Trying Out a Whole Food Egg Substitute
As a recipe developer, I’ve always got a list of recipes to create. Every recipe is like a little chemistry experiment, which has to work physically, as well as taste good. I’ve been lucky enough to write nine cookbooks, all while writing recipes for magazine articles, websites, and private clients. I cook, I bake, we eat, and I start all over again.
Recently, I’ve been on a run of savory recipe work, and found myself gazing at pictures of desserts with lust in my heart. So when a package of Neat Egg egg substitute arrived on my stoop, I knew I had to make a vegan cake. With whole grain flour, of course.
The Neat Egg is right up my alley, since it’s made from nothing but chia seeds and chickpea flour. Whole, nutritious food, not a bunch of starch or refined stuff. I’ve always been partial to ground flax and chia for vegan baking. Both seeds, when ground to release starches and fiber, can be mixed with liquid to form a thick gel. That gelling quality helps trap air and create structure in baked goods the way that eggs do.
Laura Lapp, Creator of Neat Foods
I spoke to Laura Lapp, the founder and creator of Neat Foods, about her nifty Neat egg subsitute and the line of meatless meats she has created, and it’s sold by Atlantic Natural Foods.
Lapp is a lifelong vegetarian who was raising two daughters as omnivores, when the two girls decided to go veg, too. ” My girls were 4 and 7 and saw something on TV and decided to go vegetarian. I was so used to making them spaghetti and meatballs or tacos that for a while we just ate pasta with tomato sauce because I didn’t know what to do for protein.” said Lapp.
She looked at the meat analogs on the market, and didn’t like what she saw. “I got scared off by the chemicals, it was like feeding fruit loops to my kids, except it was a veggie burger.” So she started working with beans and nuts to develop some good subs for the meatballs and taco meat she had been feeding her girls.
Kids Say the Darnedest Things
“Kids are the worst critics,” said Lapp, but after many attempts, she got the thumbs up. “My daughter said, ‘It’s not meat, it’s neat.’ and that became the name of my company.”
The Neat Egg came along later, and now she has a whole line of baking mixes ready to launch. “It’s my new baby. We have a black bean brownie, a cowgirl cookie with pistachios and cherries, all keeping with the idea that Neat is clean. No extra additives, just real food. They are all soy-free, gluten-free and vegan, too.”
The Neat Egg is a convenient way to bake without eggs, since the seeds are already finely ground and blended with chickpea flour for a bit of that aquafaba magic. It’s an easy egg substitute you keep in the pantry.
For this cake, I picked up four kinds of plums and pluots at my Coop. Ranging from the dappled green of the “Flavor Grenade” pluot to a deep black plum, they were perfect for displaying on top of a cake. I am lucky to have access to Bakers Field Flour and Bread’s soft white whole wheat flour, but you can use whole wheat pastry flour. If you’re baking for a tough crowd, you can always use half unbleached flour, for a lighter cake.
Putting fresh fruit and a sprinkle of crunchy sugar on top of the cake is just as appealing as frosting, but much better for you.
Keep an eye out for Neat Foods products wherever you live, because “It’s not meat, It’s Neat!”
Rainbow Plum Cake
- 4 medium plums and pluots different colors
- 1 1/2 cups soft white whole wheat flour or pastry
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 cup non-dairy milk
- 2 tablespoons Neat Egg or ground chia
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 tablespoons Turbinado sugar
- Slice the plums, keeping each color in its own little pile.Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly oil an 8 inch square baking pan. In a large bowl, mix the flour, soda, cinnamon and salt. In a medium bowl, combine the milk, neat egg, vanilla, and 1 tbs lemon and whisk to mix. Pour over the flour mixture and stir just to combine.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Arrange the plums in slightly overlapping rows on top of the batter. Sprinkle with a tablespoon of white sugar, then bake for 1 hour. Take out when until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with no wet batter clinging to it. Cool the cake on a rack. Eat warm, or wrap tightly and refrigerate for up to a week.