Whether you're baking for those with allergies, you've run out of eggs or you simply want to try something new, pastry glazes don't end with egg whites. Although egg whites offer a common and convenient brush-on for pies and pastries, alternatives ranging from simple to complex serve the same basic purpose: to add a satisfying sheen and color to your baked goods -- not to mention a little extra flavor in some cases.
Brushing on an egg white wash offers bakers a simple option for glazing their creations. For a substitute that retains the simplicity and easy accessibility of egg whites, go with a brushing of cream or milk. While egg whites create a colorless, shiny finish, milk and cream washes make for a matte finish with a reddish-brown hue. Similarly, melted butter or margarine makes for a no-fuss substitute that creates a golden hue, but this glaze adds a subtle buttery flavor to your pastry.
Go All Yolk
If you seek a glaze that offers a bolder finish than simple egg whites, ditch the white and brush a beaten egg yolk onto your pastry. This creates a rich, golden-brown color and much glossier finish than egg whites. If you prefer a lighter gold shade, dilute the yolks with a bit of milk or add a little powdered sugar for a sweeter edge. For a middle ground in both color and shine, use a whole beaten egg for your glaze.
Explore Fruit Glazes
Fruit glazes serve as a tangier, sweeter and more flavorful alternative to plain egg white washes. You can create an egg-free fruit glaze using almost any type of fruit. Simply heat fresh fruit pulp and sugar in a saucepan until the sugar melts and add the saucy mixture to a cooled, soft combination of water and unflavored gelatin. These glazes work well on piecrusts and add additional fruity flavor to fruit-based tarts.
Consider More Options
To add additional sweetness and shine to lightly flavored pastries such as puffs and tarts, try brushing your pastry with simple preserves, such as apricot preserves, or honey. Add powdered sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg to the honey for a spicier, more complex flavor. Some food manufacturers also offer water-soluble egg-free glazes in powdered form, but these tasteless, colorless washes typically cater to large-scale bakers and grocers.
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With a diverse professional background and a decade of experience as a freelance writer, Dan has contributed lifestyle content -- from fashion to travel to fitness and more -- to publishers including Chron, Fortune, Sony, GlobalPost, ModernMom, Moviefone, Salon.com, Techwalla and dozens of others.
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