It's a misconception that egg is an integral part of baking. Egg-less bakes are delicious and wholesome and a great option for vegetarians. A chat with baker Priyanka, will tell you that there is hardly any thing that can't be baked egg-less and why she believes baking is therapy and not as intimidating as everyone assumes it to be!
How did baking interest you? Could you share some of your experiences, when you started baking? Did you have a tough start or were you a natural?
I always liked cooking and experimenting in the kitchen. Baking was something new, especially egg-less baking. Recipe calculations, ingredients, techniques, the oven... every aspect is critical during baking. Frankly, the science and research behind it got me hooked to it. There is so much I am yet to learn and understand. Before I could take my training, I was trying to make perfectly-gooey chocolate chip cookies, it must have taken me 15 batches or so to get it right! It sure was draining, but I certainly learnt a lot in the process and I wasn’t a natural for sure, but it wasn’t tough either.
Prior to baking, I had a corporate job. I had to make quite a few changes in my approach towards the profession; it requires a certain level of discipline. We need to work when everyone else has an off, we are on our feet 10 to 12 hours a day. It’s intense, fast-paced and demands perfection every time. It did take time to adjust, but it has its own perks though.
Why did you decide to go egg-less? Did you want to move away from the regular notion that egg is an important ingredient for cakes? Is it healthier or more flavourful?
Being raised in a vegetarian family, I had no choice initially, but to stick to egg-less. It’s challenging but I enjoy it. In a way, while creating your own recipes, trying different ingredients especially to churn out these egg-less bakes tastier, helps stand apart from the regular notion. They are not necessarily healthier, but you can try to make healthier desserts with certain substitutes.
What are some of the egg replacements?
It depends on the recipe and the role the egg plays in it. I generally experiment with condensed milk, sour cream, yogurt and flax seeds.
What's your favourite egg-less bake recipe and why?
My first pick would be brownies. They are really moist and fudgy and always a crowd pleaser. They're simple to make and the key ingredient is fine tasting chocolate. I have tried them with original chocolates in different percentages, giving it distinct taste each time.
I love baking breads and laminated dough too. The aroma of freshly baked bread is heavenly! There are a lot of steps while making laminated dough. But, when the buttery croissant comes out of the oven, it’s irresistible for all the senses.
Is it possible to go egg-less with every cake recipe? Or are there limitations?
Not all traditional cakes can be made egg-less. But, we can create our own variety of egg-less traditional cakes. With eggless macaroons now available on the menus, I guess nothing is impossible.
What are the trends you see among home bakers these days? Are they going healthy, or fancy? Are they experimenting with different kinds of flour?
Home bakers are experimenting with new ingredients including flours - creating new recipes, reading and accessing well-researched books, and a lot of them are sharing these experiences through blogs and videos. They are trying to strike a balance between healthy and fancy in their own way, to break the notion that baked goodies are unhealthy.
Do you have vegan cake options? If yes, what are your ingredient picks for such cakes?
I am working on a couple of recipes. Few ingredients I like to use are almond milk, soy milk, apple cider vinegar, arrowroot powder, agar agar and tofu.
Is healthy baking your forte? What do you think about adapting to this style of baking? Would your first preference be oats, whole wheat or ragi?
I enjoy baking! But with the availability of new kinds of flour in the market, I experiment in an on-and-off basis. In my hometown, we make only whole wheat cakes, and biscuits out of jaggery and homemade ghee, and those taste really good! Oats taste good in fresh fruit cobbler, whole wheat and ragi in bread and similar products. So, it all comes down to the recipe.
Through your new show Beat Batter Bake, what are some of the things you are aiming to tell your audience?
Baking can be intimidating for beginners (as I was at one point) but, it can be fun as well. All the recipes on the show are well experimented. I keep trying out different recipes, and trust me when I say this - they don't turn out the way I want them to at a lot of times. But then, it’s okay. It happens with many of us in the professional kitchen as well. Then we try and figure out the reasons and get back to correcting it. And that’s the fun part. Sure, it drives us crazy, but then when we get the desired results..oh man! That’s the moment we cherish the most!
Does your show have lessons for beginners as well? Will you be focusing on some of the basics of baking?
The idea behind the show is to get the viewers to first get accustomed to simple baking methods. Hence, we started with basic recipes like sponge cake, cookies, truffles and brownies. Moving forward, we will continue to show simple recipes for everybody to try.
Other than baking, will you also be guiding your viewers to prepare egg-less frosting and fondants?
Yes, it’s in the pipeline. First, we would like to show some basic recipes that look good with rustic finish.
What are some of the skills you would recommend bakers possess, who are mastering the art of baking? How well should they know the ingredients and their characteristics?
Baking is all about precision, patience and persistence. There are a number of factors that determine the end results. Something like the difference in gluten percentage in the flour can change the texture of the bread or the croissants. Hence, it’s crucial to understand all the basics and ingredient role.
What are some of the basic cakes one should get started with, in order to not have disasters, as beginners might get discouraged by their first cake not turning out as expected?
Start with a sponge cake, cookies or bar cakes. They require the most basic ingredients and you can experiment using lot of different flavours.
Is there any advice or words of wisdom you would like to share with your audience, especially those at the beginner's level?
Initially, you should try recipes with fewer ingredients. This will boost your confidence to continue baking. You also need to understand your oven well, especially the temperature function. It plays an extremely important role in how the end product turns out. Always use fresh and good quality ingredients and don't forget to measure your ingredients as well. If you end up adding a bit more of baking soda, the result might not be what you hoped for.
What are your thoughts on baking? What are some of your favourite egg-less recipes? Tell us, in the comments section below! Do watch her show Beat Batter Bake as well.