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I have a great Mrs Beetons recipe for Almond Icing. However, as it's a very old recipe and calls for the whites of 4 eggs what size egg should I use. As eggs on the whole have been getting smaller over the years. Yes I can see that egg yolk sizes have been discussed on the site, but not this particular problem that I have.

ALMOND ICING FOR CAKES.

  1. INGREDIENTS – To every lb. of finely-pounded loaf sugar allow 1 lb. of sweet almonds, the whites of 4 eggs, a little rose-water.

Mode.—Blanch the almonds, and pound them (a few at a time) in a mortar to a paste, adding a little rose-water to facilitate the operation. Whisk the whites of the eggs to a strong froth; mix them with the pounded almonds, stir in the sugar, and beat altogether. When the cake is sufficiently baked, lay on the almond icing, and put it into the oven to dry. Before laying this preparation on the cake, great care must be taken that it is nice and smooth, which is easily accomplished by well beating the mixture.

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    Have egg sizes really decreased? If I look at those I get from private (= non-standardized) sources, some breeds have larger, some smaller eggs on average, not taking the variances between birds of different age, during the seasons etc. into account. Do you have a source? – Stephie Feb 2 '17 at 12:45
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    Having used Mrs Beeton's, I would be inclined to use medium eggs, although hers may have been small. This recipe creates a fondant so, if you're unsure, less is more. I'd start with two, adding the others one by one, so that icing is not too wet. – Giorgio Feb 2 '17 at 13:50
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    Be aware that US and European egg sizes are different. If not specified, typical (modern) advice is to assume an egg is 60 grams ... but that's a large egg in the US, and a medium egg in Europe. See cooking.stackexchange.com/q/3705/67 and cooking.stackexchange.com/q/784/67 – Joe Feb 2 '17 at 15:44
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There is no absolute conversion as egg sizes were not standardized back then. For the USA, not England, the food timeline http://www.foodtimeline.org/foodeggs.html under the section "Egg sizes the USA" (about 1/10th of the way down) starts with (bolding added):

What size hen's egg was used to make a cake in the 1840s? Excellent question with no simple answer. Today's consumers find eggs clearly marked with quality grades in different sizes. In the 1840s, many consumers found eggs under the chicken in the family coop. Pre-industrial American cook books regularly acknowledge the relationship between fresh eggs and best product but are silent on size. Cook books focus on identifying "good" eggs, proper storage, and preservation techniques. In those days, the size of chicken eggs depended upon breed, feed, season and cooping conditions.

Recreating old recipes with modern products always poses special challenges. When eggs are on the shopping list, think small or medium.

The section continues with various extracts describing approximate weights and other commentary.

From the above, I would go with Dorothy's comment and use medium, starting with two or three and adjust for consistency. Don't forget to weigh what you use so that you can repeat your success with any eggs.

  • I have been doing some research myself, however haven't got time at the moment, will post it later, great answer. – dougal 5.0.0 Feb 2 '17 at 16:24
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    OK, really I give up, having spent way too long looking things up this afternoon I just have to accept that maybe things have changed a bit over the years. x-large eggs are now jumbo, a term that would have Mrs Beeton turning in her grave, I will just use large eggs and be done with it. I will however use Dorothy's idea of starting with two and going from there, thanks guys... – dougal 5.0.0 Feb 2 '17 at 17:30

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