I love protein powder, it’s a big part of my nutrition and has been such for years. Being a sportsman, I couldn’t picture a proper recovery - after the daily strenuous workouts I put myself through - without protein powder delivering the much needed aminoacids to my strained muscles.
At the beginning I would use protein powder only in smoothies. Over the last year or so I’ve learned new ways to incorporate protein powder in my diet that do not only involve a blender.
I discovered that baking with protein powder is quite fun indeed. Brownies, cookies, muffins, oatmeal, pancakes, etc. What a huge learning curve it has been so far.
First thing I realized is that protein powder resembles a lot to flour; in that it’s “grainy” and does react similarly in recipes. It’s dry, absorbs liquids and gives a likewise texture to baked goods.
However, protein powders can be quite different. Some mix very well in smoothies but coagulate when cooked. Some are flour-like but tend to form lumps when blended with liquids.
After many failed attempts and some deserved successes, I got some experience under my belt.
If you’re interested, here’s my two cents’ worth.
The different types of protein powders available
The most popular types of protein powder are whey, soy, soy/whey blend and rice.
I‘ve baked with all of them and always got the best results from pure whey or soy/whey blend.
Rice protein powder is very delicate but also very dry and sometimes fails to blend smoothly with the other ingredients. I tried two different brands and both yielded similar (yet very different) results.
Soy reacts pretty well but has a powerful aftertaste. I can always feel it, even when I’ve used unflavored kind.
Also, I’m not very keen on using soy that it’s not 100% certified organic (because of the whole GMO thing) and it’s not always easy to find organic soy protein powder.
My go-to choice when baking with protein powder has to be whey. It’s a decent flour substitute that delivers best results when used together with some flour or (better yet) oat flour.
Whey gives an almost exact cake-like flour texture to baked goods. However, when used alone the finished product tends to be more drier than its counterpart baked with flour.
That’s why I like to use in my recipes a combination of protein powder and flour.
However, with goods with a high fat content (such as cookies or brownies) whey protein alone works just fine.
Protein powder can react when exposed to high heat and especially extended high heat. As baking uses lower temperatures than pan or deep frying, it’s pretty safe and can be considered an ideal way to heat protein powder.
Keep in mind that protein powder tend to toughens baked goods, that’s why it’s very important to never overmix batters. Mix only until ingredients are sufficiently mixed, that’s about it.
Flavored or unflavored?
When it comes to choosing between flavored or unflavored protein powder it’s all about personal preferences.
I recommend using unflavored protein powder.
Even though companies have really made an effort to improve the taste of protein powders, I still find that flavored powders have a chemical aftertaste that I find off putting in baked goods.
Some of my friends loved it, I kind of hate it. I’d rather use unflavored protein powder and add the flavors myself (vanilla, chocolate, peanut butter, fruit, etc.)
There are already million variables that should be taken into account when baking with protein powder: texture, raising, moisture, reaction with other ingredients, etc. If you can take at least one factor out of the equation makes your life easier.
Want to bake protein brownies? Use real chocolate (or cocoa) and unflavored protein powder instead of chocolate flavored protein powder.
Feeling like have protein vanilla cookies? Use real vanilla extract and unflavored protein powder instead of vanilla flavored protein powder. And so on.
Vegan (and raw) protein powder
Lately I’ve fallen in love with one particular brand of vegan (and raw) protein powder made from sprouted whole grain brown rice. It’s the real deal and works perfectly in baking.
I’ve completely ditched whey for this raw and vegan protein powder.
If you don’t have a favorite brand I suggest you try out some samples until you’ll find the one that works best for you.
Keep trying, the key to acquiring proficiency in any task is repetition.
The Iron You