Baking secrets for those who can’t have Eggs and Gluten

Baking secrets for those who can’t have Eggs and Gluten

Eggs and wheat flour are among the most basic ingredients in traditional baking. And for good reason: they affect both the taste and texture of your products. If dairy products are removed from the process, the difference (although relatively small) is noticeable.  Without eggs and gluten, everything is different - such pastries are always more dense, dry, very fragile, and stale faster. Doesn’t sound appealing, does it? Fortunately, all of these components can be leveled.
I’ll note a warning right away - there is no universal “magic wand”. Somewhere one option works better, and somewhere else the proportions may differ. Everything is tested by experience. 
So let's talk about the functions of these basic components and how to make up for their absence.

1) Dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder...) and liquid ones (juices, fruit purees, dairy products...) - they must have a certain ratio to get the desired result. By removing the eggs, and with them some of the liquid ingredients, you shift this proportion towards the dry ingredients. 

2) Structure-forming substance. This role manifests itself in different ways:
Bake coagulation - occurs when it is heated - protein molecules form a cellular structure that retains moisture, and our baking rises and becomes porous.
Aeration - is achieved by whipping the proteins with a mixer when they are saturated with oxygen, after which they are mixed into the dough and, due to their structure, give it volume and a light, airy structure. These recipes often do not even require the addition of baking powder.
Eggs also have binding properties and prevent your products from crumbling in your hands.

3) Softening, preventing staleness. Eggs contain a large amount of fat. As well as natural emulsifiers. They are responsible for the softness and elasticity of your product, which lasts for a long time.

4) Delicate, rich taste. Remember that substituting any ingredient affects both texture and taste. By removing the yolk, we lose these properties.

Let's analyze the replacement logic.

It is important to understand: each recipe is unique, depending on other ingredients, on the technology of kneading the dough, on the taste and texture that needs to be obtained, the best option and proportions are selected empirically. Just like that, and nothing else! Let's first analyze the logic of such a replacement.

1) Removing one liquid component from the recipe, we need to compensate for its absence. To this end, the amount of other liquid ingredients in the recipe is increased.

2) Structure-forming properties. When choosing a liquid component (see point 1), we pay attention so that it can take over the bonding of the components. Unfortunately, it will not be possible to fully compensate for the functions of coagulation and aeration without eggs.

3) Softening, preventing staleness. If the recipe, in addition to eggs, already contains fats in a considerable amount (vegetable / butter / coconut / cocoa butter, for example) - you can ignore this item.
But if eggs and their yolks were the only source of fat, it makes sense to make up for their shortage.

4) The presence of egg yolks and butter in recipes gives a “rich” taste loved by many - here you need to understand that our baking will acquire the taste of the component that we use as a substitute for eggs.

And now in practice:

When replacing eggs, remember that the weight of 1 egg of category 1 is 50-55 gr. The yolk weighs about 20 grams, the protein about 30. The substitution options below are used 1:1 to the weight of the egg.

1) One of the most popular egg replacement options is flax egg. Dark flaxseeds will be more saturated in taste, if you take golden flaxseeds for cooking, it will practically not affect the taste of your product, giving it light nutty notes. Also, such an egg can be made from chia seeds, the proportions are the same. The option that is more suitable in a particular case is found out through observation. 

1 tbsp. of flax or chia seeds, ground in a coffee grinder + 3 tbsp. tablespoons of water = 1 egg. We leave all the ingredients at room temperature, mix, and leave for 15-20 minutes. The ground seeds will swell and form a slimy consistency that is great for replacing eggs.

2) Psyllium. Psyllium husk (available at pharmacies, iherb, and health food stores) forms a gel-like structure when combined with water, which is an excellent substitute for eggs. The cooking scheme is the same as that of a flax egg - 1 tbsp. l. husks are ground into flour, mixed with 3 tbsp. water, and infused for 15-20 minutes.

3) Tofu or vegetable yogurt. Both are sold in vegetarian stores, as well as in large supermarkets during the fasting period and beyond. When using tofu, it must first be punched with a blender until a homogeneous smooth mass. Also keep an eye on the consistency of the dough - often tofu is thicker than eggs, you may need to add liquid components.

When choosing yogurt, keep in mind that it moisturizes well, but does not hold together as well as options with seeds and psyllium - it is better to combine these two methods.

