Baking Without Eggs!
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.
(Egg Free Vegetable And Lentil Loaf)
Substituting for eggs in baking is not difficult most of the time, provided one keeps three things in mind.
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.
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.
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.
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 Egg Free Vanilla Cupcakes)
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.
(Egg Free Jam Doughnut Muffins)
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 Eggl Free Brownie)
(Egg Free Chocolate Chip Banana Squares)
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.
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.
(Egg Free Zucchini Chocolate Bread)
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.