December 3rd, 2006

About eggs & how to whip egg whites

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Last Saturday:
I have been slightly unwell all week & tired, so I made considerably less. No Tarte Tatins, Chocolate Tarts & no Gateaux Basques, & generally less quantities of everything. Actually I was thinking of not trading atall. But the customers would not trust me if I was unreliable. Next time they need a cake or some chocolates, they would not bother checking my stall out & buy elsewhere, right?
- Making less turned out to be a good decision anyway, as formidable amount of rain bucketed down until lunch time, & business was slow.
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This week’s entry is about eggs.
Prior to any cake recipes added to this blog, I’d like to throw in my two cents’ worth on the subject of basic ingredients such as eggs, butter, flour & sugar. The reason being… Before attempts are made at baking, it’s best to have knowledge of the ingredients & know how to handle them to get a good result. There is nothing more irritating than ending up with a bad turn out & not knowing why it happened (or blame me for it!).
So lets start with the subject of ‘eggs’:

  • BUY ‘free range eggs‘. It may command more than double the price of standard eggs, but the hens are bred on better diet & the egg has stronger shell, firmer & strong yellow yolk – much tastier & it is worth the extra cost. It is approx. 17 pence per egg… … … Or better still, buy ‘organic eggs’ approx. 24 pence per egg. (if you’re financially privilaged). Organic eggs are laid by healthy hens who have outdoor access. Their diet is organic – no pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers. Not fed any antibiotics, hormones or meat by-products (= parts of slaughtered animals, not including meat) to fatten them up or make them grow bigger… … … NEVER BUY ‘caged eggs’, ‘regular/ standard eggs’ approx. 7 pence per egg. These are ‘battery farmed’ chickens’, stuck in a small cage all day long, in artificially lit shed. Their diet contains antibiotics, hormones & other chemicals… … … If money is tight, buy ‘barn laid eggs’ approx. 13 pence per egg. Much more humane than ‘caged’, as they are in pens (although the hens are always kept indoors), & can be more ‘chicken-like’, spread their wings & socialize.
  • Use Medium size eggs. Most cake recipes assume that an egg is approx. 50g (yolk 20g, whites 30g). using ‘large’ or ‘extra large’ would give you more whites than what the recipe calls for.
  • Store eggs in a cool, dry place, ideally in the fridge.
  • During baking, one of the basic and common cake procedure is to mix sugar in to the yolk. Here, always whisk in the sugar straight away. Never leave the sugar standing in the yolk. This is because the sugar (just like salt) would soak up the water from the yolk & you’d end up with solidified yellow bits.
  • Some eggs can have salmonella, on the shell as well as inside the egg. Eggs must be handled carefully both when it is still in its shell & once it is cracked open. – Please remember to: Keep eggs away from other foods. Always wash your hands, equipments & work surfaces after handling eggs to avoid cross-contamination. Do not use dirty or damaged eggs. And keep in mind that thoroughly cooking eggs properly kills bacteria.

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When I was new to all this baking, I had a hard time figuring out how best to beat the egg whites. I was full of questions such as ‘exactly at what timing do you incorporate the sugar?’. It’s plain obvious that correctly whipped egg whites are the core to any successful foam based cake. Getting it right is essential.
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How to whip or beat egg whites:
1. Put aside the precisely measured sugar ready in another bowl.

2. Get a squeaky clean bowl & whisk. Any traces of grease would prevent the egg whites from foaming well. (Also, don’t use plastic bowls. They can harbour traces of grease. Instead use glass or stainless steel)
3. Crack the egg whites in to the bowl. Make sure there aren’t any trace of egg yolk. Yolk contains fat & it’ll prevent the egg whites from foaming well.

4. Start whisking the egg whites on medium speed.

5. Once the liquid has turned to foam (a cross between bubble-bath & a cappucino froth), pour 1/3 of your sugar from the side of the bowl – never centre as that would squash the foam. Turn the speed to High.
6. When the foam becomes finer, & you see fluffy peaks forming (like Summer clouds), add the second 1/3 of the sugar.

7. The last 1/3 should be incorporated when: the foam is shiny, you start to feel the resistence, & see defining peaks.
8. Just before you finish, rotate the whisk slowly around the bowl – this makes sure that all the foam is of equal size.

9. Fold in the foam to the cake batter straight away. It is deflating as we speak…

9 Comments »

  1. Hey Tamami! I hope you are back to being your usual jolly self! Wow, I am learning sooo much from you about cooking and good timing too as, as you know, I just started living on my own and have to fend for myself which includes cooking ofcourse. Just got back from Hakone onsen(hot springs)with my parents and was just in time to still catch the beautiful Autumn leaves.

    Comment by Akiko - December 5, 2006 8:13 am

  2. Aki-chan, onsen ii-na-! I think I’ve been like only once or twice in my life… And the Japanese Autumn is 10 times more beautiful than over here… D would be very jealous. Please say a big hello to your parents from me, & cook up girlfriend!

    Comment by Tamami - December 5, 2006 2:04 pm

  3. Hi!
    I’ve been quietly reading your blog and enjoying it very much…but you keep revealing all your recipe secrets! ;-)
    Hope to see you at Broadway Market this saturday. I’m planning to do a bit of Christmas shopping…

    Comment by Ari - December 7, 2006 10:01 pm

  4. Hey cool! I look forward to seeing you! ! Wanna help me out abit, like half an hour? That way we can talk & serve customers at the same time!?

    Comment by tamami - December 8, 2006 2:31 pm

  5. Perfecto!

    Comment by Ari - December 8, 2006 4:27 pm

  6. Hi, I have found your site really interesting!

    Could I ask what quantities you used for your trial chocolate wedding cake.
    My son is getting married and his fiance has asked me to make the cake, I will take your advice and do a trial run but am no good at calculating quantities.

    Your sweet pastry recipe states 20gm of egg,
    how much is 20gm please.

    I have enjoyed your web page,

    \thanking you, Julia

    Comment by Julia Roach - July 21, 2009 8:35 pm

  7. Hello Julia
    20 grams is just under half an egg. (an average egg is 50 grams)
    Hope that helps!!
    Could you elaborate on what you mean by ‘what quantities for the chocolate wedding cake’?

    Comment by tamami - July 21, 2009 10:39 pm

  8. Hi tamami?

    hope you are well, loving your blog. I wanted to know do you have an email add, i can get hold of you on?

    I am interested in selling your products in a stall i have? Let me know and i can email you a little brief.

    all the best

    al

    Comment by al - February 27, 2012 11:40 am

  9. I have sent you an email. Many thanks.

    Comment by tamami - February 27, 2012 11:45 am

 

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