Working With Egg Whites

Separating Egg Whites Although there are special gadgets for separating eggs, the easiest method is to use your hands. Crack the shell and break the egg into your closed hand. Place your hand over a bowl and open your fingers slightly. The white will drip through. You can also crack the shell in half and then pass the yolk from one shell to the other, letting the white fall into a bowl. If some yolk drops into the bowl, the oil in the yolk will prevent the egg whites from whipping. Spoon out the yolk with the egg shell.

Beating Egg Whites For meringues, egg whites should be beaten until they are thick and glossy and hold stiff peaks. They should be firm enough to support an egg in the shell (a more practical test than the popular but dangerous method of holding the bowl upside down to see whether the whites are firm enough not to fall out!).

If your beaten egg whites look dry and flaky, they have probably been overbeaten. They have lost their elasticity and won't hold as much air. The remedy is to add another white and continue beating until the mixture holds stiff peaks.

Folding Egg Whites Folding is the process of gently combining a lighter mixture with a heavier one (as in a cake batter) so as not to dislodge any air and deflate the mixture. Folding beaten egg whites must be done carefully and quickly to retain lightness and air.

First, stir one-quarter of the beaten egg whites into the heavier mixture to lighten it. Spoon the remaining egg whites on top of the heavier mixture. Using the largest spoon or spatula you have (professional chefs often use their hands), cut down through the centre of the heavy mixture to the bottom of the bowl. Turn the spoon parallel to the surface of the bowl and bring it up along the side, turning the bowl slightly as you work. Continue lifting a layer of heavy mixture over the lighter one, using as few strokes as possible, until almost evenly combined.

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