Colorado Egg Producers

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Eggs: The Secret to Holiday Baking Success

Monday, December 13, 2010

As the temperature starts to drop, we gather inside with family and friends to enjoy all the comforts of the holiday season. Festive lights, cheerful music and the smell of baked goods wafting from the kitchen fill us with the nostalgia of joyful times. For many people, baking during the holiday season is about more than just the food. It is about creating something from scratch, with love, to tell those around you “Happy Holidays.”

The Colorado Egg Producers (CEP) Association knows that the best way to show you care is by using only the best, highest quality ingredients. “Incorporating locally produced eggs into your holiday baking makes for healthy and delicious treats,” said Mike Surles, a Colorado egg farmer. “As Colorado egg farmers we are committed to the best possible care of our chickens, ensuring you get a safe and wholesome product you will be proud to serve to your loved ones.”

You can also feel good about the nutrition eggs will lend to your delicious delicacies. A nutrient dense food, eggs contain every major vitamin and mineral except vitamin C. The protein from eggs is the highest quality of any food, and is found in both the white and the yolk of an egg. So whether you are making custards or meringues you are sure to benefit from the nutritional value of eggs.

CEP wants you to bake your best this holiday season. By using eggs locally produced in Colorado and following our fool-proof secrets to baking with eggs and at high altitudes, you will be sure to wow loved ones, neighbors, colleagues and even Old Saint Nick with delicious recipes you will be proud to serve.

The following information and tips were provided courtesy of joyofbaking.com, baking911.com and ochef.com.

Eggs: Eggs are structural ingredients in baking. Eggs act as a leavening agent, add color, texture, flavor and richness to batters, and are important in binding ingredients together. As a leavening agent, they incorporate air into batters, causing cakes to rise, but are also used as a thickener in custards and creams, used to glaze pastries and breads, and used to make light as air meringues.
• To test the freshness of an egg, place it in water mixed with a little salt. If the egg is fresh it will sink. The quicker or farther it sinks, the fresher it is. If the egg floats, it has spoiled.
• Cold eggs are easier to separate the yolks from the whites than warm eggs.
• Eggs should be brought to room temperature before adding to a batter, unless otherwise stated by the recipe. This is to ensure a well-formed emulsion.
• Temper eggs before adding them to a hot mixture, such as cream or milk, so that they don’t scramble. To temper, add a large spoonful of the hot liquid to the eggs while whisking, continuing until all the hot liquid has been added.
• If a recipe calls for half an egg - lightly beat one egg, then measure out 1 1/2 tablespoons.
• Always use large eggs in recipes where egg size is not given. The size of the egg used will make a difference in the consistency of the batter and ultimately affects the outcome of the baked good.
• Always store eggs in their carton and leave the shells unwashed to ensure maximum freshness.

Egg Whites: When egg whites are beaten they can increase in volume 6 to 8 times, and are essential in making soufflés, meringues, angel food and sponge cakes.
• Clean copper or stainless steel bowls and beaters are best for whipping egg whites.
• Separate eggs when cold, and then warm egg whites to room temperature before beating. This will ensure the best increase in volume.
• Cream of tartar and sugar often act as stabilizers when beating egg whites. Be sure to have some on hand.
• Always use beaten egg whites right away as they immediately start to loose volume.
• If you accidentally over-beat your egg whites, add another egg white, beat until stiff peaks form again, and them remove ¼ cup whites to follow the recipes measurements.
• Always fold egg whites into the heavier mixture, not visa versa.

High Altitude tips: The main factor affecting baked items in higher altitudes is the lower pressure. This leads to lower boiling points, faster evaporation of liquids and more rapid rising of batters when baked. Basic adjustments and a little experimentation can compensate for higher altitudes.
• Reduce the amount of baking powder the recipe calls for. For each teaspoon decrease 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon.
• Reduce the amount of sugar the recipe calls for. For each cup decrease 2-3 tablespoons.
• Increase the amount of liquid the recipe calls for. For each cup add 3-4 tablespoons. Eggs and butter are considered liquids.
• Fill baking pans half-full, not the usual two-thirds, as high altitude cakes may overflow.
• Increase the baking temperature 15-20 degrees, unless using a glass pan, and reduce the baking time by up to 20 percent.
 

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