Food & Drink

Can dairy milk be replaced with plant based milks when baking?

(Last Updated On: 09/08/2023)

I have often heard the phrase “baking is a science, cooking is an art” – meaning you can take creative liberties when you are making a savoury dish, but when it comes to baking, recipes must be followed precisely otherwise the outcome could be disastrous. As someone who is much more creative than scientific, thankfully I feel that we are all becoming a bit more adventurous when it comes to baking, partially thanks to programmes such as The Great British Bake Off and innovative celebrity chefs such as Nigella Lawson – I am specifically thinking of her chocolate Guinness cake. Yum. My love of cooking and baking has been reignited in the last year with our new kitchen – I am loving having lots of space to experiment in.

Thinking down this route led me to specifically consider substituting dairy milk in baking recipes with plant based milk. One of my son’s friends has a milk allergy and I’d like to include him in the snack when he comes for a play date – I often make cookies or cupcakes and I feel awful having give him something different. One recipe I am keen to try out is this oat drink blueberry muffins recipe – it sounds delicious. Next time I get a milk delivery I will definitely be adding on a plant based milk to my order.

Why use plant based milk in baking?

  • To cater for allergies or intolerances
  • It’s better for the environment – plant based milks typically have a lower carbon footprint than dairy milk
  • To change the flavour and/or texture of a recipe – it’s a fun and easy way to experiment
  • Because I always seem to run out of dairy milk whereas I always have some form of plant based milk around, so in my case, out of necessity!

What are the best plant based milks for baking?

  • Oat milk adds a very slight savoury undertone to baked goods so works well in most recipes, particularly scones or pancakes – it’s a good alternative to use when you don’t want an overpowering flavour or sweetness that might come from, for example, coconut milk
  • Soy milk has a similarly high protein content to dairy milk so is a great substitute in recipes that call for a large quantity of milk as it will allow the recipe to end up a similar texture

What is a good starter recipe if I want to dip my toe into using plant based milks in baking?

A very easy starting point is overnight oats – just find an overnight oats recipe and substitute the dairy milk 1:1 for your plant milk of choice. This is where the more interesting plant based milks come into their own – I am specifically thinking of cashew milk and coconut milk. From this very easy starting point you can get an idea of what the different milks add to a recipe in terms of flavour and texture – and then you can be more bold next time and incorporate them into, say, a cake. It is also a really fun and easy thing to make with kids as you can’t really go wrong – plus, it means that breakfast is sorted for the following morning – win-win!

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One Comment

  • Sophie Gillum-Webb

    I’ve just made my overnight oats for the morning using oat milk! I’m trying to reduce my dairy and oat milk has been a good alternative but I wasn’t sure whether it could be used in baking so great post!

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