Why use room temperature eggs in baking? When it comes to baking, I often know how to do something, but not why I do it or why it works.
You should bring eggs to room temperature before adding them to batter. But why?
Recently, I made one of my favorite simple cakes, a fragrant and delicate lemon loaf cake. Whether I add crystallized ginger and a glaze, or leave it simply as an undecorated lemon loaf, the cake is moist and elegant. I was pulling together the ingredients and reading the recipe, which called for eggs “at room temperature.”
I am notorious for fooling around with recipes, changing ingredients, adding new twists and even modifying techniques. But I realized as I read this recipe that I always use room temperature eggs in baking cakes, even when the recipe doesn’t specify. I’m no chemist and I didn’t go to pastry school, so my blind obedience to this step
Why does it matter if the eggs you use in baking are at room temperature? I have a number of books on baking and food chemistry, but found the answer in only one – Shirley Corriher’s, Bakewise: the Hows and Whys of Successful Baking.
It turns out that leaveners such as baking powder or baking soda, are not the only ingredients that help a cake rise. (We’re not talking about angel food or sponge cakes here. They have no leaveners other than eggs. Their volume comes from separating the eggs and beating the egg whites to form a delicate mountain of froth.) But even when a cake has leavening, eggs help the cake to rise. Cold eggs do not help the cake rise as much as warm eggs do.
What to do if you’re in a hurry and take your eggs straight out of the refrigerator? Easy. Just put the eggs in a bowl of fairly warm water for about 5-10 minutes. When baking a cake or cookies, I take my eggs out first, putting them in warm water as I am gathering other ingredients and equipment. By the time I need to add them to the batter, they are warm.
What are the exceptions to the rule about using room temperature eggs in baking? Madeleines and other baked goods that get refrigerated before going into the oven. In most cases, baked goods do not get refrigerated before baking. But when they do, you can use cold eggs.
What steps in baking or cooking do you always follow and if you stopped to think, you would wonder why you do them?