Cooking Tips

How to Make Egg Wash

It’s the key to baked goods with a rich, golden-brown sheen.
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Published May 16, 2022.

Applying an egg wash is a quick and easy way to transform the finish of a baked good from lackluster to professional: As it bakes in the oven, the wash develops into a rich, golden-brown sheen. Here’s everything you need to know to ensure shiny, uniformly bronzed results.  

What Is an Egg Wash? 

In its simplest form, an egg wash is just a whole beaten egg that’s lightly brushed onto the top of a baked good before it goes into the oven to enhance its color and give it a sophisticated glossy finish. 

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What Is an Egg Wash Used For? 

An egg wash creates a bakery-quality finish on breads, rolls, pie crusts, and pastries. It’s nice to use an egg wash on  pastries with intricate details as it highlights any designs or complex latticework. An egg wash can also be used as an adhesive to seal up edges for items such as fruit hand pies and turnovers.

Should I Add Water or Milk to Egg Wash?  

An egg wash is commonly diluted with a little water or dairy to make it easier to apply a thin, even coating, but we usually skip this step since it can also make the egg too thin to effectively seal layers together.

Applying an Egg Wash to Bread

In the test kitchen, we usually prefer plainer washes like water and milk for sandwich bread and dinner rolls, and reserve egg washes for richer, egg-based breads like challah and brioche. Each of these washes enhances browning by triggering the Maillard reaction, in which carbohydrates and proteins recombine under heat to produce new flavor compounds (and deeper color). But each does it a different way for a slightly different finish. 

  • Water causes some of the starch on the surface of the dough to break down into glucose. Once the water evaporates, the glucose interacts with the flour proteins to create browning. Water will produce decent browning but little shine. 
  • Milk’s naturally occurring sugars work in conjunction with proteins from the flour. Milk will produce good browning and moderate shine.
  • In an egg wash, the egg itself provides the proteins necessary for good browning, a moderately shiny, satiny finish; and a subtle egg taste.

How to Make Egg Wash

How to Clean Egg Wash From a Pastry Brush 

1. To clean a natural bristle pastry brush, start by rinsing it briefly to remove debris.

2. Rub warm, soapy water into the bristles and rinse thoroughly. 

3. Blot the brush with a towel and lay it flat to dry. (Replace the brush if it begins to smell.)

Recipes Featuring an Egg Wash

Easy-Braid Challah

Ritual and muscle memory have carried this soft, rich Jewish loaf through generations. A change in technique made the dough perfect for novice bread bakers.
Get the Recipe

Peach Hand Pies

Turning pie into a handheld package puts all the best qualities of fruit-filled pastry within your grasp.
Get the Recipe

Kanelbullar (Swedish Cinnamon Buns)

The sugar-and-spice delights known as kanelbullar feature a rich dough that's perfumed with cardamom and swirled with cinnamon and butter.
Get the Recipe

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