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I've been baking for not that long now and I usually peruse the web and the hundreds of books I have at home before I attempt a recipe. However there is one thing I am just not able to get down right.

Whenever a cake or something involving eggs is baked, I get a really strong eggy smell that puts me off. Even after it has cooled down, the egg smell and taste remains. But I don't notice this in cakes from stores or bakeries. I don't know what to do to neutralize this, or is it completely normal?

I use brown farm fresh eggs that aren't pumped full of stuff (at least that's what they say on the packaging).

Update: I will try to figure out what the cheap eggs taste like in the next cake that i bake. Furthermore, i will also compare with results i obtain from a new professional line oven that i am purchasing soon. One of these is the culprit, since whenever i eat baked goods elsewhere this issue is rarely experienced.

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Do cakes from stores/bakeries/restaurants smell too eggy to you as well? If not, perhaps the eggs you're baking with have a stronger flavor than normal. –  Jefromi Jan 7 at 14:59
    
'farm fresh' means different things to different groups ... eg, they came straight from the farm and straight into the coolers to be sold at some later date. If you have a farm stand near you that can get you really fresh eggs, you might see if that makes an improvement, as older eggs can smell a bit more. –  Joe Jan 7 at 15:43
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I saw your comment on rumtscho's answer, and edited that very important fact into your question. In the future you might want to do that yourself - you're unlikely to get helpful answers if the key facts aren't up at the top. –  Jefromi Jan 7 at 19:23

7 Answers 7

up vote 3 down vote accepted

It is normal that eggs smell of eggs, yes. Some people are just more sensitive to certain smells than others and detect them in smaller amounts, and sometimes all people perceive a smell with equal strength, but a few will have a negative reaction to a smell commonly regarded as pleasant.

If you react with unusual aversion to the smell of baked eggs, there is nothing you can do about it. If you are indeed using standard recipes from widespread books, they probably smell OK to the general public.

There is no way to remove the smell of eggs. But you can do two things:

  • avoid overcooking the eggs. When somebody finds the eggs smell unpleasant, they are usually reacting to the sulfur compounds egg proteins form under high temperatures. This is not a universal solution, because a properly baked cake has been exposed to temperatures high enough to form lots of these compounds. But in dishes which can be overcooked, such as custards or boiled eggs, less cooking is usually much better smellwise.
  • choose recipes with less eggs. This will mean that you will have to restrict your cake eating habits a lot. Genoise is probably completely out of the question, but if your sensitivity also shows at pound cake and similar, then there aren't many traditional types you can bake. It is possible that whites-only or yolks-only cake types won't trigger your problem, but if both do, you will possibly have to start replacing some egg in normal recipes. Sadly, eggs are very important for the texture of a cake, which means that substitutes only work in certain types of cake (pound cake, sponge cake) and even then, the larger the proportion of substitute to egg, the worse the final texture. But it may be worth it, if it lets you enjoy cakes you wouldn't eat when made with eggs.

Update after comment

If you don't smell this in bakery cakes, there are still a few possible explanations:

  • the sensitivity theory is right, and the bakeries in your area rely on some kind of product different than fresh eggs, such as powdered eggs. The processing used in industry ingredients could change eggs in some way which removes the components which cause your sensitivity. This should be easy to test: if you can eat homemade cake with fresh eggs, it is not the cause.
  • the smell compound to which you react could be something entirely different from the sulfur compounds always present in eggs. You said that you are buying fresh farm eggs. But the point is that fresh heirloom products are normally much more chemically diverse than mass-produced food. It is especially noticeable in fruit and vegetables, but I guess that chickens held under less-than-optimal conditions and fed standardized food mix will produce eggs which have much less exotic trace compounds than those of chickens raised on small farms under sunlight. You could try baking with the cheapest supermarket eggs and see if this solves the problem for you.
  • maybe my sensitivity theory is completely wrong, and you are indeed doing something unusual to the cake. As mentioned above, overcooking is a suspect. If your oven is hotter than the dial shows (very common), you may be consistently overcooking every single cake. Try inserting a roasting thermometer into your cake and yanking it out as soon as it reaches 90 Celsius. It might have a slightly floury taste, but at least you will know if it is the smell of overcooked egg or something else which bothers you.
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The thing is, i guess i should have clarified, i don't really get this smell or this aversion to the smell when it's a cake that has been baked by someone else(usually store or bakery bought). Perhaps i'm just smelling it more because i was handling eggs throughout the baking process? –  AlanTuring Jan 7 at 18:47
    
