Between holiday parties, hosting out-of-towners and office potlucks, we’re in the throes of baking season. To get you in the right mindset, here are the Egg Safety Center’s Top 10 Baking Tips:
1.Get all your ingredients out and in order before starting. Measure out the ingredients so you can “dump and go”, making the process more seamless.
2.Don’t take short-cuts, and remember that baking demands accuracy.
3.Turn on your favorite music and don’t be afraid to sing along.
4.Plan to make an extra batch and freeze the finished product. You’ll be glad you did!
5.Safely bring your eggs to room temperature, which makes them easier to incorporate into a batter or dough. Take your eggs out of the refrigerator and place on the countertop 30 minutes before you plan to use them to safely bring them to room temperature. Alternatively, place eggs in a bowl of warm (not hot) water and cover for about five minutes.
Cold eggs are easier to separate, however. If your recipe calls for whites and/or yolks, separate them upon taking the eggs out of the refrigerator and let the whites and/or yolks sit (covered) in small bowls for 30 minutes.
According to Real Simple, “cold ingredients don’t incorporate evenly to bond, resulting in dense cookies, rock-hard breads and clumpy cheesecakes.”
6.Add a pinch of salt to your recipes to bring out the flavors in baked goods.
7.Don’t overmix the batter once the dry ingredients are added.
8.Remember that 1 large egg white = 37 grams, 1 large egg yolk = 20 grams.
9.Give baked goods as gifts, along with the recipe. It’s the gift that keeps on giving!
10.Invite your friends over to taste test and share in the holiday cheer.
Here’s a recipe for Angel Food Cake – an aptly named dessert for the holiday season…or any time of year. It calls for egg whites brought to room temperature. By safely taking the chill off your egg whites before use, they will take on more volume when beaten and then blend easily when folded into a batter.
Photo and recipe ©Baking Bites
The Best Angel Food Cake
Adapted slightly from Cook’s Illustrated Best Recipe
1 1/2 cups egg whites (10-12 large), room temperature
1 1/2 cups superfine sugar, divided
1 cup sifted cake flour
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla paste
1/2 tsp almond extract
Preheat oven to 325F.
In a small bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup sugar and the cake flour. Set aside.
Beat egg whites until frothy, the add cream of tartar and salt. Beat until fully incorporated then begin to add the remaining 3/4 cup of sugar 1-2 tablespoons at a time. When sugar has been added, beat egg whites to soft peaks. You will know when you have soft peaks because the egg whites will look like soft waves and when you lift the beaters, the peaks will droop back down into the batter. If your batter is falling in ribbons, it is not quite done. Don’t be afraid to slow down the mixer and check a few times as you get close. Do not beat all the way to stiff peaks. Once you have soft peaks, add the vanilla and almond extract and beat for a few seconds to evenly distribute.
Sift the flour/sugar mixture over the egg whites in 6-8 additions (depending on your proficiency with folding flour into egg whites) and gently fold it in after each addition. It is better to take your time and do it gently than to rush and deflate the egg whites.
Spoon batter into an ungreased 9-inch tube pan with a removable bottom. Smooth the top with a spatula and tap the pan on the counter once or twice to ensure that there are no large bubbles lurking beneath the surface.
Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the top springs back when lightly pressed. Remove from oven and invert pan over a bottle. Allow to cool completely.
Gently run a thin knife around the sides and then around the bottom of the pan to release the cake when you are ready to serve it.
And just because it’s the holidays, we’ve included here one of our favorite recipes for eggnog. While some eggnog recipes don’t cook the egg mixture, the Egg Safety Center recommends recipes like this one that serve up a creamy, safe and delicious holiday beverage.
Eggnog photo and recipe ©Martha Stewart Living
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
4 cups milk
1 1/3 cups sugar
12 large egg yolks
1 cup chilled heavy cream
1/2 cup bourbon, (optional)
Grated nutmeg, (optional)
In medium saucepan, whisk milk and sugar over medium heat until sugar is dissolved, 1 to 2 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks. Whisking constantly, pour hot mixture into yolks in a slow and steady stream.
Return mixture to pan; cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until thick enough to coat back of spoon, 20 to 25 minutes; do not let simmer. Quickly strain into a bowl. Stir in cream and bourbon, if desired. Cool completely; cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate until chilled. Garnish with nutmeg, if desired.