November 23, 2008
I like gingerbread houses.
I like to look at them. I quite like to eat them. But moreover, I do love making them.
I have all the house-construction paraphernalia. There's the gingerbread house book: for inspiration. The metal cutter templates: for squaring the walls and roof. The piping equipment: for fancy decoration. Its all there. All except for one thing.
I no longer have a suitable recipe for royal icing.
You see, our Bargy has an allergy to the key ingredient in this icing: egg white. If you haven't tried making royal icing before, its essentially a plain white icing that sets like ... concrete. Egg white is the magic setting agent. Whilst quite edible, sugar-laden royal icing is not a particularly delicious confection. I wouldn't recommend eating it in any great quantity, unless you fancy breaking a tooth or two. It is, however, amazing for gluing gingerbread house pieces together.
I would love to be able to be able to make a pretty gingerbread house for the boys this Christmas. So I am on a mission. I'm looking high and low for a suitable egg-free concrete substitute. To be truthful, this search started just before Christmas last year and end with dummy spitting on Christmas eve. No suitable recipe located. But after a hiatus, Mr Google and I have become acquainted once again.
I've decided to track down some recipes and trial each one. To find the definitive non-egg royal icing. So if you - or someone you know can't eat eggs - and you too like to decorate gingerbread houses, festive cookies or cakes, you might like to stay along for the ride.
Finding a sample of suitable recipes has been a bit tricky. Mr Google and I started out using "egg-free" as our search criteria. Many recipes we found, purporting to be "egg-free", contain meringue powder. Meringue powder is produced by companies such as Wilton and is fantastic stuff - I have used it in the past. The setting ingredient is, however, powdered albumin ... which is egg white! A good product to use if you cooking for someone pregnant or infirm and avoiding salmonella risks (the powder contains pasteurised egg). But, definitely not suitable for anyone with an intolerance or allergy.
In fact its been quite an eye-opener seeing the number of websites recommending using meringue powder if egg can't be consumed. It makes me remember how important it is not to take all information on the web at face value!
Once I thought to start searching for vegan recipes, Mr Google and I had a little more success. We high-fived each other several times (is it possible to do this with a search engine?), as promising recipes popped up.
Here are the recipes that I have collected. I have listed just the ingredients, but then provided a link to the original recipe.
BBC Food's egg-free royal icing:
Goodbaker's vegan royal icing:
Powdered soy milk
Light corn syrup
Veglicious's vegan royal icing:
Edit (7 Dec. 2008): Visit this post for the results of my experiments!
During the week I am going to trial three recipes. I'll look at how: snowy white each looks; nice each one tastes; easily each pipes; and well each one sets. Remember, we're aiming for concrete here people.
In the first instance I have decided to try making a traditional icing recipe using an egg substitute. I already use an Orgran product called No Egg for baking and other cooking. Its available in Australia from health food stores and supermarkets. I'm a bit unsure, however, if No Egg is suitable to use in uncooked products.
I have then chosen the recipes from BBC Food and Veglicious. On reflection I decided that Goodbaker's recipe might be a bit risky in our house. Soy is a known allergen and something Bargy hasn't really tried before. Best not to accidentally poison him at Christmas!
So, if you're interested, head back during the next week and I'll post the results of my experiment. I'll be the one with the tummy ache, smiling at you through broken teeth.
If you have any experience of making egg-free royal icing, I would love to hear them.