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Ask Dr. Gourmet

Can I substitute starch for eggs in baking?

Some cakes need up to 8 eggs. Can half of them be replaced with starch and will there be a big difference in taste?

Dr. Gourmet Says...

brown eggs in a cardboard egg crate

Reducing the amount of eggs in baking can be a challenge. One can't really simply eliminate eggs from a recipe and replace them with another ingredient and expect the same result. This is not so much a matter of changing the taste of the cake or muffin but the texture.

Eggs provide a number of parts of the many chemical reactions that take place in baking. The egg whites help to add volume, while the fat in the egg yolks helps to trap the carbon dioxide created by whatever leavening agent is used (yeast, baking powder, baking soda, etc.).

There are a number of tricks you can try, but with baking the changes will be different for each recipe and you may go through some trial and error - and likely multiple iterations - to successfully make changes to one of your favorites.

I will generally start making changes by using an egg substitute like Egg Beaters® to replace some or all of the eggs.

After I am happy that this works, I might try using a tub margarine as a replacement for the fat in baked goods, whether this is oil, butter, or lard. Another alternative can be an equal amount of butter and canola oil. You can experiment with using a lower amount of fat with the new healthier fat as well.

Sometimes replacing some of the sugar (in some cases all of it) with a non-caloric sweetener will work to reduce calories in baked goods, but this should be the last substitution.

Good luck and thanks for writing,

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP
Dr. Gourmet