All About Eggs (in Baking)
Eggs are one of the most important ingredients when it comes to baking. They provide structure, texture and richness through to binding, giving flavour and providing a golden glaze for breads and pastries – they are very versatile and very clever! Here are the answers to the most commonly asked questions I receive about eggs.
How should I store my eggs?
Always store your eggs in the fridge – eggs kept at room temperature will age up seven times more quickly than those kept in the fridge. Store them in their original carton with the rounded end up. Keeping them in the original cardboard carton will not only help prevent moisture loss but also stop the eggs from absorbing other flavours from the fridge through their porous shells
Does the freshness of an egg matter when I'm baking?
Eggs are best used as fresh as possible in baking, but especially when whisking them. The main reason for this is that eggs, by nature, are acidic when fresh, and this acidity causes the proteins in the white to be tightly knit. As the egg becomes older it becomes more alkaline and the proteins start to pull away from each other, causing the white to become thinner. When you whisk egg whites you are forcing these proteins apart and then recombining them in a new structure around small bubbles of air, hence forming a foam. With fresh eggs, initially it is a little harder to break these tightly knit proteins apart and the whisking will take longer - you may have heard that less fresh eggs can whisk to a foam more quickly which is true, but the resulting foam will be more stable than with older eggs.
How can I check my eggs for freshness?
Eggs bought from the supermarket will have a use-by date on the carton but if an egg has come from elsewhere or you want to double check its freshness.
You can do this in two ways:
- Simply crack it into a shallow bowl with a flat base. Egg shells are quite porous and so as an egg ages, it loses moisture, the white gets more watery and less viscous and clings less to the yolk, and the yolk becomes flatter and less spherical. So by just looking at the egg you can estimate how old it is. If the yolk is sitting up and has a definite shape and the white is thick then the egg is quite fresh, if not you can presume it is older.
- A more accurate way of testing is to put the egg in a small bowl of water and if it lies on its side it is quite fresh; if it stands on its end with the rounded side up it will be two to three weeks old. Be cautious if an egg floats completely as it may be a couple of months old and not suitable to use in your baking. The ultimate test is to break the suspect egg into a cup – believe me, you will know by the smell if it’s too old to use!
What size eggs should I use in my baking?
Most recipes, and certainly all of the BakeClub recipe, use 59-60g eggs. So unless otherwise stated always opt for this average size.
Are eggs best used chilled or at room temperature when baking?
For baking, eggs are best used at room temperature, as they are easier to incorporate into mixtures. Also, if you need to whisk your eggs or egg whites it is easier to incorporate a greater quantity of air if the eggs are at room temperature. So take the eggs from the fridge at least one hour before you start baking. If you forget though, or don't have time, you can bring them to room temperature more quickly by putting them in a bowl of warm water for 10-15 minutes.
Why shouldn’t I crack and egg straight into a mixture?
When using eggs in baking always break each one into a small bowl or ramekin before adding to a mixture so that if there’s a problem with a single egg, the whole mixture isn’t ruined. It’s also easier to remove any broken egg shell this way.
What’s the best way to separate eggs?
There are a couple of ways to separate eggs:
With the shell:
- First tap the egg on the edge of a bowl or bench at its broadest point to crack it.
- Use your thumbs to gently but firmly break the egg open, allowing the excess egg white to fall over the edge of the shell and into the bowl.
- Use the two halves of the egg shell to tip the yolk from one to the other, separating the rest of the white. If some of the yolk breaks and falls into the white, simply remove it with the egg shell.
- You can also use your hands when your eggs are super fresh (and the yolks are nice a plump). Separate them by simply breaking the eggs into your hand with your fingers slightly apart.
- The whites will slip between your fingers into the bowl below while the yolk will stay sitting in your hand.
- Don’t try this method with older eggs though as the yolks will be too weak to hold their shape and are more likely to break into the whites.
Do you have another question about eggs when it come to baking that you would like answered? Or would you like to share your egg tip with other BakeClub members? Please share them with us below.
Until next time, Happy Baking!