All About Eggs
Eggs are highly nutritious, versatile, and essential ingredients for a myriad of baking techniques. As one of the few foundational components of many bread, roll, and cake recipes, even the most casual baker will benefit from learning a thing or two about the simple but powerful egg.
Traditionally associated with springtime as a symbol of birth and the renewal of life, eggs are often served devilled or boiled and dyed for Easter. But there are countless ways to use eggs in cooking at any time of the year. In fact, people have been eating eggs for millions of years. They are one of our ancient sources of protein, fueling the evolution of the early human brain. Eggs are portable and come in their own protective container – ideal for an easy snack on the go.
Baking with Eggs
These adaptable ovoids, having sustained populations for eons, are of great importance to the home baker or comfort food connoisseur. Eggs are not only a delicious dish on their own, but become a vital ingredient when used to bake. Let’s consider some of the reasons why:
- 1. Eggs are a binder, helping bring ingredients together and giving structure and shape to baked goods
- 2. Eggs act as a leavening agent. The water content of the egg evaporates as steam, giving rise to breads and cakes.
- 3. Eggs help to improve the texture of baked goods. They add moistness and promote a tender crumb.
Egg Nutrition Facts
Eggs are packed with high quality protein, serving up over 6 grams each, along with a variety of important vitamins and minerals. There are differences in the nutrition profile of the yolk and the white, instantly doubling the range of culinary possibilities.
Tips for Beating Eggs
Beating eggs with an electronic egg-beater can be a quick and simple solution that works well in most cases. But Granny never bothered with such nonsense – she beat eggs by hand. Do it the old-fashioned way for a more precise preparation. It’s not as hard as you might think.
- 1. Don’t use a metal bowl, whisk, or other utensils. Opting for wood materials helps keep the eggs at room temperature.
- 2. Tuck in your elbow and beat with your wrist. This technique is efficient and sustainable.
- 3. When the eggs get foamy, keep on beating until they become smooth and creamy.
To really understand the cooking techniques of yesteryear, it helps to go to the source and channel Granny. The pioneer women of the past ages used simpler utensils than what we are used to today. It’s this simplicity that brings recipes back to their roots. One of the earliest American cookbooks, The Lady's Receipt Book: A Useful Companion For Large Or Small Families from 1847, is a window to our ancestral cooking tradition. It includes the following guidance on how to beat eggs:
TO BEAT EGGS: In making cakes it is of the utmost importance that the eggs should be properly and sufficiently beaten; otherwise the cakes will most certainly be deficient in the peculiar lightness characterizing those that are made by good confectioners. Home-made cakes, if good in other respects, are too frequently (even when not absolutely heavy or streaked) hard, solid and tough. This often proceeds from too large a portion of flour, and too small an allowance of butter and eggs. The richest cake that can be made (provided it is light and well baked) is less unwholesome than what are called plain cakes, if they are solid or leathery. Cakes cannot be crisp and light without a due proportion of the articles that are to make them so; and even then, the ingredients must be thoroughly stirred or beaten; and of course thoroughly baked afterwards.
Persons who do not know the right way, complain much of the fatigue of beating eggs, and therefore leave off too soon. There will be no fatigue, if they are beaten with the proper stroke, and with wooden rods, and in a shallow, flat-bottomed earthen pan. The coldness of a tin pan retards the lightness of the eggs. For the same reason do not use a metal egg-beater. In beating them do not move your elbow, but keep it close to your side. Move only your hand at the wrist, and let the stroke be quick, short, and horizontal ; putting the egg-beater always down to the bottom of the pan, which should therefore be shallow. Do not leave off as soon as you have got the eggs into a foam; they are then only beginning to be light. But persist till after the foaming has ceased, and the bubbles have all disappeared. Continue till the surface is smooth as a mirror, and the beaten egg as thick as a rich boiled custard; for till then it will not be really light. It is seldom necessary to beat the whites and yolks separately, if they are afterwards to be put together.