Baking 101: How To Crack and Separate An Egg
Baking 101: a series of how-tos and what’s what when it comes to home baking. The small stuff, explained.
I know you know. I know you know not to throw a carton of eggs in the bottom of the grocery bag, toss them thoughtlessly in the trunk of the car, shove them in the fridge, slam them on the counter. I don’t need to tell you to treat eggs delicately until, that is, the very moment you want what’s inside of them.
It is with humility that I show you how to crack and separate egg.
Baking is all about the details. How you measure flour, the accuracy of temperature in the oven, the softness of butter, the size of egg. All of the details matter and it’s helpful to know the rules and details… in my case… in order to occasionally break and ignore them.
Let’s talk about how to crack an egg. It’s exactly like rocket science but tremendously less complicated. Getting in good habits in the kitchen is key.
How to crack an egg: Crack an egg with firm pressure on a flat surface. Gently, but with confidence, separate the sides of the shell. I find it best to first crack eggs into a small bowl before adding them to a mixing bowl with other ingredients. This way, is a shell shard sneaks in, or if the eggs is bunk for some reason, you haven’t ruined you whole batter. These are things you learn by ruining large batches of Blueberry Muffin batter while working in a bakery.
How not to crack an egg: Try to refrain from the age-old method of cracking an egg on the side on the mixing bowl. This will shove (technical term) egg shell shards up in the egg white and yolk, possibly getting egg shell in your batter. This method may also break the egg yolk and cause all sorts of problems if you’re trying to separate an egg.
Note: Will cracking an egg on the side of a mixing bowl be the end of the world? No, and definitely yes.
Also helpful: Why We Use Large Eggs In Baking
Let’s talk about how to separate an egg. When we talk about separating an egg, we mean that we’re going to separate the egg white from the egg yolk. We’re separating protein (the white) from fat (the yolk). This will come in handy when you want to use egg yolks to make ice cream or egg whites to make angel food cake.
How to separate an egg: Set up two small bowls. Gently but firmly crack an egg on a flat surface. Use two hands to confidently pull the two halves of the shell apart over one small bowl. We’re going to use the edges of the shell to help us separate egg white from egg yolk so try to create two even halves with the egg shell. As the shell separates, bring the shell half in your right hand to face cracked side up. The yolk will rest in the shell and some of the egg white will fall into the bowl. Carefully transfer the yolk and remaining white to the shell half in your left hand, allowing the remaining egg white to fall away from the yolk. Gently place the yolk in the second bowl.
Another way to separate an egg: Set up two small bowls. Gently but firmly crack an egg on a flat surface. Place one hand over a bowl. Use the other hand to open the egg shell, dumping what’s inside the cracked egg directly into your hand over the bowl. Cracking an egg with one hand will take some practice. Allow the egg whites to fall between your fingers into the bowl and gently cradle the egg yolk. Gently transfer the egg yolk to the second bowl.
Also helpful in this series: How To Read A Recipe
And one of my favorite egg recipes: Sausage Cheddar and Grits Frittata
It’s always nice to review the basics! Happy baking!
Photographs with and by Jon Melendez.