Plant-based pastry-making indispensables


Plant-based pastry making is not a fantasy if we have the right ingredients. Replacing animal products requires knowledge of the alternatives that most closely match their composition in order to achieve the various results desired. For this it is essential to have elements of the highest quality and that have the concrete specifications to achieve the objective.

The base ingredients of the plant-based pastry-making

Preparing a sweet for a vegetarian is complex. There are 5 basic elements in pastry making that are of animal origin and perform a basic function. Eggs, butter, milk, cream and animal gelatine not only provide flavour; in most cases they fulfil an essential technical function to achieve a great result.

Replacing them in the equation is a great technical challenge; but it will allow us to elevate flavours and textures in our elaborations.

Knowing the composition of each of these ingredients allows us to offer alternatives that can provide the same technical performance without sacrificing the essence of a dessert or altering its balance. To achieve this, we must not only understand the product but also the objective behind its incorporation in the recipe.

These are the main technical characteristics offered by these products:

  • Emulsion: It consists of binding fats and water in a homogeneous way. Eggs and dairy products fulfil this function due to their protein and lecithin composition.
  • Aeration: Air is introduced into the production process (agitation, fermentation or chemically) by keeping it inside. A protein from eggs or dairy products is usually essential for this purpose.
  • Coagulation: Heating the egg transforms it from a liquid to a solid state, thanks to its protein content.
  • Stabilisation: Helps to ensure that the texture and appearance of the product lasts over time. In this case, vegetable gelatine is often used.
  • Jellification: Thanks to the collagen in the gelatine of animal origin, we are able to convert the liquid into solids with different hardnesses.
  • Fat addition: Fat is a great transmitter of flavour, and at the same time it gives a unique texture and creaminess. Dairy products, especially butter, are the most classic products used for this purpose.

It is possible to achieve all these techniques without using elements of animal origin. By learning to use them properly, we can achieve much better results and achieve a higher quality dessert with totally new and surprising textures and flavours for our customers’ palates.

Egg substitute

The egg is one of the most complex elements. It has two elements, the white and the yolk, which contribute different compositions and techniques to each dessert. An egg is mainly made up of water (75%), the rest being almost equally divided between protein and fat. Its use allows the use of coagulation, aeration, emulsification and fat addition.

The egg yolk is where most of the fat is concentrated (32%) and has less water (only 50%). To replace it, we will use a preparation with the same proportion of water (it can be replaced by infusions to improve the flavour), vegetable oil (to replace the proportion of fat) and two specific products.

  • Potatowhip 10%: Potato protein that provides the mixture with coagulant capacity.
  • Natur Emul 8%: Allows the emulsion technique to be applied.

In the case of egg white, it is used in different ways depending on the type of preparation.

For those where aeration is needed, such as a meringue, we recommend a mixture of water (95%) and Sojawhip (5%) or Potatowhip Cold (5%). The use of these substitutes does not add flavour or colour, thus achieving a neutral production.

It should be considered that by using these vegetable proteins we will not obtain a coagulating effect.

If we want to use it for a sponge cake recipe in which we need coagulation, we will use Potatowhip (8%) and the rest, water.

TIP: Try substituting the water in the preparations with herbal teas, juices or fruit purées to enhance the flavour.

Butter substitute

Within dairy products, butter is one of the essential elements for adding fat and texture and for emulsifying.

There are a wide variety of ready-made products that can replace butter, but we can also prepare our own substitute formula, which gives us a range of opportunities. This allows us to provide different flavours and textures.

If we want to replace butter in preparations such as sponge cake doughs, we propose a combination that includes: coconut oil (58%), refined sunflower oil (25%), water (15%) and 1% of the following products respectively: Natur Emul and Sojawhip.

With these ingredients we obtain an emulsion with a texture very similar to butter, but neutral in flavour in relation to the dairy content of the butter. This allows us to enhance the rest of the flavours of the recipe; as for example in a chocolate or nut sponge cake.

TIP: It is possible to substitute refined sunflower oil for other vegetable oils with more flavour; for example: sesame, almond, avocado. This results in flavoured butters.

Milk substitute

It is one of the easiest components to replace. We will only have to use one of the vegetable drinks that we can find in the market. We have to analyze its flavour to find out which is the best option that suits our recipe. Soy, rice or coconut are the favorites of professionals who work this type of pastry.

Cream substitute

This dairy derivative has the function of providing fat and aeration. Recipes that feature it can look for either one or both of these options. It is important to understand the instructions to decide which vegetable alternative to choose.

If we want the cream to provide air like in a mousse, we will need a liquid and the right proportion of Potatowhip and Sojawhip, which can vary depending on the texture we are aiming for. As for the liquid, we will choose between water or one with flavouring if we want an extra point of flavour.

When it only provides fat, as in biscuits or sponge cakes, we can choose between shea butter or coconut fat depending on the recipe.

Animal gelatine substitute

This product provides stability and jellification in a wide variety of different processes. There are a large number of alternatives for its replacement, but it is essential to know the function we are going to carry out in order to choose the right one.

How to make a plant-based sponge cake??

A plant-based sponge cake has various pastry making processes that include basic elements of animal origin. To make it without all of them, we can use the different substitutes we already know. Knowing how to make a plant-based sponge is the first step to develop this activity. If we think of a basic option, we have three fundamental elaborations.

Plant-based Sponge

One of the basic doughs of the sweet world. Starting from a base of egg, flour and sugar that is beaten and cooked, several varieties can be made by adding other fats (oil or chocolate) or aromatics (spices or fruits). Starting from a basic recipe, it is necessary to eliminate the egg from the composition. We will use water, Potatowhip and coconut fat to achieve the texture, aerate, coagulate and emulsify.

Plant-based Crèmeux

To add juiciness and to fill the layers between the sponge cakes, we can use a cremeux with different flavours, such as nuts or fruits. They start with a crème anglaise (which involves egg yolk, milk and cream) to which flavours, aromas and gelatine are added to give a certain compactness. The substitution starts with a vegetable-based liqueur for the milk, Natur Emul for the egg and pectins (e.g. Nappage X58) for the gelatine. To all this we have to add vegetable fibers that give us the texture of the cream.

Plant-based Ganaches

To give it a high-quality visual appearance, we can use a ganache. This is traditionally made with chocolate and cream, which are emulsified together. In this case, the fat content of the cream is sought after, which is what must be replaced. Shea or coconut fat can be used for this purpose. To obtain the emulsifying effect, we use Sojawhip or Natur Emul.

By combining these three preparations we can create a cake consisting of two layers of sponge cake, a creamy filling and a topping. All the ingredients will be of vegetable origin, but we will obtain a result full of flavour that respects the different textures.

Plant-based pastry-making is a reality.

If you want to know more about plant-based pastry-making we invite you to download the Dossier: Plant-based pastry-making indispensables.

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