My go to bread is a much appreciated result of many tips from this site. It is a basic 75% hydration high-protein wheat bread that proofs in total for about 4.5-5.5 hours. I think it qualifies as a no knead bread.

I wanted to get a shinier and softer surface so I tried to brush on a white egg wash with a 3:1 whites:water ratio. I can't imagine this to be an issue.

I applied the wash just before I tossed it in to the oven at 240C -> reduced to 200C after the initial steam (about 40 grams of water I threw in) wore off.

The result was disappointing in that I didn't get it as shiny as I'd hoped for and the brushing looked like it was painted on, not a part of the crust. The crust also has none of the softness I'd expect from something with egg-white protein in it.

I hope my question isn't too broad, my immediate concern is, should I brush on the egg white just after final shaping: 20 minutes before it goes in the oven or is it fine to brush it on immediately before?

After the answers:

This is a poor reference: My main problem was that my electronic scale was off in an unpredictable fashion.

  • Do you really want the egg wash to be with only the whites?
    – Jade So
    Apr 30, 2018 at 4:05
  • @Jade I think so. I don't want any extra color or flavor. Apr 30, 2018 at 4:10
  • @JadeSo please don't answer in comments, I know this seems like a small thing but it is actually breaking most of our quality mechanisms. See rpg.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/6533/… for a longer explanation.
    – rumtscho
    Apr 30, 2018 at 7:56
  • @rumtscho sorry I didn't think of it as an answer really, thats why I used it as a comment rather than in the answers. It seemed like it was more of a possible guess.
    – Jade So
    Apr 30, 2018 at 22:15
  • @rumtscho where would be a good place to put possible options then; because by no means was that comment a full answer.
    – Jade So
    Apr 30, 2018 at 22:16

3 Answers 3


You are trying to counteract the formation of a crust - which is the opposite of what a good hot bake works towards.

The key to this is to keep the surface of the dough as moist as possible and this starts already after the shaping during the second rise. Apply the first wash at this point. I personally go for a whole egg, mixed with a splash or two of milk. This will reduce the “skin” that tends to form on the surface. Repeat the egg-washing right before you bake your bread. A generous steaming will also slow down the crust formation.

If you don’t like the slight color caused by the egg yolks, using more milk or pure cream could be a start in the right direction.

But without eggs, it’s difficult to get a soft crust and that lacquer-like gloss. This is an enriched dough, twice brushed with cream and baked at 200 - 180 C for about 45 minutes:

enter image description here enter image description here The crust is super soft, though.

For hard crusts on bread, a quick spray or wipe down with water just a minute or two before you pull it out will be the simplest way.


I think what JadeSo might have been hinting at is that using a whole egg will make the crust of the bread just as shiny as the egg white, without compromising on flavor or color. I usually brush on the egg right after the shaping of the loaves to keep make sure the top of the loaves don't get dry, and then brush on egg again immediately before baking. Crust is going to be "crusty" and not as soft as the inside of the bread. Hope that helps.


Try a 50:50 whites:water ratio at the last 5-10 mins of baking (depending on the oven temp), be sure the egg wash is fully mixed but try not to aerate the egg whites.

I honestly think you should try a typical egg wash with yolk and all (same ratio though), it won't add much if any flavour given how little you'd be putting on. This should also give you that desired glossy top.

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