Due to the sheer volume of baking and recipe-related questions I receive, I can no longer answer each question personally.

Please read over the following Baking and Recipe FAQs for answers to the most common questions. Additionally, please read the comments on the post or recipe you have a question about because in many cases, your question or concern has already been asked and addressed. Finally, use Google. It’s amazing how much you’ll learn from a quick search.

Keep in mind that I only develop, test, and post the recipe as I actually made it. All answers below are my educated guesses and I cannot speak with total certainty that they will work because I haven’t tested them. The best thing to do is experiment in your own kitchen, with your ingredients, your oven, and your taste and dietary preferences in mind. Only then will you know with absolute certainty if the recipe will work for you. Baking and cooking requires experimentation, trial and error, and you just have to get in there and try.

Baking and Recipe FAQs

Can I double the recipe? 

In most situations where the recipe is baked in an 8×8-inch square pan, it will double fine being baked in 9×13-inch pan. Most of my bars and cakes are baked in 8×8 pans, but if there’s a 9×9-inch recipe that you want to double, it could be a tight fit in a 9×13 pan.

Cookie recipes tend to double easily.

Make sure when doubling a recipe that you double all the ingredients. For example, you cannot double everything except the eggs; you must double everything.

When doubling, you may or may not need to adjust the baking time. The temperature will stay the same but the baking time may change.

Can I make this cake recipe into cupcakes, can I double the cake recipe and bake as two 8 or 9-inch layer cakes, can I make mini muffins from this muffin recipe, etc.?

Yes, probably. Baking times will vary and you’ll have to play around with things to know for sure.

Can I use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream or vice versa?

Yes, probably.

Can I use margarine in place of butter? 

Probably not. It’s too watery and doesn’t behave like butter. I would suggest vegan butter such as Earth Balance sticks rather than margarine, but real butter is all I bake with when I call for butter in my recipes and using anything else can be a big gamble.

Can I use dairy-free milk (almond, soy, cashew) in place of regular milk?

Yes, probably. Most of my bread, muffins, waffles, pancakes, breakfast-based recipes and many cakes use either almond or cashew milk and I use Silk unsweetened.

Please note that buttermilk is different and if a recipe calls for buttermilk, don’t use either regular milk or dairy-free milk and expect the same results.

Can I make this recipe vegan? 

That depends. There are so many variables involved from how close to vegan the recipe already is (if the only non-vegan thing in the recipe is 1/4 cup of milk or sour cream, use 1/4 cup vegan milk or vegan sour cream and I think you’ll be fine) to what you’re comfortable using as vegan substitutes (in a 6 egg custard recipe, it’s going to be very hard to replace 6 eggs, even if you’re comfortable using egg replacer substitutes) to how creative of a cook you are and your general experience with veganizing non-vegan recipes. Trial and error is the only way to know for sure.

I don’t like nuts, raisins, cinnamon, etc. or I have a family member allergic to a certain ingredient like peanut butter. Can I leave it out?

That depends. In most situations things like nuts or raisins can be swapped for something you do like (extra chocolate chips, etc.) or simply omitted. If there’s a particular spice you know you’re sensitive to, you can probably omit it, however the flavor of the finished dish will be altered. If there’s a peanut allergy and you’re trying to make Triple Peanut Butter Cookies (with PB, PB Cups, and PB Chips) I would suggest making another recipe instead. Sometimes you can use almond butter, sunflower seed butter, or cookie butter in place of peanut butter but not always; trial and error is the only way to know for sure if removing, swapping, or substituting ingredients will work.

What do you think will happen if I use applesauce instead of oil, use whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose, use quick oats instead of old-fashioned, or want to substitute x ingredient for y ingredient?

You may or may not have success and your guess is as good as mine. Try it and see what happens. Come back and leave a comment in the comments section of the recipe because you may help someone else in the future.

How long will the recipe keep or stay fresh? Can I freeze it? How far in advance can I make it?

In almost all recipes I discuss storage considerations at the very end of the recipe in the last item in the Directions. Fresh is almost always best and since there are no preservatives used in home cooking and baking, use common sense and let your senses be your guide.

Almost all cookies, cakes, muffins, breads, brownies, and bars can be frozen for 3 to 6 months. Raw cookie dough can be frozen for 3 to 6 months, and baked as needed. You don’t need to let the cookie dough thaw fully or come to room temperature. I bake frozen dough for 1 to 2 additional minutes and it works perfectly.

My cookies came out flat. What did I do wrong?

