Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Substitutes: eggs in baking


I recently received an email from a reader who was struggling to find a way to make a "real" birthday cake for her young son, who is allergic to both wheat and eggs! She found my flourless chocolate cake recipe and was asking if flaxseed could substitute for the eggs. (note: I can't imagine how frustrating this would be...it's hard enough to explain to grown adults why you can't have "just a little piece" of cake, let alone to a kid on his birthday.)

People with food allergies need to know this key rule about substitutions: the majority of the time, you can't make 1:1 substitutions without making some adjustments. You need to understand the role of the food allergen in question and make sure that your substitute can contribute the same functionality. In the case of my flourless chocolate cake, beating the egg whites is what gives the cake its structure, essentially like a souffle, so in this case using flaxseed would have left a flat disc that would not rise. Being allergic to eggs would, well, suck eggs, because they're in just about every baked good, and in other things besides...fried chicken, candy (via lecithin).

Eggs are one of the more difficult things to substitute, especially in baking. In baking, they serve to bind ingredients together, provide structure, act as leavening to make things rise, and add soft texture to dry ingredients. The protein in eggs that does all this is exactly the same protein that allergic people can't have. So what are your choices if you're allergic to eggs?

I did some quick research (I've been meaning to do this anyhow for my cookbook), and here are some options, courtesy of the Vegan with a Vengeance cookbook, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.

Ground flaxseed can be used in small amounts as a binder but has a strong taste. It works well in things like pancakes and whole-grain items. 1 Tablespoon finely ground flaxseeds + 3 Tablespoons water= one egg

Silken tofu (Mori nu brand in a box) works best in dense cakes and brownies.1/4 c blended silken tofu = 1 egg

Ener-G Egg Replacer is probably your best best when you need to replace more than one egg in baking. Seems to work best in cookies and things that are supposed to be crispy. (it's made of potato starch, tapioca flour and a combination of natural gums). 1-1/2 Tablespoons Ener-G + 2 Tablespoons water = 1 egg

Mashed banana
used in small amounts works well in baking, except gives a banana flavor. 1/2 banana blended = 1 egg

Soy yogurt (I imagine you can use dairy yogurt too, but this is from a vegan cookbook says the FAQ) 1/4 c. soy yogurt = 1 egg

So, what did I recommend to my reader? Instead of going trying to invent something on her own, I recommended going to a good gluten-free or allergen-free grocery site (I have a link to Allergy Grocer on my site), getting a gluten-free cake mix and use Ener-G as a substitute the eggs. I guess we'll all wait to hear how it comes out because the little boy's birthday is a ways away and mom is practicing early! (Hopefully she'll read this and send us a picture.)

Next on the eggless journey...I'm dying to make eggless mayo with silken tofu, I'll let you know how it comes out. It will either be fabulous or funky. I can't wait to find out.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think I must be the allergy emporess because you can use soy and that is the food I am most allergic to -- along with all dairy, nuts, wheat, red grapes -- I got all these allergies as an adult onset so new ones pop up all the time.

I have a family whom I -- of course -- cook for -- and we basically eat a meat, a starch and a vegetable for all meals.

Cookbooks are useless. They all use cream of something. I love the Rachel Ray show but she uses cheese in EVERYTHING!

I am looking for substitutes for all of these ingredients or if I can buy them online, especially cream soups.

Thank you.

Mary

Food Allergy Queen said...

Hi Mary, you must've missed that on my list, I am indeed allergic to soy. And I'm Chinese. So I get it. Please review an earlier post in March 07 about toiletries, because there is a lot of soy oil in toiletries that you may not be aware of.

Dairy is the easiest thing to substitute. There is rice milk and oat milk since you can't have soy and nut milks.

Read through my earlier posts for my basic tips on cooking for food allergies: eat ethnic, be creative, and simplify! I'm sorry, but there aren't always simple substitutes out there, you'll have to relearn how to cook for your allergies. Also look at the link for Allergy Grocer.com.

And you should consider having your kids tested for food allergies as well since it tends to be genetic.

Good luck. I hope my blog can be of help.

mama o' the matrices said...

Cherrybrook Kitchen just came out with a new line of GF mixes. Most have corn (a problem for us), but there's a chocolate cake that uses baking soda (no corn) instead of baking powder (usually has corn). It doesn't need eggs, and makes a wonderful cupcake.

