Baking Basics: Handy Baking Ingredient Substitutions

Words: Crush

We’ve all been there, you get halfway through a recipe only to discover that you’re missing a fairly important ingredient. Fear not, all hope is not lost, here are some handy baking substitutes for some common ingredients.


Simple Baking Substitutes

Baking Powder

It’s pretty simple to make your own baking powder. For the equivalent of one teaspoon, mix together ¼ teaspoon baking soda and ½ teaspoon cream of tartar or decrease the liquid in the recipe by half and add ¼ teaspoon baking soda plus ½ cup buttermilk.


Simply make your own buttermilk by adding a tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to about 500 ml of milk and let it stand to curdle naturally.

Corn Syrup

A common ingredient in American recipes, and something that we don’t really get in South Africa – but if needed, you can replace corn syrup with honey or regular golden syrup.


Simply sub in ¼ C of unsweetened applesauce for every egg in your recipe or ¼ C of mashed banana will work perfectly too. Mind you, these substitutes work in loaves, muffins, etc., but of course wouldn’t work in your pavlova! Certain recipes will also work with a ‘flax egg’ substitute – one tablespoon of ground flaxseed powder with three tablespoons of water should give you a rough egg replacement but this depends on the recipe. Let the mix firm up in the fridge for a few minutes before using.


If you’re out of milk, replace it with a ratio of 1 cup of water and 1 ½ teaspoons of butter.

Self-raising Flour

For every 150 g of plain flour, add 2 teaspoons of baking powder and you’ll have your own self-raising flour.

Sour Cream

You can pretty much use any cultured dairy item, so yoghurt, crème fraîche or even buttermilk could work in place of sour cream when baking.

Vegetable Oil

If you want to make a recipe on the lighter side, you can opt to replace 1 cup vegetable oil with 1 cup applesauce or apple purée. This works well in recipes such as muffins.

Now that you know what you can sub in where, try making these baked goods. Also, to brush up on your baking lingo, check out our Glossary of Baking Terms.

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