6 flavor-changing ingredient swaps to try with your favorite baking recipes

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Our proven recipes are a must-have for a reason – we’ve made them so many times they’re easy to prepare, and we obviously love the way they turn out. But when your favorites get a little too familiar, rather than putting them aside, why not breathe some life into them?

Simple swapping of ingredients can give your favorite recipes a new twist, without changing them too much (so no one complains).

Just do your old sleepovers, but experiment with one of the substitutions below, taking notes to help you polish next time. And have fun unleashing your best and most creative baker!

Use rose water instead of vanilla extract

Rose water, obtained by distilling rose petals, is already a popular ingredient in baking, but you might not have thought of using it as a substitute for vanilla. Similar to vanilla, rose water adds a delicate flavor to foods, but it can easily overpower a dish, so it’s used sparingly.

Its floral flavor and aroma accentuate the sweetness of fresh fruits and berries and goes perfectly with cream. While you can substitute rose water for vanilla at a 1 to 1 ratio in some recipes, you can start by using half the amount of rose water and see how you like the results. Try it in cakes, cookies, pancakes and muffins. It is delicious in syrups drizzled with breads and custard, and in whipped cream or cream-based dishes such as panna cotta.

If rose water is a new ingredient for you, keep in mind that it should be food grade and have a lively floral scent.

Use nut flour instead of all-purpose flour

There are many reasons to replace walnut flour with walnut flour. Nut flour helps make baked goods tender and adds depth of flavor – and toasting it will increase the flavor even more. You might find that you don’t have to use a lot of it to taste a difference.

Almond flour is probably the most common nut flour you find in stores, but you can also make it yourself by grinding hazelnuts or pecans.

Tips for exchanging it:

This substitution works well in most pastries, but not for bread with a thick crust, for example, which is supposed to be chewy. And which ratio to use depends on what you are doing.

Start with these measurements as a general guideline:

Substitute one-third of the wheat flour for nut flour in yeast breads like pizzas, pretzels, and rolls.

Substitute a quarter of the wheat flour for nut flour in muffins, pancakes, cookies, scones, cakes and crackers.

To note: Sometimes nut flours are sold alongside nut flours, but they are not the same. Meals are usually made from ground nuts with their skins on, so these will add a bit more texture to recipes. If you want to keep it subtle, opt for flour or finely grind your own blanched, shelled nuts with a powerful blender.

Change your citrus

An easy way to change the flavor of baked goodies is to change the type of citrus you use, like tangerine peel for orange in a cheesecake or grapefruit juice for lemon in squares. Citrus fruits vary in sweetness and acidity, so you can change the flavor profile with a simple swap.

Citrus suggestions:

You can substitute in equal parts, but swap the juice for the juice and the zest for the zest. Introducing juice when not already in a recipe can skew the ratios, create a reaction from the acidity of the juice and cause other ingredients to behave differently, which can affect the texture as well. that taste.

Citrus fruits that you might not normally cook with, such as grapefruits, Meyer lemons, and blood oranges, can add a new flavor profile to your recipe. Here’s how to redeem each of them.

Opt for red grapefruit (sweeter than white and stands out for its salmon-colored skin and pink flesh) for an intriguing substitute for orange in cakes and cookies. White grapefruit, with its pale yellow skin, is more acidic, which can be a good thing when you want to balance the sugar in a recipe. Catch it in place of lemons or limes.

Meyer lemons are more aromatic and sweeter than regular lemons – try them when you can get them, usually December through May. They would be great in lemon curd, especially one that requires olive oil instead of butter, as their slightly spicy flavor complements the herb of olive oil well.

Blood oranges offer an interesting alternative to sea oranges. With a sweet and sour flavor and juicy, crimson flesh, look for them in winter and early spring.

Replace chocolate with olives

You might be skeptical of this idea, until you consider that it’s essentially about changing a recipe from sweet to salty.

Also consider that it is easy to make a dough, cut it in half, then fold the olives in one half and the chocolate in the other. Two treats for the work of one!

Tips for replacing chocolate with olives:

It works well in recipes that have less sugar to start with, so the salty taste of the olives isn’t out of place. Try it in breakfast breads or in cookies and breads that contain sour cream or cream cheese, which tend to tone down the sweetness anyway.

To make the transition, roughly chop the olives the same size as the chocolate chips and fold them over at the end.

Use toasted sugar instead of regular sugar

This tasty tip comes from pastry chef Stella Parks: toast your sugar. You will be rewarded with a well balanced caramelized flavor profile that is not sweet.

Toasted sugar can also tame the sweetness of baked goods and items made with a lot of sugar, like meringues and angel food cakes.

Tips for grilling:

Granulated sugar retains its texture during toasting (although Parks points out that organic sugar and raw sugar are more prone to melting), so it behaves like regular sugar in recipes.

There are two ways to do this: slowly roast a large amount of sugar for five hours and get a deeper caramel flavor or make a 30 minute version on a higher heat. You have to be more careful with the latter as there is a smaller window for you to catch the sugar before it melts.

For the quick version: Add a quarter-inch layer of sugar to a heavy ovenproof skillet and roast at 350 ° F, stirring a few times if you know your oven has pesky hot spots. Stop when it starts to smell like caramel, about 30 minutes – the color won’t have changed much.

For the long version: Fill a glass or ceramic dish with two pounds of sugar and cook at 300 ° F until the sugar smells like caramel and takes on a golden tint, about three to five hours (the longer the time, the longer the caramel flavor is intense). Stir every 30 minutes.

Let the toasted sugar cool completely before storing it in an airtight container.

Heirloom cereal flour instead of white flour

Heirloom grains (typically grains that modern agriculture hasn’t altered) can add earthy, malty flavors when cooked and more color. Some people find them easier to digest and they are tastier because they still contain the germ.

Tips for adding heirloom cereals:

Start small: use one part heirloom cereal flour to two parts white flour. Heritage grains behave differently and can alter the structure of your cooking. Some also absorb liquid differently from white flour, so you may need to adjust the recipe.

Here are a few types to try.

Kamut flour (khorasan wheat): buttery, earthy, soft and sweet. Use it in recipes where butter plays a key role, like sugar cookies and brioche.

Spelt flour : soft and smooth, it is a good starter flour because it is easy to work with. Try it in a carrot cake, overturned pineapple cake, or other very moist baked goods.

Teff flour: ancient cereal native to Ethiopia and Eritrea, it has a malty aroma and is very fine. It works well in pancakes, crackers, and other crispy baked goods. Accompany it with brown butter and hazelnuts.

Buckwheat flour: with a slightly mineral and winey taste, buckwheat pairs well with fruits such as plums and pears.

The oils in the germ of the heirloom grain make it rancid quickly, so be sure to buy the freshest flour possible and store it in the fridge or freezer.


Jessica Brooks is a digital producer and professionally trained cook and baker. Follow her culinary stories on Instagram @brooks_cooks.


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