Ran out of butter or eggs?  Here's the science behind alternative ingredients.

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It’s a very common situation — when you open the cupboard and suddenly realize you’re missing an ingredient while you’re cooking or baking.

Unless you can go to the shops immediately, this can leave you looking for an alternative that can do the same job. Thankfully, such alternatives can be more successful than you might expect.

There are a few reasons why some ingredient replacements work so well. This is usually done with chemistry and physical properties that are sufficiently similar to the original ingredients to do the job properly.

Let’s look at some common ingredient alternatives and why they work—or need to be tweaked.

Oil vs Butter

both of them And oil belongs to a chemical class called Lipids. It includes solid, semi-solid and liquid fats.

The “job” of these ingredients in a baked product is to provide flavor and affect the texture and structure of the finished product. In cake batters, lipids contribute to the formation of emulsion structure—that is, the binding of two liquids that normally do not mix. In the baking process, it helps to create a lighter crust.

One of the main differences between butter and oil is that butter is only 80% lipid (the rest is water), whereas Oil is almost 100% lipid. Oil creates a soft crust but is still an excellent fat to cook with.

You can use a wide range of oils from different sources, such as olive oil, rice bran, avocado, peanut, coconut, macadamia and more. Each of these can give different flavors.

Other “butters”, such as peanut and cashew butters, are not strictly butters but pastes. They provide different properties and can’t easily replace dairy butter, unless you add extra oil.

Aquafaba or flaxseed vs. eggs

Aquafaba is the liquid you extract from a can of beans—like chickpeas or lentils. It contains protein, just like egg whites.

Proteins in egg whites include albumins, and Aquafaba also contains albumins.. This is why it is possible to make meringue. or from aquafaba if you’re after a vegan version.

Proteins act as foam stabilizers—they give products a light, airy texture. Egg whites have a slightly higher protein concentration, so it doesn’t take long to form a stable foam. Aquafaba requires more whipping to create a meringue-like foam, but it will bake just the same.

There is another albumen-containing substitute for eggs. Flaxseed. These seeds mix with a little water to form a thick gel texture. The texture is similar to raw egg and can provide texture and emulsification in baked recipes that require a small amount of egg white.

Lemon plus dairy vs. buttermilk

Buttermilk is the liquid that remains after churning butter—it can be made from sweet cream, cultured/sour cream, or whey-based cream. Mostly buttermilk Contains protein and fat.

Cultured buttermilk has a somewhat complex flavor. Slightly sour milk can be a good substitute because it contains the same ingredients and chemically is not too different from “real” buttermilk.

One way to get slightly sour milk is to add some lemon juice or cream of tartar to the milk. Buttermilk is used to give extra height or volume to pancakes and baked goods. This is because the acidic (sour) components of the buttermilk interact with the baking soda, creating a light and airy texture.

Buttermilk can also affect flavor, giving pancakes and baked goods a slightly darker flavor. It can also be used in sauces and dressings if you’re looking for a slightly acidic touch.

Honey vs. Sugar

Honey a Complex sugar-based syrups Contains floral or botanical flavors and fragrances. Honey can be used in cooking and baking, adding both flavor and texture (stickiness, smoothness) to a wide range of products.

If you add honey to baked goods instead of regular sugar, remember that honey provides a soft, moist texture. This is because it has a high moisture content and is a humectant (meaning it likes to hold water). It is also less crystalline than sugar, unless you leave it to crystallize.

The intensity of sweetness can also vary—some people find honey sweeter than its granulated counterpart, so you’ll want to adjust your recipes accordingly.

Gluten-free vs. regular flour

Sometimes you need to make substitutions to avoid allergens, such as gluten — a protein found in grain grains such as wheat, rye, barley and others.

Unfortunately, gluten is also the component that gives bread a nice, long, squishy quality.

To create this characteristic in gluten-free products, it is necessary to have a mixture of ingredients that work together to mimic this texture. Common ingredients used include corn or rice flour, xanthan gum, which acts as a binder and humectant, and tapioca starch, which absorbs water well and can help the dough bind. Is.

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Reference: Finish butter or eggs? Here’s the science behind substitute ingredients (2024, February 19) Retrieved February 19, 2024, from https://phys.org/news/2024-02-butter-eggs-science-substitute-ingredients.html

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