Eggs: What do eggs do in baking?

Karen e-mailed the Kitchen Shrink to ask, “What do eggs do in baking?”
In addition to their nutritional value, eggs can provide structure, leavening, richness, color, and flavor to baked products. The height and texture of baked goods is determined by the balance between eggs and flour which provide strength, and sugar and fat which add tenderness. Because eggs become firm when heated they set the structure of cakes, cookies, and other baked items. The same property makes it possible for them to thicken sauces, pies, and casseroles.  Beaten egg whites can be gently incorporated into a batter or soft dough to make it rise; while egg yolks can add richness, color, and flavor. In addition, lightly beaten eggs, either whole or separated can be brushed on the surface of breads, cookies, and biscuits to give them a pretty shine. To learn more go to incredibleegg.org.
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7 Responses to Eggs: What do eggs do in baking?

  1. hi just want to say thank you for the help on eggs i didnt know eggs add colour to a batter or flavor or richness. the is very fascinating, when i am older i want to run a bakery. thanks i will use your website more often xxxxxxxx

  2. Daniela Aguilar Medina send to my teacher says:

    I am a 6th grade student doing a science fair project on how the size of the egg would affect a cake. Would you please take time to answer some of my questions?
    1. How does an egg help in baking?

    2. Does the size of an egg matter when the recipe asks for three eggs?

    3. If you run out of eggs and only have two eggs instead of three will the cake taste drastically different or look funny?

    • moulton says:

      The egg provides moisture and promotes tenderness (from the fat in the yolk) and also makes a recipe light and airy (mostly from the whites but also from the yolks, if the eggs are beaten)
      yes, it makes a difference what size egg you use
      yes it would make the cake less moist and airy if you used 2 instead of 3 eggs

  3. […] Large Egg – provides structure, leavening, richness, color and flavor! […]

  4. Richard Armstrong says:

    Hi Sara, I have been making my grandmother’s fruit cake recipe for years. It doesn’t call for eggs. It’s baked in a loaf pan and doesn’t rise much at all. What would happen if I added some eggs to the batter? I have wanted to to try it over the years. Thanks, Richard

    • moulton says:

      Richard, I have a feeling your grandmother’s recipe is meant to be dense like most fruitcakes. I am not sure just adding eggs would lighten it – you might need a leavener such as baking powder or baking soda as well but then you would be changing the whole nature of the classic fruit cake.

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