cakes to cookies and everything in between, vegan baking is more popular than
ever before! We caught up with Chef Aabhas Jain to talk about the latest trend,
how it affects his approach to teaching and the curriculum at École Ducasse
swapping common ingredients for vegan substitutes, understanding the properties
of each element is essential. Since baking originated in Europe and thrived in
the Roman Empire, animal-based products feature in most recipes. But replacing
eggs, milk or butter with a simple, single ingredient, as many online chefs do,
bring so much to the table when it comes to baking! If they act as emulsifiers
in one recipe, they become the binding agent in another, making them tricky to
replace. When making a sponge cake, eggs add air and create a light, fluffy
structure. In Swiss meringues, egg whites do much more than incorporate air;
they stabilize the mixture, form firm peaks, and add a glossy finish once
whipped. In a fudgy brownie, they perform a completely different role by
hydrating the flour in the batter. Mashed bananas incorporate enough moisture
as the same quantity of eggs and make for a healthy substitute too.
constantly ask my students at ISH, “What role does this ingredient play in the
recipe we are making? In the case of butter, they immediately answer that it
adds richness and flavor since it is fat. But a lesser-known fact is that
butter can be considered a rising agent for other recipes. To master the art of
baking, you must know the science. Understanding the function of each
ingredient and how they combine with others to form various mixtures is essential
to pastry arts,” says the chef.
80% fat, 15% water and 5% milk solids make up butter, you could swap it with
applesauce, dairy-free yoghurt, olive oil or bananas. But you need to measure
your ingredients wisely since the ratio of fat to water varies in each recipe.
can everything be replaced?
quite,” says Chef Aabhas. “Some things just cannot be replaced. Like gelatine,
for instance! While many use agar-agar instead, it will never give the same
flexibility to your Jell-O or any other jelly dessert, for that matter. Made by
extracting collagen from the boiled bones of animals, gelatine serves as the
thickening agent that gives jelly its distinct wobble. When made with its
plant-based substitute, agar-agar, it tends to break when bent and will not
jiggle the same either.
Information on the
internet often misguides students. While YouTube and Instagram are great for
fueling their passion, most online chefs only demonstrate a recipe without
explaining the purpose behind the method. At École Ducasse India, we teach
students the precise techniques of baking. Instead of mixing butter, sugar and
eggs, they learn to combine fat, carbs and protein. This way, they can quickly
replace any ingredient and need not reach for their closest cookbook for answers.