Understanding Egg Cooking Terms

Source: ‘Grade A’ Family Favourites, Egg Farmers of Ontario, www.eggsite.com

Eggs At Room Temperature
This is necessary only when eggs are to be combined with a fat and a sugar. Cold eggs could harden the fat in the recipe, causing the batter to curdle and affecting the texture of the finished product. To bring eggs to room temperature, remove them from the refrigerator about an hour before baking or put them in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes while assembling other ingredients.

Yolks and whites are often separated, and beaten separately, particularly when aerating the whites is important. Egg yolks contain fat that will inhibit the foaming of the whites and prevent them from reaching their fullest possible volume. The yolks and whites must be separated very cleanly, avoiding getting any yolk in the white. Bowls and beaters must be very clean and grease-free. Eggs will separate more easily if cold, but the whites will absorb more air, and beat faster and to a greater volume and stiffness if at room temperature.

Slightly Beaten
Beat with a fork or a whisk just until blended.

Well Beaten
Beat with a whisk or electric mixer until light, frothy and evenly coloured.

Beat Yolks Until Thick and Lemon-Coloured
Beat yolks with a mixer for few minutes until they become a pastel yellow colour and fall in ribbons when the beater is lifted or they are dropped from a spoon.

Beat Whites Until Soft Peaks Form
Use an electric mixer or whisk to beat whites until rounded peaks form. The whites will droop when the beater or whisk is removed.

Beat Whites Until Stiff Peaks Form
Use an electric mixer or whisk to beat whites until upright, pointed peaks form when the beater or whisk is removed. The peaks should be moist and glossy-looking and should not flow from the beater when the bowl is tipped or inverted. If the whites are under beaten, the finished product will be heavier and less puffy than desired. If the whites are overbeaten, they may form clumps that are difficult to blend with other foods in the mixture and finished product may be dry.

Add Sugar Gradually
Sugar is often beaten with egg whites, a tablespoon at a time, when making meringues and some cakes. This helps to stabilize the egg white foam. Since sugar can actually slow or prevent the foaming or the whites, it must be slowly added so the final volume is not diminished.

Add Cream of Tartar
Beaten egg whites are easily deflated if not stabilized. Adding cream of tartar (or lemon juice) helps to stabilize beaten whites.

Temper Eggs
To prevent eggs from coagulating or cooking when combined with a hot mixture, the eggs must first be warmed or tempered. Stir a little of the hot mixture into beaten eggs, then stir the warmed beaten egg mixture into the remaining hot mixture.

Cook Until the Mixture Coats the Back of A Spoon
Custard mixtures are cooked to proper doneness when a thin film adheres to a spoon dipped into the custard. The custard should be slightly thickened but not set.