Baking with Bean Juice-Trying Out Aquafaba

Just like old-fashioned banana bread, without eggs...

Just like old-fashioned banana bread, without eggs…

Have you heard about “aquafaba?” I know, it sounds like some kind of water aerobics, or maybe a hair styling product. But it’s actually good old bean juice.

Yes, the cooking water that we usually drain off and throw away has a new use, and a new name. “Aqua” is water, “faba” is bean, so it is “water of the bean,” I suppose. The goopy water has been christened anew, in light of its amazing abilities as an egg replacer.

Yes, believe it or not, when you cook beans, the water takes on a mixture of starches, proteins and fats that imbue it with new powers. We don’t know exactly what is in this new ingredient, but I can speculate. Things that are in the bean leach out into the water, and it becomes slightly thickened and viscous.

I started hearing about garbanzo water based meringues some time back, and I thought, “mmm, bean flavored sugar, sounds awful.” But while I was being skeptical, vegan bakers have been working up recipes that rely on the ability of bean juice to trap air and bake up just like eggs. So I started fooling around with it.

The first thing I wondered was why everybody is using canned bean water. The liquid from a can of cooked garbanzos is the standard for aquafaba. You can use the liquid from other beans, as well, like white beans, and obviously, the liquid from kidneys or black beans would be strongly pigmented and show in the final dish.

So, I cooked up a batch of dry chickpeas and did some experimenting.

Make your own beans, or drain it from a can of chickpeas

Make your own beans, or drain it from a can of chickpeas

I pressure cooked 2 cups of soaked, dry garbanzos with 6 cups of water. When the beans were done, I let them cool in the liquid, then drained it and had 4 cups of liquid. I chilled the liquid, but it had none of the viscosity of canned bean water, so I put it in a pot to boil. Once reduced by half, it looked thicker, so I chilled it, and as you can see in the photo, it was quite a bit darker in color than the canned version, but it was similar in texture.

(Tune in next week for another aquafaba experiment!)

I have been measuring the amount of liquid I drain from canned beans, and it seems to be about 3/4 cup. So, I did some tests and came up with a banana bread with no added oil, using 100%whole wheat pastry flour. I used the whole 3/4 cup of aquafaba, to replace eggs and oil.

Simple ingredients

Simple ingredients

I used the blender to make the batter, which undoubtedly agitated the gluten in the pastry flour, giving me a sturdier loaf. When I sprinkled the crystallized ginger on the top, I thought it would probably sink into the loaf, but it did not. The batter had enough lift to hold the weight.

No eggs needed

No eggs needed

The resulting loaf was more similar to classic, eggy banana bread than many I have made with flax seed as the egg replacer. It was moist, tender, and full of flavor. You definitely want to make sure it’s completely baked, and let it cool before slicing.

In the end, I’m thrilled by aquafaba, and will continue my experiments. I love the fact that it is a creative use of something that used to be washed down the drain. Talk about reducing your carbon footprint-and saving money!

I’ve also been playing with aquafaba as a way to adhere coatings to savory foods, so check in next week for the results.

 

Spicy Banana Bread with Crystallized Ginger (and aquafaba)

Serves 10

3/4 cup aquafaba, 1 can
2 medium bananas, over-ripe
3/4 cup organic sugar
1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, chopped
turbinado sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 f, and coat a 1 pound loaf pan with oil or shortening.
In a blender, puree the bananas, then add the aquafaba and sugar. Process and let the machine run for a few minutes to whip the mixture. In a medium bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and allspice, and add to the blender. Pulse to mix. Scrape into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the crystallized ginger along the top of the loaf, and then sprinkle turbinado sugar to cover.
Bake for about 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool on a rack. Let cool for about 15 minutes before cutting.

 

Baking with Aquafaba

Baking with Aquafaba

7 Responses
  • Jan 16, 2016

    Fascinating! First I have heard of aquafaba. Autocorrect made it Aquafina btw. Eager to try this. Love the creativity of figuring out how to create a new way to do an old thing. Great time to be cooking! Now to go make some of this ‘nana bread!

    Nancie McDermott Jan 16, 2016
    Reply
  • Jan 16, 2016

    I hope you like it! I suppose we need a companion recipe to use up one can of garbanzo beans.

    Robin Asbell Jan 16, 2016
    Reply
  • Amy Anderson
    Feb 13, 2016

    Brilliant! As a vegan I’m always cooking beans anyways, so to find the “leftovers” are a new staple in my kitchen is perfect!

    I baked this banana bread, except since the first aquafaba I tried was black bean, I threw in some cocoa as well in case the colour was odd, and sprinkled cocoa nibs with the sugar on top rather than ginger. It is definitely more traditional in texture than using flax. Delicious…so glad you introduced me to this! Can’t wait to use it in more recipes that I had written off as difficult to veganize.

    Amy Anderson Feb 13, 2016
    Reply
    • Feb 13, 2016

      What a great idea! Black bean aquafaba and chocolate. As long as you have assertive flavors, nobody will know.

      Robin Asbell Feb 13, 2016
  • Feb 19, 2016

    Wonderful! Your readers can learn more about aquafaba at http://aquafaba.com or join the facebook group, Vegan Meringues Hits and Misses for many more recipes, tips, and tricks!

    aquafaba Feb 19, 2016
    Reply
  • Feb 19, 2016

    Absolutely game changing! I learned about Aquafaba about a year ago when it first came out and this open source aquafaba-experimentation group was founded: https://www.facebook.com/groups/VeganMeringue/ Almost every recipe you see out there with aquaba somehow has it’s origin in this group.
    So much inspiration being shared in there 🙂

    NIna Olofsson Feb 19, 2016
    Reply
    • Feb 19, 2016

      It took me a while to wrap my mind around it, I admit. I’d seen the meringues, and wanted to take it out for a spin. Great site!

      Robin Asbell Feb 19, 2016

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