Did you chill the dough, bake on a Silpat, use King Arthur flour? All these small things do matter and can add to big things in the final results. I wrote extensively about cooking baking tips and tricks here. If you’re doing all the things I recommend your cookies won’t come out flat.

Do you know the nutritional statistics on a particular recipe?

No, I don’t. But feel free to use an online calculator, plug the values in, and see for yourself. Feel free to come back and post your findings in the comments; others may find it helpful. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to do this. Here is handy tool that you can use or try this one.

Additional FAQs

1. Do you have a cookbook?

Yes, I wrote a cookbook released June 2013! Peanut Butter Comfort

The related blog post and announcement is My Cookbook: Peanut Butter Comfort

And here is the Official Book Release Post

Peanut Butter Comfort Cookbook by Averie Sunshine

Yes, I wrote another cookbook released in October 2014! Cooking with Pumpkin: Recipes That Go Beyond the Pie

Cooking with Pumpkin Cookbook by Avery Sunshine

2. I’m trying to find a recipe on your site for xyz but can’t find it. Where should I be looking?

In the very upper right hand corner on any page, go to the tab for ‘Browse Recipes’ and there is a drop down menu, and recipes are categorized by type. Click on what you’re looking for and then a page will open with pictures of everything in that category (a visual recipe index).

There’s also a search bar near the upper right hand corner, and you can enter a few keywords in it and see what pops up.

You can even try a google search with my blog name as well as a couple keywords from the recipe you’re trying to find or hoping to find.

3. Do you send recipes out by email or do you have an email list I can get on?

Yes I do. Every time I publish a post, you will get an email that evening of what was published that day.  It’s free, easy, and comes straight to your inbox.

To subscribe via email, there’s a row of pink/peach icons near the top right hand portion of my site. Click on the second one from the left (it looks like a little letter) and follow the prompts, entering and confirming your email address.

4. Do you know the nutritional statistics on a particular recipe?

No, I don’t. But feel free to use an online calculator, plug the values in, and see for yourself. Feel free to come back and post your findings in the comments; others may find it helpful. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to do this. Here is handy tool that you can use or try this one.

5. Is there a way to make this recipe lighter, lower fat, lower sugar, or healthier?

Yes, there probably is but if I posted it, it’s because I loved it in all its sugary glory and amazing as written. Monkeying around with it isn’t recommended unless you’re a confident cook or feel like experimenting at your own risk. I recommend looking at desserts as dessert. They’re a special treat. Use portion control, moderation, and do a little more cardio the week you make the recipe if you’re really concerned.

6. I have a question about a recipe you posted and was wondering if…

First, read the comments and my comment replies on that post. Chances are, it’s already been asked and addressed.

If after reading them and then using common sense (i.e. yes you can substitute milk chocolate chips rather than use semi-sweet in a batch of chocolate chip cookies; yes you need to bake until the item is done in your oven and watch your item, not the clock, when evaluating doneness, etc.) and you still have a question, leave it in the comments of that post. I reply to recipe-related questions on blog posts within 24 to 48 hours that they’re left, likely much sooner.

7. Do you eat everything you make? 

Yes, I do.  Not all at once, and probably not in entirety because let’s face it, no one needs to eat a pan of brownies and two dozen cookies all by herself in entirety.  However, I could not develop recipes, blog about food, or recommend recipes unless I ate it.  When I write that something was “really, really good” it’s because I thought it was.

8. What do you do with all those desserts? 

In addition to eating plenty myself, I also have a family and friends who are more than happy to help take things off my hands.  I never, ever, ever throw food away.  It gets eaten by someone.

9. Do you think I could substitute gluten-free flour, oat flour, use less sugar, use stevia, use almond butter instead of peanut butter, etc. for this recipe of yours I’d like to try?

You’re welcome to try anything you’d like, I just don’t know if it’s going to turn out successfully. In many cases, some substitutions are fine; and in other cases, you’ll end up with a flop. Unfortunately, I don’t usually have time to walk you through what I think will work and what won’t. The best thing to do is experiment, play around, and see what happens. The worst thing that happens is that you waste a few dollars worth of ingredients but in the process, you learn valuable baking and cooking lessons that can be applied in the future.

