Using Eggs At Room Temperature

When getting ready to make your favorite recipe, have you noticed that it calls for any eggs to be at room temperature more often than not?  And have you found that you wondered why this is?

As it turns out, it has to do with the chemistry involved in the recipe.  Yes, you read that right—the chemistry.  You can consider tips like this about eggs as imperative as following the recipe correctly and to the letter.  Although baking is still considered an art, it still has its roots securely anchored in science.

Image: NBC News

By most any recipe, eggs must be at room temperature to form a “stable emulsion,” also known as a smoother batter.  In fact, using chilled or cold eggs will only serve to work against achieving a  uniform batter.

If eggs are taken right out of the fridge and mixed with room temperature butter, the cold from the eggs will shock the fat, resulting in the butter seizing up or even curdling.  This reaction can ultimately wreak havoc on the texture of your finished cake product.

Another effect that temperature has on ingredients is related to air pockets.  When beating an egg, the protein contained in the egg will create air pockets.  Eggs can create these pockets when they are at room temperature most effectively.

Image: American Egg Board

These air pockets are essential, as they expand during the baking process of many foods, which produces an airy, tender, and fluffy end product.   The same principle applies to scrambled eggs.  We whisk them thoroughly before cooking them to ensure they turn out light and fluffy.

Is it an absolute hard and fast rule that eggs must be at room temperature when used?  No, not necessarily.  However, it is highly suggested for those baked goods that you want to have a texture that is light and fluffy.