The Chemistry of Eggless Cooking

I love eggs and eating all my homemade baked breads which contain eggs. During my two pregnancies, I pretty much ate scrambled or fried eggs every day. It was one of the foods that settled my stomach and controlled my hypoglycemia. Our daughter can eat eggs but our son is allergic. Finding egg substitutes for our favorite foods has been very difficult.

In order to understand how to substitute, I figured it would help to know why eggs are so important for baking. Researching the chemistry behind cooking should help me tweak a recipe and substitute eggs.

Eggs are used as binding agents, thickeners, and/or leavening agents. The egg whites contain hydrophilic and hydrophobic amino acids and when beaten a part of the protein clings to water and the other clings to air allowing a network to form and trap the air. Egg whites reduce the moisture and trap air thus allowing soufflés and cakes to rise and stay fluffy.

Egg yolks contain Lecithin which have hydrophilic and hydrophobic properties allowing oil and water to bind together. The yolks act as an emulsifier and add the richness and moist texture. Yolks seem to be more of a binder and moisturizer.

Applesauce is a good sweetener but not a good binder. Bananas seem to act as a good moisturizer and binder but not a leavening agent. I need something for leavening. More baking soda or powder?

More baking soda or powder may help because ”Baking soda reacts with acids ? citrus juice, buttermilk, molasses, honey, and chocolate are all acidic ? to produce carbon dioxide, which in turn puffs the batter. Double-acting baking powder, adds Corriher, releases carbon dioxide twice during the baking process: once when it reacts with liquids during mixing, and again when it?s exposed to higher temperatures in the oven. One teaspoon of baking powder ? or just a quarter-teaspoon of baking soda ? is enough to leaven one cup of flour, says Corriher.”

Sugar and milk also hinder the flour from forming gluten and are great for cookies, cakes, and muffins. Adding salt helps with the sweetness and texture as well as “adds flavour, and strengthens soft fat and sugar mixtures.” Therefore, sugar and salt are a must.

To try and simplify things, I bought an egg replacer at Whole Foods from Bobs Red Mill. It contains soy flour, wheat gluten, corn syrup solids and algin. It has not worked well for making pancakes or muffins. Maybe we do not have enough binding agents with the coconut or gluten free flour.  If we use all purpose flour, it may work better. Anyways, I am not a fan of corn syrup in my foods so I am still searching for another option.

Below are some other egg substitute suggestions I found on the internet. I may try the tofu if I get more adventurous. I will pass on the shortening version.

instead of 1 egg, you can use…

1 tbsp gram (chick pea) or soya flour and 1 tbsp water
1 tbsp arrowroot, 1 tbsp soya flour and 2 tbsp water
2 tbsp flour, 1/2 tbsp shortening, 1/2 tsp baking powder and 2 tsp water
50g tofu blended with the liquid portion of the recipe
1/2 large banana, mashed
50 ml white sauce

tips on raising agents…

use self raising flour
add extra oil and raising agent (e.g. baking powder)
use about 2 heaped tsp baking powder per cake
instead of baking powder, use 3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda and 1 dssp cider vinegar (good for chocolate cakes)
try sieving the flour and dry ingredients, then gently folding in the liquid to trap air

alternative binding agents…

soya milk
soya dessert – vanilla, chocolate, strawberry…
custard – see below
mashed banana
plain silken tofu
soya cream
sweet white sauce (soya milk, vegan margarine, sugar and cornflour)
agar agar

We tried to make pancakes with limited gluten, dairy and no eggs using one of the recipes from my dad’s cookbook. It did not go so well. The texture was off but the flavor was good. See our attempt to make Gingerbread Pancakes and you will see what I mean.

I do recommend this recipe for eggless pancakes. We did not use gluten free flour so they were fluffy. We also substituted almond milk for whole milk and it tasted fine. Adding blueberries or thinly sliced apples or pears on top of the batter makes them even better.

Hopefully, our son will grow out of his egg allergy. If you have any suggestions for eggless recipes, we would love to try them.


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