You often hear of tweaks or substitutes that even the most seasoned baker has to do to their recipes occasionally, whether it be for a lack of an ingredient or, in some cases, to compensate for an allergy.
One such substitution is using applesauce in place of eggs. Finding out how much applesauce to use per egg is just an internet search away, but the real question is why?
Why does applesauce work in place of eggs?
The Basics of Using Applesauce as a Substitute for Eggs
To start, if you are looking to substitute eggs and are wanting to use applesauce, the proper ratio is ¼ cup of unsweetened applesauce per egg. You’ll want to stick to lower volumes, though.
Anything over two eggs really starts to threaten the structural integrity of the baked goods.
Eggs act as a binder for pastries, cakes, and the like. They also allow air to be trapped within the structure, while still retaining moisture in the finished product.
There’s one thing you have to keep in mind, though. If you are removing the thing that the cake or bread relies on to hold itself together – eggs – in a large enough capacity, you may have to add other ingredients to assist the applesauce.
That being said, using applesauce in place of an egg at low volumes, preferably to replace one egg, can produce great results.
You’ll also want to make sure you use unsweetened applesauce. It’s not a deal-breaker if you only have sweetened. You just might have to reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe.
But Why Does It Work so Well?
The ability to replace an egg with applesauce is, in large part, due to the pectin in the applesauce. Pectin acts as a binder just like eggs do.
I’m about to get a little nerdy on you.
When you cook eggs, the proteins are denatured (or changed the structure of) and form a more solid, connected base. In baking, this helps foods to stick together.
Pectin acts in a similar fashion, but for different reasons. When pectin is cooked, the polysaccharides found in carbohydrates combine to make large, complex formations. An example of this is the gooey part of jellies and jams.
Eggs also interrupt the gluten in flour from forming large networks, which keep baked goods from getting tough and dense. Pectin’s polysaccharide formations do the same.
What Happens If I Go over Two Eggs Worth?
Well, for one, your cake will start to taste and feel like applesauce. Eggs account for a large part of the texture, or mouthfeel, and taste in baked goods.
Replace that egg with a textured food with a distinctive taste, like applesauce, and you’re bound to have changes in the taste and texture that increase based on how much you use.
You also may run into problems with the cake or pastry staying together. Pectin is great, but it isn’t exactly like eggs.
This means that the more eggs you replace, the harder it is for applesauce to do the same job as eggs. They just aren’t equals.
When you are faced with a potential allergy issue or a lack of a major ingredient such as eggs, rest assured that you have options. Applesauce may not be the end all, be all of egg replacements, but it does a fantastic job in its own right.