10. Why can’t you provide step-by-step photos for all your recipes?

Step shots are a wonderful gift and treat, but I often bake at night and the lighting isn’t great and so I don’t include them. Also, it’s extremely time-consuming to set my camera down, wash hands, perform next step, get messy, wash hands again, pick up camera, refocus and readjust lighting source; and repeat. It makes the average item take 2 to 3 times longer.
And with baking, sometimes I just need to get the item in the pan, mixed, etc. in order for it to turn out properly, and if I were to stop and take too many breaks for all those shots, I would jeopardize my own results. When I can, I try to provide them as a gift and treat, but it’s not always easy. Plus, it adds to the overall length of the editorial process because I have an extra 5 to 10 photos to edit, which is time I could be spending on creating new recipes.

11. Do you have all your vegan and gluten-free recipes categorized together?

No I don’t for a couple reasons. One, because it’s a housekeeping headache and a project that I’d like to get to one day, but as of now, it hasn’t happened.

Secondly, many of my recipes can be made gluten-free by simply swapping out the all-purpose flour for your favorite gluten-free baking blend. I don’t know if it will absolutely be perfect, but it’ll be a good start and you can tweak things to your liking from there. See the above question about making ingredients swaps and substitutions. Some are easier than others, and you just have to experiment.

Making things vegan is often as easy as replacing the butter with vegan-friendly butter or solid state coconut oil in 1:1 ratios, and replacing the egg with a flax or chia egg. If you don’t know what those are, you probably are new to vegan baking and should google them, and then start experimenting in your own kitchen.

12. Are you vegan?

No, I am not vegan.  I was vegan for many years but am currently a vegetarian.  For most of my life, I have either vegan, vegetarian, or have a consumed a largely plant-based diet.

13. Are you gluten free?

No, I am not strictly gluten free.  I was strictly gluten free for many years and although I do eat gluten now, I try to be mindful of my gluten consumption because too much is not a good thing for my body.  I don’t have to be completely free from gluten, but I also can’t overdo it.

14. I tried your recipe and I love it and want to blog about it.

Great! Please re-write the recipe in your own words, or simply link back to my site for the recipe.

15. I’m doing a roundup-style post and want to feature a recipe + photograph of yours. Is that okay?

Yes, it sure is. Linking back is always welcome, and if you would like to use one photograph, you may do so, provided it’s clear that the recipe and photograph are mine, and are linked back to my site. Please do not reprint my recipes in entirety.

16. Can I reprint a recipe I found on averiecooks.com or use your photos on my blog or website?

I work hard on developing my recipes and on my photography. It takes much longer than you probably image to get a recipe from mental concept to fully cooked to photographed to edited and blogged about, which is why I ask that if you do enjoy my recipes, to please credit me and link back to my site.

The same goes for my photography – if you wish to use one photo, please credit me. If you wish to use more than one photo or you believe you have a special circumstance (you’re writing on behalf of a newspaper, magazine, or are an editor), please email me and let’s discuss what you have in mind.

17. I tried your recipe and it didn’t work.

Every once in awhile, this happens. However, it worked for me or I would have never published it. That’s not to sound snarky but it’s to say, I never, ever publish a recipe that doesn’t work. And if I feel a recipe is even ‘marginal’ or have a feeling the average reader may struggle with the ingredients or the methods, I re-test and re-tweak it until I am 100% confident that everyone who tries it will have success with it, period.

That said, I cannot control what happens in someone else’s kitchen or their skill-set. It sounds silly but the main causes of reader recipe failures is caused by their failure to read the recipe in entirety before beginning, and to follow the directions, exactly. I am very, very clear in how I write recipes, and I explain my choices about ingredients and methods in great detail. Many times people tell me they know why a recipe failed – they didn’t read it or follow the directions; or made ingredients substitutions that were not compatible.

There are also recipes and situations like yeasted bread-making, working with coconut oil and it’s varying solid/liquid state, or working with fresh fruit – where no two sets of ingredients or conditions will be the exact same and trusting your instincts and looking inside your mixing bowl and using some common sense will go a long way. If I say 4 cups of flour but you think that 3 is all that dough needs, then go with 3; trust your gut.

If you’ve had a recipe fail,  have no idea what went wrong and are determined to try to make it right, and would like to email me to discuss, feel free; I’d be happy to help you troubleshoot.

18. I baked cookies, followed the recipe to a T, but my cookies turned out much flatter than yours. What did I do wrong?

Since I wasn’t there, it’s impossible to say. But there are four common culprits that are easily rectified.

First, use a high quality flour like King Arthur. It has just a bit more protein (gluten) than other brands so your baked goods have more structure and will rise higher.

Chill the dough so the cookies bake up thick and don’t spread as much. This is absolutely mandatory if you want thick cookies, no exceptions.

Use a cookie scoop. I first portion out the dough with the scoop so all the mounds are the same size, and then I smooth them out with my hands so they’re perfectly smooth.

