Lemon brownies are a delicious treat, with their tangy citrus flavor and soft, fudgy texture. But traditional recipes often rely on dairy products like butter and eggs as well as wheat flour to achieve that signature chewy texture.
Thankfully, with a few simple substitutions, we can transform traditional lemon brownie recipes into dairy-free, gluten-free delights that are just as tasty.
Adapting Traditional Recipes
The first step is looking at traditional lemon brownie recipes and determining which ingredients need to be swapped out. Primary offenders are:
Butter provides moisture and richness in traditional brownies. To make lemon brownies dairy-free, we need to replace it with an equivalent vegan fat. Options include:
- Coconut oil – Provides similar moisture and tender crumb. Refined coconut oil has a more neutral flavor.
- Vegetable oil – Opt for mild oils like canola or avocado. Avoid olive oil which has a strong flavor.
- Vegan butters – Many brands like Earth Balance make plant-based margarines. These contain oils and emulsifiers to mimic a butter-like texture.
Replace butter in a 1:1 ratio. The moisture content may vary slightly between substitutes so adjust liquids as needed.
Eggs provide structure, leavening, and moisture in baked goods. To replace them:
- 1 egg = 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce or mashed banana. Provides moisture.
- 1 egg = 1 tablespoon ground flax or chia seed whisked with 3 tablespoons water. Creates egg-like binding.
- 1 egg = 1/4 cup aquafaba (chickpea liquid). Whisked, it mimics egg foaming properties.
- Commercial egg replacer mixes – Follow package instructions. Often contain starches and leaveners to replicate eggs.
Remove eggs entirely, or use a combo of replacements to achieve the right texture.
For gluten-free lemon brownies, wheat flour must be swapped for a GF blend. Options include:
- All-purpose GF flour – Made from rice, tapioca, potato, and corn starches. Mimics texture of wheat flour.
- Almond flour – Nutty, dense texture. Use 20% less than wheat flour called for.
- Oat flour – Cut rolled oats into a fine flour. Provides soft texture but overwhelm lemon flavor.
Stick closely to the ratio of flour in the original recipe for best results. May need extra binding from eggs or xanthan gum depending on flour blend.
Extracts and Flavorings
Enhance lemon flavor using:
- Zest from 1-2 lemons – Brightens lemon taste without moisture from juice
- 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice – Brings acidity; balance sweetness of brownies
- 1-2 teaspoons lemon extract – Concentrated lemon flavor
- Lemon zest in the batter AND lemon drizzle on top
Gluten-free flours and dairy subs can alter texture. Here are tips for great results:
GF flours are denser and may need extra leavening. Increase baking powder or soda by 50%. Ensure acid component (cream of tartar, buttermilk, lemon juice) is also increased.
Let batter sit 10-20 minutes before baking. Hydrates flour, develops structure for better rise.
Increase fat slightly to maintain moisture without dairy. Also avoid overbaking; check a few minutes before recommended time.
Binding with Xanthan Gum
Add 1/2 teaspoon per cup of flour. Xanthan gum mimics gluten, helping batter hold together and rise.
Works well in vegan recipes. Maintains chewiness missing fromreduced fat.
Applying these principles, here is a dairy-free, gluten-free lemon brownie recipe:
- 1 1/4 cups almond flour
- 1/4 cup coconut flour
- 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
- 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1/4 cup aquafaba (or 2 eggs)
- 1/3 cup coconut sugar
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons lemon extract
- Powdered sugar for dusting
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease an 8×8 pan and line with parchment.
- In a bowl, whisk together almond flour, coconut flour, xanthan gum, salt and baking soda.
- In another bowl, whisk aquafaba for 1 minute until foamy. Then whisk in coconut oil, lemon zest, coconut sugar and lemon juice.
- Pour wet ingredients into dry and fold together until just combined. Let batter rest 15 minutes.
- Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth into an even layer. Bake 25-28 minutes until set but still fudgy in center.
- Let cool completely in pan, then cut into squares. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
With a few simple substitutions, you can enjoy fudgy, lemony brownies without dairy or gluten. Adjusting ingredients like fat, leaveners and binding agents helps mimic the texture of traditional recipes for brownies that don’t compromise on taste or decadence.