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Just before you put something with dough in the oven, often you have to brush it with a liquid. I've seen recipes that say with egg wash, with egg yolk, with egg white, with milk etc.

Does it make a difference what you use for brushing? If yes, what is best suited for what purpose (shining, browning, I don't know what else)?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

The best resource I've seen is here at The Fresh Loaf.

  • Egg yolk produces a shiny and dark look but remains soft.
  • Egg white is still soft but less shiny.
  • Milk and water only darken it slightly and produce what the article calls a 'satin' look.
  • Butter makes it shiny, smooth, rich, and well, buttery!
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I'd post the excellent picture there, but I'm not sure about the copyright issues associated with it. –  rfusca Feb 27 '12 at 18:29
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As the question is very broad, it's hard to give a comprehensive answer.

  1. Whole beaten egg. You put it on the pastry before you put it in the oven for the browning and shining effect.

  2. Beaten egg yolk. Gives a more yellow effect. Look at Gordon Ramsay on Youtube making a Steak Wellington (1:34').

  3. Beaten egg white. After baking the base you can paint it with egg white, put it another minute in the oven to protect the base from a more liquid filling.

Hope that helps.

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Does the beating make a difference? –  Mien Sep 30 '11 at 18:30
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@Mien: I'm not sure how you'd brush something with non-beaten egg. Needs to be a homogeneous, liquid-y mixture before you can brush with it. –  derobert Sep 30 '11 at 21:25
    
Yes, I know. But I meant with the egg white and perhaps the yolk (if it's broken). And I'm not sure if it's a language thing, but by beating, I understand whisking it well with adding a bit of air; not just mixing it. –  Mien Sep 30 '11 at 21:45
    
@Mien: A beaten egg is just that - beaten. Incorporating air would be whipping it. –  Aaronut Oct 1 '11 at 3:45
    
Oh yes of course. It's just a language thing then. (the Dutch word for 'whipping' is literally 'beating') –  Mien Oct 1 '11 at 6:32
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