Egg Wash as Super Glue

Reader Flip writes to say that his kringle had some large cracks down the middle. He also mentions that cracks are a recurring problem with his laminated pastries, especially croissants, and wonders what he might be doing wrong.

Flip, my guess is it’s an egg wash problem. Though you might not think it, egg wash is a very strong glue, at least once it’s heated. If you paint your wash too low on the pastry, trying to increase the amount of glossy real estate, there’s a good chance you’ll get some egg wash on the pan or parchment. That can be disastrous from a presentation perspective.

For the egg wash will glue the edge of the outer layer of your pastry to the pan (or paper). It’s this layer that will have all the shine on it, but it’s also the layer that will get brittle the fastest as the pastry heats up (egg proteins start to harden at a mere 140 degrees Fahrenheit). What happens to this very thin, inflexible and immobile shell as the pastry underneath expands? It cracks open.

However if you’re careful to only apply wash to the top of the pastry, you leave expansion areas along the outer edges that can flex as the pastry starts to bulge upward and outward. The glossy top stays all in one piece. Thanks for an excellent question, Flip!

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7 Responses to Egg Wash as Super Glue

  1. Chana says:

    Tell us more about egg wash, Joe!! Does it matter if the egg wash is yolks only, whites only, whole egg, or whether it does or does not have water added to it? Would you use a different type of egg wash for different pastries? Are these arbitrary decisions, or does it make a difference? It might seem simple or irrelevant, but I find it confusing! (Thank you.)

  2. Paul says:

    LOL

    Hey, Joe? Can I re-print this post in big (maybe huge) letters to post in my production areas?

    I just saw seven trays of cracked croissants with the tell-tale burned omelet everywhere

  3. Sally says:

    The recipe I use for croissants (The Village Baker’s Wife cookbook) calls for an egg wash with 1 egg and 2 T. of milk. It gets used before the shaped croissants are set to rise and again after they are ready to bake. The second coat is really necessary; it keeps all that butter from escaping onto the baking pan! All of the cracks and crevasses of the croissants get coated.

    In other recipes I might use just a yolk and cream, milk or water, depending on what’s on hand. Really browned shiny bread crusts seem to want only an egg, with no water.

    • joepastry says:

      Thanks Sally!

      - Joe

      • eddie says:

        please tell me the procedure on how to make an egg use as glue

        • joepastry says:

          Hey Eddie!

          I was speaking about beaten egg as “glue” for bakers…it’s sticky when applied to pastries, then heated. I’m not aware of a process for using egg as conventional glue. Sorry for any misunderstanding,

          - Joe

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