The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Trying something a little harder

Urbandale's picture

Trying something a little harder

Hello everyone! As you can probably tell, this is my first post here, so Ill try to give as much information as I can so that you guys are better able to potentially help me out.

I got into baking last year, nothing fancy. Unfortunately, soon after I had to move, and other life stuff got in the way of me baking bread again. Well, now it seems I have a sweetheart who really loves bread, but has a pretty severe egg allergy, and while I want to bake for her, I also really like adding in eggs. This is further complicated by the fact that, during the move, I lost all my handmade bread recipes, so I have to go by memory.

Anyway, I've done a bit of research into egg substitutes, but I havent really done enough cooking to know which option is best. I know that bananas are a good substitute, but I dont know how much baking soda to add in to get the extra rise, and I've heard that oil is a good flavor substitute, but I was never really into cooking, so I dunno how much or even which oil to use.

I cut back how much sugar I'd normally use(I typically add in 1/4 c of honey) to avoid making it too sweet, but because of that, I'm also using storebought yeast instead of a starter to get a stronger rise. Anyway, heres the recipe(I think I remembered it correctly) that I'll try to use.

4c bread flour
1 package yeast
1 t salt
1 banana
1/4 c sugar
baking soda?

I know this seems like a simple bread, but I want to start easy and work this substitution thing into other breads. Again, I still have no idea how much baking soda to use. If anyone has any assistance or advice they'd be able to give me, it'd be much appreciated.

linder's picture


I'm not sure why bread would absolutely need an egg.  It certainly enriches the dough but is not necessary.  What are you using for moistening the flour?  Water?  if so, you could substitute some of the water for cooled, scalded milk and get some of the tenderness and the enrichment the egg would provide.  No baking soda though.  Also, 1 packet of yeast should be more than enough to make the dough rise provided you've developed the gluten in the flour sufficiently through kneading.

Just my thoughts on this.  If this is a quick bread recipe then disregard these thoughts.


Urbandale's picture

I didn't mean to imply that it DID need an egg, I just really like adding eggs into my bread because I like the taste :)

As for liquid, yeah, I add water until it feels right. I'm not really sure how much I add though. Thanks for the tip on milk, I had totally forgotten about it!

HeidiH's picture

All that's really necessary for bread is flour, yeast, salt and water.  Everything else is up to your choice and what you want to accomplish.  When I first started making bread a year or so ago, I added lots of stuff and got some good results and some not so good.  I've since learned that many of my early problems were caused by how I handled the dough and not making it wet enough.

Try a fairly simple recipe and the method for handling the dough shown in  His method can be used for most white breads (less so for rye).    You can  also see my version of the method and pictures at   There are lots of other folks who have used and describe this method including a video by Peter Reinhart at


thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

You'll get no rise from baking soda in the absence of an acidic ingredient. (Banana is mildly acidic, but banana wasn't part of the original recipe).

None of the other listed ingredients is acidic, so the baking soda won't have anything acidic to react with (to produce the carbon dioxide needed for leavening).

It could have been baking powder, but unless you were making a quick bread like banana bread, I doubt it would have called for that either.


If you love the taste of egg, make loaves with egg for yourself and loaves without for sweetie. Label them correctly and keep an Epipen around, else you may have to call 911.

Urbandale's picture

Thanks for the explination of baking soda. Like I said before, I hadn't really used it before so I didn't know how it worked to be honest :)


As far as seperating, I'd rather not risk it, but I thought about it :P

FoodFascist's picture

You know what Thomas, I grew up in Russia and until maybe 10 years ago there was no such thing as baking powder there. There was only soda. So what most people used to do is mix it with vinegar and let it fizz before adding it to cakes. Which IMO is really pointless because the reaction goes pretty quickly and effectively you need to use more of both because until you've mixed them with the other ingredients (at which point the reaction slows down markedly), you're only wasting them.

So, what my mum always used to do (and is something I replicated) is to use only soda, without the vinegar. Funny enough, it always worked, no matter what recipe we used. I never wondered why until I started doing chemistry at school. Many of our recipes don't have any highly acidic ingredients that I know of, but there must be SOMETHING in every cake that's acidic. Maybe it's eggs?

BTW my school chemistry teacher (whose main job was actually as a practicing research chemist at a Uni) could never understand the point of using baking soda in cakes. His point was, if you don't use vinegar, what's it going to react with. If you do, it'll be spent by the time you put the cake in the oven. Now he was never a cook, and also he specialised in inorganic chemistry so he may have missed something organic that's acidic. He could never pursuade me, anyway.

