November 10, 2010

Baking Without Eggs!


I originally wrote this post for the Food Talk series of articles at The Daring Kitchen. Baking without eggs and where this is not that easy to do, baking with as few eggs as possible is something I do on a regular basis.
I often get mails from my readers asking me how I bake without eggs and what substitutes could be used to replace eggs. There is no one substitute which will substitute for eggs in every recipe simply because eggs can play a different role in every recipe.
I am reposting this article here, and I hope it provides some answers to those questions about baking without eggs.


In India, baking is not a traditional method of cooking. However, in certain parts of the country, some form of baking has become a custom over the years as a result of trade with other countries or foreign invasions. The naans (Indian flatbreads) and other tandoori breads of northern India came in from Persia, while bakes like cakes, puddings and biscuits (as we call our cookies) are the legacy of the British, French, Dutch or Portuguese influnces.

As I have explained in many of my earlier posts that though we do eat eggs, we are not very fond of them. Over the years, I have tried adapting baking recipes requiring eggs by either reducing the eggs to the bare minimum, or not using them. I do bake with eggs some of the time, where they cannot be avoided and make a difference in my recipe.



Spiced Eggless Avocado Cake


Here, I’m sharing my experience about egg substitutes that have worked in my baking.
Eggs are such a large part of baking, that it is challenging to substitute or replace them. This was particularly true with most Daring Baker challenges. I have been successful with some of them while I failed miserably with others, and I’m still learning.

Some bakes, like angel food cakes, chiffon cakes, soufflés and meringues, are highly dependent on a large number of beaten eggs/ whites for lightness and volume they provide. It is almost impossible to substitute for eggs in these recipes.

The easiest way to bake without eggs is to use vegan recipes. Even if you are not vegan but want to avoid eggs, you can adapt many vegan recipes to suit your taste.However, I have found some vegan recipes excellent while others have been a disappointment. So I have, over time, got used to baking by adapting regular recipes which use eggs.



EgglessVegetable And Lentil Loaf

Substituting for eggs in baking is not difficult most of the time, provided one keeps three things in mind.

1. Understand the exact nature of the function the egg is performimg in your recipe of choice. Then substitution becomes easier. Sometimes, you may have to use one or more substitutes together to mimic the action of eggs in your bakes.

How does one figure out which function the egg is your recipe, is responsible for?

- If egg is the main liquid in the recipe, it is adding to the moisture. Eggs can also add richness to the bake.

- If the recipe is asking for just one egg, a reasonable amount of baking powder/ and baking soda but no other binding agent like flour or breadcrumbs, then the egg is acting as a binder. Here, it is necessary to use a substitute which would mimic this property.

- If there are little or no other leavening agents in the recipe, the egg is the leavening agent and provides a light and airy texture. In many such recipes, the egg can be replaced with a substitute that also involves baking powder.

2. Know that it is easiest to substitute for 1 (or at the most 2 eggs) egg in a recipe and this substitution will give you the best possible results for an eggless bake. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to substitute for 6 eggs!

In this case, the best option would be to substitute for about half the eggs in the recipe. If you do not eat eggs at all, then look for an eggless recipe rather than try to adapt one which uses eggs.

3. Remember that the eggs are in the recipe for a particular purpose. If they are substituted for, do not expect the same texture and taste as the original.

That’s not to say your eggless bake will not be good, just that it will be slightly different from the original. Having said that, I have to admit that I have been disappointed with some bakes where I have substituted for eggs.


One egg substitute which most people reach for is commercial egg replacer powders like Ener-G which, I understand, is a reasonably good all-round replacement in most recipes as it works as a leavening agent as well as a binder.

I live in Goa where baking is a part of culinary tradition due to Portuguese influence, so the concept of eggless baking is a bit redundant and an Ener-G type of egg replacer is the last thing I can expect to find on the store shelves here.
So I tend to use other commonly available egg substitutes in my bakes. I’m listing as many substitutes as I know of, where they can be substituted (in amounts equal to 1 egg), and what kind of bakes these usually work well in.


Commercial egg replacers like Ener-G

I just mentioned this above and they’re to be used according to the instructions on the package. I believe 1 1/2 teaspoons of Ener-G + 2 tablespoons of water substitutes for 1 egg.
This is supposed to be good in most bakes, especially cookies, breads and cakes.


Baking Powder

A lot of the time, if you want to substitute for only one egg in a recipe where it is a leavening agent, increasing the baking powder by about a little over 1/2 teaspoon will suffice. Too much baking powder will lend a bitter taste.

Incorporating air into the batter by creaming the sugar and butter, as well as whipping together the liquid ingredients (where the recipe allows this, as in muffins) also helps lighten the bake.



Chocolate Chip Covered Eggless Vanilla Cupcakes


In these Chocolate Chip Covered Eggless Vanilla Cupcakes, I left out the eggs and increased the milk a bit. The creaming process and baking powder make the cupcakes light and airy and these are my most popular cupcakes to date.


