The Science Behind Eggs

01/05/2012 12:53 pm ET | Updated Aug 31, 2012
  • Kitchen Daily

Eggs pop up in so many dishes that we enjoy daily. Sometimes they're the main player in a recipe, taking center stage in dishes such as omelets, quiches and frittatas. Even in these simple preparations, eggs prove to be amazingly versatile. They can be poached, boiled (hard or soft), fried, scrambled or simply baked.

But where eggs really get interesting is when they are in the background of a recipe -- not present for their flavor per se, but for their impressive culinary abilities. This is most evident in baked goods, where the use of the egg's scientific makeup has a huge effect on the outcome of the dish. It is for this reason that eggs are known to many chefs as "the cement that holds the castle of cuisine together."

Egg yolks are largely made up of fat and lecithin; this gives them their binding quality. Yolks add a creamy, smooth texture to baked goods and sauces and also provide a rich color and flavor. The yolks are also responsible for emulsifying sauces such as hollandaise and mayonnaise; we also call upon them to make some of our favotite custards and cream sauces.

Egg whites, also known as albumen, are comprised largely of a protein called albumin. They provide strength, stability and moisture to our baked goods. When the yolk -- whose fat destroys the albumen's ability to foam -- is removed from the white, the egg white can be beaten to increase up to eight times in volume. Egg whites are the backbone of a lot of amazingly light and fluffy desserts, from souffles to sponge cakes. The soft texture of angel food cake is achieved through egg whites alone.

Click through the slideshow below to see some of Kitchen Daily's favorite dessert recipes that are possible thanks to the egg. Please note, many of these recipes can be substituted with egg substitutes for those who are following a vegan diet.

What are some of your favorite baked good dishes made possible by eggs? Please leave us a comment below.

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