Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Woe Unto Thee, Little Egg Yolk

According to The Book
(this is why I love The Book)
1 large egg white = 2 tbsp, 30 g
1 large egg yolk = 3.5 tsp, 18.6 g

There is an egg yolk conspiracy.

I noticed something was fishy after I got a scale and began to weigh my ingredients. I thought that weighing everything would solve all my baking problems. You see, pre-scale my cakes would turn out a little dry and a bit dense. Still tender and fine, tasty and not too sweet, but not moist and airy. And that bugged the shit out of me. So when that scale entered my life I thought all my problems would be solved.

Alas, it was not meant to be. The cakes undoubtedly improved, but there was still something wrong. Especially with the chocolate cakes. There was no improvement in texture in the chocolate cakes.

The truth slowly began to dawn on me, starting in March with my first perfect cake:

March 5, 2005
Allie’s Birthday
A Classic Cake Combination
2 layers yellow butter cake
choc ganache filling and frosting
fresh raspberries in the filling

The cake itself was the best cake I’ve ever made. It was light, airy, flavorful, but not too sweet. I love that about these cake recipes, the main flavor of the cake isn’t sweet. The cakes from a box just taste sweet. They don’t have any other flavor than that. The cake was moist, which is something I’ve had a problem with in the past—most have come out a little dry and dense.

The difference? Besides the mistakes I made regarding mixing, I used the scale for everything. Including the eggs, which I think made a big difference.

March 12, 2005
Deer moon
Lemon Chiffon Cake

The cake came out fine. But I was supposed to use 7 egg yolks but I had to use 8 to get the proper weight. And less than 8 whites. Something about these eggs….

March 19, 2005
Lisa’s Experiment
Your Cake is On Fire!!
One layer yellow butter cake
Frosted with classic egg white chocolate buttercream

And the cake was good. The crumb is more open than with the choc cake. I am wondering if it has to do with the eggs I use; I have noticed that these eggs have more egg white than yolk—in terms of when I am weighing out yolks I need to use about ½ yolk more to get the proper weight, but I don’t need as many whites. But in a choc cake I’m using the whole egg [and hence not weighing]—so there is probably more white and less yolk than needed. Hmmm.

July 7, 2005
Stacey’s Birthday
German Chocolate Cake with Coconut Pecan Frosting Take Two
2 layers chocolate butter cake
filled and frosted with the goop

Good cake. Best choc butter cake I’ve made yet. I’ve really got the texture thing down. It all comes down to measuring the eggs separately (whites and yolks). The cake was moist, chocolaty, good, open crumb but not coarse…damn that was good stuff!

September 17, 2005
Punkins Love Each Other
Chocolate LOG (aka Giant Gourmet Ho-Ho)
A flourless chocolate soufflé rolled around mocha whipped cream with toasted hazelnuts
A serious dusting of cocoa powder

I think there is an egg conspiracy. I always need more yolks than the number of eggs she calls for—this time I needed eight egg yolks to get the proper grams of what should have been 6 yolks. I think chicken keepers are getting their girls to lay eggs with less yolk so that they can make eggs look healthier in nutrition facts. That’s my theory.

My newer theory is this: I use eggs from chickens that get to run around and eat a more natural diet. Back in the day when RLB was putting The Book together, maybe she was using standard eggs from chickens who ate a shittier diet? Maybe the tiny egg yolk is actually more normal and the big yolk of our past is the abomination?

My other theory lies in the general public's assumption that fat is bad, and egg yolks are evil. So maybe chickens were bred to produce smaller yolks and this is the result.

Anyhoo, I am a little giddy as I found out that RLB talked about the egg yolk conspiracy on her blog back in October (read it!). Just recently she posted a bunch of letters she recieved and a woman brought up the egg yolk conspiracy again. I posted a little comment, and she wrote back to me! Just a two sentence email, but I feel special!

And here it is, my cherished email from the one and only cake lady (I am but a tiny minion):

thank you!!! i was beginning to feel like i was imagining things. no one else seemed to notice this.

On 4 Dec 2005 21:10:11 -0000, [me] wrote:
Aha--the egg yolk conspiracy (as I like to call it) has gone public! I've noticed that extra large egg yolks are closer in weight to what was once a large egg yolk. So now I separate and weigh out the yolks and whites (because obviously there is way too much egg white in an extra large egg). Its a good thing egg whites freeze so well. Can't wait for your new cake book!

Sigh. Her email means as much to me as did Felicia's ABBA turd that she wore in a vial around her neck.


  1. That last sentence makes the whole post just....perfect.

  2. whoa, buddy, i am so confused/scared of The Egg Yolk Conspiracy. i've always wondered about this - how on earth is a large egg a large egg a large egg? i mean, they're organic (in nature, maybe too per the CA statutes, you get me here) and the ratio of yolk to egg must vary a little, always, yes? YES! but in reading the weighed-out measure, i'm scared - how on earth is there meant to be more yolk than egg? is there? i thought it was like, 1/3 yolk 2/3 egg but you're telling me it's practically opposite. is that because the yolk is in it's little skinofsubstancei'dratherneverknowabout thus like, contained and smaller-SEEMING? o the wonders of the egg. i'd better stop thinking about it or i'll lose my taste for such grand protein.
    maybe we need your scale for the EvilBakeryI?

  3. Okay, slow down there, Turbo. Let's talk this through.

    According to RLB's investigations, a dozen large eggs needs to weigh a total 24 ounces, but how those 24 oz are distributed is not regulated.

    And keep in mind, Turbo, that we are talking about the weight of yolk and white, not the volume. Of course, the weight of the yolk will affect the volume, but don't freak out because the yolk should weigh half as much as the white. Maybe the yolk is much denser and heavier then the whites. Maybe the yolk is way healthier for us than we were led to believe.

    And YES WE NEED A SCALE for the evil bake off!!!! Don't tell me you don't have one! I like you! Don't make me not like you!

    (calming down now)
    No worries. I'll still like you, but I'm totally bringing my scale :)

  4. doooooooooode you're turning BAKING into CHEMISTRY and i have a VERY SMALL BRAIN and it's FULL and i'm not sure i can do this math. i think we'll need a demonstration at EB1. (yes, with scale, that you will a-hem, have to bring because i a-hem might be lacking one...(but i like you toooooo!, and i can GET a scale!))

  5. Well. As a member of the team in charge of consuming Stacy's birthday cake, I heartily vouch for its classification as a Most Superior Comestible. And I like all this chemistry, partly because it's way cool and partly because I don't have to take the test should there be one. My money's on egg yolks coming into favor again a la coconut oil, if they haven't already.

    Off topic: the books set in Revolutionary times are: 1. A Catch of Consequence and 2. Taking Liberties, by Diana Norman. They're pretty romantic, but I think well this side of bodice-rippery, with lots of period detail, and the writing is better than passable. The Multnomah County lib has them. She also writes art history and biography, I think.

    Yours for an ever more delectable crumb,

  6. BAKING IS CHEMISTRY--that's why I love it! Chemistry is fun--especially when the end result is CAKE! Embrace the chemistry, love the chemistry, BE the chemistry.

    Thursday, thanks for your ringing endorsement of the cake, the chemistry, and the gloriousness of yolks and coconut oil. And yay for the books!

  7. now now, don't ruin baking for me by defining it as my least favorite subject in school EVER. you say tomatO, i say tomahto...you say chemistry, i say recess.