4) Various oils and fats - it’s good to add if, with the exception of eggs, there are no fatty ingredients left in the dough. Suitable peanut, coconut oil, grape seed oil, mashed avocado pulp. We take in an amount equal to the yolks that we replace, to replace the protein we use aquafaba (see below), yogurt.

5) Apple, pumpkin, beetroot, banana puree, mango puree and others, dense, rich in pectin - will hold the components together, add moisture and tenderness to the baked goods, as well as their own taste. 

6) Aquafaba - the water left over from the cooking of legumes, which is whipped to the same stable foam as protein. On it you can make wonderful meringues, soufflés and mousses, but when mixed into the dough in my experience, it unfortunately settles. That is, the aeration function cannot be shifted to it.

 There are three important things you should know about gluten’s effect on baking:

1) Bonding ingredients. When preparing the same recipe with gluten-free flour and flour with gluten content, you will always notice the difference - the product on gluten-free flour will always be more crumbly. Somewhere this is out of place, for example, in the case of shortbread dough, which implies a certain “looseness”. For example, when you try cutting into a biscuit, and it literally crumbles in your hands.

2) It is gluten that provides your products with elasticity, the dough gives ductility. Have you ever seen how a strudel is prepared according to a classic recipe? If not, you can look for videos on the Internet. The dough is first rolled out thinly, and then further stretched directly with the hands. According to the rules, it should become so thin that a newspaper can be read through it. This is a clear manifestation of gluten's ability to give an elastic consistency to your dough. If you try to use the same recipe, substituting a single ingredient - wheat flour for some kind of gluten-free, such as corn or rice - you just won't succeed - it will break.

3) Another property of gluten is to give your cake a high rise. For example, you found a recipe for a cake with regular wheat flour. When you bake it, 1/3 of the shape must remain free, since the dough will greatly increase in volume, and otherwise it will simply “run away”. If you replace wheat flour with gluten-free flour, there will be almost no free space - until you pour the dough - at that level (maximum + 5-10% of this height) and your product will be baked.

Accordingly, on the cut, such cakes will be very different - for example, a bread, baked with  gluten-containing flour will be more airy, with larger pores, elasticity - that is, if you squeeze it, it will take its previous shape. When using gluten-free flour in the same recipe, you will get a dense bread  with very small pores.
It will also be significantly less elastic.

Options for adapting recipes to use gluten-free flour:

1) Bonding ingredients and elasticity. You may notice that this feature is duplicated by eggs. Accordingly, when we remove both of them from the recipe, the product turns out to be very fragile and delicate - you need to be prepared for this. There are ways to smooth out this feature, they will also help to give elasticity:
- replacing part of the flour with green buckwheat flour, which does not contain gluten, does not have a pungent odor, unlike the one that was thermally processed, but it thickens the dough well and holds its components together. As a rule, I replace up to 50% of the flour in the recipe with it, otherwise it may show its properties too brightly - thicken too much and change the structure of the product too much.
- using flaxseed or psyllium (ground psyllium husk) - both have the ability to form a slimy consistency - doesn't sound very appetizing, but it's what you need to give elasticity. Most often, I replace them with them within 15% of the flour in the recipe.

- use of gum. Xanthan gum is a gluten-free classic. Natural product, is the result of the activity of microorganisms. Strongly thickens the dough, gives it elasticity, for example, it will be a lifesaver when you need to cook a gluten-free roll. But this is just one example, it is not harmful to add it to any gluten-free dough - it will help it rise a little higher, keep freshness and juiciness for a longer time, make it less fragile. And all this is a big problem with egg-free and gluten-free dough. The main thing is to use it very delicately, as a rule, it takes me the amount “on the tip of a knife”, within 1⁄4 teaspoon per 200-250 gr. flour. If you overdo it, you get a very wet product that simply will not bake.

2) High rise. Let's start with the bad news: unfortunately, if you are making a gluten-free biscuit and DO NOT use eggs in your recipe, or rather beaten egg whites (for whatever reason) - your biscuit will in any case be denser than it containing gluten. Whatever you put, soda or baking powder, even the use of whipped aquafaba will not give such a pronounced effect of fluffiness and airiness that whipped proteins would give - this must be taken into account.

The good news is that such a cake can still be made tender and very tasty if you use the tips above;)

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