but you give me courage. Thanks. :)

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Mary: Thanks for the wonderful email. I collected a lot of this on scraps of paper, so this actually helps me clean. up. So glad you find the blog helpful. So many people are hesitant about pastry and actually it is just getting it in the right order. I think my husband’s pictures help a lot so I need to give him credit too.

  3. Sheila Norwood

    Thank you very much for the helpful information. I’m new to your website and I love it. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge.

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Sheila: It is so encouraging to get notes like yours. Thanks for taking the time. I think you will love Thursday’s blog.

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