Eggs, a magical ingredient, are one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. Prior to the rise in popularity of vegan baking, many of us considered eggs an essential ingredient in making cakes (amongst many other yummy bakes).
Why’s that the case? Have you ever wondered what eggs really do in baking?
I’m Angie, I’m a self-taught baker who’s been baking for nearly half of my life. I enjoy baking as a hobby, so much so that I ALSO do it as a job. I’m ready to share with you my knowledge in baking so that you too can master this art and eliminate as much head-scratching as soon as possible.
In this article, I’m going to share with you all I know about eggs. I’ll share with you the difference between egg white and egg yolk in baking, and how eggs contribute to the structure, texture, color, and flavor in baking.
Let’s talk about eggs, baby.
White vs Yolk
There are two parts to an egg: The white, and the yolk. While they’re in the same shell and taste undeniably good scrambled with ketchup, these two parts actually serve entirely different purposes whether it be in terms of hatching a baby chicken or baking a cake.
An egg white, also known as albumin, consists of 90% water and 10% protein. Egg whites do not contain fat and are low in carbohydrates.
In baking, egg whites mostly function to aerate our baked goods. When whipped, air is easily and stably incorporated into egg white which in turn increases the volume of our baked treats.
Unlike an egg white, the yolk contains all of the fat found in a whole egg. It is a healthy source of fat, protein, and a variety of vitamins including vitamin A, B6, and B12.
A pigment called xanthophyll is also found in egg yolks. In baking, egg yolks help to provide moisture, col, and richness to our baked goods.
What Do Eggs Do in Baking?
Now that you know the main functions of the egg white and the egg yolk, let’s take a good look at what exactly whole eggs do in baking.
Protein in eggs helps to give baked treats structure. Protein is found in both the egg white and the egg yolk. When beaten, a process called aggregation happens whereby turning the egg more gel-like and thickens the batter altogether. This network is what protects all the components in our baked treats from falling apart.
With their impressive emulsifying abilities, eggs do a great job in binding our wet and dry ingredients and help achieve a velvety texture in all our baked treats. When whipped, lots of air can be incorporated into the egg which will result in a fluffier and better risen cake.
As I briefly mentioned previously, egg yolk contains a pigment that gives our baked treats a yellowish tint. Of course, caramelization also contributes to the golden brown color. A light egg wash is also done to give our baked goods some shine once they’re fully baked.
The complex fats and proteins in eggs significantly enhance the flavor of our baked goods and give our baked treats more depth and richness. The taste of an egg can be described as being buttery, very mildly sweet with a slightly savory undertone which makes it a perfect flavor enhancer for both savory and sweet baked goods.
Here are some commonly asked questions regarding eggs in baking. I’ve answered them below.
What happens if you don’t use eggs in baking?
Well, that really depends on your recipe. With the abundance of vegan recipes out there you can easily find baking recipes that don’t require eggs at all. But when it comes to a recipe that calls for eggs and you didn’t add them nor did you replace them, your bakes will turn out dryer and possibly crumbly.
Can I use applesauce instead of eggs?
Applesauce is a good replacement for eggs in most baking recipes. You can replace each egg in the recipe with ¼ cup of applesauce.
How can you bake without eggs?
You certainly can! Check out this article I wrote detailing 8 Egg Substitutes for Cake Mix.
What happens if you don’t put enough eggs in a cake?
Not putting enough eggs in a cake will affect how much your cake binds, rises, and tastes. Your batter may have trouble coming together resulting in a dryer and crumbly cake. If you’re making a sponge cake, your cake will not rise properly resulting in a flat and dense cake.
There’s a reason why the egg is deemed a magical ingredient and is enjoyed amongst all cultures. Are you as impressed as I am by how much a simple egg can do?
I hope you found this article helpful. What would you say is the biggest contribution eggs have made in YOUR baked goods? What do you use eggs for the most? Let us know in the comments section below!About Angie