Covid Kitchen: Baking Tips from Pastry Chef Madeline Tomseth

It’s so great to see so many people finding comfort in baking these days. However, like you, I’ve run into a few obstacles for covid-baking: I either have too much on-hand (don’t exactly need 24 cookies) or I can’t find flour or eggs at the store. To help, I’ve put together a few tips for general baking, as well as some recommendations for flour and egg substitutions. Also, try out my recipe for Black Bean Brownies that can be made with some common pantry items.

If you have all the ingredients for your recipe, there are a few ways you can go:

  1. Half the recipe. Most recipes are made with the assumption you’re using it for a gathering or celebration. But cutting the recipe in half, you use less ingredients and won’t be overwhelmed with baked goods.
  2. Pick a recipe that you can freeze and then bake as needed-
    a. Cookies can be scooped and frozen on a baking pan. Once frozen, place in a freezer bag and bake as you want! Just plan on adding a few minutes to the baking time. The same is true for biscuits and scones.
    b. Muffins and quickbreads can be baked and frozen up to 30 days. Simply thaw in the microwave or oven.


General Tips:
● Gluten-free flours often benefit from a little extra liquid to hydrate the flour blends, eliminate grittiness, and achieve a less dense or dry texture. Use your best judgment- if the batter looks really dry, add a Tablespoon of liquid at a time to achieve the right consistency.
● While traditional recipes often warn against overmixing to avoid building up excess structure in delicate batters (such as muffins and cakes) so that they don’t turn rubbery, the opposite is often true of gluten-free batters. Add a few minutes of beating/whisking during the mixing process.
● Gluten-free baked goods tend to be a bit dense, and with some added liquid, they sometimes benefit from longer baking times. Try going a few minutes past when you think it’s done- this works best for cakes, breads, muffins, and coffeecakes.
● Here’s a decent recipe for making your own GF flour mix (if you can find the ingredients)

Oat flour works well in recipes that require a dense texture and mild, slightly sweet flavor. It puffs up under the right circumstances – TIP: Avoid adding too many heavy, sticky ingredients to oat flour like bananas, and give it some help with a leavening agent, such as baking powder, so it puffs up and yields a lighter texture.

Best for: Breads, pancakes, muffins, cookies, cakes, crusts, granola, fruit crisps, scones

How to Substitute: Substitute 1:1 with AP flour. The texture will be denser and you may need to add a bit more liquid.

We often reach for almond flour in baking recipes when we’re looking for a light, fluffy, cake-y texture with neutral flavor, because almond flour has a milder flavor than almond meal, and tends to fluff up nicely when baked! It
works well in both egg and egg-free baking.

Best for: Cookies, cakes, muffins, hearty crusts, pancakes, crumble toppings
How to Substitute: Substitute 1:1 with AP flour. Almond flour tends to be a bit more delicate, which works well for muffins and cakes. For denser recipes (like cookies or brownies, the texture may be a bit lighter).

This highly absorbent flour can make baked goods light and fluffy. But you’ll need to use less. It’s commonly used in Paleo diet recipes and pairs best with eggs – so it doesn’t always work in vegan recipes.

Best for: Things that don’t need to rise very much like pancakes, cookies, waffles, crusts, and no-bake desserts.

How to Substitute: Coconut flour soaks up a lot of liquid, so use 1/4 cup of coconut flour in place of 1 cup glutenous flour (or another gluten-free flour). You may need to add an extra 1/4 cup of liquid. Coconut flour falls
apart on its own- so I’d combine it with other flours – try three parts almond flour to one part coconut flour.

This high-fiber, protein-packed, gluten-free grain is high in calcium (a cup of it is similar to a half cup of spinach).

Best for: Waffles, banana bread, cookies, brownies, cakes, and muffins

How to Substitute: Substitute 1:1 for other gluten-free flours.

Buckwheat is not wheat, but is actually a protein-rich seed from a plant similar to rhubarb. It is often mixed with other whole-grain flours and ingredients in baked goods. When used in smaller amounts, or in combination with other flours, it makes baked goods moist and tender.

Best for: Waffles, banana bread, cookies, brownies, cakes, hearty crusts, and muffins

How to Substitute: You can substitute 1:1, but the texture will be a bit grainy and will have a distinctive flavor. Recommend substituting 1⁄2 combined with another flour (like almond flour).

*Note- this method works best for recipes that use 3 or fewer eggs

Missing another ingredient? This is a good source if you find yourself missing ingredients.

Fruit puree adds moisture to baked goods, but it also works well as a binder. Applesauce, mashed bananas, plum or date puree, pumpkin puree, mashed sweet potatoes, or mashed avocado work.

How to Substitute: Use 1/4 cup of fruit puree in place of each egg. If you are baking bread or cake and want a little extra leavening power, add 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder for every egg.

Flax seeds aren’t just for salads and smoothies. When ground and combined with water, the mixture thickens and acts like eggs. Flax can add a nutty flavor to your finished dish, so it’s best used for pancakes, brownies and muffins. How to Substitute: For each egg, mix 1 Tablespoon ground flax seed with 3 Tablespoons warm water. Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes to thicken before using.

Nut butters make an excellent egg substitute-just keep in mind that nut butters add a strong flavor.

How to Substitute: Use 3 tablespoons of creamy nut butter in place of each egg. Don’t use crunchy nut butters, as they affect the texture of the baked good as well as its ability to bind with the ingredients.

This method helps leaven baked goods like cookies and cakes.

How to Substitute: For each egg, combine 2 tablespoons of water with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and 2 teaspoons baking powder.

Aquafaba is the newest, greatest egg white replacement—and you might already have it on hand. It’s simply the leftover liquid from a can of beans (most popularly, garbanzo beans).

How to Substitute: Use 3 tablespoons of canned bean liquid to replace each egg. If you’re using it as a binder, whip it slightly until foamy. For a whipped egg white substitute, use an electric mixer to beat it into peaks.

Madeline Tomseth is a recipe developer/consultant and member of RCTC. For more recipes or to get in touch, visit

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