Powdered Flaxseed

Powder as fine as possible (will be a bit coarse), about 1/2 a cup of flaxseeds at a time, and store this in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Mix 1 tablespoon of this powder with 3 tablespoon of warm water and whisk well. Let it stand for a few minutes till it becomes viscous. Whisk well before using in recipe.
Powdered flaxseed lends a “nutty” flavour and is good in cookies (especially oatmeal), muffins, brownies, pancakes and waffles. You can replace up to 2 eggs though it’s best for 1 egg. Any more means the taste of flaxseed comes through.
I have found my cookies becoming “gummier” in texture when replacing 2 or more eggs with flaxseed powder.



Eggless Jam Doughnut Muffins


I use powdered flax seed as egg substitutes in my Eggless Jam Doughnut Muffins and Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies.


Unsweetened Applesauce Or Puréed Fruit/ Vegetable

Unsweetened applesauce can be used in recipes where eggs increase the moisture in bakes. Substitute 1/4 cup of it for 1 egg.

Applesauce works well in moist bakes like certain cakes, brownies, muffins and quick breads. Also use baking powder or baking soda for some leavening or this substitution might not work very well because fruit makes bakes dense.

However, applesauce can lend an “apple” flavour which might not be desirable in certain bakes.



Healthy Low Fat Eggless Brownie


My Healthy Low Fat Brownies use applesauce, but the flavour of apples doesn't come through.

Puréed beets not only give my Eggless Red Velvet Cupcakes their glorious red colour but with baking powder made them light and moist. I use fresh mango purée, yogurt and powdered flax seed instead of eggs in my Mango Ginger Muffins.


Ripe Bananas

Like applesauce, ripe bananas also add moisture to bakes. They also act as binders so they’re a very good substitute for eggs. On the flip side, your bake will taste of bananas. Again, ensure the recipe uses baking powder for leavening to avoid a dense bake.



Eggless Chocolate Chip Banana Squares


1/2 a ripe banana, mashed or puréed, can replace 1 egg. This works well in muffins and quick breads, some cakes, yeasted banana bread and pancakes. Banana also helps in browning in bakes.
These Eggless Chocolate Chip And Banana Squares are an all time favourite.


Silken Tofu/ Creamcheese (or Paneer)

Tofu is quite flavourless, and excellent at taking on other flavours. Silken tofu has the creamiest texture and is an excellent egg substitute in puddings, mousse and cheesecake.

I have used firm/ regular tofu successfully but silken tofu does produce a much better texture. I have found that creamcheese/ paneer (fresh Indian milk cheese) works well in eggless cheesecakes instead of eggs.

Run 1/4 cup crumbled tofu in the blender or food processor till very smooth and creamy and use in place of 1 egg. The wet ingredients in the recipe can be added to the tofu while blending, for best results.

Tofu makes bakes a bit dense so it is best in moist cakes, brownies, pie fillings and quiche. In recipes where eggs are used to make a custard type filling or as a binder as in cookies, tofu would have to be used with a binder like cornstarch.


Commercially Available Custard Powder/ Cornstarch

In India (and some other countries including the UK and Australia), we get something called custard powder in our stores, which is somewhat like a vanilla pudding mix. Custard powder is made from cornstarch to which organic colouring and flavours have been added.

This is good to make custard without eggs. Custard powder is cooked with milk and sugar till thick and can be used to make creamy sauces, thick set fillings for tarts and caramel custard.
Use this according to instructions on the packet. If you cannot find custard powder, cornstarch and flavouring agent of your choice will also work just as well.

Making ice-creams is not baking, but I thought I would mention that cornstarch is (sometimes custard powder) an excellent substitute for eggs in home-made ice-creams. Be careful how much of it you use, or else the taste of cornstarch/ custard powder will come through.


Vinegar (or Buttermilk) And Baking Soda

A combination of vinegar and baking soda mimics the leavening ability of egg. Many people also add a bit of oil as well. Baking soda reacts with the acid in vinegar to bubble up and introduce air, making bakes fluffy.

1 teaspoon baking soda + 1 tablespoon white or apple cider vinegar can replace 1 egg in quick breads, cupcakes and cakes. This substitution is good for 1 egg as sometimes replacing 2 eggs with this can result in some gumminess.

My Orange And Chocolate Zebra Cake, Snowflake Cookies and Spiced Eggless Avocado Cake are baked using baking soda with vinegar/ buttermilk.


Yogurt

Where egg adds moisture to a bake, 1/4 cup yogurt can be substituted for every egg. This is good in some cakes, bars, muffins and quick breads. Yogurt would need to be used with baking powder to avoid a dense/ gummy bake.



Eggless Zucchini Chocolate Bread


My Eggless Chocolate Zucchini Bread and Eggless Carrot Cake With Chocolate Ganache both use yogurt with a combination of other substitutes for eggs.


