Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Why not use purchased egg replacer powder every time?

Why not use purchased egg replacer powder(such as Ener-G Egg Replacer) every time you need to substitute eggs?

It can be daunting to stare at a recipe and wonder, which egg substitute do I use? Why not just go the easy way and use "Ener-G Egg Replacer" in all your baked products? Probably in most cases the good old "Ener-G Egg Replacer" or other type product will work satisfactorily(make sure it contains no eggs- some egg replacers do). Don't mistunderstand: Egg Replacer is a wonderful resource. When adapting a recipe, I use it sometimes as my choice of egg substitute. It can be especially good at providing the structure in a baked good that an egg normally contributes. It lightens baked goods and helps them to rise. But I encourage you to understand how to use several different egg substitutes that you can make, or draw from your pantry or fridge at home. NOTE Nov 2010- I haven't used egg-replacer for several months now, and haven't missed it.

Here are my reasons for encouraging you to learn how to use a variety of egg substitutes:

Flavor: Egg Replacer does not contribute to the flavor of a product. Applesauce, prunes, flaxmeal, etc...all can add good flavor to baked goods. This is especially helpful for gluten-free products, which often can be bland.

Nutrition: Consider the nutrition of flax seed(Omegas, protein, fiber), or gelatin(protein- which is helpful to add to products made with gluten-free flour), or fruit or vegetable purees(vitamins and fiber), or tofu(protein). On the other hand, egg replacer is made up mostly of starches.

Flexibility/Convenience: Though it is convenient to use a single egg substitute product that you buy from a store, it is not convenient if you've just decided to bake something and notice you've run out of egg replacer. Not another trip to the store..! Instead, do you have baking soda, baking powder, vinegar, any kind of fresh or frozen fruit, flax, gelatin,...it pays to know a variety of ways to substitute an egg.

Price: Some items may be cheaper to use than purchased Egg-replacer. I intend to do cost comparisons sometime. For now, I assume that vinegar, baking powder/soda, and maybe applesauce are cheaper to use than purchased egg-replacer.

A couple experiences:

Normally I bake from scratch, but I have tried two gluten-free cake mixes. The first simply said to add eggs or egg replacer, water, and oil. That I did, adding Ener-G Egg Replacer instead of eggs. The cake was okay, but I didn't really enjoy it. The next cake mix said to add Buttermilk or yogurt, eggs, butter, and vanilla. Instead of eggs, I added applesauce, and added xanthan gum as well. I used vanilla yogurt(soy) for my liquid. Now this was a delicious cake! The various substitutes you choose in any given recipe will turn out differing results of texture and flavor.

Egg-Replacer is excellent at providing for structure normally provided by an egg. But it does not contribute to a recipe in the way of flavor or richness. This morning, my daughter had pancakes made from a gluten-free all purpose type of mix. I followed the waffle recipe and adapted as needed: honey, water, eggs, oil: I substituted one egg with applesauce, and one egg with flax meal. For the half the amount of honey called for, blueberry honey was used. I know that gluten-free flour is pretty bland on its own. But these were flavorful pancakes! They had a wonderful combination of flavor, provided by the applesauce, "nutty-ness" of the flax, and touch of blueberry honey.

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