To get around the problem of the GF, eggless cake, I like cupcakes or moulded mini cakes. I have one that has little moulds for different cars in a freight train. My boys adore it, and it's perfect for vegan GF baked goods.

InspiredMumof2 said...

Hi, I am so glad i found your blog. My 5 year old son has multiple allergies including food allergy. I have been using a type of soya cream spread to bake eggless cakes and they all turn out fine if mixed with appropriate ingredients. Thanks for your valuable suggestions, I will try them out soon.

Jennifer said...

Well I'm really glad I found your blog too... I'm working on making (ideally) a birthday cake, but I'll settle for birthday cookies, or cup cakes for my son. He's allergic to: dairy, rice, soy, "all" legumes (peas, green beans, lentils, beans), egg, tree nuts (and some other things but not too relevant to cake making like shellfish).

Challenging (for me at least, I'm new to this "game" - my son is 18 months and my older daughter has no allergies)... I've tried substituting coconut oil for butter and Ener-G for eggs, and it's worked fairly well on texture on some (where as sunflower oil left it oily) but my son doesn't seem to like the coconut -- and its really fragrant.

Suggestions? Doesn't have to be a high fluffy cake -- I have some cute silicone dinosaur molds that would be great too.

Food Allergy Queen said...

Hi Jennifer,

I've successfully substituted vegetable shortening for butter in baked goods (as much as 1/4 c) as long as it's not used for flavoring (like buttercream frosting). I use the Spectrum organic shortening because it uses 100% palm oil. Be sure to look at labels as some vegetable shortenings are made with soy oil.

I would try getting the chocolate cake mix from Allergic Grocer, use Ener-G and shortening, and either add chocolate chips or chocolate syrup (reduce another liquid to compensate) because I found the flavor to be a little flat. But it might be perfect for a little one's bday cake. Good luck! The FAQ.

homebaker said...

My toddler has allergies to dairy, wheat, eggs, and peanuts. I just set up a food allergy blog, and was perusing other blogs to get ideas of format for my own. What a great blog, "Food Allergy Queen!" I will check often to see how your experiments are going. I like to bake and have been experimenting a little myself. I'm sorry I don't have much to offer you as I cook a lot with rice flour, oat flour and bean flours. I don't work with corn much at this point, because I suspect my baby might be allergic to it. (We'll get her tested in a couple months, probably).

As for those who are looking for birthday cake ideas, and can have rice: Try a rice-crispy cake! You make dairy-free rice cripy treats and pack them into a cake pan! (make them more firm than usual- less oil/dairy free marg and more rice crispies do the trick). See my blog http://wheatdairyeggnutfree.blogspot.com/

homebaker said...

My toddler has allergies to dairy, wheat, eggs, and peanuts. I just set up a food allergy blog, and was perusing other blogs to get ideas of format for my own. What a great blog, "Food Allergy Queen!" I will check often to see how your experiments are going. I like to bake and have been experimenting a little myself. I'm sorry I don't have much to offer you as I cook a lot with rice flour, oat flour and bean flours. I don't work with corn much at this point, because I suspect my baby might be allergic to it. (We'll get her tested in a couple months, probably).

As for those who are looking for birthday cake ideas, and can have rice: Try a rice-crispy cake! You make dairy-free rice cripy treats and pack them into a cake pan! (make them more firm than usual- less oil/dairy free marg and more rice crispies do the trick). See my blog http://wheatdairyeggnutfree.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Applesauce is also a substitute for eggs in baked goods... especially in dense things like muffins and cakes. 1/3 cup will replace one egg. Pumpkin apparently also works but I have not tried this.

TLC said...

I just found your blog. My 2 year old son is allergic to eggs, wheat, rice and soy. My 3.5 year old daughter hasn't been tested for allergies as she never showed signs like he did. So I am just searching for recipes for things I can make that both will eat! The doctor nonchalantly said 'eliminating these from his diet will be hard but not impossible.' I kind of think the doctor doesn't have a lot of food allergies?! LOL

Anonymous said...

My daughter is allergic to egg whites and we have been happy to discover that 1 T. potato starch + 2 T. water can be used in place of eggs in baking recipes (cakes, breakfast breads, etc.). You can use the same ration with cornstarch as well, but I prefer potato starch. I once made a coffee cake with eggs and another with the substitute and assumed I would be able to tell the difference when they came out of the oven. I couldn't. They both raised beautifully and I'm sad to say that my daughter could not have cake that day because I had no idea which was safe!