Egg is one of the most common food allergies, particularly in young children. Reactions can range from vomiting to skin rashes and can even cause a potentially life-threatening anaphylactic reaction. The protein in egg white is often to blame, although for some it’s the yolk that’s the problem. Either way, avoiding eggs in total is a good idea if you have any form of sensitivity or intolerance to them.
When it comes to baking, egg is seen as an essential ingredient acting as a binder and raising agent. But if eggs are off your menu, cake doesn’t have to be, as there are a whole host of egg alternatives out there. Egg-free doesn’t have to mean cake-free!
Raising agents: – instead of egg, extra baking powder or bicarbonate of soda work just as well. Personally, I tend to only use baking powder, as bicarbonate of soda has a very strong flavour and if you use too much, or inappropriately, you get a horrible ammonia/wee flavour. Best avoided in cake!
To bind: – there are loads of different options to help bind your cake together; the one you chose often depends on the type of cake you’re making.
1) Nothing – some cakes, like a sponge cake, don’t need anything. Just work quickly and don’t over mix
2) Curdled milk – adding a teaspoon of cider vinegar or lemon juice to your dairy free milk curdles it slightly, and acts as a good binder for light sponges and cupcakes.
3) Ground flaxseed – you can create a flaxseed ‘egg’ by mixing one tablespoon of ground flaxseed with 3 tablespoons of water. Leave it to sit for 5 minutes or so and it turns thick and gloopy, just like a whisked egg. Flaxseed also contains essential omega 3 fats and some super fibre, so your cake becomes healthy too. The flaxseed can be seen in the batter though, so use for chocolate or fruitcake. Ground chia seeds works in the same way.
4) Fruit or vegetable puree – apple, pear, banana, sweet potato, pumpkin all work well to bind loaf cakes, tray bakes and muffins. You also get hidden nutrients in your cake – cake as a health food!
5) Yoghurt – can be a little heavy, so use for muffins or tray bakes like brownies where lift and lightness is not so important. Dairy free works just as well if you are a non-milk eater.
6) Egg replacement products – these are powders made up of a variety of starches that thicken and go gloopy when mixed with water. I personally tend to avoid them as they contain highly processed ingredients.
7) Chickpea ‘brine’ – the water from either tinned chickpeas or freshly cooked can be used as a binder or egg white replacement in baking. Called aquafaba, it has similar properties to egg whites and has been particularly successful in creating meringues, as well as whisked and used to replace egg whites in thin light sponges like roulade. Who would have thought?