Lastly, bake on a Silpat because it provides traction so the cookies don’t slip-and-slide around a slippery greased baking sheet.

19. Could you help me develop a yoga plan, an exercise plan, an eating plan, or help look over my such-and-such plan?

Unfortunately, no, I can’t.  I don’t know you personally and I don’t feel comfortable on any level (ethically, legally, morally, etc.) dispensing such advice nor do I have the time or energy to properly devote to it.  My advice is to seek a qualified professional in your area who can better assist you with your specialized and individual needs.

If your questions are more specifically about yoga, please see my Yoga Page and look over the Yoga FAQs post.  It’s very comprehensive.

20. Is blogging your full time job?

Yes it is, but I have three full-time jobs. Running this website/blog and all the related aspects such as being a recipe developer, food stylist and food photographer, and coordinating the social media aspects that are related to the site, such as Facebook and Pinterest, is one full-time paid job.

I also wrote this cookbook, and this cookbook, both full-time jobs.

Being a mother to my young daughter is my full-time unpaid job and by far, my favorite and most rewarding job.

21. Did you change the name of your blog from Love Veggies and Yoga to Averie Cooks?

Yes I did. As of March 2012, I began calling my blog Averie Cooks and changed the official URL to averiecooks.com

The loveveggiesandyoga.com URL remains for older posts.

You can access my homepage of my site by typing either of those URLs into your browser.

22. Why did you call your blog ‘Love Veggies and Yoga’ but you showcase lots of baked dessert recipes and not as many vegetables or yoga?

When I first started my blog in early 2009, I was passionate about sharing my knowledge of yoga along with more vegan/raw and vegetable-based recipes.  However, as is the case with all of life, things change.

Although I am still passionate about yoga and have a personal daily practice, posting about it regularly is not something that I am as inspired to do anymore. My 2009 and 2010 archives are full of yoga and yoga-related posts and I feel that I said what I needed and wanted to say, in large part, on the topic of yoga in those years.  Please see my Yoga Page for more.

Similarly, I am much more inspired to post about a broad range of recipes, including baked goods and desserts, than vegetables and have chosen to emphasize cooking, not yoga, on my blog.

23. I’d like to start a blog or am a new blogger.  Do you have any advice for me?

Yes, work as hard as you possibly can, do it 7 days a week, sleep as little as you can get away with, and keep on going and pressing on, even when you don’t want to or doubt yourself. I wish I could say that there were shortcuts or that it’s easy, but for me, hard work is just the way it is and if you pay your dues, rewards will come.

I wrote this series that you may find helpful:

Blogging 101
Blogging 102
Blogging 103
Blogging 104
Blogging 105

I also wrote Easy Ways to Grow Your Food Blog

It seems that almost anyone who’s been blogging for more than a year or two has their own tips, tricks, and advice on the matter. I have read hundreds of “how to” posts on blogging, photography for blogging, and the like.

Some of the best posts I’ve read on these matters include:

Food Bloggers: 150+ Links for Everything You Need to Know – This is the Bible of all posts from Lori (Recipe Girl) and if you have a question about something, this post has the answer. An amazing and highly recommended resource.

Turning a Food Blog Into a Career – Sally touched on everything I would want to say on the matter in an extremely thorough, honest, and comprehensive way

David Lebovitz’s Food Blogging

The Hungry Australian’s Useful Tips for Emerging Food Bloggers – It has the best roundup of links to other relevant posts I’ve ever seen from photography to recipe writing to social media to search engine optimization. A must read.

Lindsay Landis of Purr Design did my overall blog layout and design and I highly, highly recommend her. She is amazing and worth her wait list.

For technical help with your blog or website from site design and makeovers to blog marketing and maintenance to help with a tech crisis, Ryan of WPSiteCare is wonderful.

24. What kind of camera and lens do you use?

From July 2013 to the present, I shoot with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III body.

For most of 2012 and up until July 2013, I shot with a Canon 5D Mark II camera body.

I use a Canon 24-70 mm f/2.8 lens for 99% of the food photos you from early 2011 to mid 2012. That lens is my workhorse and I love it. If you are going to buy one lens, that would be the one I would buy. Save up, it’s worth every penny.

As of May 2012, I also have the Canon 50mm f/1.2 lens that is great for overhead shots and although it won’t ever replace my 24-70mm, it gives amazing clarity to images and I use it about 20% of the time. The other 80% of the time, I use my 24-70mm lens.

