Why I Hate Baking Substitutions - Handle the Heat
Filed Under: Baking Science

Why I Hate Baking Substitutions

By Tessa Arias
November 4th, 2019

As a professionally trained chef and cookbook author, I’m discussing Why I Hate Baking Substitutions in recipes and why most of them just don’t work well. Please read the full post!!

I have never written a post like this before and to be honest… I’m a little scared. I’m about to say a few things that most bloggers never would.

I’ve been blogging for over 10 years (!) and in that time I’ve been asked thousands of questions and have received a lot of comments about baking and recipes.

The most frustrating question I get is definitely about baking substitutions: swapping out ingredients, techniques, or equipment.

It’s even more frustrating when the comment isn’t posed as a question but instead goes a little something like this:

“I made this recipe and followed it to a T except [insert substitution here] and it didn’t turn out. Disappointed.”

Granted, this is more rare. Luckily the amount of positive comments I receive far outweighs these ones.

But I’ve refrained from speaking my true feelings on this subject for fear of offending someone. Or fear of bringing even a hint of negativity to my usually joyful corner of the internet.

But as my audience grows (which I’m eternally grateful for) this theme has become increasingly common.

So I want to say once and for all…


They drive me crazy.

They simply won’t achieve the same taste and texture as the original ingredient, equipment, or technique called for in the recipe 90% of the time. They basically just waste YOUR time, money, and food!

DISCLAIMER: I realize some of you are working with serious food allergies and I understand that substitutions can’t be avoided in those cases. For those of you dealing with that, you probably know what will work, what won’t, and how the results will be different than the original. You don’t expect identical results without using identical ingredients unless you undergo rigorous testing with trial & error.

I feel the need to underscore something because it’s a question I get asked often: I don’t publish allergen-free recipes. I don’t publish diet recipes.


Because right now at this time in my career I don’t want to. I only publish recipes and content I’m actually passionate about and excited to share.

I don’t have much experience with these other topics. There are PLENTY of bloggers and publishers online who do and have far more expertise and their advice would be much better for you than my educated guesses.

But I also simply can’t accommodate every recipe for every allergen or diet.

One – because I simply don’t have the resources.

Two – because I know baking is a science. And swapping out even one ingredient can completely alter the chemistry of the recipe, often with less than stellar results. Just check out my infamous Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies.

This is something I address specifically and in depth in my Magic of Baking online class. Take a peek at a few baking substitutions side by side below:

Diving into Cake Flour 101 - A fun visual guide to cake flour including what it is, how to substitute, and side-by-side comparisons so you can see how it works in action!

(Learn more about Cake Flour here, and why the DIY sub doesn’t really work.)

Muffins made with oil vs. muffins made with applesauce. Applesauce muffins are tough and chewy in texture
(From my Ultimate Muffin Guide.)

Once you understand how baking ingredients work you’ll understand that something as simple as reducing the sugar in a recipe, for example, doesn’t just reduce the sweetness or calories.

Sugar can also contribute moisture, tenderness, lightness, and is involved in complex chemical reactions that give us flavors and textures that are essential to some sweets.

Occasionally you can reduce the sugar (typically by no more than 20%), but sometimes even a small reduction will completely compromise the integrity of the recipe.

Often someone comes along and reduces the sugar then complains the cake turned out dry and doesn’t understand the connection. Which of course is frustrating for both of us! This is just one example.

I’ll say it again: Baking is a science. The more you understand that the more you can customize recipes and tweak them with success.

But when you come to me asking about subtitutions, it’s disheartening.

I work tirelessly on developing my recipes. I have a whole process that involves a lot of time and effort to make sure I’m creating recipes that will be successful for my readers.

Tessa in the kitchen pouring flour into a bowl

When you want to change something to a creation that I’ve worked so hard on, and when I know the result likely won’t be as good, it’s hard not to get disappointed.

