What was unthinkable only a few years ago gets more and more conventional and normal nowadays. Vegan baking without eggs, dairy or other little helpers like gelatine is getting popular. I am always happy to see a new vegan baking book in the bookstore because to me it means that the inhibition level for a lot of people to try it out themselves gets lower and lower. I have to admit that I also had huge doubts when I first started out with vegan baking. There were times when I would not try a “normal” recipe when I had one egg too little at home because I was so sure it would not work. So the thought to bake with no eggs at all was very strange to me.
Today I see baking from a totally different perspective and have a far bigger understanding of the processes happening in the oven while my lovely cake rises to perfection. And the best part of it is that there is simply a huge set of possibilities without eggs and animal products so you will get to learn a lot about new ingredients and nutrition in general.
So how do I substitute eggs?
In normal baked goods eggs are used out of two different reasons. They can bind the cake or make it fluffy and rise. So the first question you have to ask yourself is “What do I want to achieve with my egg substitute?”
To bind the cake I use the following as an equivalent for one egg:
60g Fruit sauce: Applesauce, Pearsauce, smashed banana or even pumpkin purée kann give your dough the moisture you are searching for and bind it. Out of all of the choices I prefer applesauce because it is rather neutral in taste and adds a little bit of acidity, which makes your cake fluffier. Banana and pumpkin have a very significant taste themselves so they really have to agree with the rest of your flavour in a recipy when you use them to substitute eggs.
1 tbls Crushed flaxseed + 3 tbls water: Out of all the flaxseeds the most neutral in taste and appearance are golden flaxseeds but you can also use brown ones if you have them at hand. To fabricate your egg substitute you mix the ground flaxseed with triple the amount of warm water and set it aside.After a few minutes you can stir it vigorously with a fork before you add the mixture to your dough. Especially to substitute the viscosity and binding property of eggs flaxseed is perfect. A good alternative to flaxseeds are also chia seeds mixed with water also in a 1:3 ratio.
Store bought egg substitute: I do not use store bought egg substitutes because I find them to be too heavily processed and I can rarly predict the result I will get. But to start out with vegan and glutenfree baking a store bought product can be easier for you. You just read the instructions on the package and off you go!
60g Tofu purée: Silken Tofu makes your cake dense and gives moisture. Since soy often causes allergies though, I prefer using fruitsauces that have a similar effect.
60g Vegan yogurt: Yogurt also has the same effect on your cake as fruit sauce or tofu. I like the acidity of yogurt especially in fruitcake and everything containing berries.
To get your dough to rise and make it fluffy:
Baking powder: Baking powder is one of the key ingredients in my baked goods. It consists of baking soda, another acidic component and starch. It is important that cou check your baking powder to be aluminium free and gluten free. The starch that is used could be contaminated with traces of gluten so be sure to buy certified glutenfree baking powder. Baking powder reacts twice. First when it comes into contact with fluid when you prepare your dough and a second time in your oven because of the heat. I like to use warm water in my recipies to enforce the first reaction even more and get a fluffier cake.
Baking soda and acid: Baking soda makes little bubbled when it comes into contact with an acidic component. The combination produces CO2 when baking and therefore you get little airpockets inside your cake which is great! As an acidic component I like to use lemon juice but you can also use apple cider vinegar. The ratio in general is one tablespoon of lemon juice/vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda.
Sparkling water: sparkling water contains CO2 so while baking the reaction is similar to the one of baking soda and acid. You have to be careful though while you mix your dough because otherwise the bubbles will be gone before you even put your cakes into the oven.
I prefer to combine one egg substitute method that binds your dough with another one that makes your cake fluffy in most of my recipes. Therefore, most of my recipes contain baking soda and lemon juice. The longer you are baking the vegan, glutenfree way the more you will get used to the ingredients that substitute eggs and at some point you won’t count the number of eggs your trying to replace but see your set of ingredients as a recource and part of the whole process in baking. So a lot of times I just try something out and see how it works until I get the result I want to achieve and it can be so much fun!
Baking without dairy:
The choice of plant based milk alternative seems to grow every time I enter a supermarket. So it really is up to you to choose your favourite flavor. It is also nice to try different versions of a recipe with different milk substitutes because rice, cashew, almond, coconut or any other alternative are all great and add different interesting flavor components and textures to your cake. I like to use a mixture of coconutmilk and water because coconut milk has a high amount of natural fat and adds a little more moisture to your cake than most of the other milk alternatives. If you are trying to build a substitute for buttermilk just add a little lemon juice to your milk substitute and wait until it sets.
To substitute normal cream I use coconut milk because it has a similar fat content and consistency.
In sauces I love to use nutbutter. It can be cashewbutter, almond oder peanut. I simply mix it with a little water before adding it to my saucepan. Then you bring it to a boil while stirring and viola you have successfully replaced cream in your sauce.
If a recipe calls for whipped cream there are a few ways you can replace it. You can use a can of organic coconut milk and leave it in the fridge over night. When you open it the fat will be divided from the water and you can simply scoop it out of the can and whip it until it is nice and fluffy. There are also industrial whipped cream replacements on the basis of soy, cashew, rice or oat and you I think you simply have to try them to see if you like them.
Margarine: The easiest way to replace butter is high quality margarine. I like to use the ecological version of Alsan margarine. You can whip it like normal butter to get it fluffy and bring airpockets into your cake so it acts as a mechanical way to get your cake to rise.
Coconut oil: Coconut oil is very healthy if you buy the good stuff. It has a very low melting point though so you can’t whip it like margarine. I like to use coconut oil in combination with margarine to get cookies crunchy and brown or in pastry cream that has to cool down over night so the coconut oil can get back to its solid state.
Applesauce: Applesauce is a butter alternative that is very low in calories. It gives moisture to your cake and binds but I would not recommend to use it as a standalone butter replacement and bake without any oil.
Replacing yogurt and cream cheese:
The number of yogurt alternatives that are reaching european stores is increasing and we are finally at a point where there isn’t only soy yogurt. If you want to replace cream cheese in a recepe I am recommending cashewnuts. Just soak the amount you need in water for at least four hours and wash them thoroughly. Then you blend them with water and add some citric acid and some lemon zest: the more water you put in the thinner the end result will be so you can influence your end result.
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