Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Egg substitutes (and how do you know which ones will work in your recipe?)



Last month, I was down to my very last 2 eggs. This makes cooking and baking from scratch difficult, but not impossible. I did a lot of research into different egg substitutes, and this is what I discovered.

There are several options to use for egg substitutes. Knowing which one to use is a matter of understanding the different functions that eggs fulfill in recipes, and what each substitute is capable of doing.

Basically, eggs have 3 functions, to add moisture, add leavening, and act as binding ingredients. In most recipes, eggs will fill a couple of these functions. For example, in cookie dough, eggs both bind the dough together, and they add leavening. In cakes and muffins, eggs add leavening and moisture. In meatballs, eggs serve as binding agents, but also can add moisture.

To give you an idea of why having just one all-purpose, egg substitute won't give you the best results every time, here are examples of different substitutes and how they can and can't work.

Some people use applesauce for an egg substitute. Applesauce will add moisture to muffins and quick breads, but it has no leavening power of it's own. Some people use flax seed meal or soy flour, plus water. Both are great binding ingredients, but neither can leaven. Baking powder can leaven, but has no ability to add moisture, in fact it can dry out some baking.

After much confusion on the subject, I decided that I needed some basic guidelines.

So, here's my list -- the general functions of eggs and which substitutes work best.


In most recipes, the best results will come from doubling up on your substitutes (two substitutes from different categories, such as -- add a moisture sub and a leavening sub for muffins, or, add a binding sub and a moisture sub for meatballs).

Adding moisture

To add moisture to a recipe, for each egg, you can substitute 
  • pureed fruit/veg like applesauce, pumpkin or banana (about 1/4 to 1/3 cup for each egg), or
  • yogurt (1/4 cup) or
  • silken tofu (1/4 cup) or
  • 1/4 cup of mayo  
Examples of foods which rely on eggs for moisture include: meatballs, muffins, pancakes and cakes.


Adding leavening

To add leavening to a recipe, for each egg, add
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of baking powder (for cookies, 1/2 teaspoon is generally sufficient -- but see the cookie recommendation below*, for muffins and quick breads 1 teaspoon worked better for me), or the equivalent substitute of baking soda and vinegar
Examples of foods which rely on eggs for leavening include: muffins, breads, pancakes, cakes, cookies

(In a 1-egg muffin recipe, you might substitute 1/4 cup of applesauce plus 1 teaspoon of baking powder. This would satisfy both the leavening power and moisture addition that eggs give to muffin batter.)

For cakes, you'll have the best results if you use a 2-egg, or more, cake recipe, and only substitute baking powder for 1 of the eggs.

Adding a binder

To add a binding agent to recipes which normally call for eggs, for each egg, add
  • 1 heaping tablespoon soy flour, plus 2 tablespoons of water
  • 1 tablespoon of flax meal, plus 3 tablespoons of water
  • 1/4 cup silken tofu
Examples of foods needing a binder include: meat loaves and cookies.


Formula for egg substitute to use when making cookies
*I found with baking cookies, the following formula worked very well:
for each egg, whisk together:

  • 2 tablespoons flour, 
  • 2 tablespoons water, 
  • 1/2 tablespoon oil and 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
  • In addition, for cookies that we like slightly moist, like chocolate chip cookies, I substituted 1 tablespoon of applesauce for 1 tablespoon of the butter called for in the recipe.


For quiches, baked custards, or fritattas, you can substitute pureed fruit, veggies or tofu for up to half of the eggs called for in the recipe.

Meringues and other recipes calling for whipped egg whites generally can not use an egg substitute.


So, what did I bake without eggs last month? I made some very successful pancakes, waffles, cookies, and muffins. I had my husband very surprised that I could make waffles without any eggs at all. I made bean burgers that normally call for eggs as binders, but with a flax meal binder, instead. And I baked a batch of cupcakes, a recipe that normally calls for 2 eggs, I made with 1 egg plus a substitute for the second egg.

These substitutions came in very handy for me. I imagine it could be helpful for others as well, such as the mom who is home with a sick child, but wanting to do some baking, meanwhile discovers she is out of eggs,  or,  in bad weather, not wanting to chance bad roads just to go out for eggs,  or,  for the person who lives in a rural area, and doesn't want to drive into town for such a small purchase, or,  in my case, with a small grocery budget and not wanting to feel "robbed" by paying twice what I normally pay for eggs when on sale.

10 comments:

  1. Could I share my store cupboard ingredients / no egg / emergency cookie recipe?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jess,
      That would be great!

      Delete
    2. 3.5 oz (vegan) margarine
      6.5 oz brown sugar
      7 oz white flour
      2 oz whole wheat flour
      1/2 t baking powder
      1/2 t baking soda
      1 t vanilla
      1/4 cup rice milk
      1 cup of add-in (choc chips, raisins, whatever)

      Cream the wet ingredients, add the dry, add the milk. roll into balls (I use an ice cream scoop) Bake at 375 for 14 minutes.

      I'm not vegan so I use regular marge and regular milk. For chocolate cookies, sub an ounce of flour with an ounce of cocoa powder. They freeze wonderfully raw or baked. I've also added christmas type spices to make gingery / all spice cookies. You can use just one sort of flour - but with all whole wheat flour they don't really spread out much :)

      Thanks for a lovely blog.

      Delete
    3. Thanks, Jessica!
      I'll give that a try and let you know how it works for me. I love trying new recipes!

      Delete
  2. I have seen the flax meal substitutions before for no eggs but have always been skeptical about how it would work. This is great information.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kris,
      The flax meal works really great as a binder, and does hold ingredients together in recipes, but my muffins came out flatter/denser than normal when I tried to use flax as the sole egg replacer. They needed more leavening.

      I imagine someone who's a vegan, or one who cooks for a vegan, has to deal with this all the time.

      Delete
  3. Great post Lili,
    I do know that when I've tried to replicate my brownie recipe for my vegan son, it never quite works out. But it's still edible!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jayne,
      Thank you.
      I can imagine that baking for a vegan brings its challenges. Not impossible, as you've found, but you need to make adjustments.

      Delete
  4. This is brilliant! Simply brilliant! I'm printing it out and keeping it on my pin board in the kitchen.
    xx Jill

    ReplyDelete

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