Applesauce Is The Egg Substitute You Have To Try

Amid fluctuating egg prices and various dietary restrictions, today's shoppers might skip the egg cartons at the store. However, this can pose a problem when it's time to bake a cake or cookies. You might assume the project is a no-go without eggs.

Before you call it quits, consider using applesauce, a vegan and shelf-stable option, to act as the binding agent in your baking. This ingredient can add moisture to sweet treats, and works best in loaves that already feature fruit — like pumpkin, zucchini, and banana bread — as well as in cakey desserts like brownies and cookies, and denser options like pound cake.

For the closest swap, use ¼ cup of unsweetened applesauce in place of each egg. If you only have sweetened applesauce, reduce the recipe's sugar to suit your taste. The mild puree won't significantly alter the flavor of your bake, making it suitable for a variety of flavored treats. While it might not be the best choice for a minty grasshopper cake, its subtle hint of warm spice only enhances muffins and coffee cakes. Applesauce is also a delicious ingredient to add to pancake batter.

When to swap in applesauce

Eggs play multiple roles in recipes, particularly with the protein in the whites being able to capture and hold air, interact with and strengthen gluten, and trap steam. Unfortunately, applesauce can't replicate this leavening effect, which means your baked goods might not have the exact same texture. To approximate this, consider adding an extra ½ teaspoon of baking powder to the batter for a lighter result.

This substitute is most effective in recipes where eggs mainly provide liquid and cohesion, rather than acting as a leavening agent. You can get a sense of this by examining the ingredient list before you start baking. If eggs are among the few wet ingredients, applesauce is likely a suitable substitute to provide moisture and binding. This is especially true in recipes that call for only one to two eggs — using applesauce in recipes requiring more can lead to significant changes in texture.

Additionally, ensure that your recipe includes baking powder, baking soda, or another ingredient capable of adding lift. If the recipe relies solely on eggs or egg whites for airiness and rise, it may not be the best candidate for a vegan substitute. Reserve the egg replacement for desserts that thrive with added moisture, such as pound cake and brownies.

Elevating the egg substitute

If you have a bushel of apples, whether they're bruised or pristine, making applesauce is a great way to make the most of the fruit. Even apples stored properly in the fridge can eventually become too mush for snacking. Instead of discarding them, you can easily bake or simmer the apples into a quick and flavorful puree. Plus, you have the option to customize its flavors to complement your future baking endeavors.

To transform this egg substitute into a baking powerhouse, consider the types of apples and their seasonings before starting. For instance, if you're aiming to draw out the tart flavors in a lemon cake, incorporating a sour variety like Granny Smith apples could heighten the desired taste. Adding orange juice or lemon zest can bring out additional citrus notes. If you're planning to bake a tea cake or lavender brownies, a more floral touch, such as infusing the mix with dried lavender, might be appropriate.

Apples also pair beautifully with caramel and spices. To accentuate these flavors, consider mixing in ingredients like vanilla extract, fresh ginger, brown sugar, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and even a splash of rum. For a non-vegan yet richly nutty twist, try incorporating browned butter. With these preparations, home cooks are well-equipped to start using applesauce as an egg substitute, enhancing recipes like carrot cake or oatmeal cookies.