When Jumpy was diagnosed with eczema and a multitude of allergies, I was confused, angry and completely lost. Everything seemed complicated. I’d never had to scrutinise labels before and ready-made ‘free from’ food that was suitable for her was extortionate and not always healthy. Little by little, I taught myself how to substitute eggs, wheat, dairy, nuts and seeds. I quickly realised that instead of reinventing the wheel, all I had to do was go back to basics. I would cook a lot more food from scratch for us all, including wheat-free flour mixes, stock and all sauces. Allergy-friendly, gluten-free alternatives or vegan options need not be tricky, full of unpronounceable ingredients or weird methods. Today, I am sharing one of my favourite egg replacements for baked goods: chia seed eggs.
Until four years ago, I had never heard of Xanthan gum, flax seeds, linseed, chia eggs, ground flax or egg-free cakes. Eggless cakes? Making your own vegan egg? For real? I know, I know, you live and learn…
These little babies are whole chia seeds:
Baking used to be nice and easy. I would just choose a recipe in any cookbook, follow the instructions, plop the dough in a cake tin and in the oven it went… It all changed when allergies came into our lives.
I had no idea what I was doing. I started by going back to basics, making stock from scratch, focusing on simple recipes with one or two ingredients so that Jumpy’s food diary would be accurate.
As her allergies were diagnosed and I was given a list of foods to exclude from her diet, I slowly introduced new ingredients, checking for signs of reaction for a couple of days before moving on to the next ingredient.
Three and a bit years later and Jumpy has a well-balanced, varied diet and she has a soft spot for her ‘special’ chocolate cake. I have also become more confident with ‘free from’ baking and using ingredients that had been alien to me for the first 30 odd years of my life.
Jumpy always loves helping me in the kitchen. She actually made carrot and ginger soup from scratch last week (under supervision, no panic!), peeling carrots and parsnips, grating ginger, cutting the root veg as well as onion and plopping it all in the pan when prompted.
One of her favourite things is mixing water and milled chia or linseed (flax) into a gooey mixture. She knows they are her ‘special eggs’ and if she keeps helping, my little sous chef will be a much better ‘free from’ baker than I am. Who knows? Maybe I have the future ‘free from’ Mary Berry under my roof!
In a recent recipe or two, I have mentioned flax eggs and my friend Cé has asked me to write about them, since she would not know how or where to get a ‘flax egg.’
After experimenting with a variety of ingredients to replace eggs in cakes, I have to say that chia and fax eggs are my favourite egg replacers when baking ‘free from’ cakes as they work just like eggs. A straight swap is a nice swap in my books! Easy Peasy.
Essentially, chia and flax eggs work the same way, which is why I tackled them together.
A few facts you might find useful:
– Flaxseed is called linseed in the UK.
– Chia seeds are more expensive than flaxseed (linseed in the UK).
– Chia and linseed (flaxseed) are readily available in any health food shop or on Amazon.
– Always go for whole seeds rather than milled. It is preferable to grind them as and when you need them, and use them straight away.
– If the flavours of your cake are delicate, flax eggs might taint the flavours a bit (ever so slightly nutty in taste). Chia eggs do not alter the taste of cakes at all.
– If I make chocolate cake, I tend to use flax eggs as cacao, cocoa or chocolate hide the slight nuttiness of the egg substitute. When I make lemon cake, I always go for chia eggs.
To make 1 chia egg:
1 tablespoon chia seeds or linseed (flaxseed), not milled
3 tablespoons water
Start by grinding the chia seeds or linseed / flaxseed using a blender. Here is a little before / after:
Place the fine powder in a small bowl and add the water little by little, stirring for 30 seconds. It will look gloopy and not properly combined:
Cover and place in the fridge for 15 minutes to an hour to thicken. Now you can see it is ready:
Use the same way as you would a whole whisked egg in baking.