Especially since it’s a challenge to keep up with the amount of comments and questions I get on ALL the platforms at all hours every day.

That’s why I’m enacting a NO SUBSTITUTION POLICY.

Moving forward, if I know a substitution will work because I have personal experience with it, I will include that information in the recipe post.

However, if I haven’t personally tested that substitution then I can’t in good conscience give an answer to your question because I can’t guarantee it will be accurate.

It would simply be my educated guess and would likely require you to trial and error your way through it which takes time and ingredients.

So when I say “no subs” I simply mean I won’t be making it a habit of attempting to answer questions on this topic.

You, of course, are free to bake my recipes any way you want and use Google as your tool to get possible answers to your specific questions!

It would be impossible for me to test every recipe to see if it would work without eggs, gluten, or dairy, or to try out a vegan, keto, or other dietary version.

Luckily I have a few seasoned readers in my community who like to share the results of their allergen-free or special dietary baking. Join my Facebook group if you’d like to see their tips and posts.

I also have a baking substitutions guide you can download here.

However, as I mentioned, I can’t guarantee any substitution will work as well as the original ingredient.

Little details are what makes the difference between average desserts and stellar desserts. That’s what the experts know. So when you don’t want to go back to the store to get an ingredient in the recipe and try to make something else work instead, just keep that in mind.

You can also search the comments of a recipe to see if anyone has reported success using a substitution.

TIP: use Control+F, or Command+F on a Mac to bring up the Find feature so you can pinpoint any mention of “gluten free” or whatever you’re looking for on the page.

If that’s a problem for you, I’m sorry. There are PLENTY of bloggers focused on creating content that might be a better fit for you.

My hope is that enacting this policy will allow us to continue to cultivate a positive and joyful community of people who love traditional baking.


First image by Constance Mariena. Portraits by Lauren Hansen.

Tessa Arias
Author: Tessa Arias

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

Tessa Arias

About Tessa...

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

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  1. #
    Lisa Jones — November 6, 2019 at 2:10 pm

    Well said Tessa! x

  2. #
    Esther Sims — November 6, 2019 at 1:26 pm

    Tessa, thank you for saying what I truly believe when making a recipe. it’s a big source of aggravation when at the end of a recipe, the comments will say I substituted this for that and that for this and I never listen to them.
    I am 76 years old and have been baking for many, many, many years. There are a million recipes in this world , so just find one that fits your lifestyle and leave the perfect ones alone..
    You go girl! I’m proud of you!

  3. #
    Valerie Holstein — November 6, 2019 at 1:02 pm

    Hi Tessa – Thank you so much for your recent post WHY I HATE BAKING SUBSTITUTIONS. I couldn’t agree with you more and this needed to be said. Your recipes are tested over and over again, and written in a way that pretty much guarantees an excellent final product. This requires not only scientific knowledge as to how ingredients work or don’t work together, as well as a lot of time and money for ingredients used. Thanks for all the work you do in providing us with delicious recipes.

  4. #
    Bill Mulready — November 6, 2019 at 12:57 pm

    Agree completely and thank you much

    Love you and what you do to


  5. #
    Susan A Terry — November 6, 2019 at 12:46 pm

    Tessa – I totally understand where you are coming from! Your blog, your rules! I know how upset I get when something bombs and I’ve wasted money on something that is going in the trash. I can’t imagine doing it over and over – on purpose to create a recipe! I also am a yarn crafter, and when I use a pattern, I make it exactly as written. I don’t add random stitches and then complain when the sweater or hat doesn’t fit.

    I love your blog and recipes and you are my first go-to for baking recipes.


  6. #
    Blair — November 6, 2019 at 12:03 pm

    Amen! As a chef and recipe developer, I find these questions equally frustrating and a lot of culinary recipes offer a lot more bandwidth for substitutions than baking ones. Good for you for taking a stand! What you do is wonderful and it doesn’t have to work for everyone. Keep up the good work!

