Words by Anneka Manning
Eggs are fabulous things in baking! From providing structure, texture and richness through to binding, giving flavour and providing a golden glaze for breads and pastries, eggs are very important in most baked recipes. This week I’m going to give you answers to some of the most common questions about eggs.
How should I store eggs?
Always store eggs in the fridge in the carton they came in, with the rounded end down. This will not only help prevent moisture loss but also stop the eggs from absorbing other flavours from the fridge through their porous shells.
Does freshness matter?
When it comes to freshness, eggs that are a few days to a couple of weeks old are best for baking. It’s especially important for eggs to be a little less than fresh when whisking the whites; did you know that week-old or so eggs have the ability to hold a greater volume of air than very fresh eggs?
How can I check 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 so in two ways. First, you can 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 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?
Most recipes, and certainly all of mine, 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, when they are easier to incorporate into mixtures. If whisking, you can incorporate greater quantities of air if the eggs aren’t chilled. So take the eggs from the fridge at least one hour before you start baking. 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?
I like to use the shell to separate eggs, as it cuts through the eggwhite easily. When separating more than one egg, let the white fall into a clean cup or bowl each time so if any yolk breaks in you don’t contaminate all of the whites.
- 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 eggwhite 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.
Until next week… happy baking!
For more posts by Anneka Manning, click here.
Anneka Manning is a food author and the founder of exciting new Sydney-based cooking school, BakeClub. Visit her website at www.bakeclub.com.au to join the club, book into a BakeClass, download delicious no-fail recipes and be inspired by baking videos. You can also find BakeClub on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. To find out more or ask about private BakeClub classes, call (02) 9399 7645 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.