The vegetable market is booming. In Europe, the sales value of plant-based alternatives has increased by almost 50% over the past two years. In Germany, where ProVeg International is headquartered, the growth rate is 97%.
However, sales of plant-based bakery products only increased by 19% during the same period. According to the nonprofit ProVeg, which aims to halve global animal consumption by 2040, one of the biggest challenges when it comes to successful plant-based baked goods is finding substitutes for functional eggs.
An increasing number of plant-based egg substitutes have entered the market in recent years. But which ones work best in the kitchen? ProVeg has put at least 15 egg substitutes to the test.
A piece of cake
Specifically, ProVeg wanted to study the performance of egg substitutes when used as 1: 1 substitutes in baking, without any recipe changes or technological adjustments.
The non-profit association commissioned vegan bakery specialist Jens Rötz to test egg substitutes in a test recipe: a simple sponge cake made from margarine, sugar, flour, eggs and baking powder.
Both eggs were replaced with the equivalent amount of the respective egg alternative, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
“In this application, the eggs have an emulsifying effect, in addition to binding the dough, giving it lightness and humidity. In addition, they help to give the finished product its typical taste and color.ProVeg explained.
The evaluation criteria focused on the applicability to the cooking process (ratio of the amount of chicken egg to the amount of egg substitute, solubility, soaking time, cohesion during mixing, demoulding) and the result after the cooking process – including volume, color, taste and smell.
The number of ingredients in each product was also factored into the final score.
The products tested came from food manufacturers Terra Vegane, Kröner Stärke, Alnatura, Biovegan, Antersdorfer Mühle, Orgran, MyEy – Der vegane Eiersatz, Hammer Mühle, Arche Naturküche, Pure Raw, Follow Your Heart, Crackd, Simply Eggless, Ulrick & Shorts and Zero Egg.
Who lays the golden eggs?
Rötz selected five egg substitutes that stood out from the rest.
Among the plant-based egg substitutes tested, the products that behaved the most like conventional eggs in baking – in no particular order – included the Kröner Starch REGG-EX offering. Sold on the B2B market, the ‘clean label’ egg is made from selected quality flour and untreated spring water.
Orgran’s No Egg Egg Replacer has also been rated one of the best by the expert baker. Made in Australia, the product is made with “all natural” ingredients and is free from the eight most common food allergies. Rötz said he was impressed with its “ease of use” and its performance in the cooking process. “In addition, the retail price stands out positively with around 6 cents per egg equivalent. ”
Pure Raw’s alternative to vegan eggs also made a difference. The product is made with “very few raw materials,” ProVeg noted, including “specially fermented seaweed.” Targeting retail and foodservice, the product constitutes a “convincing” sponge cake in terms of color, smell and taste.
The plant-based egg from US-based Simply Eggless was one of only two liquid egg alternatives tested. The lupine seed product scored particularly well in terms of solubility and taste. According to Chris Lee, co-founder of Simply Eggless, who is the company’s marketing director, the goal of developing this egg substitute was to offer a healthier alternative to real eggs, but one that binds and leaps. like a conventional egg. It seems that Rötz thinks the brand has succeeded.
Terra Vegan’s Megga Exx was also rated as very successful. Produced in Berlin, Megga Ex is certified organic, based on potato starch, cassava starch, pea protein, baking powder and locust bean gum. According to Rötz, the product performed well in terms of solubility, cohesion when agitated and when it came out of the mold.
Is there room for improvement in the plant-based eggs for cooking category? ProVeg thinks so.
According to his assessment, there is no alternative to chicken eggs on the market capable of replacing 1-1 in baked goods without additional adaptations.
“So far, none of the herbal products reviewed can completely mimic the functionality of a chicken egg in the sponge cake recipe we used,” noted the nonprofit association.
“In addition, from an economic point of view, most of the alternatives studied cannot compete with their animal counterparts. They have a selling price of 20 to 75 cents per “egg”.
To help accelerate innovation in the alternative space to plant-based eggs for cooking, ProVeg offered general advice to newcomers based on its test results.
First, liquid products are more suitable than powdered alternatives. This is because they are easier to dose and do not require a soaking process, which adds time. Plus, they have an expiration date similar to chicken eggs and can be placed next to them in the refrigerator.
Second, ProVeg suggests that an egg equivalent should weigh the same as a chicken egg, i.e. 50-60g. For the powder, this means that the weight of the egg alternative, plus water, should be around 55 g. “These amounts of liquid are urgently needed for good dough bonding, but are also essential in other recipes, otherwise the end product may be too dry and crumbly.” noted the charity.
Where possible, ProVeg has advised against using turmeric for coloring in a commercial setting. If clothes or equipment come in contact with turmeric, it can be very difficult to clean.
Not surprisingly, the suggested nonprofit entrepreneurs use few natural ingredients: “Using fewer ingredients can be cheaper, and short ingredient lists with natural ingredients meet the demand of the growing number of customers who are living more sustainably and consciously. ”
And finally, chemical leavening agents recommended by ProVeg should be avoided. Baking powder, for example, should not be used as leavening agents are already included in baking recipes and this may limit the use of an egg substitute. In addition, the association pointed out that if the egg substitute contains a chemical leavening agent, the bakery should know the exact amount it contains. “This amount must then be deducted from the weight of the baking powder in the recipe – an additional expense, which is avoidable.”