What Happens To Your Baked Product When Using Substitutes?

So you decided this was the day you were going to try that new cake or cookie recipe.  But you go to get the ingredients and find that you are out of some of them.  What to do?  Do you attempt to substitute?  If so, what happens to your baked product when using substitutes?

Using substitutes in baking should really only be used in an emergency.  The substitution can alter the taste and texture of your baked product. Sometimes for the better but can also be a bad thing.  Every ingredient in a recipe has a specific function and you need to understand these functions before considering substitutions.

Watch the video below

what happens to your baked product when using substitutes

Milk And Dairy Products

Milk hydrates the dry ingredients and adds flavor.  It also helps with browning and will create a softer crumb.

Buttermilk adds flavor and helps with a tender crumb Buttermilk also. provides acid into the reaction with baking soda to cause it to rise more.

Sour cream makes your baked product moisture without thinning the batter making the product moister and richer with a very tender and fine crumb.


Flour provides the structure to your baked product.  There are many different types of flour with different protein content. The protein content of the flour affects the strength of the dough. The higher the protein content the better the gluten formation.

When substituting one type of flour for another you need to be aware of the content of the protein in the flour. This will alter the texture and taste of your baked goods dramatically depending on the baked product you are aiming for.


The biggest function of oil in baking is keeping your baked goods moist.  It also helps certain baked goods stay tender and fluffy in texture by capturing the gases that are released from the interaction of baking powder and baking soda and slows down gluten formation.


Butter gives richness, tenderness, and structure to your baked goods.  Also keeps it moist. Allows steam and carbon dioxide to be trapped in the butter as it bakes which causes the product to rise.

A note here regarding butter and oil. Cakes made with oil, the texture in general, is superior to cakes made with butter. Oil cakes tend to bake up loftier with a more even crumb.  And they stay moist and tender longer.

Baking Powder

Baking powder increases the volume and lightens the texture of baked goods.  It is also considered a complete leavening agent because it contains both the base(sodium bicarbonate) and the acid needed for your baked good to rise.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate.  When it is combined with liquid and an acid such as yogurt or buttermilk that causes a chemical reaction that produces bubbles of carbon dioxide that when heated will expand causing your baked good to rise.


Eggs bind baked goods together and add richness, color, and flavor


Salt enhances and balances the flavor. Also strengthens the dough and helps baked goods last longer. Baked goods without salt will taste flat and boring.  Salt in breadmaking controls yeast.  It slows the rise of yeasted baked goods making an even and stable texture.


Sugar adds sweetness and flavor to your baked goods. It also adds color, tenderizes, and builds structure. Keeps baked goods soft and moist

Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract enhances the flavor of your baked goods.

When it comes to baking, it really is a science. Ingredients need to be exact to get the result you are hoping for and it is important when it comes to measuring your ingredients.

Common Baking Substitutes

These are very basic common substitutes

Milk, 1 cup1 cup plain or Greek yogurt
!/2 cup evaporated milk + 1/2 cup water
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup water + 1 1/2 teaspoons butter
Buttermilk, 1 cup1 cup milk + 1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice
Sour Cream, 1 cup 1 cup yogurt, plain or Greek, mayonnaise or buttermilk
All-purpose flour, 1 cupCake flour, 1 cup
pastry flour,1 cup
Cake flour, 1 cupall-purpose flour, 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons and then add 2 tablespoons cornstarch
Self-rising flourall-purpose flour plus 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4teaspoon salt
Bread flour,1 cupAll-purpose flour, 1 cup
Oil, 1 cup1 cup melted butter
1 cup mayonnaise
Butter, 1 cup1 cup oil
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 applesauce
Baking soda, 1teaspoon3 teaspoons baking powder
Baking powder, 1 teaspoonBaking soda 1/4 teaspoon plus 1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter
Baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon plus 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
Eggs, 11/2 a mashed medium banana
1/4 cup of applesauce
Sugar, 1 cup3/4 cup honey
3/4 cup maple syrup
Brown sugar, 1 cupwhite sugar, 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon molasses
Vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon1teaspoon almond extract

Final Thoughts

It is best to use substitutes in baking only in an emergency.  Knowing the functions of each ingredient in the recipe will help you to choose the best substitute.  But be aware that the substitutes are going to alter the taste and texture of your finished product. For example, applesauce may be a better substitute than banana when going for moisture. The banana is going to alter the taste dramatically.

When choosing flour substitutes it is important to be aware of the protein content in the flour. You can use bread flour instead of all-purpose flour just be careful to mix lightly. Bread flour has a high protein content for gluten formation. If you mix too much you will end up with a dense cake.

I hope you found this article helpful when choosing substitutes for your baking.

Please leave me a comment below. I would love to hear about your experiences with baking substitutions. Were they good? or bad?

Keep On Baking


Leave a Comment