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Old-Time Recipe Substitutions That Will Prove Handy In A Pinch

Posted by on Jan. 3, 2010 at 10:01 AM
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Baking Substitutions

Old-Time Recipe Substitutions That Will Prove Handy In A Pinch

Grandma often used baking substitutions when she ran out of some recipe ingredients. In those days, trips to the grocery store were infrequent and most baking supplies were purchased in bulk quantities.

When substituting ingredients, keep in mind that some cooking substitutions might cause a slight change in taste or texture. The degree of change depends on whether the baking substitutions are major or minor ingredients in the dessert recipe.

Unfortunately, there are no effective baking substitutes for some essential ingredients like baking soda and cream of tartar.

Baking Substitutions

These practical baking substitutions were gleaned from a variety of old-fashioned cookbooks and recipe clippings. If you lack any of the ingredients called for in the old-fashioned dessert recipes, you might find a suggestion or two here.

Baking Powder

To replace 1 teaspoon baking powder, use 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar plus 1/4 teaspoon baking soda.


For 1 cup of honey, use 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar plus 1/4 cup liquid. You could also try using 3/4 cup corn syrup plus 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Molasses can be used in equal measure as a honey substitute, but it will affect the flavor.

Fresh, Whole Milk

For 1 cup fresh milk, use 1 cup skim plus 2 teaspoons butter.

Heavy Cream

A good substitute for heavy cream in baking can be made with 3/4 cup whole milk plus 1/2 to 1/3 cup butter and a little flour. You can also try using an equal quantity of plain yogurt in some dishes.

Maple Syrup

For 1 cup maple sugar, use 3/4 cup corn syrup plus 1/4 cup butter and flavor to taste with maple extract. You can also substitute honey in equal measure, but the flavor will be affected.


Butter or margarine may be substituted for shortening in equal measure.

Brown Sugar

Use 3/4 cup granulated sugar and 1/4 cup molasses to replace 1 cup brown sugar.

Powdered, Confectioner's Sugar

For every 4 cups powdered confectioner's sugar, use 3 cups granulated sugar well dissolved.

Ammonium Bicarbonate

For 1 teaspoon ammonium bicarbonate, use 1-1/4 teaspoons baking soda. Ammonium bicarbonate is sometimes used in baking cookies.

Chocolate Square

You can replace 1 chocolate square with 3 tablespoons cocoa and 1 tablespoon butter.

White Granulated Sugar

1/2 cup molasses or corn syrup can be used for 1 cup sugar, but liquid in the recipe must be reduced by 1/2 cup.

3/4 cup honey can replace 1 cup granulated sugar, but reduce liquid in recipe by 1/4 cup.

If you don't mind the change in flavor, you can use 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar for 1 cup granulated sugar.

Corn Syrup

For a simple corn syrup substitution, replace 1 cup corn syrup with 1 cup granulated sugar and increase liquid in recipe by 1/4 cup.

Baking Substitutions Continued


Almost any kind of chopped dried fruit can be substituted for raisins. Currants or chopped dates can be used in a recipe with good results.

Chocolate Chips

Chop about 6 ounces of semisweet chocolate to replace 1 cup of semisweet chocolate chips.


Corn syrup or light molasses can be substituted for treacle in equal measure.


2 egg whites or 2 egg yolks can be used for 1 whole egg.

Sour Milk

Simply stir in about 1 tsp of white vinegar to 1 cup milk. Buttermilk can also be substituted in equal measure.

Sour Cream

As a baking substitute for sour cream, simply use an equal measure of plain yogurt in most recipes.


For thickening purposes, you can use 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour to replace 1 tablespoon cornstarch.


Use 1/2 teaspoon ground all spice to replace 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon.

Cream of Tartar

There is no effective cream of tartar substitute, but you can try using an equal quantity of white vinegar in a pinch.


Honey may be used in equal measure, but it will affect the flavor.


For 1 cup buttermilk, add 1 teaspoon white vinegar to 1 cup whole milk. You can also use 1/3 cup whole milk with 2/3 cup plain yogurt as a buttermilk substitute.


Use 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon to replace 1 teaspoon allspice.

Cooking Wine

You can replace red cooking wine with the same quantity of grape juice or cranberry juice. To replace white cooking wine use apple juice or white grape juice. The flavor will be affected somewhat.

Lemon Zest

For 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon zest, use 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract.


Use 1 cup of miniature marshmallows to replace 10 large marshmallows.


As a baking substitute for rum when baking, use 1 part rum extract plus 3 parts water.
by on Jan. 3, 2010 at 10:01 AM
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