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I have not actually read Michael Ruhlman's Ratio. I know that he describes a basic muffin as 2:2:1:1 of flour, liquid, egg and fat. Prior to discovering Ratio, I only ever thought of a muffin in terms of dry:wet ratios, fat as adding richness, and egg (depending on recipe) as adding richness or structure, so this is new to me.

I am asking because I have not had much success with muffins in the past and am wondering if it is because I have been using recipes without eggs for convenience (because we have usually been out of eggs in this house).

How essential a part do eggs play in a muffin recipe?

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for what eggs do in cakes and muffins, read my answer here: cooking.stackexchange.com/a/14035/4638 –  rumtscho Nov 18 '13 at 22:35

3 Answers 3

There's no simple answer to this other than "it depends". Ratios like the Ruhlman chart are a good jumping off point, but for a lot of chemically leavened things there's a lot more to it. I would highly recommend reading the section on balancing recipes from Cookwise by Shirley Corriher and using it in conjunction with this chart.

The amount of eggs needed will depend on the type of liquid and the type of flour used. The liquids and flour will also alter how important the eggs are. A good example would be things like banana and pumpkin. In banana or pumpkin muffins, the pureed fruit would be used in place of most of the liquid, but since both of those also contain a lot of pectin, they can also replace the eggs. If the liquid is something acidic like sour cream, yogurt, buttermilk, or cider vinegar, that can also reduce the amount of eggs needed. Some dry ingredients like buckwheat, flax, and chia will also replace eggs.

In short, the importance of eggs really depends on the specific recipe used. While there may be a good ratio for a plain muffin base, it will definitely need tweaking depending on other ingredients used.

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"True" is a difficult concept here because I don't know of a "Muffin Certification Board."

It's not like Roquefort Cheese.. which must be aged in a cave in Roquefort FR.

But to address your concern: if you don't have eggs, try:

  1. angel food cake mix and crushed pineapple (google it)

  2. angel food cake mix alone with some water (I do that with success)

Hope that helps.

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Excellent point - I've updated the wording of my question, and thanks for the suggestions. Most of the time the recipe I'm using simply doesn't contain eggs already, so I'm not so much needing a substitution as wanting to know what I'm missing out by not having eggs. –  ccsdg Nov 18 '13 at 20:47
    
I think you may be missing something...I guess it affects the texture somehow. 300 years of bakers are probably on to something. I hope you get some good replies. –  Paulb Nov 18 '13 at 20:54

You can leave them out if you like but they won't taste the same. I don't know what your reasons are for this, but you can add spices to make up for this, like saffron.

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Eggs are basically water, fat, and protein, so they give some structure and richness to the muffin, not a strong flavor. How would spices make up for the lack? –  SAJ14SAJ Nov 19 '13 at 18:39
    
Just curious why you would suggest saffron. I've seen quite a lot of muffin recipes, but none of those contained saffron. Is there a reason for exactly this suggestion? –  Mien Nov 19 '13 at 20:15

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