One of the questions I’m mostly commonly and frequently asked is how to substitute eggs in a recipe.
Eggs are of course an integral part of baking, adding structure and craveable chewiness to most recipes. Yet they’re often out of reach at home due to dietary or other restrictions. Or as it often is the case for us, you simply run out of eggs at the very last minute and are left scrambling for a substitute!
With a little bit of ingenuity it is possible to find the right swap for eggs most of the time. Of course baking is a bit like alchemy so these replacements are not 1:1 substitutes for each other across recipes, as they don’t behave uniformly like eggs do. If eggs are the binding agents in a recipe – chia or flax eggs are a good replacement; however, if eggs are required as a leavening agent (such as for helping a cake to rise), then replacements such as buttermilk or yogurt work better!
Gathered here are the most effective substitutes you can use, with corresponding recipes so delicious, you won’t believe they’re eggless!
Sweetened Condensed Milk
No one can quite explain why, but ¼ cup of condensed milk is the perfect substitute for one egg in recipes for cakes and creamy fillings (such as lemon curd). Peg it down to its weird yet wonderful constitution, calibrated with a creamy sweetness that’s ideal for desserts. Just remember to adjust the sugar in the recipe appropriately! Use condensed milk to bake an elegant coffee and chocolate tea cake.
Yogurt or Buttermilk
The protein and fat in Greek yogurt or buttermilk make them excellent substitutes for eggs in recipes to which dairy can be added. Roughly ¼ cup of yogurt can replace 1 egg in a recipe. Use yogurt to bake mini chocolate cakes, layered with clouds of buttercream frosting.
Flax seed eggs make a fantastic binding agent in cakes, biscuits and even fritters. You first need to make flax seed powder (grind up flax seeds to a fine powder in a mixie). For one flax seed egg: take 1 tablespoon of flaxseed powder and mix it with 2.5 tablespoons of water, mix well and store in the fridge for 15 minutes. It will firm up and take on a gelatinous, sticky texture. This is one egg replacement. If the recipe calls for two eggs, double these quantities, and so on. Flax eggs are dense and sticky in texture, so they work well for binding a recipe (but do not add volume or lift). Add them to pancakes, waffles, cookies, quick bread.
Packed with omegas, fibre and protein – chia seeds swell up with moisture whilst baking, also helping to bind cakes and puddings while adding a loving texture. You can make a chia egg as you would a flax seed egg – mix 1 tbsp of chia seed with 2.5 tbsp of water, stirring well. Let it rest for 5 – 10 minutes to thicken. By hydrating the chia seeds, they develop a sticky coating, manifesting in a thick and and gelatinous chia egg.
While they don’t have much flavour, chia eggs add a gentle crunch, studding the baked good with small black spots. Remember they can also make the final dish denser in nature, so use them appropriately for similarly dense items.
Vinegar + Baking Soda
This one’s pure chemistry. One of the basic principles we learnt back in the day is that when sodium bicarbonate and acid react with water, bubbles are created from carbon dioxide. Applying that same concept to baking: the air trapped in the baked good gives it a lift, as well as a tender crumb. To increase the bubbling reaction (thus increasing the lift), we can add a little extra lemon juice or vinegar (such as apple vinegar).
Fruit purées can help to bind recipes well as to add moisture and a natural sweetness. Apple sauce is a particularly common substitute, with ¼ cup replacing one egg in a recipe. Just make sure to balance it with enough fat, so as to ensure that your final baked good is not too dry!
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