Vegans and allergy-sufferers are two of the main groups who avoid using eggs in baking. For the former, it’s an ethical choice. Chickens – even those reared in free-range conditions – are often kept in cramped nesting booths, and sometimes have their beaks trimmed to stop them from fighting.
Vegans usually choose not to eat eggs because of the welfare of the bird that produced them. But anyone who cares about animal welfare might worry about the production of the eggs that they eat. If you are, make sure you’re choosing free range and organic, preferably those which state clearly where they’ve been farmed. And why not try some of our egg-free cakes, below?
Before you approach any recipe, it’s important to understand the role of egg in traditional cake batters. When you beat an egg, you incorporate air, which is sealed into the final cake when the egg dries out during baking. Egg is also an important ingredient for binding other ingredients together. These two jobs make it quite difficult to replace. But don’t worry, it can be done!
Using Egg Replacement Powder
Egg Replacement Powder has been specially developed for using in vegan recipes. You can find it in health food shops. This powder is mixed with warm water, and may need a little extra liquid to compensate for its drier finish. It’s low in cholesterol and a medium box will last for ages – making the equivalent of up to 100 eggs!
If you’re recoiling in horror at the thought of using egg replacement powder, choose a recipe which doesn’t call for many eggs. The powder is almost tasteless, as well as being lower in cholesterol and having a longer shelf-life than eggs (so the finished cake will last much better than ordinary ones).
Other Egg Substitutes
The Vegan Society lists some suggested egg substitutes. Using a recipe that calls for egg, just swap the egg for:
- A tbsp of chickpea flour mixed with 1tbsp warm water
- 50g tofu, blended
- Half a large banana, mashed or puréed
Making Adjustments to the Recipe
Because you’re using something quite different to an egg, in a recipe which calls specifically for egg, you may have to improvise a bit. Try to find a recipe that indicates the density of the final cake batter, so that you can judge what extra ingredients may be needed.
Extra baking powder, or self-raising flour in place of plain, will help to give the cake that egg-sealed fluffiness. Make sure that you sift the dry ingredients, twice if you like, holding the sieve high above the bowl to incorporate as much air as you can.
If you’re using butter (or vegan margarine), beat it very thoroughly at the start of the recipe – as it changes colour it’s becoming more aerated, which will help. A little unflavoured oil will help to seal in these air bubbles.
A Recipe to Try: Egg-free Lemon Sponge
- 200g (7oz) self-raising flour
- 2tsp baking powder
- 75g (3oz)caster sugar
- 125g (4½oz ) vegan margarine
- 150ml (5fl oz) lemon juice
- Zest of half a lemon
- 175ml (6fl oz) cold water
Preheat the oven to 190ºC. Beat the margarine and sugar until pale and fluffy. Sift in the flour and baking powder, holding the sieve high over the bowl. Gently fold in the water, lemon juice and zest. Divide the mixture between two greased and lined sandwich cake tins and bake for 30 minutes or until golden and springy. Turn out of the tins and cool before sandwiching together with egg-free lemon curd or raspberry jam and dusting with icing sugar.
For some delicious dairy-free recipes, such as egg-free chocolate cake and gingerbread cake, read our feature on Non-Dairy Cakes.