For the “everyday life” photos, many were taken with my iPhone and touched up in Adobe Lightroom 3 upgraded to Lightroom 4 (as of April 2012)

Prior to January 2011, I was using a Sony Point and Shoot that was purchased in 2005 for about $200 from Best Buy, i.e. an old relic clunker.

I have a Photography Page where I have links to many more relevant photography-related posts including these

25. I can’t afford a fancy camera.  What should I do?

My suggestions are to:

1. Take lots of photos with the camera you do have.  Practice, practice, practice.  You can never get good at anything if you don’t practice.

2. For food photography, pay attention to how you plate your food, how you set up your shot, what is in the frame, what’s not in the frame.  Photo composition, food styling, lighting and light sources (no flash, natural light only for me) are more important than what camera you have (or don’t have).

3. Go to blogs who you think have great photos and try to imitate what they do.

4. And this is key: Fancier cameras will only showcase everything you shoot in greater detail.  Meaning, if you have beautifully and artfully plated the food, paid attention to food styling, lighting and photo composition, that camera is going to showcase all your wonderful effort in high resolution and wonderful detail.

Conversely, that fancy camera will also showcase ugly food, bad or non-existent food styling, and sloppy work.  To put it bluntly, a fancy camera will accentuate the ugly stuff in greater detail, too.  A double-edged sword.

5. Read this book and pay attention to your food styling and how you’re setting up your shots.  That’s much more important than the type of camera you have.

6. See my Photography Page where I have broken down books, editing software, cameras and lenses, etc. by category with corresponding posts and links. Some of the highlights include:
Real Food Styling & Photography Workshop – one of my favorite days ever
My DSLR Camera
First Day Shooting with my DSLR
Lens Review of 50 mm 1.8
My Camera Bag
My Point & Shoot Camera
Photography Becoming a Passion
Tripod Tips
Making Lightbounces & Using Light
Photography: Lighting & Light in Photos
Lighting Equipment & Gear I Use
Lightroom 3 & Photo Editing
Photo Editing: Before & After, Truths & Trickery
Food Styling: Books, Props, & Photo Quality
Food Styling: Pretty & Not So Pretty Pictures

26. I’m a vendor and I’d like you to promote my products, foods, or other items.   Can you review them, host a giveaway, or blog about them?

Maybe.  Please see my Press Page near the bottom and contact me via email to discuss the details.

27. I’d like to advertise on your site or become a sponsor. What should I do?

Email me at averiecooks@gmail.com and let’s chat.

28. Do you have any information about yoga?

Yoga FAQ’s  – A comprehensive post on all things yoga from mats, books & DVD’s, clothing and music recommendations to Sanskirt terms to popular questions about yoga answered
Yoga in the House
Yoga Teacher RYT-500 Hour Milestone
Yoga at Home: Daily Workouts Streamlined in 20 Minutes
Full & New Moon Info

29. Shopping Links & Discount Codes

I have an Amazon Store where you can see what products I personally own and recommend
Click Here to Shop

I have an iHerb.com Coupon Code to save all new customers $10 Off your First Order and Free Shipping
Enter Code AVE630 at checkout
Click Here to Shop

All my readers who use this link will get $10 off your first Vitacost order.

I am a Vita-Mix Distributor
Enter Affiliate Code 06-004419 at checkout.
Click Here to Shop and take advantage of the lowest prices. $449 for a New Vita-Mix 5200 and Free Shipping!

30. How do you slice your bars so perfectly? Do you have a special knife, gadget, or use a ruler?

I don’t do anything extra special. No special knives, tools, or gadgets. I line all my baking pans with foil leaving overhang. After baking I remove the foil using the overhang, place the entire 8 or 9-inch slab of dessert onto a cutting board, and I use a very sharp 9-inch chef’s knife to slice in bars. That’s it!

31. How do I print your recipes?

You need to be reading the recipe on my website (not on email) and when you’re looking at the recipe, there is a large button underneath the thumbnail-sized picture in the recipe card section. Click the Print button and print it out.

Or, simply copy/paste the recipe into an email to yourself, send, and print it out.

32. Where did you get your brightly colored mixing bowls?

I got them years ago from Amazon and they’re called Zak Designs Confetti Mixing Bowls. The current colors are slightly different but they sizes of the bowls are the same. I love them and have used them for 10 years, including 6+ years of blog recipes and two cookbooks.

33. I don’t live in the U.S. and need a good conversion site for converting cups/ounces to grams.

I recommend this Conversion Chart from King Arthur Flour. It’s very thorough and they are a very reputable (baking) brand.