Grandma used her old fashioned baking substitutions whenever she ran out of an ingredient that her recipe called for. Back in those days, trips to the grocery store were infrequent as most baking supplies were purchased in bulk. So, she learned how to substitute something she had.
The following collection of ingredient substitutions is gleaned from old cookbooks, almanacs, and Grandma's recipe notes. You're sure to find them practical in your kitchen for those times when you run out of a basic ingredient that's needed.
To replace 1 teaspoon baking powder, use 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar plus 1/4 teaspoon baking soda.
In a pinch, you can substitute 1 teaspoon of baking powder for every 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda called for. This works best in baking recipes that have acidic ingredients such as lemon juice, buttermilk, or honey.
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.
For 1 square of chocolate, use 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder and 1 tablespoon of either butter or shortening.
Refined granulated sugars can be substituted for old fashioned loaf sugar.
For 1 cup fresh milk, use 1 cup skim plus 2 teaspoons butter.
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.
Potato meal isn't often found for sale nowadays, but potato flour (below) offers a handy old fashioned baking substitution, though it's a finer grind or texture than meal.
If potato flour is unavailable, twice the amount of instant potato flakes can be substituted with good taste results in recipes. For example, 2 ounces potato flour equals 4 ounces potato flakes.
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.
Use 3/4 cup granulated sugar and 1/4 cup molasses to replace 1 cup brown sugar.
For every 4 cups powdered confectioner's sugar, use 3 cups granulated sugar well dissolved.
Castor sugar (also spelled "caster" sugar) is most common in Britain
where it's also called Super Fine or Baker's Sugar.
Castor sugar is finer than granular sugar but not as fine as powdered confectioners' sugar. It dissolves easily and lends its own taste when used in a recipe.
For old fashioned ingredient substitutions:
These sugars are finely ground versions of granulated sugar, yet they are not powdered like icing sugar.
Or, if you're unable to purchase Castor Sugar where you live,
you can make your own simply by grinding granulated sugar
to a finer texture in your kitchen blender, but not so much that it
For 1 teaspoon ammonium bicarbonate, use 1-1/4 teaspoons baking soda. Ammonium bicarbonate is sometimes used in baking cookies.
For a simple old fashioned baking substitution for corn syrup, replace 1 cup corn syrup with 1 cup granulated sugar and increase liquid in recipe by 1/4 cup.
Substitute another candied or dried fruit of equal amount.
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.
Substitute a fruit mix of the same weight called for in the recipe.
Are you needing an old fashioned baking substitution for cocoa powder? You can
freely substitute cacao powder when cocoa powder is called for in any
Both forms of powdered chocolate are absolutely delicious, but cacao is less processed containing more nutrients and greater antioxidant capabilities.
It's also a little less sweet than the more processed cocoa powder, so some recipes might need to be tweaked to achieve the sweetness you're used to tasting.
You can replace 1 chocolate square with 3 tablespoons cocoa and 1 tablespoon butter.
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.
Simply stir in about 1 tsp of white vinegar to 1 cup milk. Buttermilk can also be substituted in equal measure.
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.
There is no effective cream of tartar baking 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.
You can replace brandy with wine or even a fruit juice of your choice.
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.
For 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon zest, use 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract.
Use 1 cup of miniature marshmallows to replace 10 large marshmallows.
Equal quantities of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger (optional).
As a baking substitute for rum when baking, use 1 part rum extract plus 3 parts water.
One cup "half and half" or 1 cup light whipping cream can be substituted, but for the closest flavor to evaporated milk, gently simmer 2-1/4 cups whole milk in a saucepan until reduced to 1 cup.
Are you needing old fashioned baking substitutions for whipping cream? Try the following substitutions:
When substituting ingredients, keep in mind that some cooking ingredients might cause a slight change in taste or texture. Often, the change will depend on whether the ingredient substituted is a major or minor item called for in the recipe.
Unfortunately, there were never any truly "effective" baking substitutions for some essential ingredients like baking soda and cream of tartar; these you must always have on hand in your cupboard.
Enjoy reading the old fashioned baking substitutions. There's bound to be a day when you'll find them useful in your kitchen.
By the way, are you old enough to remember when the milk used to come to the door in glass bottles? They had a little cardboard stopper on the top imprinted with the dairy's logo. The householder used to carefully pour the inch or two of thick cream off the top for use in coffee.
Ah, those were the days.