Agar Powder

Agar is a seaweed extract that has properties similar to gelatin. Agar is a good substitute in recipes requiring 1 or 2 egg whites (not for meringues and similar recipes). Dissolve 1 tablespoon agar powder in 1 tablespoon warm water to substitute for 1 egg. Whisk well, and then chill. Whisk again and use.


For “Egg Wash”

Egg wash is beaten egg which is brushed on breads or pastry before baking to obtain browning and a shine. The same effect can be achieved with milk, oil or butter.
I never use egg wash on my breads and rolls. Milk (and/ or cream) works very well for me.


Other Egg Substitutes (for 1 egg)

The following egg substitutes have also worked for me as you can see by the links I have included

1. Day old bread slices/ breadcrumbs and/ or chickpea flour where eggs act as binders. This is something I use in recipes like patties, cutlets, and this Vegetable And Lentil Loaf I made sometime back.
2. Sometimes, condensed milk (along with baking powder) can work well in some cakes like this one.

3. 1/4 cup puréed prunes. I have used puréed strawberries (with baking powder) to make a pretty good Eggless Fresh Strawberry Cake.

4. 1/4 cup mashed potatoes (in savoury dishes where eggs are binders) as in these Chickpea Vegetable Patties.


If you have wondered about baking without eggs, you can see that it isn’t impossible. I find that it just needs a bit of thought (alright, a lot of it!), and the willingness to explore various alternatives.

I would be happy to hear from any of you, about your tried and tested egg substitutes that work in baking.


21 comments:

Sharmilee! :) said...

Informative post...bookmarked

Ria Mathew said...

Super super super informative post, A! You are so good with this!

Torviewtoronto said...

lovely post

Priya said...

Such a lovely post...Very interesting..

PJ said...

Awesome post Aparna.I bake very rarely [in the MW] and the main reason I don't is because of the eggs.I have very few eggless bakes.Now I have lots of options.Thanks for this very informative post.

indianspicemagic said...

Very informative.... I rarely bake.I was successful in baking with borosil glassware but not with cake tin. Tried only once but was a flop.I like the cakes prepared from cake tin.Would like to know more on the baking procedures,usuage of tins,wire racks.so that i can make use of my IFB microwave effectively....

Nidhi said...

Such a useful post! Im allergic to eggs but love to bake, browse and cook from your site all the time, this post so relevant!

Srivalli said...

What a fantastic post Aparna.. appreciate your efforts in getting all that information in one place..of course I am going to come back reading this more in detail..thank you!

suma said...

Wonderful post Aparna!! Very informative and useful specially since you have given the info in the Indian context. Thanks so much!! This will be referred by me often.

Sanjeeta kk said...

This is a real encyclopedia for egg substitution in baking! Most of the time I bake without eggs and make use of all the above substitutes mentioned in your post.
Love all the minute details for each substitute and the exact proportion to be used.
In awe of your passion for baking, best wishes, take care.

mala said...

Very very informative & thoughtful post! For people like me, who prefer to bake without egg, this post is really really useful. Do we get good active dry yeast in India?
Mala

Aparna said...

Thanks, everyone. :)

Indian Spice Magic, if you write in with your specific questions, I'll be able to give you specific answers.

Mala, if you can find a baking supplies store nearby, you should be able to get good cative dry yeast there.

Nandita said...

Brilliant and very informative post Aparna.
Will bookmark this for the recipes, as husband has been off eggs for some 4 years now, very tough for me to keep searching for good eggless recipes to bake.

Evelyn M said...

Nice stuff here! I appreciate hearing your thoughts.

Rev said...

thanks a lot Aparna. I really needed this information as I dont like to use eggs too.

Jayasri Ravi said...

A very good post, the first time I wrote to you and said my bake was a disaster, I remember you telling me to figure out why the egg is used, that was when I first started baking in my whole life, later on I started experimenting and as you said, I had some disasters too.., one thing I too noticed was I do not want to replace eggs when the recipe calls for more than 2 eggs! then I use eggs in baking, even though my family like me using eggs in the cakes I make!, but baking eggless has become kind of obsession!, thanks for all the tips , Book Marked your page and of course thanks thanks for all the visual treats :)

Ann said...

Very informative post, Aparna, thank you for taking the time to do it!

Anonymous said...

Very informative write up. Thanks a lot for this. I have a kid who is allergic to eggs. The only successful egg substitute for me has been bananas and my son is fed up of banana cakes:-) Now armed with all this info I can try out other substitutes.

Avanika [YumsiliciousBakes] said...

Happy Blogoversary A!! 3 years :D

I'd actually love to win the dessert book, it sounds amazing!!

Avanika [YumsiliciousBakes] said...

This is such an awesome post, A! SUper super useful! It's going into my very special bookmark folder :)

Kalyani said...

Bookmarking this.... Awesome post fr someone lie me who doesn't use eggs at all...