That’s right, you read it correctly. And I’m sure it’s not the first time you’ve read it, either. And the thought of it has probably made you go ‘”blech.” But this is me saying it, so let’s break it down logically, and you’ll see that the idea isn’t as far-fetched as you might think.
And while this post addresses the fact that there is no non-kitniyot margarine available here in Israel, it is applicable throughout the year.
The Science of Mayonnaise
Mayonnaise is fundamentally a cold, stable emulsion of oil and water, bound with lecithin found in the yolks. That’s it.
Margarine is fundamentally a cold, stable emulsion of oil and water, bound with lecithin as is found in egg yolks. That’s it.
So what’s the real difference? Margarine uses vegetable oils that have had hydrogen added to them (hydrogenated) to make them melt at higher temperatures, or in other words, to make them not melt (i.e. solid) at room temperature. This also turns some of the fats into trans fats, which as we know are bad for you.
You can make mayonnaise with 100% olive oil (not extra virgin, which would make it a weird green color and bitter), which is not as bad for you as other fats. And olive oil is kosher for Passover. And is not palm oil *shudder*.
So now that we know there’s really no difference between the two, let’s learn how to use one in place of the other.
The Preparation of Mayonnaise
[There are no pictures here. On purpose.]
Separate five eggs. Put the egg yolks into your food processor. Turn it on high. S.l.o.w.l.y drizzle in about 300ml-400ml of vegetable oil. The size of the yolks will make a difference, and it takes a little practice to know the breaking point. Yes, I’ve broken mayonnaise. It’s not a tragedy, it just meant I was rushing. Yes, I’ll be available for questions/panic attacks.
Anyway, now you should now have a food processor full of mayonnaise. Drizzle in some water. Don’t even bother with the salt. That’s it. Chill it and it’ll firm up. No really, that’s it.
If you’re going to use store-bought mayonnaise, assuming you find a mayonnaise that doesn’t have kitniyot in it, it’s going to have vinegar, stabilizers and other who-knows-what in it. We’re trying to stick to olive oil and eggs for cakes, so just follow the instructions above on how to make your own.
Substituting Mayonnaise in Recipes
So let’s say you’re baking a cake. You’re putting in eggs, right? And you’re using margarine, which is going to melt (a.k.a liquefy, as in ‘oil’) in a hot oven anyway, right? So what’s the problem here?
There is no magic to using margarine in a recipe. Any fat in cake recipes (butter, margarine, oil, shortening) adds to the tenderness and moistness of the crumb by preventing flour from forming gluten [which is not an issue on Pesach. So you learned an extra something. Shoot me.], which would make it chewy and doughy. Margarine/oil/fat doesn’t not add to the structure of the cake (flour, eggs), the rise (baking powder/soda) or the flavor (sugar/vanilla/cocoa). Ignore the stick of margarine behind the curtain…
The “blech” factor in substituting mayonnaise for margarine comes from the typical additions of vinegar and/or lemon juice, mustard, and salt. And because you most likely associate mayonnaise with tuna salad and cole slaw. Or maybe you’ve left out mayonnaise on a hot day and it turned disgusting. All irrelevant. Eggs. Oil. No flavor
Mayonnaise substitutes equally for margarine, as both are about 80% fat. And even though mayonnaise has more volume, you can substitute it 1:1 for margarine in a recipe, and because it’s less dense, you’re actually using less fat than if you used margarine, and you’re cake is going to be that much fluffier!
And, as an extra added bonus, now you know how to make your own mayonnaise for tuna/egg/potato salad, cole slaw, French fries, aïoli…
I did a fair amount of checking, and I couldn’t find anywhere, in halacha books, cookbooks or even Wikipedia, that says you’re obligated to tell anyone you used mayonnaise in your baking.
About the Author: Besides being the webmaster for JewishPress.com, Marc Gottlieb is an accomplished professional chef. His blog, Culinart Kosher is where he provides recipes, answers your questions, and teaches techniques.
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