  7. #
    Diane — November 6, 2019 at 12:01 pm

    Good for you for being true to yourself and the integrity of your recipes. If I choose to “embellish” a recipe with changes, then that is on you. Not the recipe which is clear, concise, and should be followed.

  8. #
    Janet — November 6, 2019 at 11:57 am

    I admire your courage at speaking your thoughts…You said what needed to be said in a thoughtful and pleasant manner. It is a shame that some people are not happy being happy!
    There are many recipes that you share that I cannot make due to lack of stand mixer or whatever..however, I enjoy reading each one, and filing it away for a someday.
    Thank you for standing up for yourself in todays, “offended” world.
    Keep up the great work, we do appreciate it and you.
    A Baker at heart.

  9. #
    Sarah Carver — November 6, 2019 at 11:51 am

    Thanks for this article on no substitutes! I love your recipes and follow them exactly. I have learned so much from you. I now measure by grams, sift my flours and confectioner’s sugar, bought better pans, and use an oven thermometer, etc. all because of your great advice. What a difference it has made In my baking! I appreciate your opinion on substitutions. There are no shortcuts to great baking!

  10. #
    JOYCE — November 6, 2019 at 11:43 am

    I agree with you 100%. It makes me so mad to read a recipe then see a post “well i make this with ____”. That is great but NOT what the original post of recipe was about. IF you follow a recipe to the T and it still fails then ask questions…

    Thanks for being true to your blog!!!!

  11. #
    KEYONTAY BANKS — November 6, 2019 at 11:41 am

    This is wonderful!! As a baker I have always did what a recipe said, but have been on the curious side if I did this or that to it. How would that come out. But later stepped back and said to myself, “If the recipe didnt called for that then it would say it in the recipe.” Lol!! People ask me to do things that is sometimes not possible. Me and my face says it all when I’m in that person face. “I’m sorry you asking me to do what again?” So you dont what no flour, eggs, sugar, or flavor! Hmmmm, so you want no cake, right!! Lol!!

  12. #
    Claudia Preciado — November 6, 2019 at 11:22 am

    Love your site and totally agree with you. You take a lot of time developing a recipe and the results are great. If we want to substitute any ingredient, we all should give it a try. Pretending to get everything solved, is not fair or fun.
    Cheers and keep up with that awesome work.

  13. #
    SHIRLEY YOUNG — November 6, 2019 at 11:18 am

    DEAR TESSA, you are absolutely spot on with your ideas about substitutions. I go onto the NYTimes cooking pages, and the only comments are about substitutions. No kudos to the creator of the recipe for providing us with an opportunity to try something great. Like you Tessa, you are a wonderful, creative, lovingly verbose individual, who provides us with some very pleasing entertainment, and commentary. Believe me, people who complain about the recipe not turning out, get what they put into it. Substitutions and all. I am sorry you have to be the recipient of such wrong thinking individuals, but, being humans, well, we are that way. Thanks be to you for giving to us your thoughts, ideas, and wonderfulness, from your kitchen, and beyond!! Please keep up the fabulous work. I, for one, am very appreciative for your lovely work!!

  14. #
    Jackie — November 6, 2019 at 11:17 am

    OMG!!! THANK YOU!!! I absolutely hate reading reviews when someone changes any ingredient and doesn’t follow the recipe as written…then bashes the recipe. Make the recipe as written, comment and if you don’t like it tweak it your way and let us know. I would hate to be you answering all the questions I see. It is time consuming for you. You can do a lot of research on the internet yourself! Thank you for always sharing!

  15. #
    Heather — November 6, 2019 at 11:07 am

    Well said! x

  16. #
    Kathleen Lazarowski — November 6, 2019 at 10:58 am


  17. #
    Debbi Sherer — November 6, 2019 at 10:44 am

    I totally agree with your substitution blog. Reading “I followed your recipe to a T, but substituted…….”. Well, honey, then you didn’t follow the recipe to a T!!! I’ve seen this on other recipe sites, too, not just yours. Way to be brave and step out there. There is no way that you can know everyone’s allergies, preferences, eating styles, etc. Just keep on creating your recipes just the way you are.

