Last week at the Vegan Dairy Fair, I was asked what egg substitutes I used in my baking. My reply was that I have tried them all, from packaged egg replacer to tofu. That question got me thinking about revisiting egg subs. I hadn’t used yogurt in awhile, and my hubby was craving chocolate chip cookies, so the following recipe was created.
Chocolate Chip Cookies with Yogurt adapted from Cornell University Cooperative Extension, Eat Smart New York!
1/2 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup organic brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup vegan margarine
1/2 cup non-dairy vanilla yogurt
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup vegan chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350F. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine sugar, brown sugar, and margarine. Beat until light and fluffy. Add yogurt and vanilla and blend well. Sift together the flours, baking soda, and salt. Beat the flour mixture into the margarine mixture a cupful at a time. Stir the chocolate chips in by hand. Drop by rounded spoonfuls 2” apart onto cookie sheets. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 1 minute, then remove from cookie sheets.
While baking at high altitude, I discovered that added protein helps maintain texture that could be lost by the lower air pressure. The hard part with vegan baking is that many ideas for egg substitutes are carbohydrates and not proteins. Experimenting with higher protein flours adds the protein but can make a baked good dense. Tofu and yogurt can also create a more dense texture so they are best saved for fudgy items. So, what to do when you want something light and airy?
The answer may be in Terry Hope Romero’s latest cookbook, Protein Ninja. When faced with the age-old question of where a vegan gets protein, her idea was Protein Powder. No, she doesn’t want people replacing all meals with a protein shake. Instead, she adds the powder to, among other things, baked goods. When I read that the hamster in my head nearly gave himself a heart attack running on his wheel so fast.
Hmmm. Protein powder. Muffins. Cakes. Pancakes. Cookies. Brownies. But, is it a simple flour replacement? She warns that taste, texture and sometimes color will be altered, but suggests that protein powders can be lighter than high protein flours. Her book does explain that “protein powders seem to suck up more liquid than most flours (but) adding a small portion of dense, moist ingredients … provides some must needed moisture.”
My mind is racing with ideas. I must go buy protein powder. Then on to the kitchen to experiment. Stay tuned and I may just surprise you with a healthy and decadent protein-laden baked treat.
When I first moved to high altitude, people were excited to hear that I was making exquisite baked treats that were vegan and worked at mountain heights. Now, with the surge of gluten-free eaters, I am constantly asked if my baked goods are gluten-free. My response is usually a sigh as I haven’t reached that lofty goal yet.
In an effort to please several gluten-free friends, I have researched gluten-free recipes. My oven has even seen a test or two. Unfortunately the results have been disastrous. The textures are insanely odd as I have trouble resolving the vegan issues in a high altitude gluten-free recipe. The only thing I have ever baked in my life that went straight into the trash was a high altitude, vegan, gluten-free brownie. It was closer to molten lava than any brownie ever made.
But, if you are gluten-free, don’t give up on me. I enjoy a challenge and have started to explore the particular science of gluten-free baking as it pertains to high altitude. I need to wrap my head around that before I can then try veganizing a recipe because eggs provide great structure that gluten-free takes away from a recipe. Also, gluten-free flours don’t react with liquids the same as their gluten-filled cousins do, thus exacerbating the dryness found at higher altitudes.
If there is one thing I have learned in adapting my baking to being vegan and being successful at high altitude, it’s that chemistry will always prevail. As long as the various scientific aspects are taken into account, then baking can be a piece of cake, or muffin, or brownie.
In the past I brought up the topic of egg substitutes, notably the two choices of flaxseed meal and aquafaba. The flaxseed egg (aka flegg) is a common choice for vegans because it is easy to make while holding ingredients together and providing moisture. The downside of the flegg is that it doesn’t provide airiness and can make a baked good dense when used in larger quantities. We also have the new kid on the block – aquafaba. The texture of the brine is very similar to egg whites and it contains protein which is a boon at altitude. So, what is the next step? A combination of the two, or what I refer to as “The Super Flegg.”
I’ll back up for a moment and revisit each individually. Since writing my post on egg substitutes, I have discovered that the recipe for a flax egg that I cited was not the same as the majority of other recipes I have since found. I revise my proportions to those recommended on veganbaking.net. They state:
Flax Meal Egg Replacer Recipe
This recipe makes the equivalent of 1 egg.
3 Tablespoons water
1 Tablespoon golden flax meal
1) Grind the golden flax seeds into a meal in a blender or spice grinder.
2) Add the water to a small bowl or cup. Add the flax meal and mix together with a whisk or fork. Let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes so it develops a gelatinous texture similar to a raw egg. Warm water will speed up this gelling process.
My post on aquafaba touted the chickpea brine as being useful for high altitude baking because it offered the protein needed to maintain structure in a baked item. The problem I saw was its density. Those using aquafaba mentioned that it didn’t need to be whipped when used as an egg replacer, but now I had two dense items to work with. The solution – try whipping the two together.
When an egg is used in a baking recipe it is usually whipped. “Egg proteins and many other types of proteins can be denatured by heat but also by friction such as kneading or whipping.” The denatured proteins “join together and trap air bubbles. This is why eggs foams work so well in leavening cakes.” So, to emulate an egg better I needed to use it as one would use an egg. By whipping the two replacements together I had my perfect egg substitute – A Super Flegg.
You will see recipes in the future with The Super Flegg alongside recipes using other substitutes for those who like options. As always, I will search out and test anything that can make baking vegan at high altitude just a little easier.
Months ago, while searching online for vegan baking inspirations, I stumbled across a reference to Aquafaba. It said that the brine from cooked chickpeas could work as a vegan substitute for eggs. My initial response was, “Huh?” Then followed, “Who even thought that this made sense in the first place?” I realized I needed to explore this idea further and here is what I found.
Joël Roessel, through the testing of various vegetable foams, discovered that the liquid from cooked chickpeas can be whipped into a foam in the same way as flax mucilage. Flax mucilage is an egg substitute of flaxmeal whipped with water, but he found it had limited uses. So, one year ago, Joel posted his discoveries on his blog. Soon after, Goose Wohlt saw a video in which the creators used a whipped chickpea liquid to make chocolate mousse. The recipe was complicated so Goose experimented and found that he could make a vegan meringue with just sugar and the chickpea brine.
The brine, renamed by Goose as Aquafaba, is considered “the liquid drained off a can (or pot) of chickpeas, or other legumes. (Loosely, Latin for water = aqua, bean = faba.)” The word got out on this momentous vegan discovery and a Facebook page, now with almost 33,000 members, was born so that those using the product could share their experiences with it. That is the web page I discovered earlier this year that sent me down the rabbit hole. Most people were trying the product out on meringue because that was Joël’s original use, but I wanted to make cakes. I watched as foodists played with it and I read their recipes and soon Aquafaba took off.
There is now a website dedicated to the stuff. It has been talked about throughout the internet and been showcased in magazines such as Veg News and Vegan Life. As a vegan baker looking for higher protein egg substitutes to work at high altitude, I knew I had to jump on that bandwagon and test it for myself. My last post is about my Candy Cane Chocolate Cake made with Aquafaba. I enjoyed making and eating it but it seemed a tad dense, a problem I suspect was due to the brine. I know that I need to discover new uses for Aquafaba and perfect the old ones when used at high altitude. This will definitely not be my last word on the subject.