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I've been reading (most) questions and answers (here) about baking bread (which I love) and how to replace eggs in many recipes (which I wish I didn't need). Turns out, I too have egg allergy (not too severe) and a few of my favorite breads require one or more eggs.

So far I've seen two options, in many threads, that look promising: Ener-G egg replacer and replacing eggs with flax. However, not a single use case I've seen here is about bread. I'm looking for an option to replace 1-3 eggs in a bread dough with: 500 g of white wheat flour, 200 ml of milk, 50-80 g of butter, a variable amount of sugar (5-50 g) and 20-30 g of fresh yeast.

Examples of this dough are the Swiss züpfe, the Polish chałka and a similar recipe from Galicia (northwest Spain) with even more eggs. And so many other breads, but these are my favorite ones :)

Has anyone tried flax or ener-g on a similar bread dough?

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As eggs are a very versatile ingredient: when substituting, it is important to determine whether the eggs are being used as a leavening agent or binder (or both). In recipes where the egg is used primarily as a leavening agent, I have used a mixture of baking powder (not soda), water, and vegetable oil in a 2:3:3 ratio, though you may want to experiment with the proportions depending upon your recipe. You may also need to vary the amount of other liquid in the recipe.

Where the egg is used primarily as a binder, you could use banana, applesauce, or gelatin, depending upon the recipe (obviously, you'll probably want to avoid the fruits in a savory recipe). I've used, and been thoroughly disappointed with, the available commercial "egg replacers" and don't recommend them for any purpose. I've heard of using flax, but have no personal experience with it.

However: as the father of (and resident chef for) a young child with egg and milk allergy, it is my experience that successfully substituting for eggs is very difficult. For breads in particular, I don't even bother with recipes that call for eggs or milk, and favor those that use the basic 3 (4): flour, water, yeast (salt).

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    The information is not too bad in general (although I haven't tried the bp trick for leavening and not sure how well it will work), but the question specified substituting in a bread yeast dough. There, eggs are neither leavening nor binder. – rumtscho Jan 30 '12 at 11:31
  • Ah, indeed, that seems to be the case. As such, I suspect the egg will be very difficult to successfully replace in the referenced recipes, though the glazing/browning effect (from the wash) could be somewhat closely replicated with some sugar dissolved in water. – djangodude Jan 30 '12 at 15:18
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    Coincidentally, I just had a pretty decent orange bundt cake that uses the bp trick. Instead of egg, it uses rice bran oil, cane juice, cornstarch and baking powder (in addition to baking soda). The result is not as fluffy as with egg, but still nice and yummy. As for the yeast dough breads... you've probably saved me a few pounds of flour and hours of frustation. Plus a trip to specialized store to get the ener-G egg replacer. Thanks! :) – miguev Jan 31 '12 at 22:01
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    Great! Related: I re-read the recipes you linked to and they reminded me a lot of Challah, which is also typically made with eggs. I found an eggless Challah recipe at thechallahblog.com/2011/04/eggless-challah.html; looks like they basically use oil and maybe a bit more water and sugar. Might be something to try, and if successful, perhaps apply to your recipes. Good luck...food allergies suck, but fortunately we live in an era where we have tremendous resources to help. – djangodude Jan 31 '12 at 23:37
  • I'm really curious after reading the first paragraph : what sort of recipes have you tried to replace eggs with your baking powder/water/oil mixture and what sort of results did you get? Have you ever tried this for something where the egg is the main ingredient such as a sponge cake? – Clepsyd Feb 8 at 21:09
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I've successfully used flax seed as an egg replacer in my sandwich bread. 1Tbs ground flaxseed mixed with 3Tbs water (per egg), mix & let sit 5 minutes before adding to recipe. Flax adds a bit of nutty flavor, but worth a try for your bread.

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In recipes like the ones you linked to, eggs serve largely to give a fine, soft crumb. The best way to do this that I've found is to replace the eggs (and a bit of the remaining liquid) with a pureed, cooked sweet potato. If the color is off-putting, you can get white or golden sweet potatoes. The starch and sugar content of the potato helps to keep the crumb fine and soft, and to add a bit of moisture. I've had good luck doing this with challah and sandwich bread.

Another option is to replace the eggs with the cooking liquid from beans (or the liquid from a can of beans). Clearly you'll want to be sure there aren't other flavorings in the liquid, and reduce the salt in the recipe a bit to compensate for the sodium in the liquid. The dissolved starches in the liquid can help to keep bread moist and soft.

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As a vegan baking enthusiast I am also interested in this problem.

It looks like the kind of bread you're talking about is an enriched bread - those are the ones that typically have the ratio of ingredients you describe (a high proportion of tenderizing ingredients like sugar, butter, and eggs, as opposed to leaner doughs).

