If you bake frequently, you have probably noticed that many pastry recipes call for the egg wash to be used for the finish. You may have very well chosen to skip this step as egg wash is usually optional, and speaking from experience, we get that.
Perhaps you didn’t have fresh eggs at the time or you couldn’t be bothered figuring out what it is and how to make it.
In this post, we’ll help clarify the “mystery” of egg wash and don’t worry, it’s not nearly as complicated or mysterious as you may think! In fact, anyone can master this simple yet valuable method for achieving a shiny, golden crust.
- 1 What is Egg Wash?
- 2 What is the Purpose of Egg Wash?
- 3 How to Make an Egg Wash
- 4 How to Make Pastry Crust Golden Brown and Shiny
- 5 Can You Egg Wash Frozen Pastry
- 6 Can You Keep Egg Mixture in Refrigerator
- 7 Is Egg Wash Necessary in Baking
- 8 Which Egg Wash Substitute You Can Use
What is Egg Wash?
Egg wash is a mixture you get by beating raw eggs (and sometimes, milk or water) in a bowl. As simple as that. Egg wash is often used in baking to brush the pastry before placing them in the oven and baking.
What is the Purpose of Egg Wash?
You know the wonderfully shiny, golden crust that pastry gets when taken fresh out of the oven? This result is achieved thanks to the egg wash. This mixture of raw eggs and other liquid ingredients (depending on your preferences and the recipe) is what gives baked goods such as bread, pies, and pastry such a lovely, shiny color.
Pastry baked without this egg finish looks rather dry and unappealing because it tends to remain pale. The crust may also be not as crunchy and tasty as with egg wash.
Besides this purpose, egg wash is also sometimes used to help bind parts of pastry together, for example, when you’re adding seeds and nuts as toppings to your enriched bread and you need them to stick to the surface.
How to Make an Egg Wash
There’s nothing complicated about making an egg wash. You simply whisk both egg yolk and egg white together with a little milk or water or even without it. You can skip the milk/water and just beat eggs alone. This makes for a darker egg wash.
If you prefer a bit lighter egg wash, you can add a couple of tablespoons of milk or water. When making egg wash, it is not entirely necessary to measure the amount of liquid you put in but usually, 1-2 tablespoons of liquid is enough.
When making an egg wash, it is crucial that you use fresh eggs to avoid any safety issues. Many of us tend to forget how long an egg has been sitting in the fridge (unless you store eggs in the carton that they came in with a label and a date). If you’re unsure whether the eggs in your fridge are still good, try to buy fresh ones before you start baking or use an alternative (but more on that below).
Tip: You can check whether the eggs are good by applying the simple float test. Carefully place an egg into a bowl filled with water. If the egg sinks, it’s good. If it floats or goes upward, it’s bad.
How to Make Pastry Crust Golden Brown and Shiny
We tend to admire professional bakers wondering how they get that crust to be perfectly golden brown and shiny, but the good news is that you can easily achieve this result at home if you follow a few simple steps.
Always coat your baked goods such as pastry and enriched bread with a layer of egg wash before placing it in the oven. However, you must also be careful when setting the temperature so as not to burn the pastry. We’re aiming for golden brown, not roasted so stick to the recipe entirely.
Preheat the oven according to the instructions and bake the pastry for as long as indicated while checking on it frequently.
When to Egg Wash Pastry
Egg wash is added before placing the pastry in the oven. When you prepare the dough and place it in the pan, grab a pastry brush (or another cooking utensil you can use for this purpose) and brush the pastry with egg wash. The layer should be thin so don’t bathe your pastry in egg wash.
Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake.
Can You Egg Wash Frozen Pastry
Certainly. Egg wash can be used for almost any type of dough, including frozen.
The frozen pastry is great because whenever you feel like eating something sweet and delicious but have no time to bake, you can just grab some frozen pastry from your freezer, thaw it (or not, depending on the instructions) and bake it.
However, to give it a dash of color and improve the taste, you should brush it with egg wash before baking. This small step will visually enhance the pastry and ensure it looks fresh as if it was made that day.
When to Egg Wash Frozen Pastry
If you’re using frozen puff pastry dough, you will first need to thaw it so that you can work it. Once it’s ready, roll it, add fillings, shape it, and then brush it with egg wash before you place the pan in the oven.
However, if you’re using frozen pastry that only requires 30 minutes or so to thaw, you can leave it at room temperature for about half an hour, brush it with an egg wash and bake.
Can You Keep Egg Mixture in Refrigerator
Food waste is a huge problem and it makes up about 6% of global greenhouse gas emissions according to sources. Here at Freshly Baked, we’re big believers in responsible food consumption so if you have leftover egg wash and don’t know what to do with it, by all means, do not throw it away.
You can store it in the fridge. It comes in handy if you’ll be baking something again soon to have egg wash ready in your fridge.
Additionally, you can use it to prepare breakfast the next morning for yourself or your loved ones. It’ll be perfect for scrambled eggs or a frittata.
How Long Can You Keep Egg Mixture in Fridge
You should store the egg wash in the fridge for up to 3 days. We do not recommend using an egg wash that’s been sitting in the fridge for longer than that.
To make sure that you use the egg wash while it’s good, you can label it and write the date you made it so that you don’t forget.
Is Egg Wash Necessary in Baking
Egg wash isn’t necessary for baking pastry. In fact, you’ve probably noticed that most recipes that include egg wash indicate this step is optional. If you don’t like using it or you don’t consume eggs or animal products, you can skip the egg wash. Many people avoid using eggs for safety concerns (salmonella, for example) or for dietary reasons (veganism).
But that doesn’t mean that you need to content yourself with pale, dull pastry. You can substitute eggs for another ingredient that can serve the same purpose: helping you achieve the shiny, golden-brown crust on your pastry and other baked goods.
Which Egg Wash Substitute You Can Use
When it comes to egg wash substitutes, there are several recipes that rely on some common ingredients such as milk, butter, cream, vegetable oil, vegetable milk, flaxseed, etc. Even if you don’t consume any of the animal products, there are plenty of plant-based alternatives for the egg was recipes you can use to enhance the appearance and the taste of your pastry.
All these alternatives are a great finish for a delectable pastry but not all of them have the same effects. In the table below, you’ll see what effect can be achieved with certain egg wash substitute ingredients.
|Ingredients for alternative egg wash
|Improves the taste and creates a crispy crust
|Milk (animal or plant-based)
|Gives the pastry a golden brown color
|Honey or maple syrup
|Creates a lovely brown color and gives the pastry a rich, caramelized taste
|Creates a shiny exterior and crunchy crust
|Flaxseed (mixed with water)
|Binds the pastry, creates a shiny crust