  18. #
    Nancy Peterman — November 6, 2019 at 10:42 am

    Tessa, I think you have made excellent points, as well as taking into considerations those with allergies. It IS a science, and if we don’t care for a particular recipe of yours, there are many other recipes out there. Yours are pretty tried and true, though, which is why you have such a large following! Good choice on your part! The rest is up to us ;=)

  19. #
    Elizabeth Johnson — November 6, 2019 at 10:39 am

    Bravo! This blog post has been needed for a very long time! I want to second and third all of the comments made above!

  20. #
    Ann — November 6, 2019 at 10:35 am

    Three words: good for you.

  21. #
    Marianne Hossler — November 6, 2019 at 10:25 am

    Kudo’s Tessa

  22. #
    Gloria — November 6, 2019 at 10:23 am

    It must really have been bugging you. Thank you for being courageous enough to write this post. I usually substitute if something is not available where I live. Fortunately, nothing has turned out disastrous yet. Thank you for all the effort you put in your recipes. It is well appreciated. Keep well!

  23. #
    diane taylor — November 6, 2019 at 10:12 am

    I agree with you completely.
    I can only imagine how difficult this must have been to post,it truly needed to be said Good for you, Tessa.
    LOVE your recipes

  24. #
    Carol — November 6, 2019 at 10:11 am

    Tessa, I truly love all your detailed instructions & videos. I’ve been baking since I was a kid (with my mom & aunts) and still love it. (I’m 65yrs) You have taught me so much about the exact science behind baking that I never realized & I think it makes a huge difference, so Thank you . I NEVER substitute any ingredient and maybe that’s why everyone always wants me to bring the baked goods to every occasion. In my book, you’re the best one out there, so once again, thanks for all the time you take to do what you do, and thanks for all your knowledge. You are appreciated.

    • #
      Carol — November 6, 2019 at 12:43 pm

      I totally agree. (I wrote a similar comment but it seems to be lost somewhere “out there”!!!)

      • #
        Carol — November 6, 2019 at 1:16 pm

        Hi Carol, so funny, when I was posting they sent me a message stating “slow down, you’re posting too fast”, so maybe cuz we are both Carol and must have been typing at the same time, it thought we were the same person??

        • #
          Carol — November 7, 2019 at 11:57 am

          Perhaps so, Interesting!

  25. #
    Kaete — November 6, 2019 at 9:46 am

    Well said!!! I love your recipes and they’ve always turned out amazing. And baking is totally a science! If they’d taught baking instead of chemistry in school I might have grown up to be a scientist LOL

  26. #
    karen — November 6, 2019 at 9:42 am

    You go Girl!! It is about time someone made a stand. It angers me to see people change your recipes and then complain. If they are not happy they should just find another recipe. Boy does that strike a nerve.

  27. #
    Karen — November 6, 2019 at 9:41 am

    I agree with your decision to post this!
    I am always reminded of the funniest post from a long -ago site about making ice cubes and all the questions about substitutions and method changes from posters! Was hilarious except it seems so true !
    Good for you!

  28. #
    Daphne — November 6, 2019 at 9:31 am

    I’m actually shocked that there are people who are disappointed with results when they change the original and somehow connect that to the actual recipe! Whatever- I guess people can never blame themselves when things don’t go well!
    That being said, THANK YOU TESSA, for posting great recipes and all the hard work you put into perfecting them!
    I recently made your peanut butter filled brownies and had to make several substitutions just because I’d have to buy different pans, or materials etc. My results weren’t quite up to par with yours, but it was still enjoyable for me, and I realize it was to be expected! Hopefully I can share those results in the comments soon so readers can know what to expect!


