Bake Off contestant Freya Cox's vegan creations show that plant-based baking is just as delicious

Whereas The Great British Bake Off is drenched in camp comedy and kitchen nostalgia, it additionally likes to maneuver with the occasions. This 12 months, 19-year-old Freya Cox is the present’s first vegan contestant.

And whereas vegans have been celebrating her success within the technical problem, during which her malt loaf got here second in Paul and Prue’s blind tasting, she later revealed it wasn’t really a vegan bake.

“I used to be determined to point out the world vegan baking is simply as thrilling with the hope to encourage individuals to offer it a go,” she posted on Instagram.

“For apparent causes I wasn’t in a position to change the technical problem as it might imply the entire present was unfair.”

Outdoors the strictly regulated enviornment of the Bake Off tent the vegan baking market is blooming. It’s straightforward to discover a vary of plant and nut milks in your nook store or grocery store and the worth of this sector is projected to achieve greater than £35bn by 2027.

Breakthrough manufacturers are capturing the net market whereas main meals producers are launching vegan versions of their products. Recipes, cookbooks, lessons and on-line tutorials are booming.

Bettina Campolucci Bordi has discovered vegan baking has developed quickly (Photograph: Louise Hagger)

It’s a decade since chef Bettina Campolucci Bordi started getting critical about plant-based baking, however the scene has modified quickly. She started cooking on retreats at a time when the phrases “plant-based” and “aquafaba” (chickpea water – blended, it's an egg-white alternative) weren't in widespread utilization and it was arduous to get elements so cooks normally experimented and made their very own.

She went to Los Angeles to study from early adopter Matthew Kenney and now teaches aspiring plant-based cooks herself.

“Ten years in the past I needed to make every thing from scratch,” she says. Nonetheless, Bettina might inform there was a thirst for data on this space and final month printed her third cookbook, Celebrate: Plant-Based Recipes for Every Occasion.


Vegan spreads have improved and most massive manufacturers make at the very least one now. Most are just like margarine and created from palm and vegetable oils. Eady Timms opened her café Root in Hythe, Kent, in 2020 after devising and delivering vegan meals in lockdown. Her favorite is Flora (nice for pastry).

The extra conventional route is to make use of butters created from cashews or coconut oil, and Bettina mentions Naturli, which is created from shea butter, coconut and rapeseed oils.

Kate Langston and Sam Dennis opened Heyl Bakery, Plymouth’s first totally plant-based sourdough bakery, on the finish of 2020. “Once I first began vegan baking, I relied closely on a handful of blogs, and struggled to seek out vegan choices in outlets and cafés,” says Kate.

Kate Langston and and Sam Dennis’s Heyl Bakery in Plymouth sells totally plant-based sourdough bakes

They're utilizing Naturli, in every thing from cookies to brioche. “We’ve been growing a vegan sourdough brioche,” she explains, “which isn’t the best factor to duplicate given the quantity of egg and butter within the unique. We’ve obtained a reasonably good recipe however we’re nonetheless working to enhance it.”

Don’t anticipate these merchandise to work as a straight substitute. “Though you should buy equivalents they’re by no means going to be precisely the identical,” says Bettina. “I ‘veganise’ birthday muffins, pie circumstances and puff pastry, however there are totally different measurements and strategies.”

Oils give a light-weight end in muffins. In case you’re utilizing one with a robust flavour comparable to olive or coconut oil, be certain this can be a flavour you wish to style in your completed cake – Bettina recommends odourless coconut oil or rapeseed.


Aquafaba is beloved by vegan bakers as a result of it behaves like egg whites in meringues and mousses. In case you don’t wish to produce your individual, open a can or purchase it in a carton from Oggs. There are additionally loads of vegan milks, lotions and yoghurts to experiment with, primarily based on nuts comparable to coconuts, cashews and macadamias or oats and soy.

I used to be overjoyed to see a thick yellow custard in Have a good time. Bettina’s secret? Store-bought custard powder, which is vegan, made with any plant milk; select coconut for a thick and wealthy custard, oat milk for one thing lighter, almond to deliver out its nutty flavour.

Eady Timms’ vegan carrot cake from the Root Cafe in Hythe, Kent

Getting an increase

This may be trickier in vegan bakes in comparison with these made utilizing eggs. In her sponge and sprinkles and supreme chocolate muffins, Bettina makes use of a mix of elevating brokers – self-raising flour, baking powder, aquafaba and apple cider vinegar. Utilizing each baking powder and bicarbonate of soda is one other trick.


Vegan baking isn’t all self-taught experimentation. Kimberly Lin has held roles within the UK’s high lodges, as government pastry chef at The Corinthia and Claridges, and in modern kitchens comparable to Dominique Ansel – famed for inventing the croissant-doughnut hybrid the cronut. She is now chef-patron of Lilly’s in 3 Henrietta Avenue, Covent Backyard, and founding father of Floozie Cookie.

“Essentially the most difficult half is discovering inventive garnishes for the cookies that are vegan and likewise straightforward to get in massive amount,” she explains.

“A whole lot of sprinkles and edible cake decorations have beeswax or shellac on them. Some meals colourings are derived from animal merchandise. I double and triple verify labels and elements even when they have been vegan earlier than. Typically producers change the elements with out discover.”


Even vegans may be looking out for pork pie and sausage roll substitutes. After a vegan pie took first prize in Melton Mowbray’s British Pie Awards in 2019, the 2021 occasion had essentially the most entrants – 70 – into its vegan class.

The success of Gregg’s vegan sausage roll is famous, and final week it launched a vegan bacon roll. You can simply make a tough puff with vegan butter, however choux pastry may journey up any vegans on GBBO.


“I feel my least profitable bakes are when I attempt to make one thing overly wholesome,” admits Kimberly. The mix of gluten free and vegan is way more durable to nail,” agrees Bettina. “When you need to use flour it’s a a lot simpler swap. In my sprinkles cake I haven’t scrimped on something, it’s not sugar-free or fat-free, it simply occurs to be plant-based.”

Celebrate: Plant-Based Recipes for Every Occasion by Bettina Campolucci Bordi (Hardie Grant, £20) Images: Louise Hagger

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