Veganbaking.net - The Hows and Whys of Vegan Baking
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JME
JME
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I'm great at baking with a recipe. I can even put my own spin on recipes I find. What I want to be able to do is start creating my own recipes from scratch. I feel like this involves understanding more about the chemistry of how different ingredients react to one another. While I would love to go to a vegan culinary school, I don't have the money for it. Does any one know of books, websites or other sources of information on how to develop recipes and help me understand the chemistry behind vegan baking?
Tuesday, April 17 2012, 04:08 PM
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Mattie
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Tuesday, April 17 2012, 08:45 PM - #Permalink
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Hi JME!

We think alike! I've made this quest to be my life's work. The lack of vegan baking food science information is precisely why I started Veganbaking.net. Traditional baking has a 200 year start and it's time to catch up! I too didn't feel like getting into debt at culinary school just to learn the ins and outs of food science. And I wasn't interested in paying money to have a natural foods culinary school tell me that agave syrup is healthier than table sugar. The great thing about the information age we're now in is that it's never been easier to affordably marinade your brain in food science-rich resources- as long as you know where to look and you have endless time:D

I haven't found many online resources that go into enough detail enough to thoroughly learn the ins and outs of food science. Perhaps this is because website formats are usually shorter to deal more appropriately with internet-related information overload. I've found that books (and some of the blogs I list below) have been the best way for me to really dive into food science and really get to know it well. I usually spend large amounts of time in the kitchen trying to apply something I've learned so I can make some crazy thing that usually fails. But the failures are where I learn the most.

I recommend buying ebooks and reading them on your smartphone. This will allow you to have the maximum amount of time to absorb as much information as possible. Oh and forget about most of your other hobbies- I have:p Ok not really but hey, it is free education and time is what you pay.

Below are some books that have changed the way I look at vegan baking food science. None of them are vegan specific, but as soon as you understand the food science, you'll be able to apply it to vegan baking easily based on your vegan baking experience. I used to think it wasn't important to know the science behind how an egg coagulates, how milk solids brown and the ratios of fat to water in butter so I'd skip over those resources. Boy was I wrong. If you're going to be breaking down traditional elements of food and building them back up into vegan recipe building blocks it's extremely essential to know how they work. My Meringue, Vegan Butter and Vegan Shortening recipes are examples of this. Why are there no vegan baking food science books below? Because no one's written about it yet! But I intend to change that soon. Here are the books I recommend. There are probably at least a dozen more but there's only so much time in the world.

On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee
This is the Bible of food science. If you were to ask a chef what book they recommend over any other book, it would be this one. Mr. McGee was a couple decades ahead of his time. Anything this guy touches is gold. I recommend reading everything he writes, including his NY Times column and his website (below).

How Baking Works
Understanding Baking
These books lay down really essential fundamentals. I'll end up reading them again someday just to keep my mind fresh.

Ideas in Food
Cooking for Geeks
These books explore innovative ingredients and methods that show you what's possible in the food world. Like working with hydrocolloids for example.

Here are some blogs that have helped me improve my food knowledge I don't have much time to read blogs but here are the ones that I try to read as much as possible so far.
cookingissues.com
curiouscook.com
blog.ideasinfood.com
blog.khymos.org

To this is what I've been using for the last several years to hone my knowledge. Let me know if you find any other cool resources and good luck!
  • AndyB
    more than a month ago
    Hello all, I too am new to this site but so very thankful that I found it. I am a graduate of culinery school and while I love to bake I really have a mad scientist living inside of me that always wanted to create things from scratch. Most books that are available on this subject - wether vegan or not do not delve all that deeply into actual food science. I think it is because not enough people are really into it so books like that do not get printed. I think you need to learn about food science first and then apply and transfer that knowledge into vegan baking. If you are good, smart, and dilligent you will be able to crack the code and create some new stuff like Mattie has. I would agree with his suggestions but add a book called Bakewise by Shirley O Corriher, In The Sweet Kitchen by Regan Daley, and the Cake or Pie Bibles by Rose Levy Barenbaum. They are not vegan but they will teach you the way baking works so that you can springboard from there. There is also a blog called Joe Pastry that is very helpful in explaing how and why things happen in baking. The new interest in Molecular Gastronomy is a very helpful movement that is opening allot of doors and will change the way people do things going forward. I see allot of new possibilities coming our way. But I have to say that this site is the best yet!!! Good luck and please post your recipes!!!
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    JME
    JME
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    Wednesday, April 18 2012, 03:14 PM - #Permalink
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    Mattie,

    I am so glad I stumbled upon your site. I've already found some great information in your Resources section. I have a feeling this site is going to be on my daily visit list. I really appreciate the time and detail you put into your answer. It makes a lot of sense to start with traditional food science. Thanks for the list. I can't wait to start reading! :)
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    Thursday, May 10 2012, 11:42 AM - #Permalink
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    I second How Baking Works. I checked it out from the local library and I was sold--just bought the 3rd edition last week. It's great because you learn the properties of the ingredients you don't want to use so you can try and figure out what you can substitute instead. Now, go forth and bake!
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