  29. #
    Judy White — November 6, 2019 at 9:29 am

    Please don’t worry about your comments offending someone. This is YOUR show sweet girl. The reason you have so many faithful followers and growing, is that we love you and your amazing recipes for sweets, sweets and more sweets. We should all have respect for your tips and recommendations because you are the expert. . . period. It’s a shame that some people have to eat gluten-free, or must use sugar substitutes in their recipes, but they have other options to follow from experts in that arena. It’s true, the results of certain specialty recipes cannot perfectly mimic the original, but it’s a price some must pay I suppose. Keep doing what you are doing and I fully support your “NO SUBS” policy.

  30. #
    Judith Bruesch — November 6, 2019 at 9:25 am

    Bravo!! do NOT substitute ingredients, people! find a different, appropriate recipe if you can’t us it as written. Baking is chemistry, it really really is. Unexpected and sometimes really bad things happen when you put the wrong stuff or proportions in combination. I have been baking a long time, and can assure you Tessa’s recipes are solid chemistry. As written. As tested. As duplicated. Thank you Tessa for the great new things you have posted every month!

  31. #
    Carolyn Seeley — November 6, 2019 at 9:23 am

    I applaud you for this statement! The recipe is the recipe. One of my others pet peeves on recipe comments in general is that following a posted recipe there are many who say how good something looks, but you have to dig to try to find someone who actually made it and has a comment based on the results. I like where you ask people to check of if they made something. Questions are good unless they ask abbot substitutions. My two cents.

  32. #
    Angela — November 6, 2019 at 9:18 am

    Good for you! Anyone who has read your blog should know how much time and effort you put in to making sure your recipes are perfect and should work for everyone if followed as written. It’s frustrating for your readers to see the comments that say someone make the recipe as written “except”… When I read comments it’s because I want to see what people thought of the recipe they are commenting on, not on their version.

  33. #
    Lane — November 6, 2019 at 9:16 am

    Thank you so much for having the guts to admit this. It drives me crazy when someone “reviews” a recipe and then lists all the substitutions they made and then have the nerve to say it was terrible. And more often than not they obviously know little about cooking as the substitution(s) make no sense.
    Tip: if you don’t like or can’t eat many of the ingredients in a recipe, find another recipe!!

  34. #
    Scott — November 6, 2019 at 9:12 am

    This is one of my pet-peaves, as well. I’ve shared recipes over the years and heard the same thing. “Your recipe wasn’t that good”.
    “Did you follow it exactly?”
    “Yep, except I substituted agave nectar instead of sugar.” THAT’S NOT FOLLOWING IT TO A ‘T’.
    Instead of telling me my recipe sucked when you substituted things, how about you tried my recipe, but did the substitution and it didn’t turn out so well OR, it turned out great.

    I’ve really been into baking the last 7-10 years. I’ve always baked cookies (for 45+ years), but in the last few years I got into cakes/cupcakes, pies and pastries. I’ve learned tons…..much by mistakes and substituting things. MY FAULT, but I learned and I DIDN’T BLAME the recipe. There have been recipes that I knew wouldn’t work as stated because of the ingredients; then I’ll try something different.

    A few things I’ve learned from reading (especially here) and trying things out – DON’T CHEAP OUT. Good, quality ingredients and good, quality pans, etc. are worth their weight in gold.

    Tessa – thanks so much for your recipes, insight and help. I really appreciate it.

    The Bald Baker

  35. #
    Sophia T. — November 6, 2019 at 9:08 am

    I think this is a great decision on your part! 100% agree with you. After reading books and watching docs like Salt Fat Acid Heat, you learn that every component of a dish or a recipe is there for a reason and substituting it or changing it for something else, detracts from the initial thing your trying to make. I live in Venezuela, and sometimes some ingredients are hard to come by. The only substitution I fully stand behind is the vinegar/lemon juice in milk to make buttermilk. Anything else, I simple move on to a different recipe or desist altogether. Luckily for me, I don’t have to stop making your bakery style chocolate chip cookies! Keep up the great blog, I’m a big fan!

