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Many recipes I've seen call for beating a tablespoon or so of water in with the egg for an egg wash.

What is the effect of adding the water to the egg wash when baking?

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

The proteins in a fresh egg are too viscous, even when thoroughly beaten, to wash a baked good.

The water thins the proteins so you get a nice glaze instead of a layer of scrambled egg.

Older eggs have sometimes degraded enough that they don't need the water but it is easier to always add water than to make a subjective judgement on the state of your egg proteins.

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