If you’re leading a plant based lifestyle or are considering switching to one, you may be wondering if you can still enjoy baked goods. Without eggs, butter, and milk, is baking something delicious even possible?
The answer is yes! Plant based eating is not about cutting sweets, eating only vegetables or dieting. It’s simply about eating foods that are plant based. Sweet treats and desserts definitely can fit within a plant based diet.
The only difference is that these sweet treats will be made with ingredients that are plant-based as well. You will be happy to know that there are plenty of plant-based egg substitutes for baking that can get the job done!
For all our plant-based bakers, you can make your cake and eat it too. We’re starting off this series with egg replacers, but stay tuned for future articles on baking substitutes for milk and butter.
The Role of Eggs in Baking
To understand what to look for in a plant-based egg substitute, we need to understand exactly which characteristics we need to replace. What exactly is it that the egg does in baking? Turns out, quite a lot.
Eggs are made of two distinct parts, the white and the yolk, each with unique characteristics. The egg white is high in protein, acting as a stabilizer and a leavening agent. These proteins create air pockets in baked goods, contributing to that spongy texture we know and love.
The egg yolk is high in fats, providing moistness, richness, and the ability to emulsify and thicken batters. One particular fat, lecithin, is important for emulsifying, which just means mixing ingredients that do not want to stay together.
These properties make eggs an important ingredient for texture, moisture, and color of the final product. The plant-based substitutes listed in this article will replace all of these properties.
Common Plant Based Egg Substitutes in Baking and How They Work
Nuts and Seeds
You may have seen recipes calling for chia or flax ‘gel.’ This is made by mixing one of these seeds with water. Both chia and flax seeds absorb water, so mixing them with a liquid will give you a thick, gel-like texture.
This mimics the binding properties of eggs, or their ability to hold thicken batters and hold them together. To make a seed gel, mix 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed OR chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Use this recipe to replace 1 large egg.
Nut butter can also work here, in a similar way. Nut butter has a thick, sticky texture with fats and proteins- just like eggs! To replace 1 large egg, use 3 tbsp nut butter for the same binding and thickening an egg would provide. The added bonus here is the delicious nutty flavor you’ll add to your batter.
If you are using either a seed gel or nut butter to replace an egg, add an additional ½ tsp of baking powder. This will help the batter rise and have a lighter texture. This is especially important if you are making something airy like a cake or muffin.
Despite having no fat or protein, pureed fruit makes for a great egg substitute in baking. It provides the sweetness and moist texture we look for in desserts. It is also a great way to use up fruits and vegetables that may have seen better days (we are always thinking of maximizing nutrition while minimizing food waste!).
Mashed bananas, applesauce, mashed avocado, and even pureed beans can be used. They all do a great job in recipes like brownies or cookies to moisten and thicken your batter like an egg would. Plus, using these foods increases the fiber and vitamin content of your finished product. To replace 1 large egg, use a ¼ cup of a fruit or veggie puree.
Soy products provide the same texture and gelling properties as eggs. Soy lecithin, similar to the lecithin in egg yolks, is a low-cost additive that can be used for the same purpose. Just like lecithin from egg yolks, lecithin from soybeans is a great binder and emulsifier. Sold as a powder, it adds a smoother texture and higher rise to cakes and muffins.
Soy milk is often used as an egg replacement to add moisture, though it lacks lecithin. It’s a good idea to add some additional soy lecithin to the batter when using soy milk. You do want to be careful not to add too much lecithin, as it can overpower the flavor and color of your baked goods.
Silken tofu is thicker and higher in protein than soy milk, making it a good choice for a protein boost and a denser final product. ¼ cup of silken tofu will add thickness, moisture, and richness to your baked good.
Aquafaba is a truly unique ingredient that never ceases to amaze. But first of all, what on earth is it?! Aquafaba is the thick and slightly salty water that comes with your can of chickpeas. That’s right- the liquid that you usually run down the sink after you open the can is edible (yet another food waste win)! Aquafaba is a great egg replacer and a pretty magical ingredient in a plant-based kitchen.
This liquid offers trace amounts of minerals, carbohydrates, and proteins. However, these trace amounts are just enough to emulsify, bind, and thicken batter.
When used in baking, aquafaba provides an airy lightness that other plant-based egg substitutes like mashed fruits and vegetables cannot. Use 3 tbsp aquafaba to replace 1 large egg.
Aquafaba also makes the perfect plant-based meringue. When whipped up like egg whites, aquafaba creates lovely peaks you can bake into meringue cookies or to top a lemon tart.
Next time you’re craving something sweet, use these plant-based egg substitutes and recreate your favorite recipes! What are your favorite plant based baked goods and the egg substitutes you use? We’d love baking inspiration!
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