  36. #
    Sheryl K — November 6, 2019 at 9:07 am

    Great policy. KUDOS!! I always shake my head at people who are “rating” a recipe, yet they’ve changed it right out of the gate. You can’t rate a recipe if you don’t make it the way it is given. I agree that if people who need specific foods, or can’t have specific ingredients, they will know what to substitute. I am 150% behind you on the not giving substitutions to everybody who asks for them. You give us fantastic recipes, and I thank you for that!

  37. #
    Donna — November 6, 2019 at 9:06 am

    Tessa, It is obvious that you take great pride in your website and blog and the recipes you create for your readers. I applaud you for your no substitutions policy for answering reader comments, and for letting us know that if you are aware of a substitution you will include that in your recipe notes. This will work the same as your helpful comments about pan substitutions and the modifications to baking times if a different pan is used. Your Magic of Baking class has been such a help to me as a new baker. Perhaps if you expand the class in the future and share your experiences with recipe substitutions you know work and the whys, it might be another way to share your knowledge with your readers. Keep up the great work!

  38. #
    Dennis Gander — November 6, 2019 at 9:02 am

    You go girl, I’m so glad you brought this up. My wife and I laugh at the comments of the people that do this, and just shake our heads. With love Dennis &Jo

  39. #
    Danielle — November 6, 2019 at 9:00 am

    Tessa, your blog is my go-to for delicious baked goods because of all the work you put into developing your recipes. I know when I choose to bake something from Handle the Heat and follow the recipe as written, it will ABSOLUTELY turn out amazing!

    Thank you so so much!

  40. #
    Meena — November 6, 2019 at 8:58 am

    So much YESSSS! It drives me crazy reading comments like the ones you posted. I’m so glad you said this, it needed to be said. Not everyone realizes that baking is indeed a science so thank you for the reminder. I started baking after reading and following your posts and I’m so grateful for all of the work you put into your recipes and all of the tips and tricks you provide. I look forward to making many more of your delicious treats!

  41. #
    Dorothy Pugh — November 6, 2019 at 8:58 am

    I agree with you completely. I have been baking most of my life(73 yrs) and those negative comments after changing recipes drive me crazy. If you don’t or can’t use what is indicated, move on. Baking is exactly that- a science, which I am ill equipped to always understand.
    Bravo for you to make your stand-NO SUBS

  42. #
    Toni — November 6, 2019 at 8:58 am

    Yep! Totally agree.

  43. #
    Trish P — November 6, 2019 at 8:57 am

    Tessa, Your blog about substitutions was written so beautifully – with the perfect spirit behind it. I am so grateful to have found your site. You are positive and your intention is to help us all learn. THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart!

  44. #
    David — November 6, 2019 at 8:56 am

    Tessa, thanks for posting your feelings about substituting ingredients and the negative results that basically say your recipe is at fault. I really dislike comments from people that try your recipes and add or subtract or substitute ingredients and blame you for it’s failure. Keep up your wonderful work. I really appreciate your recipe.

  45. #
    Cindy Walker — November 6, 2019 at 8:55 am

    Oh, Tessa, you poor thing. Good for YOU for finally snapping! Sometimes I do change recipes, I’ve been a baker/cook for a long time and I have a general idea what I’m doing. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but if I changed the recipe, it’s no longer anyone else’s responsibility. It’s mine. I’d never DREAM of posting a “disappointed” comment to a recipe that was never written! (Eejits). Stand straight on your no-substitutions soapbox, I for one will support you completely 🙂

  46. #
    Emcee — November 6, 2019 at 8:51 am

    Bravo. Thank you Tessa, for your refreshing honesty. I agree completely with all the other comments that are support your position. One of the main reasons that your site has become my go-to baking site is because it is so exact and accurate, especially in your use of baking by weight. Your Baking Guides already provide much more accurate information about various substitutions than any other website I’ve found, all beautifully illustrated
    with photos and videos. Keep up the good work!