While it is true that some traditional recipes are hard to make without eggs, there are still many bread recipes that can be made by either substituting or omitting them.

In some cases it's just a matter of increasing or adding chemical leaveners and some acid in the batter (certain cake recipes, for example), in others, it just requires adding more moisture (sometimes silken tofu is used, vegan yogurt, or mashed banana). For binding, ground flax seeds in some water turn into a gel, and then there's aquafaba, which has emulsifying, foaming, binding, gelatinizing and thickening properties, and can be used in place of eggs and even whipped up into a meringue!

In enriched breads, I think you'll stand a good chance with substitutions since eggs don't play such a critical role in terms of leavening or binding. The eggs are probably there to add richness, flavour, and as already suggested, to create a fine soft crumb.

Assuming this is the case, I have several suggestions (which I'm currently in the process of testing out myself!):

  • adding potato starch or cooked potato which will make them more airy and fluffy (potatoes soak up more moisture than wheat flour, this is why some recipes use bread flour instead of AP for enriched dough, because you can use more tenderizing or liquid ingredients becausue bread flour absorbs more moisture. I've seen potato used in cinnamon roll and donut recipes too). Another reason is that potato contains starch but no gluten, and gluten can make baked goods tough.
  • Using 'tangzhong' method: cooking some of the flour and water ingredients on the stove top till it almost looks like pudding. Doing so can result in a very moist, feathery, airy crumb. ATK has a good article on this.

Those are the two that come to the top of my head. What I have done in the past is either just left the 'egg' element out of the enriched dough completely, or compensated by adding a little more fat or liquid.

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I often find the easiest way to replace eggs is finding recipes that don't use eggs in the first place. As you specifically ask about Swiss Züpfe (or Zopf, as it is also called), this recipe here Butterzopf klassisch (Bärner Ankezüpfe) and this one here Sonntagszopf use eggs only for the egg wash, but not in the dough, and you should be able to get away by just using a milk/cream mixture for the wash (although, the final colour of the Züpfe might not be quite as pretty). Here's a rough translation of the first recipe (the second one seems to be more or less the same, with the ingredients just halved):

  • 1 kg flour (preferrably Zopf flour, which contains additional spelt, but strong white flour should also do)
  • 1½ tbsp salt
  • 42 g fresh yeast (or, if I remember my yeast conversions right, this should be about 21 g active dry yeast or 14 g instant yeast)
  • ca. 5½ dl lukewarm milk
  • 150 g melted butter (cooled down)

    1. Mix flour and salt in a bowl and form a little pit.
    2. Dissolve yeast in milk.
    3. Pour milk/yeast and butter into salt/flour and knead into a silky dough.
    4. Let dough rise at room temperature until doubled in size.
    5. Divde dough in half, roll both halves into long strands and braid, see, e.g., for Zopf flechten for instructions.
    6. Let rise for another 15 minutes.
    7. Brush some milk/cream mixture (this is where it would be egg yolk/cream mixture in the original recipe) onto the Zopf.
    8. Bake in the lower half of the preheated oven at 200 °C (ca. 400 °F) for about 45-55 minutes.
    9. Enjoy!
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I think you should try buttermilk or thin yogurt (similar to buttermilk consistency). Add some baking soda into it and let it sit for 5 min or until it starts showing tiny bubbles. I don't know exact measurements to replace eggs completely. This will not act as much leavening compared to eggs but it will help in making your bread soft.

In India we use buttermilk or yogurt with some baking soda to make our cakes soft and fluffy. But make sure your yogurt or buttermilk should not be too sour. As it will affect the taste of finished product.

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mayonnaise is a great substitute for eggs I do it all the time, for every egg you use 1 1/2 tbs of mayo for 1 egg, and remember because mayonnaise has oil you won't need any, for every tbs of mayo there is also 1 tsp of oil

  • Mayonnaise contains eggs, so would not be a good replacement in this case (for an egg allergy). Otherwise, this is an interesting idea. – Erica Dec 27 '17 at 12:55
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    I'm leaving this alone, because even if it's not useful for the specific original OP (6 years ago), it may well be useful for people who find this page because they're out of eggs. – Cascabel Dec 28 '17 at 13:51
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I make Richard Bertinet’s sweet dough and substitute the eggs with plain greek yogurt, works great. I am wondering about German Cheesecake crust eliminating the egg there. Also I have found out that the egg white is what causes the allergy in older people I use to eat eggs but now at 60 yr’s old I have issues. I might just make the crust without the egg and see how it turns out. I never put eggs in my pie crusts so I hope this works. Try the yogurt it is really good. BTW 1 egg = 1/4 cup of yogurt.

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