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

I'd be surprised it there wasn't something acidic and it DID leaven. That would be like magic.

Eggs are basic (~pH 8). Maybe they used buttermilk? Whey? Both are acidic. 

Cakes are a different story because so much air is whipped/whisked into the batter before it goes into the oven–in general, the yolks are whisked with the sugar over warm water and the whites are whipped until they're almost meringue. If you get a properly aerated batter into the oven right away, it'll rise just fine without the CO2 from an acid/base. If you added soda (no acid in any of the ingredients), it just won't do anything. You might think it did, but that's from the aeration.


FoodFascist's picture

 "If you get a properly aerated batter into the oven right away, it'll rise just fine without the CO2 from an acid/base. If you added soda (no acid in any of the ingredients), it just won't do anything."

Exactly the point my teacher was making. However - I just had a lightbulb moment, and I checked it - and yippee here it is!:

NaHCO3 IS THERMALLY DECOMPOSTIBLE!!!! You don't need any acid - in a hot oven, it'll produce CO2 by itself!

"Cakes are a different story because so much air is whipped/whisked into the batter before it goes into the oven–in general, the yolks are whisked with the sugar over warm water and the whites are whipped until they're almost meringue."

I made many a recipe with just soda, I swear they don't work without soda, or with too little of it! With some, I'd use sour cream or kefir, with some not. Sometimes I would indeed whip the eggs. Sometimes (esp with biscuits) I would not. With most recipes calling for whipped egg, it wouldn't be whites and yolks whipped separately, but whole eggs beaten with sugar to a pale paste which incorporates significantly less air than whipped egg white. So - now I know that baking soda decomposes thermally it all makes sense.

This had been bothering me for years you know.

That said, another leavening factor, in some recipes, could be water - I suppose if the batter isn't too thick, and there's a sufficient amount of liquid, water will add to the leavening effect too.

FoodFascist's picture

Hi there,

the one thing I can say is - NEVER put baking soda in a yeast/sourdough bread! I'm not sure I remember the chemistry of it correctly, but I think what it is is that yeast is mostly acidic whereas NaHCO3 (baking soda) is alcaline. Therefore you can only use both yeast and baking soda in something you cook shortly after mixing, like pancakes, but if you mix all the ingredients and leave the dough to ferment (as you would for bread) the soda will have had time to react with the yeast and as a net effect, you'll get no rise at all.

If you need extra rise because you'll be adding "heavy" ingredients like bananas, you could just use more yeast and/or more sugar (or other sweetener), and leave the dough to rise a little longer, so that the yeast has more food to convert to gas and time to do so.

As others have said, it's not just eggs you can use to add flavour to your bread - you can use butter, milk, honey, spices, fruit, seeds, nuts....

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

Or maybe not.

In the case of yeasted soda breads, a very large amount of yeast is used.

I always assumed it was to quickly impart a yeastie flavour to the soda bread, but maybe it (also) has something to do with the issue you mention above.


flournwater's picture

Rule of thumb for baking soda as an ingredient accompanying bananas in a recipe is 1/8 tsp of baking soda to one banana.  A pinch or two more if you feel you need it.

One point   -  Except perhaps for small measurements at the level of teaspoons and Tablespoons, you should develop the practice of weighing your ingredients.  That should be your rule for everything you bake if you want to be successful.  In this situation especially,  you're experimenting with this recipe and trying to replicate results using bulk measurements isn't going to work very well.

Chuck's picture

One possibility that you may like is to replace each egg by 2-3 tablespoons of Olive Oil. (You may see the abbreviation EVOI here, for ExtraVirginOliveOil.) Olive Oil does all kinds of nice things; it's my go-to all-purpose "dough enhancer".

Also, milk won't exactly replace a fat  ...but it has a nice taste and texture of its own that you may come to prefer. Some folks find using liquid milk (in place of some of the water?) more convenient; others prefer adding dehydrated milk powder to their flour and other dry ingredients.

And I feel silly bringing this up -but nobody else has: Can your sweetheart use any of the "egg substitutes" found in pint-sized milk cartons at most markets? If so, just buy one of those cartons and use that stuff in your bread like you'd use real eggs.

Other possible replacement fats include butter, lard, lecithin, and other kinds of oil (sesame, grape seed, coconut, peanut, walnut, etc).

