Mihai Aurel
Baking with substitutions


We’ll start by saying we generally don’t recommend substituting ingredients when it comes to baking, if you can help it. Baking is a precise science and even changing one ingredient can affect the final outcome.  

But sometimes for dietary reasons, an allergy or personal preference, it is necessary to substitute ingredients. We thought we’d put together a couple of pointers for home bakers looking to make ingredient swaps in their baking.

Can I bake gluten-free?

It is very simple to bake gluten-free. Just swap the exact amount of dry gluten-containing ingredients (flour and raising agents) for gluten-free alternatives.

We use Dove’s Farm gluten-free flours and raising agents in our Made Without range of cakes.  

Can I substitute flour for whole wheat flour when baking?

Whole wheat flour has the benefit of extra fibre in there but is a lot heavier to bake with than white flour, so it can dry out your cakes.

Ideally, only part-substitute some of the flour for whole wheat, such as half whole wheat flour and half white flour. The texture of the sponge is likely to be more dense and coarser.  

Can I substitute flour for nut flour when baking?

Although rich in nutrients, nut flours are also much heavier than white flour and they don’t stand up to heat well due to the natural fats.

As nut flours are both dense in texture and rather pricey, we recommend trying your bakes out with a quarter of the total amount of flour as nut flour and making up the remaining quantity with normal flour or another wheat flour of choice e.g. whole wheat or gluten-free.  

Can I substitute flour for coconut flour when baking?

With lots of protein and fibre packed in there, coconut flour is a popular choice for bakers. It also gives a coconut flavour.

We recommend substituting half coconut flour with half white flour.

Can I substitute dairy milk with soya milk, rice milk or oat milk when baking?

Soya milk has a neutral flavour and unsweetened soya milk can be used as a substitute for dairy milk. Using sweetened soya milk can add too much sweetness to the recipe, so avoid using this.

Rice milk and oat milk are also good options for baking with. Soya milk can curdle if acidic ingredients are added to it.  

Can I substitute dairy milk for almond milk or nut milk when baking?

Nut milks are delicious when used in baking, but bear in mind that they will impart their nutty flavours.  

Can I substitute dairy butter for vegan butter or vegan spread?

Vegan and dairy-free butter substitutes and spreads can be used in the same quantities as normal butter. These are widely available from supermarkets and health food stores. We recommend using the ones specified as suitable for baking.  

What dairy free alternatives can I use instead of buttermilk?

Use soya or dairy free yogurt in the same quantities as the recipe instructs.  

What can I substitute for egg when baking? 

Use a vegan egg replacer as instructed by the packet. Normally, you can replace whole eggs in a recipe with a quantity of egg replacer and water. You can buy egg replacer from large supermarkets and health food shops.

Does The Hummingbird Bakery offer vegan or dairy-free cakes as part of its range? 

Not currently. Our product developers have tested out vegan and dairy-free recipes in our kitchens and we have yet to find a recipe that meets our high standards for flavour and texture. We will keep trying and hopefully we will find a recipe one day that won’t compromise on that signature Hummingbird flavour.  

We do, however, have our Made Without range available online as well as Made Without cupcakes available on our bakery counters for those avoiding gluten. For more information about our Made Without range please visit here.  

Bakers at home can try any of our recipes from our cookbooks with vegan or dairy-free substitutes as they wish.

These are just a few tips and there are lots of bakers in the online community finding new ingredients that work well in place of conventional ones.  

The bottom line is: any ingredient swaps could cause your bakes to turn out differently to how the recipe intends, but there is nothing to stop you trying out your favourite ingredients in your bakes at home.  

When we develop cake and dessert recipes in our kitchens we have to make a lot of batches until we hit the perfect flavour and texture balance, so don’t be afraid to explore and find what works for you.  

Happy baking! x

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