I too thought of the possibility that i may be tasting eggs that are of a higher quality only infrequently and as a result am not used to the smell. However i would add more credence to the overcooking theory of yours. My oven is not the best and the temperature, i am sure is unstable, I have no confidence in it. To overcompensate for the lack of heat it generates i usually leave what i'm baking in a few more minutes than prescribed because it usually seems undercooked. –  AlanTuring Jan 8 at 11:31
    
If you don't have an oven thermometer, you can calibrate it using water (boils at 100 Celsius) and sugar (burns at 192? Celsius, search for exact temp and method online). Personally, I think the hassle is not worth it, because a thermometer is one of the most useful tools in the kitchen and it will cost somewhere between 15 Euros for a basic model and 35 for a fancy one. –  rumtscho Jan 8 at 12:13

There's nothing wrong, it's perfectly natural for cakes that have eggs as an ingredient to smell of eggs. If you have a problem with egg smells then don't use egg. There are egg-free recipes out there, plenty of them work just fine.

The other option is to use ingredients with strong aromas to overpower the egg. That could be spices like cinnamon and cloves, or alternatively citrus as in a lemon cake.

You could I suppose experiment using egg whites instead of whole eggs and see whether that works for you, I can't be sure it is a solution tough.

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if the person is indeed sensitive to the smell of eggs (I can't prove this, but the context suggests this might be the case), then using strong spices will do absolutely nothing for them. Human senses work very well at detecting smells they hate, I have seen this both in myself (trace amounts of anise will make me spit food out, no matter what other strong tastes get used) and in others (I had a flatmate who couldn't stand vanilla, she couldn't eat most sweets or use most cosmetics even when we could notice no vanilla smell at all). –  rumtscho Jan 7 at 16:26
    
I remember reading in a Cook's Illustrated article that a lot of the "eggy" taste and smell comes from the whites, not the yolk. Removing whites from a baking recipe can be tricky since it provides a lot of structure –  jalbee Jan 8 at 0:51

where i am from they remove the little white gellatinous material that attaches to the yolk to reduce the eggie smell. They call this the "eye". Try that and see the difference.

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Hi i have the same problem and the only way to cut this smell is by adding lemon and orange zest to the batter. Also you can try a table spoon of whiskey or cognac.

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+1, seems like between those options you'll probably have something that fits with most cakes, and if it masks the mild egg smell, there you are! –  Jefromi Jul 9 at 14:55

Do use beater to beat the batter. It will definitely reduce the egg smell in your cake. I have been using beater for cakes and it works.

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yea beating the eggs will reduced he egg smell.works for me.. –  user29796 Dec 8 at 11:54

Adding a few drops of lemon juice will remove any odourof eggs or baking ppowder.

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By definition, if you add enough lemon juice to remove the odor of baking powder, you have interfered with the leavening process. If the recipe was well balanced for leavening at the beginning, you will get a less well risen cake by adding lemon juice. Of course, if the recipe was bad and contained too much baking powder, your lemon juice will actually improve the leavening action, but why bother using bad recipes in the first place? –  rumtscho Jun 15 at 12:58

The answer is not to use an electric oven. I am a food teacher and we have both gas and electric ovens in my classroom. All cakes were made with the same ingredients, the ones baked in the electric ovens smelled eggy whilst the gas oven cakes did not. I have had the same problem at home when I had an electric oven. Switched to gas and the problem disappeared :)

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There was probably something else going on here. Heat is heat; if you're actually baking at the same temperature, the heat source shouldn't change the flavor of your cake. Perhaps the temperature calibration is off in the electric ovens you've used. –  Jefromi Jun 15 at 18:22

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