Here, at Gurgaon Bakers, we love to share our love for “All Things Baking,” with you, our dear readers. We don’t just want to give you recipe after recipe. Instead, we hope to inculcate the love of baking in you.
To truly fall in love with baking, you need to get your basics right. And, this series is all about – getting the science of baking right so that you can turn it into an art.
Today, in this post, we share with all that you need to know about eggs in baking and its multifarious roles. When it comes to baking, eggs play a huge role. They not only contribute to the flavor of the baked dish but are also responsible for giving structure and texture.
Let’s take a closer look at the role of eggs in baking.
A visit to the grocery store and you’re sure to come across different types of eggs – white, brown and sometimes even green. Medium, large, extra large and eggs from ducks, quails and more! Unless, and until it’s mentioned, always stick to large chicken eggs for baking.
What’s In an Egg?
When you crack open an egg, you can see the yellow yolk floating in the transparent egg white. The white is made of water and protein, while the yolk is full of fats, vitamins, and other essential nutrients. If you take a closer look, you can come across a thin white strand in the egg. Called as the “Chalazae,” this strand ties the yolk to the white.
Egg Measurements – General Guidelines
Generally, a large egg when broken has 3 ¼ tablespoons of egg matter (both the white and the yolk). The ratio is 2 parts white and 1 part yolk.
Some baking recipes ask you to measure eggs by weight instead of volume. For instance, if you come across a recipe that states 2 egg whites, then you can crack open two large eggs and use the whites. On the other hand, if a recipe states 4 ounces of egg whites, then it doesn’t mean 4 egg whites. Instead, you’ll have to use your kitchen measuring scale to measure the egg whites.
What does an Egg do in Baking?
Generally, all baking recipes – cakes, cookies, tarts, meringues, pastries – make use of eggs. Eggs are used to add structure and stability to the batter. It can also be used for other purposes like thickening, adding moisture, as a binding agent and more.
Let’s take a look at the various roles of eggs in baking.
You would know that though an egg is liquidy, it solidifies on heating. This is why you boil or fry eggs for breakfast. The same happens during baking. Eggs when mixed with the batter or dough help to add structure to your cakes, cookies, custards, tarts, cheesecakes, and icecreams.
If you think common leavening agents like baking powder and baking soda are the only ways to give your baked goodies a lift, then we urge you to think again. Whipped egg whites are a great leaving agent.
The egg whites trap air bubbles in your batter. So, when whisked egg whites are added to the batter, it helps to hold in the air, helping your baked goodies attain a fluffy, airy texture. This property of eggs, when combined with the structure and flavor, is what makes baked goodies get a superior texture and flavor with the addition of egg whites.
The fat content in egg yolks adds a rich flavour to your baked goodies. This is why most custards, tarts, and pies use egg yolks for that rich, superior flavour.
Eggs are also used to enhance the looks of a baked goodie. Lightly beaten eggs, either the white, yolk or combined are mixed with milk or water. This mixture is then brushed over the surfaces of cookies, biscuits, pretzels, bread, and pie crusts before baking.
This helps the baked goodie get a glossy shine when baked.
The fat in the egg yolk reduces the gluten strands in your batter. This helps to tenderize (make soft) the final product.
Since eggs are mostly water (74%), they help to add moisture to the baked goods.
Eggs are natural emulsifiers and give you a smooth batter.
Eggs also impart some colour to your baked goodies. The pale yellow colour of lemon meringue pies is mostly because of eggs.
Fun Fact Corner:
Though most people throw egg shells in their dustbins or add them to the compost pile, egg shells are edible. They are sometimes added to nutritional shakes for their high calcium content. Egg shells are also added to chicken feed to add nutrition
Why Should Eggs be Brought to Room Temperature before Being Used?
Very often, you would have come across recipes that call for room temperature eggs. Ever, wonder why? This is because eggs at room temperature bind and emulsify better than cold eggs, taken directly from the refrigerator.
Additionally, room temperature eggs whip better than cold eggs. Even if a recipe doesn’t mention the temperature of the eggs, it’s a good practice to cool down eggs to room temperature before using it in your recipe.
How to Crack an Egg like a Professional?
Now, that you know a thing or two about eggs, ready to get cracking? (Pun intended ?) Professionals always crack eggs by tapping them on the inside wall of a mixing bowl or on a flat surface. This prevents small bits of the egg shell from getting inside the egg.
If broken shell pieces get into the egg, it could puncture the yolk. If you find a small piece of shell in your broken egg, don’t use your finger to pick it up. Instead, use a bigger piece of shell to scoop it out. This is because the sharp edge of the shell cuts the surface tension, making it easier to scoop the broken shell.
Separating the Yolk from the White
There are plenty of cheap tools in the market that let you do this. If your recipe calls for separated eggs, then it’s better to separate the yolks from the whites, as soon as you take the egg from the refrigerator. This is because cold eggs separate cleaner than room temperature eggs.
Summing it Up
Now, that you understand the scientific composition and roles of eggs in baking, we hope that you would use them better in your kitchen adventures. If you loved reading this article, don’t forget to share it with your friends on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
And, before you leave, make sure to check out our latest holiday gift hampers and other delicious treats from Gurgaon Bakers.