The Beginner’s Guide to Egg-Free Baking
Rock-cakes suck. And when it comes to allergy-friendly baking, it’s not just the gluten-free flour making life difficult. Whether you’re vegan, allergic or intolerant, baking without eggs is a challenge for achieving the right taste and texture that will test even the most seasoned master chef. But it’s a challenge that can be won. So I wanted to share everything I’ve learnt over the last decade, through trial and (lots of) error to make the transition to egg-free baking an enjoyable and eggcellent experience!
Here’s a summary of what we’ll be covering:
> Why are we all intolerant to eggs?
> How to work out the purpose of egg in a recipe?
> Five rules to follow for substituting eggs in your baking
> Nine egg-alternatives you might have hiding in your cupboard already
> The never-fail egg-free pancake recipe to boost your confidence in the allergy-friendly kitchen
Why are we all intolerant to eggs?
Eggs are one of those foods that can be the perfect food for people with a healthy digestive system, packed with nutrients, protein and good fats. But for some people, they can be a real (often overlooked) source of digestive distress, and cause some severe symptoms if you have a leaky gut. Basically, the egg white’s main function is to protect the yolk against microbial attack, using what are called proteolytic enzymes. In short, the egg white is very good at it’s job, discouraging would-be predators (you and me) from being able to easily digest the egg - for a detailed explanation of the science, check out this informative blog by Dr Sarah Ballantyne.
If you have any digestive distress (bloating, gas, stomach pains, etc.) or even respiratory symptoms (running/blocked nose, phlegm, etc.) try taking them out for a week or two and see how you feel. For those who are already eliminating eggs or have just received a food sensitivity report back saying eggs are “no go” for a few months, let’s understand a bit more about why they are in our recipes so we can easily figure out the best options to replace them.
What is the purpose of that egg in my baking?
There are lots of alternatives to eggs. But working out which egg substitute to use for a specific recipe means you need to think about what the purpose of the egg was in the first place.
When baking, eggs generally play one of two roles - they can be a binder, holding the recipe together, or a raising agent helping to make it light and fluffy. Sometimes the egg can play both roles so it is important to understand what the egg is doing in your recipe to work out the best option for replacement.
Is the egg a binding agent?
Firstly, are there dry ingredients that need to bind together? If the answer is yes, do you have plenty of liquid and a thickener or gum ingredient? If you get yes and yes, then this is likely your glue and the egg is not being used as a binding agent. If there isn’t another binding agent, then your egg is doing the holding together. This is the case for most recipes. But, if the egg is not needed for binding, it is likely your rising agent.
Is the egg a raising agent?
Firstly, does the recipe need to rise e.g. a light and fluffy cake? If so, be on the lookout for other raising agents such as baking powder or baking soda. If there are no other raising agents, there are two ways your eggs might be being used for this purpose; 1) if you need to whisk/whip the egg (causing air bubbles that expand when heated) or 2) if there is vinegar or a citrus ingredient such as lemon.
What is the best egg substitute?
To get your recipe to rise without eggs, use one of the following:
> Flax Seeds
> Chia Seeds
> Baking Powder
> Egg Replacer Powder
When eggs are used to bind in a recipe, it’s essential to properly substitute the egg, otherwise the texture will be off and may cause the recipe to fall apart.
> Mashed Banana or Avocado
> Starch (Potato, Corn or Tapioca)
> Agar Agar
> Flax Seeds
> Chia Seeds
> Egg Replacer Powder
Hey, sometimes the egg might only be being used for moisture (not very common). Perhaps the easiest to replace, eggs used for moisture can be substituted with oil, applesauce and pumpkin puree or other vegetable and fruit purees. As long as they are smooth and creamy, they should do the trick. To replace 1 egg, try ¼ cup of:
> Pumpkin Puree
Five rules I follow for successful egg-free baking
So, with all that in mind, here’s five rules (and a super nifty infographic you can print off) to make sure you get eggsactly the outcome you need… delicious egg-free baked goods:
Rule 1: Try to find recipes that are egg free to begin with. If the recipe contains separated egg whites or yolks then replacing the egg in these is very challenging and beyond my skill level in the kitchen. Especially if the egg whites are beaten to peaks for a meringue or souffle, I can’t quite figure that one out so let me know if you do!
Rule 2: If the recipe has more than 3 eggs in it, get a new recipe to try. Substituting for more than 3 eggs can completely change the texture of what you are creating.
Rule 3: Figure out whether the egg is a binding or rising agent, or both, and whether it is needed to add in extra moisture. As a general rule:
> Cakes, cupcakes and muffins: binding and raising agent to make them light and fluffy
> Brownies and cookies: binding and moisture
> Pancakes and pikelets: moisture and a little bit of binding
We have created this super handy infographic, for you to print off and keep in the kitchen, so you can work out the best egg alternative for your recipe (click to open in new tab and enlarge / zoom):
Rule 4: Have a think about the taste and which alternative might match your baking flavour. For example, using banana as an egg substitute for banana bread will taste great, but for a savoury muffin, maybe not so good.
Rule 5: Bake, taste, refine and repeat! Allergy-friendly baking is all about trial and error. Keep at it and you will find a winner!
Allergy-friendly pancake recipe
And finally, if you are looking for a gentle place to start your egg-free baking, check out my easy-peasy Allergy-Friendly Pancake Recipe. It might be egg-free, dairy-free and gluten-free, but it’s a whole lot of deliciousness that will boost your confidence in the allergy-friendly kitchen.
Happy baking! I'm super egg-cited for you ;-).