  47. #
    Susan — November 6, 2019 at 8:50 am

    understand you were nervous but you have nothing to apologize for! If people are looking for applesauce cookies then you are not the person to ask! So keep baking yummy stuff! Have a great day!

  48. #
    Margaret — November 6, 2019 at 8:47 am

    I would like to second all of these comments. I also get frustrated with the non-conformists.

    Perhaps the people who have special dietary needs could crowd source a list of reputable bloggers who address these issues and they could make the list available to your fans.

    I’m getting tired of reading those complaints.

  49. #
    Pamela J Neumann — November 6, 2019 at 8:42 am

    I respect everyone but I now respect you MORE. You have the courage to ‘speak your mind,’ and are willing to live with the consequences. I am a old fashioned, make it from scratch kinda of person. I make many substitutions in cooking but very few in baking, because it is a science. A recipe is a guideline if you follow it you should have good results, if not you are gambling. We each have tastes and flavors we like more than others and from our own experiences with these we should be able to know what result we will get. Keep up the good work that you do and feel free to ‘speak your mind’ when ever you fell the need.

  50. #
    Nancy S. Elsworth — November 6, 2019 at 8:30 am

    I also hate using substitutions in receipes that I use. The only time I do is if the ingredient that is called for I don’t have stocked and don’t have time to hit the grocery store to obtain it. That is RARE in my kitchen and I bake many custome-designed Cheesecakes for my clients, so my “pantry” is stocked really good and often. I’m with you, substitutions for the sake of saving calories, (or as you stated, due to food allergies etc.), is unnecessary and totally ruins the flavor and texture of the baked items, let alone less attractive eye-appeal.

  51. #
    Jamie — November 6, 2019 at 8:26 am

    I agree. Substitutes should not be used in baking unless you have food allergies, but there are recipes for people with food allergies. So you can’t say I followed the recipe to the “t” and you bomb on it. You bombed on it because you didn’t follow the directions. Besides we all know if you follow the recipes and use quality ingredients the only complaints you should hear are”why didn’t you make more”!! Happy baking people!!!!!

  52. #
    CL — November 6, 2019 at 8:24 am

    Amen! I *hate* reading reviews where someone says they made the recipe but changed X, Y, and Z and it didn’t work at all then they blame the recipe. No, the recipe is not the problem. You didn’t make the recipe.

    And thank you for reminding everyone that baking is a science. That’s an important part of understanding why something does or doesn’t work.

  53. #
    Donna — November 6, 2019 at 8:21 am

    Amen!!! Drives me bonkers when people criticize a recipe when they made substitutions and it doesn’t come out well. Good for you, and thank you for taking a stand. Love following you and making your amazing recipes. They have become family favorites. Love you even more for your honesty.

  54. #
    Josh — November 5, 2019 at 1:07 pm

    Thanks for this post. I am sure it wasn’t easy, given your very kind and fun personality. Baking is a science….that was a big lesson I learned in my years of trial and error. You are one of my favorite sources for AMAZING recipes! Looking forward to many more amazing bakes with your guidance.

    • #
      Tessa — November 6, 2019 at 8:04 am

      Thank you so much!!

  55. #
    Danielle — November 5, 2019 at 9:08 am

    I can understand your hesitation in posting this but I’m so glad you did !t needed to be said. I don’t quite understand the statement “I followed the recipe to a T but it didn’t work”. There are so many small details in a recipe that can make or break a cake or cookie or pastry. It’s frustrating when people get angry that their cake wasn’t stellar. When I have a not-so-great result, I become determined to figure out where I went wrong. I really enjoy your recipes and support you wholeheartedly!

