OK, I confess. I am an avowed gluten-free experimenter, I play fast and loose in the overlapping fields of dairy- and nut-freedom, and I can even pinch hit for ingredients like sugar, corn, and soy. But. I have long kind of side-stepped the rather pesky issue of eggs.
I admit that I don’t have any (as yet identified) egg avoiders in my family, and as the owner of a gluten-free bakery, I felt that I had to draw the line somewhere. We couldn’t do everything, our focus was gluten-free. When you take away gluten, you are already working against the forces of nature that easily get you to great baking results—take out eggs too, and, well? Even I tip toward a lapse of faith: No way can that work!
And so, the confession I allude to is that I mostly just let myself off the hook. Engaged in other forms of experimental baking science, I did not spend much time in the pursuit of egg-free concoctions.
Until now. And I am so happy to report that I have had some surprisingly wonderful success. Surprisingly EASY success. And what’s maybe most surprising of all is that I’m finding that I actually prefer some of the egg-free options to their delicious, eggy original counterparts.
Here’s what I have come up with so far:
Gluten-Free/Dairy-Free/Egg-Free Pancakes and Waffles Using my Cooqi Pancake Mix, you can follow the basic package directions with only slight modifications. Start with two tablespoons of freshly ground flax and six tablespoons of slightly warm water (tap warmth is fine). Whisk these together in a medium-sized bowl. Add 1 c. rice milk (or your milk of choice—I was going for dairy free in this case), 2T oil (note slight divergence from package recipe), 2 tsp maple syrup, and 1 c. Cooqi Pancake Mix. Whisk until well blended and smooth. You can make either pancakes or waffles at this point, and in my initial test batch, both came out golden brown and fluffy (and really yummy!). See picture, above.
Martina, the customer who requested this recipe, told me that she had had problems in the past with egg-free waffles being gooey, or pancakes uncooked on the inside. I didn’t have this issue, but make sure that you don’t make your pancakes too big—about a quarter-cup of batter per cake makes a nice 4-inch pancake that flips easily. Conversely, the waffle batter won’t expand as much as with eggs, and so you need a little extra per waffle to get them full-sized. Make sure you allow them to cook fully, until slightly brown, to avoid any unwelcome internal gooeyness.
Gluten-Free/Dairy-Free/Egg-Free Loaf Bread
This bread recipe I actually discovered kind of by accident while trying to reverse engineer a bread I got from the grocery store. I was turning the cube repeatedly, struggling to figure out a way to arrive at un-cakey GF bread. I have also had lots of requests from people interested in an egg-free bread, and this was hovering at the back of my mind. The two ideas came together, and voila! An egg-free GF loaf bread that doesn’t require the fuss of a sour starter, and that has a pleasing slightly airy quality more in line with our traditional idea of bread. It makes fantastic sandwiches, as well as toast (not because it has to be toasted to be edible, but because it’s such great toast!—remember that?). If there is a down side to this bread, it’s that it doesn’t seem to freeze as forgivingly as most other GF breads. It still can be frozen, but it’s really best when eaten within a couple days of baking, stored at room temperature. Check out the recipe here.
These successes got me to wondering: how far can I take this egg-free experiment? Will this flax trick work in other recipes too? I had to find out…
And here’s the clincher (in my book): Gluten-Free/Egg-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
My daughter came home the other day with a bizarre math assignment after my own heart: her group would bring in a recipe to bake that they would have to multiply and divide in order to practice converting measurements and working with multiples of fractions. I told her this is the math I do every day, and she was suitably impressed! The catch for this assignment was that they had to make something the whole group could enjoy, and in Ellie’s case, they had one gluten-free kid and one egg-free kid, so the recipe had to be both. Plus, it had to dazzle the kids who could eat anything (this is sort of the essence of my mission).
We sorted through a number of different recipes, and they were all rejected for one reason or another. Finally, I decided just to try my regular “bullet proof” (as one customer has so named it) chocolate chip cookie recipe, substituting the flax trick for the egg. I was skeptical, but I knew it was time to see how it worked and from there come up with a new recipe. The big surprise: WOW!! These look like cookies! (I tried to post a picture, but sorry, I'm still learning this blog program and it's not loading...) And taste? I’m not kidding, I’m discerning, and I don’t think I would be able to tell these cookies from the standard recipe. They are SO good. Moist, chewy, not crumbly or flat. Just really what you want a cookie to be.
Use this recipe, and simply substitute 2T freshly ground flax mixed with 6T lukewarm water for the 2 eggs in the recipe. Do everything else the same.
So, the lesson for me is that, as much as I want for others to check their expectations at the door when it comes to what can be achieved in gluten-free baking, I have a little checking to do of my own. I love that I can keep being surprised, and also that the standards of quality ingredients and a little flexibility carry the day once more.
AND. Let us not forget that the entire oeuvre that is the Pizza+Pita Mix is all egg-free: pizza crust, pita bread/rolls, baguette, focaccia, crispbread, crostini, and (depending on whether you use an egg-white wash) bagels!!!
Now, what can YOU make without what hurts you, but that gets you to gasp-inspiring awesomeness? Let me know!!