That was a pretty lame title, but it’s an accurate description of what I was testing with egg whites.
I’d made the comment at work that Swiss Meringue Buttercream which I’ve realised I like, takes a lot of egg whites, and I’m running out of things to make with the yolks given it’s almost winter and who wants ice-cream during such cold evenings. Ok, ice-cream in the freezer is just an excuse to make a warm dessert to add a scoop and watch as it melts. But I’m such a generous person both the serve of dessert and the scoop of ice-cream would be so large and then I’d sit there annoyed with myself and thinking about how long I needed to run, extra, to burn off all those calories. So ice-cream during winter isn’t something I like to have on hand.
Back to the complaining about egg whites = lots of egg yolks. Alastair at work said he’d found in a Wellington supermarket liquid egg whites. And would I like him to bring some back on Wednesday. Yes please!
I’d also had my eye on a TradeMe dealer who was selling Egg Albumen, that’s dried egg white. It was listed with health foods suitable for weight lifters. But I don’t care who they were marketing to, it was what I needed to help save me from a pile of egg yolks.
So I decided I’d experiment and see whether either would be suitable to use as a replacement for real eggs separated.
It seemed like a great idea, until I read the back of the pack of liquid egg white: “not suitable for whipping”.
That and the best before lable was 1 June didn’t lift my spirits about what I was going to use these for, and how soon would I use them.
But first thing was first, were they really not suitable for whipping?
I didn’t need to make a batch of SMBC, and I didn’t have room in the freezer to store SMBC so I was left with testing this with meringues. Which I’d not made in more than 10 years I suspect. I had to look for a recipe. I used this one on KitchenAid’s website written by Katie of What Katie Ate.
I omitted the cocoa since I was going to try and make these a little more decorative using food gel painted up the sides of a piping bag, and colourful sprinkles. I chose soft pink food gel which turned out fairly bright all things considered.
But first off I thought I’d show you side by side the difference between the whites from fresh eggs and the liquid egg whites. The whites on the left were from the lemon curd I made to serve with the waffles.
The liquid egg whites were quite thin and you can see, very white, almost a milky colour. This experiment was also to test the difference with the Egg Albumen too.
As soon as the water is added they pretty much foamed up and you couldn’t see what the liquid was like. I also found that there were a few lumps but I couldn’t see them right off, so trying to squash them was a bit of a hit and miss affair.
To be honest I wasn’t expecting great things from the liquid egg whites given the warning on the back of the pack saying not suitable for whipping. I never committed to making anything with them because my expectations were so low. I began this experiment after 9pm on Friday evening. I really thought I’d be standing around for 20 minutes waiting for something to eventuate. At least that’s the timeframe I was giving before concluding they were a waste for anything that required whipping, and therefore not suitable for using in SMBC.
That left me caught short when they did amount to soft peaks in about the sort of time I’d expected, at least when making a pavlova.
I scrambled about and reviewed the recipe and slowly added the sugar in batches (a few tablespoons at a time) and continues to whip between additions until I had no grittiness in the whites and they had reached stiff peaks. Then I added the white vinegar, cornflour and cream of tartar and gently mixed those in with the mixer on 1.
One thing that puzzled me about the recipe was the temperature of the oven. When making a pav the temperature is really low, which I expected for meringues too, but this was 140 degrees Celsius. I went with it.
I piped the meringues, and clearly forgot they would expand just a little. It was bit over crowded.
I made sure the meringues on Saturday night (the “boy” colours) weren’t quite so cosy, I also piped them a bit higher so I didn’t have as many to fit on a tray.
The liquid egg whites tasted like I remember, in their uncooked state. They were a little less stiff than the whipped meringue using the egg albumen. Not that you can easily tell by comparing photos. But I dare say I wouldn’t be quite so confident piping the liquid egg whites into the higher peaks like I got from the egg albumen.
I could also tell the difference when swirling the food gel through the meringue. I dipped a toothpick into the food gel bottle then stirred it through the meringue. What started out as piped dollops of meringue ended up flattening as I swirled, more so with the first batch then the second.
I put the Friday (girl colours, liquid egg whites) batch into the oven at the stated temperature and when I looked some 45 minutes later they were already overcooked. The recipe said an hour.
These are definitely not white. I wouldn’t serve them as meringues sandwiched together with whipped cream. Some were definitely past it but the majority I thought were fine, if crumbled up and added to whipped cream. So these went off to my sisters along with a bottle of cream and frozen berries.
When it was time to cook the second batch (boy colours, egg albumen) I had the temperature set at 105 or there abouts, and I kept checking every 10 minutes from 40 minutes into cooking.
At 1hr 20minutes I thought it was all good. They weren’t sticky anymore and they were pulling off the baking paper fine. So out they came.
They looked pretty good. But they didn’t taste so great. There was a really odd after taste. I’m trying to decide if it was the cream of tartar or the vinegar. One of them, maybe both of them, shouldn’t be in there. Or perhaps egg albumen just gives off an unusual taste. Certainly the second batch was quite different in flavour and not suitable to eat. The following morning the meringue had become tacky, so clearly they needed a little bit more time in the oven to dry out.
And this is what the packaging looks for the egg albumen.
The conclusion, both types of egg white will whip up satisfactory, and both bake fine (when you don’t over bake), but only the liquid egg white tasted like I remember meringues tasting like. The egg albumen mixture needs some tweaking to determine whether the cream of tartar or the vinegar could/should be omitted. Maybe I’ll replace the vinegar with a squirt of lemon juice. And I did think it odd to add the cream of tartar at the end of the whipping rather at the start.
Next up is to try SMBC with both. I ended up freezing the liquid egg whites into packs of 2 and 5 eggs. And of course the egg albumen will take care of itself without any intervention.