As I’ve begun dabbling more with it, it’s become clear to me that there are certain landmark ingredients of vegan cooking and baking. These are items that have a definite place in the landscape of the plant-based recipe world. They make traditionally non-vegan dishes possible – and more importantly, palatable!
They also tend to be a little controversial in their use – chefs have opinions about how they are best prepared and incorporated in vegan dishes.
For a novice like me, they’ve been fun mini rites of passage in the kitchen. It’s been exciting to try each one for the first time!
Another of these is the infamous “flax egg” a seemingly simple mixture of flaxseed and water that substitutes as an egg (or egg white), when used in the correct quantity. I haven’t had the same luck with my flax egg recipes as I did with nutritional yeast, but I’m slowly learning why.
Experiment 1: Flax Egg Brownies
Womp womp. This was my first time using a flax egg substitution and I used the cardinal rule of 1tbsp of flax seeds per 3tbsp of water to replace one egg. I ended up with oily, wet brownie batter balls. No matter how much I baked these, they just didn’t cook properly.
What went wrong: I wasn’t using an existing vegan recipe that actually called for flax eggs, but was subbing in the flaxseed as a 1-1 replacement on my own. I also came up a little short on my dry ingredients – I was slightly low of flour, and figured I could get away with extra moist brownies. Not so!
Another factor in this failure: Many recommend leaving the flaxseed/water mixture to thicken up for as long as a half hour. I only left mine for a few minutes, which may have affected the outcome.
Experiment 2: Flax Egg Cookies
I figured that chocolate chip cookies are fairly forgiving, so I went with this recipe next.
What went right: This time I chose a recipe that called for a flax egg, and I followed the directions and ingredient quantities very closely! I mixed my ingredients separately, and I let my flax egg sit for about 15-20 minutes, whisking with a fork halfway.
The cookies turned out great, although they hardened a bit once I let them cool. I find with vegan cookies that undercooking your batch slightly is a safe bet. They tend to stay softer this way – and without raw eggs in the mix, you can be lax with cooking time.
This is probably my favourite vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe to date, although I found the texture and taste of the cookies made with flax egg to be pretty comparable to similar vegan recipes that skip it. They held up well and stayed fresh-tasting, and they photographed beautifully 😉
I hope to keep experimenting with flax eggs – and I do believe they can be used as a make-your-own substitution, with a little more practice on my part.
Lessons learned: When you make one ingredient substitution, keep your other measurements and ratios strict. Using an established recipe is a wise move if you’re new to flax eggs – this ensures that you’re making enough flax egg to adequately sub for the egg. It’s not always a 1:1 substitution and depends on the recipe.
Vegan bakers: Do you have a favourite egg substitute?