Eggs are one of the main ingredients used in baking, and so the first topic in this “Taking Up Baking” series of posts.Eggs consist of three main parts—a fragile and porous shell, the yolk, the egg white—plus membranes and chalazae, two white strands that hold the yolk in the center of the white.
Eggs carry out many functions in the baking process, including…
1. Adding flavor...Eggs add a unique taste and flavor to baked goods.
2. Emulsifying…Eggs help make batter smooth.
3. Giving a proper finish...Egg whites and egg yolks are used as washes on baked goods like croissants an anish pastries…and on rustic breads to hold sesame seeds and other accouterments in place.
4. Leavening: Eggs trap air cells in whipped eggs or egg whites… important for angel food and chiffon cakes.
5. Moistening…About 3/4’s of an egg by weight is water, so when you add eggs to batter, you add a great deal of water into the batter.
6. Providing color…Most lemon meringue pie recipes rely entirely on egg yolks for color.
7. Providing nutrition…Eggs add nutritional value such as protein, Vitamin D, and choline (an important nutrient for the brain, nervous system, and cardiovascular system).
8. Providing structure…As eggs cook, the protein coagulates and provides stiffness to the product.
9. Tenderizing…The fat in the egg yolk tenderizes the batter by shortening the gluten strands.
Pâte à Choux
Pâte à Choux is a light pastry dough that contains only butter, water, flour and eggs…but no “raising agent.”
Steam created by boiling the water and butter, puffs the pastry instead…and then flour and eggs are added to achieve the desired consistency.
Choux pastry, or pâte à choux, has been used as early as 1540 in many European and European-derived cuisines….such as…
These “fritters”are made from deep-fried choux pastry are traditionally prepared right before consumption, doused in powdered sugar, and eaten fresh and hot.
Today beignets from the Café du Monde, along with their coffee with chicory and café au lait, are quite famous…and here’s a copycat recipe worth sharing…
Paula Deen’s French Quarter Beignets
- 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 envelope active dry yeast
- 2 eggs, slightly beaten
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 cup evaporated milk
- 7 cups bread flour
- 1/4 cup shortening
- Nonstick spray
- Oil, for deep-frying
- 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
Mix water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl and let sit for 10 minutes. Beat eggs, salt and evaporated milk together. Mix egg mixture to the yeast mixture. Add 3 cups of the flour to the yeast mixture. Add the shortening, and continue to stir while adding the remaining flour.
Remove dough from the bowl. Place onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth.
Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray. Put dough into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Let rise in a warm place for at least 2 hours.
Preheat oil in a deep-fryer to 350 degrees F.
Add the confectioners’ sugar to a paper or plastic bag and set aside.
Roll the dough out to about 1/4″ thickness and cut into 1″ squares.
Deep-fry, flipping constantly, until they become a golden color.
After beignets are fried, drain them for a few seconds on paper towels, and then toss them into the bag of confectioners’ sugar. Hold bag closed and shake to coat evenly.