    • #
      Tessa — November 6, 2019 at 8:06 am

      I’m so glad to have people like you around, Danielle!! Thanks so much for your comment 🙂

  56. #
    Amanda — November 4, 2019 at 10:16 pm

    I could see why you would be hesitant to post this due to everyone being so sensitive in this day and age, but I totally agree with you. You cannot say you followed a recipe to a T, then change something. That’s NOT following it to a T!!!
    When changing a recipe due to dietary reasons etc, people need to expect it’s not going to come out the same as you made it. The worst is when people are out of an ingredient and just substitute with something else they find in their kitchen. Just wait to go to the store to make it with the correct ingredients or expect it to come out wrong.

    • #
      Tessa — November 6, 2019 at 8:17 am

      That last sentence!! So true.

  57. #
    Cheryl Newton — November 4, 2019 at 6:21 pm

    I’m not a blogger, but I’m sure there are plenty of them reading this and thinking, “Amen, sister!” Good for you, Tessa.

    • #
      Tessa — November 6, 2019 at 8:15 am

      Thank you, Cheryl!

  58. #
    Jean H — November 4, 2019 at 11:28 am

    This isn’t really a question about substitutions but “downsizing” a recipe. Learning to bake back in the 60’s I was made aware that if you were cutting a baked goods recipe in half (one that required baking powder or baking soda), that it was not correct to merely cut these ingredients in half. But I have read many bloggers since, who seem to claim that it is perfectly ok to do just that. What is your experience and take on this question ?

    • #
      Tessa — November 6, 2019 at 8:11 am

      It can depend on the recipe! My friend Christina over at https://www.dessertfortwo.com/ is the queen of downsizing recipes, her blog would be a great resource for you.

  59. #
    Phyllis — November 4, 2019 at 10:11 am

    I can only imagine how difficult this must have been to post, but I applaud you for doing so. I am gluten intolerant. I didn’t take any offense to what you wrote. I actually found it puzzling as to why you’d be ask for substitutes. I can only imagine the time and resources it must take to not only make a recipe but also post it! Half the fun for me is to take a recipe and see what I can use to make it gluten free. Thankfully, I use a gluten free baking flour to sub in for all-purpose flour and have found it to be just fine. My family actually prefers the gluten-free version to be honest. Like any recipe I use, I print it out, scan through the comments to read what others have done to make it “their” own, then make those notes, and finally add my changes. I encourage your readers to do the same. I look forward to many more delicious recipes from your kitchen!

    • #
      Michelle — November 5, 2019 at 5:06 am

      I love that you posted this – it truly needed to be said! Your understanding of baking science and dedication to recipe testing is precisely what keeps me coming back again and again to your recipes. These types of negative reviews frustrate me as a reader, as well. I do occasionally change a recipe but would never dream of blaming the author for something that was clearly my own error! Good for you for speaking up!! 🙂

    • #
      Tessa — November 6, 2019 at 8:07 am

      I appreciate you sharing your perspective, Phyllis!!

  60. #
    Julia — November 4, 2019 at 6:28 am

    Love this!! As a chemist and passionate home cook these kinds of comments drive me INSANE when I read them (not the people asking, but the ones complaining or trashing a recipe that didn’t turn out because of substitutions).

    You also do such a lovely job on educating people about the importance of certain ingredients. I hope this change gently nudges more people towards your guides instead of complaining about failed substitutions 🙂

    • #
      Tessa — November 4, 2019 at 10:00 am

      Thank you SO much, Julia! I truly appreciate your comment + support on this 🙂

      • #
        KEYONTAY BANKS — November 6, 2019 at 11:42 am

        This is wonderful!! As a baker I have always did what a recipe said, but have been on the curious side if I did this or that to it. How would that come out. But later stepped back and said to myself, “If the recipe didnt called for that then it would say it in the recipe.” Lol!! People ask me to do things that is sometimes not possible. Me and my face says it all when I’m in that person face. “I’m sorry you asking me to do what again?” So you dont what no flour, eggs, sugar, or flavor! Hmmmm, so you want no cake, right!! Lol!!

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