This is one of the first articles I wrote for The Sweet Life and I decided it was time for a little TLC. With a few more recipes under my belt, and lots more pictures, I think it’s worth an edit and republish.
As a vegan baker the most common question I get is, “What do you do about the eggs?” The response to that question has so many right answers and I often offer simple examples. But I want to say, “What do you need eggs for?” because truth is, eggs just aren’t that necessary.
EGGS FOR BAKED GOODS
In baking, eggs are most commonly used as leaveners, thickeners, or binders. Traditionally cookies, muffins, pancakes, quick-breads, and cakes all use eggs for these purposes. People have been using eggs in baking for so long it’s hard to recognize the many plant-based foods that have similar properties and provide the same results. Here are a few examples:
Chickpea flour: High in protein, chickpea flour works both as a binder and leavener and, in my opinion, one of the best natural egg replacers for baked goods. To substitute mix 3 tbsp flour with 3 tbsp water for each egg, until thick and creamy. It can be found in most health stores or bulk sections of well stocked grocery stores. Pictured is my Vegan Challah Bread (egg bread) that is made delicous with the use of chickpea flour.
Banana - This creamy fruit adds binding and thickening properties and is perfect for moist, dense, baked goods such as muffins, pancakes, and quick breads. Use 3 tbsp mashed banana for each egg. Banana does not work as a leavener, however, so it’s important to add about 1/2 tsp baking powder to the recipe.
* It’s important to note that banana will add a hint of flavor, so best used where a banana flavor is desired.
Apple Sauce & Pumpkin Puree- Use for the same purposes as banana. When making foods such as banana bread, apple cake, or Maple Pumpkin Donuts (pictured below), a built in egg replacer is already available. Just increase puree amounts by 3 tbsp per egg and add about 1/2 tsp baking powder to the recipe.
Non-dairy Yogurt- Without adding additional flavors (unlike fruit purees) yogurt can be just the thing for cakes, cookies, and quick breads. Replace one egg with 1/4 cup plain yogurt. Like applesauce, bananas and pumpkin, yogurt has no leavening properties, so it is best to add 1/2 tsp baking powder to most recipes.
Silken Tofu - Similar to yogurt, 1/4 cup silken tofu substitues as one egg in recipes such as cakes and quick breads. Make sure the tofu is well blended and completely smooth before using.
Flax seeds – Great for nutty, grainy baked goods such as muffins, breads, and cookies, flax seeds are an amazing plant-based egg replacer with many health benefits such as high in fiber, rich in antioxidants, and shown to reduce cholesterol. To use, blend 1 tbsp flax seeds with 3 tbsp of water until mixture is thick and creamy. Flax seeds can be found in most grocery stores and should be stored tightly wrapped in the freezer. Pictured below is my Zucchini Chocolate Espresso Cake with flax seed for the eggs. It turned out moist and fluffy with no flax aftertaste.
*No egg replacer acts or tastes the same and every recipe requires a little tweaking from these guidelines. Therefore new recipes always come with a little trial and error.
EGGS FOR CUSTARDS
Ice cream, mousse, pastry cream, creme brulee, bread pudding, and cheesecake are all examples of common custards. By definition custards are made through the coagulation of egg proteins. Sounds hard to duplicate? Not at all. Unlike replacing eggs in baked goods, which is relatively easy even for new bakers to “veganize”, custards are made through a lot of adjustments to perfect texture and taste. EVERY SINGLE one of my custard recipes require a little or a lot of trial and error. That being said, it would be best for new bakers to find existing vegan custard recipes rather than trying to veganize their own.
Coconut Milk- Fatty and thick, coconut milk can be used to replace whipped egg yolks. Most ice creams are made whipping egg yolks which gives it the texture, body, and richness associated with ice cream. This Tropical Ice Cream substitutes coconut milk for both the eggs and heavy cream, making it so creamy, airy, and thick it would fool anybody.
*make sure to buy full-fat coconut milk
Cashews- Raw cashews, soaked and ground to a VERY SMOOTH cream, have very similar properties (high in fat and protein) to whipped egg yolks making it one of my favorite ways to make custards. Virtually flavorless, the cashew nut remains a hidden ingredient, taking on the flavors surrounding it. The smooth and creamy filling of this Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake is an example of a cashew-based custard.
This Chocolate Peppermint Mousse uses both coconut milk and cashews to resemble a classic French mousse. Classically mousse is made by separating eggs and whipping them up individually before reincorporating. This provides the airiness that is unique to mousse. The cashews in the recipe replace the whipped egg yolks as they are thick, fatty, and full of protein while the fat of the coconut milk is turned into coconut whipped cream and folded in at the end, similar to the egg white meringue in classic mousse.
Silken Tofu – For a lower fat version, well blended tofu will take on any flavor, and can be used instead of cashews in puddings, pudding cakes, and cream pies like in one of my earliest recipes, this Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Cake.
Agar Powder- As a strong gelling agent, the use of agar powder creates a similar coagulation that allows custards to “set-up”. It is best used in creams such as pastry cream and bavarian cream. It can be found in the baking aisle in a natural foods grocery store.
Chickpea Flour – Because of it’s high protein content, chickpea flour has awesome coagulation powers when baked. When few eggs are required rather than being the base of the recipe, chickpea flour may be the best option, like when making French Toast or Bread Pudding.
EGGS AS EGGS
Even classic egg dishes can be made without eggs and remain delicious. Quiche, Frittata, and Omelettes can all be recreated with a few plant-based ingredients and thus my question: What do you need eggs for?
Tofu – Firm and soft, silken and regular, there are so many different kinds and because of it’s variety, tofu (as you can see from my examples above) is one of the most used egg replacers. In my opinion it is best used in scrambles, quiches, and frittatas (pictured below). When using tofu in baked egg dishes it is almost always best to use regular firm tofu to replicate an eggy consistency.
Chickpea flour- With surprising similar texture and flavor to eggs, chickpea flour has become a common substitution for omelets and quiches. Although I haven’t tried it personally, Isa has an AMAZING looking omlette recipe in her book Vegan Brunch made from a chickpea flour batter.
I hope this article sheds some light onto the complex question,”What do you do about the eggs?” And this, my friends, is just the tip of the iceberg. Tomorrow I’m putting it to the test for you all to see. I am going to take one of the oldest recipes, a recipe we all know, and duplicate it – just without the eggs. So check in tomorrow for the results!
And now that I am finally editing this post and “tomorrow” was months ago, I can now show you my veganized Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookie:
and they were DELICIOUS!