What Are Lactose-Free Cakes?

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  • Written By: Kay Paddock
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 14 September 2019
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Lactose-free foods are foods that do not contain dairy products. Milk and other dairy products contain a type of sugar known as lactose. Many people have lactose intolerance, which means that they are sensitive or allergic to this sugar. Lactose-free cakes are cakes baked without milk or other dairy products that may contain lactose. There are many recipes specifically for lactose-free cakes, but regular cake recipes can often be converted to non-dairy recipes with good results.

People who are lactose intolerant or sensitive to casein, a protein found in some dairy products, often have to follow a lactose-free diet. They generally avoid dairy foods, including milk, cheeses, cream and ice cream. Foods that traditionally contain cheese as an ingredient can be challenging to create on a lactose-free diet, but milk is usually an easier ingredient to eliminate in recipes; lactose-free cakes that do not contain milk often contain other ingredients such as water or other types of non-dairy milk to take its place.


There are several different types of non-dairy milks that can typically be used in place of cow's milk in lactose-free cakes. Almond, soy, rice and coconut milk all have a similar enough consistency to use in place of dairy milk in most recipes, for instance. When buttermilk is called for in a cake recipe, as it often is in rich chocolate cakes, those milks can also be substituted. It is usually important to put a small spoonful of vinegar or lemon juice in the milk for a few minutes before adding it to the batter; allowing the acidic vinegar or lemon juice to start to curdle the milk will help recreate the taste and texture of buttermilk.

Most people prefer that their cakes have some type of icing or frosting on top and between layers. Lactose-free cakes also need to have lactose-free products used in the frosting. Buttercream is a popular type of cake icing that uses very little milk. When making it for lactose-free cakes, non-dairy milks can be used in place of cow's milk. Any butter used in the recipe will typically also need to be replaced with a non-dairy margarine to keep the recipe lactose-free.

All lactose-free cakes do not have to be baked from scratch. Some commercial cake mixes and canned frostings are available for people who need to follow a lactose-free diet. Many bakeries and bakery sections of grocery stores have products for people with lactose intolerance and other types of food sensitivities and allergies. Lactose-free cakes complete with dairy-free frosting can often be purchased ready to eat from these kinds of shops as well. Vegan cakes and recipes are also typically safe for someone with lactose intolerance since vegan foods do not contain any kind of animal products.



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