You can ("can", not "should":-) get away with using a whole lot of a very mildly flavored oil (such as safflower salad oil), maybe a half cup or possibly even a whole cup per loaf. For the more strongly flavored oils though it's more important to stick to fairly small amounts. (An additional advantage of using only small amounts is it doesn't interfere with the "feel" of adding the right amount of water.)

(Fats "cap" the ends of gluten strands so they don't get longer so easily, thus causing less gluten development than you'd get otherwise  ...but you've already dealt with that using eggs:-)

chickadee3's picture
chickadee3 (not verified)

I agree with the basic sentiment here that regular bread doesn't need egg.  However, if you want to bake things like cookies, you will need something to hold it together.  My whole family is vegetarian and we use sourcream as our substitute.  It works for anything, including pumpkin pies, cookies, cakes, and quick breads.  Use 1 1/2 Tablespoon sourcream (or one heaped Tablespoon) in the place of one egg.  Beat in air when you add the sourcream just like you would with the egg.  Voila!

ps....any other people out there please spread the word about using sourcream.  It would help a lot of businesses cut down on their budget and have options for eggless products : )

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

The addition of egg helps liquids and fats bind to each other, which they naturally prefer not to do.

How does the addition of fat (sourcream) help fats and liquids bind?

  • 1.5 tablespoons sourcream = 500 mg protein
  • 1 egg = 4000 milligrams protein

Or do you mean sourcream is a good flavour substitute for egg?

chickadee3's picture
chickadee3 (not verified)

Using sourcream or any milk product as a substitute for egg has nothing to do with the flavor, but with holding the mixture together without becoming brittle and helping it to puff up (like cookies and cakes).

Milk (which is composed of all of its by-products, i.e. cream, sourcream, butter) has an amazing ability to bind fat and liquid. In fact, that is what it does: milk binds fat and liquid together.

Sourcream is a milk product, which, as a milk product contains lactose and casein. Google casein to learn about its binding abilities. Milk is known to hold things together in different forms like plain milk in cornbread or whipped cream in a pie. Using sourcream as a binder and puffer for recipes has nothing to do with protein content in a recipe.

If someone chooses not to try sourcream as an egg substitute, it is their loss.

FoodFascist's picture

...unless they suffer from a milk protein allergy as well! (Lactose intolerance, unless severe, shouldn't normally be a barrier to using sour cream BTW, as most lactose in the milk will have been consumed by lactobacilli which is what makes cream sour; besides lactose intolerance can be well managed by taking lactase enzyme supplements). Unfortunately, in most cases of milk protein allergy, casein is the culprit (or one of the culprits).

As a testimony to casein's binding power though - in ye olde days, it was used in paints as a binding ingredient, and still is used today in some brands of eco-paint. It's a bit smelly though...

FoodFascist's picture

actually, thinking about it, eggs were used in construction in the days of yore. One application I'm aware of is mixing them (not sure whether whole or just whites) with cement. When the Bolsheviks were blowing up churches in Russia, they had a pretty tough job on their hands - church walls were so tough they wouldn't just fall apart from a blast. And when they finally did, they wouldn't collapse into a pile of individual bricks - there'd be big chunks of wall. That's how good the egg-based cement was.

Talking of the binding power of eggs in baked goods, I think most binding in bread is done by gluten and egg is used primarily for flavour and softness. Whereas the flour used in most cakes hasn't got enough gluten to bind the ingredients together and provide structure, so eggs - or substitutes - really come into play there. In any case, Urbandale's original post seems to suggest that it's the egg flavour he or she loves so much.

All these are just my thoughts on the subject though, I in no way wish to question the validity of your observations and of course your insight into using sour cream as a substitute for egg, especially where someone has an egg allergy, are really useful, and thank you very much.

chickadee3's picture
chickadee3 (not verified)

Yes, it seems that the original poster wanted the egg flavor, which I didn't discern in the first place. I made my own forum page about sourcream as a substitute.

peter.achutha's picture

Hi Urbandale,

Baking bread can be straight forward once you get the hang of how much water to use, find a good quality bread flour, good yeast (source of aromatics, any instant yeast is suitable). I have been playing around with bread and offshoots like pizza (I'm not an expert) for the fun and ended up making plain bread, wholemeal bread, apple cider bread, Guiness Stout bread,... for the fun. They are not perfect or anywhere near professional standard but you may find it easy to follow at Really, no need for eggs.

I found this site by accident while searching of any food stuff that provides a similar flavour to eggs but not eggs. So now I have to find egg substitutes that taste like eggs.

Happy bread making,