Hello and welcome to a new blog and baking experiment! The weather is starting to feel like spring here in Indiana, and I have been loving getting to spend time outside and at the park with my son. I love to always have a snack for him on-the-go (because hangry toddlers are emotional toddlers), and muffins are a perfect, portable snack. They can be customized to fit a wide variety of dietary needs or a sparse pantry. Today, I am aiming to answer the question, “what egg substitute is the best for muffins”. Whether you are vegan and need an egg alternative or simply realized that you have no eggs but a hankering for muffins, this is the post for you.
I decided to bake the same base muffin recipe 4 times, once with an egg, and three more times each with a different egg substitute: flaxseed meal, chia seeds, and applesauce. I’ve used each of these egg substitutes before in various recipes, but I have never taken the time to compare them. I’m sure that each one has a type of recipe that it shines in, but today I am solely focusing on muffins.
In order to best compare how the different egg substitutes impact texture and flavor, I used a simple base muffin recipe by Hostess at Heart. Other than sugar, the only flavoring is vanilla. As written, the recipe is not vegan, because it calls for ½ cup of milk and 1 egg; however, all of my batches except the control one with the egg were vegan, because I substituted a dairy-free milk. I wanted to eliminate as many opportunities for variance as possible other than the egg, so I took note of the weights of each ingredient when doing the first batch and followed suit for the subsequent batches. Here are the measurements and ingredients that I used:
- 120 ml Ripple non-dairy milk (unsweetened)
- 53 ml Bertolli Extra Light Tasting olive oil
- 4 g vanilla extract – My favorite to bake with is Watkins Baking Vanilla
- 216 g all-purpose flour
- 106 g granulated sugar
- 3 g salt
- 8 g baking powder: I opened a fresh bag of Bob’s Red Mill Baking Powder (aluminum-free) for this baking session.
All muffins were baked back-to-back in the same pan. Each batch was baked for 16 minutes (the shortest amount of time indicated in the recipe), but they all passed the toothpick test. All muffins cooled for 5 minutes in the pan before being moved to a wire cooling rack.
Now, here is where things start to get different:
For the flaxseed meal batch, I combined 1 tbs of flaxseed meal with 3 tbs of room temperature water and let it sit for 5 minutes before adding it to the other wet ingredients. This is a standard “flax egg” and the proportion that was written on the flaxseed meal package. Here is what the flax egg looked like before and after the 5 minute wait. You can see that a lot of the water has been absorbed by the flax.
For the chia seed batch, I combined 1 tbs of chia seeds with 3 tbs of room temperature water and let it sit for 5 minutes before adding it to the other wet ingredients the same as I did with the flax. Similarly, this is the standard “chia egg” for baking. Here is what the chia egg looked like before and after the 5 minute wait. You can see that the mixture greatly thickened up and become gooey.
For the applesauce batch, I used ¼ cup of unsweetened applesauce in place of an egg and directly combined it with the other wet ingredients.
At this point of the recipe (directly before adding the batter to the muffin pan), the batters had a fairly similar consistency but different appearances. I found the batter with the applesauce to be the hardest to get the flour to incorporate, and the chia seed batter felt the most thick or congealed. You can see that the chia batter comes off in one large clump, while the applesauce batter slides off the spoon. The standard egg and flax egg batters behaved the most similarly when coming off the spoon, but the standard egg batter appears to have more moisture.
After a 16-minute bake, the muffins rose to a similar height and baked fairly evenly. The applesauce ones stood out as having the most golden color, and they were the darkest on the sides. Unlike the last experiment that I did with baking vegan butter in cookies, the muffin batches could easily be identified by their darker color, visible chia, or visible flax. When sliced in half, the texture appears to be the same; however, they each had their own unique texture and taste.
I cut a piece of each muffin and gave it to my parents with their eyes closed, so their opinions were as blind as possible. My mom had no trouble identifying which muffin was which even though she couldn’t see them. I knew what each muffin was, but I agreed with their statements.
Standard egg: My dad and I both thought that the standard egg muffin was the best. It was not too moist, not too dry, and definitely the most “cake-like” out of all of the muffins. The flavor was the most rich, and my dad said it reminded him of yellow cake.
Flax egg: The flax egg muffin had serious potential even though it wasn’t my (or anyone else’s) favorite. The texture was actually really good and probably the most comparable to the ones with a standard egg; however, the flavor let it down. Some of the flavor of the flax creeped in and took away from the vanilla. If there was more vanilla added or if the recipe wasn’t as simple, I think the muffins would’ve turned out great.
Chia egg: The chia seed muffin was everyone’s least favorite by far. It was dryer and tougher than the other muffins, and I felt a bit of a crunch in my teeth from the chia seeds. When you took a bite of it, the muffin sort of turned into a thick wad of goo in your mouth. The flavor wasn’t bad, but the texture was wrong.
Applesauce: While my mom could tell this was the applesauce muffin, it was still her favorite. As you could imagine from the darker exterior, the muffin had more of a crusty edge to it. The texture felt more like large grains, not necessarily in a bad way, but definitely less airy and “cake-like” than the egg muffin. The underlying flavor was more sweet than rich like the standard egg, and that is why my mom liked this one the most. My dad and I thought it was second best.
So what is the best egg-substitute in muffins then?
Creates the most airy, ”cake-like”muffin.
Best tasting egg alternative
Less airy than a muffin with egg
Creates the most convincing texture for an alternative
Extra flavoring or add-ins recommended
Creates a tough, dry muffin
Seeds maintain crunch
Only recommended if no other options are available
Based on my experiment, the best tasting egg substitute is ¼ cup of unsweetened applesauce. No other alterations are necessary, and you don’t have to worry about waiting for a flax or chia egg to congeal. Compared to a muffin with a regular egg, applesauce muffins are less airy and “cake-like”, but the natural sugar in applesauce gives it a little extra sweetness boost. Without a standard muffin to directly compare it to, you might not notice the texture difference.
I give an honorable mention to the flax egg, as it resulted in the most convincing texture. Blueberries or chocolate chips would go a long way with these flax muffins, so just keep in mind that you may need to add additional flavoring to compensate for a slight earthy flavor if you decide to use a flax egg. If you are in a bind and don’t have anything else to replace an egg with besides chia seeds, they’ll produce a muffin; however, I don’t really recommend using chia eggs in muffins due to the odd thick and tough texture.
Once again, I thoroughly enjoyed experimenting with alternatives in this way, and I hope that you find it as interesting as I do. I know that there are other egg alternatives out there such as mashed banana, pumpkin purée, and store-bought blends, so maybe I will revisit this topic in the future with a different baked good. Also, thank you to Hostess at Heart for providing a delicious basic muffin recipe for me to work with. Let me know if there are any other experiments that would interest you, and until next time, enjoy some good food!
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