Egg wash is a common term among bakers that is often used to provide a glossy finish on baked goods. It is frequently called for in pastry, pie, and tart recipes.
What is egg wash and how to make one?
An egg wash is a mixture of beaten egg (whole, white, or yolk) and a liquid like water, milk, or cream. The most typical ratio for egg wash is 1 tablespoon of water/milk/cream for 1 egg, or ½ tablespoon of liquid for either part of the egg (white or yolk).
It’s pretty easy to make, and you can simply use water if you run out of milk. To start, crack an egg in a bowl or separate egg white from the yolk, depending on the recipe.
Pour your preferred liquid and beat them together until the mixture is frothy and completely blended. You can add more liquid if you prefer a thinner consistency.
What is egg wash used for?
An egg wash has many uses in baking. Depending on its purpose in a recipe, it may or may not be necessary.
For Color and Shine
An egg wash imparts a golden brown color and an impeccable shine to your baked goods. If you see it in a recipe, it’s almost always optional when it only affects the appearance.
Without it, though, your pastries and pies will look dull and unappetizing compared to the bright golden color and gloss from those with egg wash.
It’s also optional for bread buns and rolls, but generally, an egg wash helps with the browning of your baked goods.
Aside from adding color and shine, an egg wash acts as a natural adhesive to bind and seal edges together. And this is where it becomes highly necessary.
Using egg wash is common in puff pastry recipes where it helps seal the filled pastries and hold their shape. The added golden sheen becomes a bonus.
An egg wash also comes in handy with pie crusts. Brushing the bottom of the pie crust with egg wash prevents the filling from seeping down into it so that the base doesn’t get soggy.
For some recipes, an egg wash is used to stick ingredients and decorations onto your baked goods, like putting sesame seeds on bagels or spices on a pie crust.
Some people also use an egg wash on cookies to add color and sheen and to help decorations adhere.
What are the different types of egg wash?
There are different types of egg wash which can include whole egg, white, or yolk mixed with liquids like water, milk, or cream. Some recipes may also call for a beaten egg without any liquid.
To thin out the egg wash, milk or cream is added for easier application. It also adds flavor and enhances browning due to a higher protein content.
Here are some of the most common combinations and their effects on baked goods:
- Whole egg only: rich golden color and intense gloss
- Whole egg with water: light golden color and medium gloss
- Whole egg with milk: rich golden color and medium gloss with a flaky effect
- Egg yolk only: vivid yellow color and intense gloss
- Egg yolk with water: pale yellow color and medium gloss
- Egg yolk with milk: deep brownish yellow color and less intense gloss than with cream
- Egg yolk with cream: brownish yellow color and intense gloss
- Egg white only: very light brownish color and medium gloss
- Egg white with water: very light brownish color and gloss
- Egg white with milk: light brownish color and gloss
To add flavor to your baked goods, you can use milk or cream in your egg wash instead of water, and you can also add a pinch of salt.
When should you apply egg wash?
It depends on the recipe, but it’s usually added right before baking. Bear in mind that the longer it stays in the oven, the darker it will be.
When using whole egg or egg yolk only, I suggest applying the egg wash 15 minutes before removing the baked goods from the oven. This will help avoid creating a dark color if you’re concerned about it browning too much.
On the other hand, if you want an extra golden brown color, you can apply egg wash twice, right before baking and around 10 to 15 minutes before the baked goods are done.
What are some egg wash substitutes for baking?
If you skip on the egg wash, your baked goods will look extremely pale, like it wasn’t baked at all. Don’t ask me how I know.
The best egg wash substitute you can use is milk. It provides good browning, but it might lack that gloss you expect it to have.
Some people also like using melted butter instead of egg wash. Butter can provide an excellent flavor and a nice gloss, but it doesn’t brown like egg wash does.
Other egg wash substitutes you can use in certain recipes are:
- Plant-based milk (almond, rice, and soy)
- Honey or maple syrup
- Malt syrup
How do you use egg wash without a pastry brush?
If you don’t have a pastry brush, you can simply ball up a paper towel, dip it in the egg wash, and gently apply it to the dough. You can also use a clean, unused, small paintbrush if you have one lying around your house.
Can you freeze egg wash?
Egg wash can be frozen, whether you use whole eggs, egg white, or just the yolk. However, the consistency might significantly change after thawing, especially for the yolk. Make sure to use the eggs right after thawing.
Can you refrigerate pastry with egg wash?
It’s not recommended to refrigerate pastry with egg wash. It’s best to apply the egg wash to the pastry either right before baking or 10 to 15 minutes before removing it from the oven.
Can you egg wash pastry before freezing?
It’s not recommended to egg wash pastry before freezing because it doesn’t freeze well.
Can you store leftover egg wash? How long does it last? Can it be reused?
Leftover or unused egg wash must be covered and stored in the fridge immediately after use. It’s good for a maximum of 2 days in the fridge.
If left longer, throw it away as it can cause food poisoning with symptoms like vomiting, fever, and diarrhea.
What can you do with extra egg wash? Can I cook egg wash?
If you have extra egg wash, you can use it to make scrambled eggs. But that’s about it I’m afraid.
Can I add sugar to the egg wash?
Sugar can be added to egg wash for shine and a slightly sweeter crust.