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About Egg Whites

May 5, 2012 | From the kitchen of Rose


It always seems nothing short of miraculous how a small pool of transparent egg white can whip up to a billowy white cloud of meringue...or not!

I once took for granted that it was common knowledge that egg white will not beat if there is even the tiniest speck of fat in contact with it. But then I visied my favorite older cousin, who I thought knew everything, and was amazed to have her ask me why her egg white wouldn't beat. So I want to share the simple but all important details and discoveries I have made that will ensure success every time.

There are three important things to know about egg white.

1. The bowl and beater(s) must be free of fat. If you are not using a dishwasher, give them a rinse with water and a little vinegar.

2. Use exactly 1/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar for 1 egg white/2 tablespoons/1 ounce/30 grams and you will never risk overbeating the whites. (Overbeating turns them dry and grainy and causes them to curdle and deflate when folding them into other mixtures.) Add the cream of tartar as soon as the beaten egg white begins to foam--after about 1 minute of beating. Start on low speed (or medium-low if using a small amount of egg white) and gradually bring the speed up to medium high. Note: more cream of tartar than the amount specified will have the opposite effect!

3. Pasteurized egg white such as from Safest Choice Pasteurized Eggs makes an exceptionally stable meringue. It is similar to a Swiss meringue which involves heating the egg white over a double boiler before beating. (During the pasteurization process the egg white is heated which results in the same effect). Pasteurized egg white, however, will not beat to a stiff meringue unless either cream of tartar or lemon juice is added. You will need double the cream of tartar for pasteurized eggs: for 1 pasteurized egg white/ 2 tablespoons/2 ounces/30 grams use 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar. Start beating on low speed (or medium-low if using a small amount of egg white) and gradually bring the speed up to high. It will take longer than egg white that has not been pasteurized but trust me, beat long enough and you'll have meringue looking like this!


You don't even need the usual amount of sugar to achieve this creamy texture. In fact, instead of double sugar to egg white by volume I used only 1/3 the volume! Here's my new recipe!

3 large egg whites from Safest Choice Pasteurized eggs: 6 tablespoons/3 fluid ounces/3.2 ounces/90 grams

cream of tartar: 3/4 teaspoon

sugar, preferably superfine: 2 tablespoons/1 ounce/25 grams

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk beater, starting on medium-low speed, beat the egg whites for about 1 minute or until they foam. Stop the mixer and add the cream of tartar. Continue beating, gradually raising the speed to high. When the whites begin to thicken, gradually add the sugar. Continue beating for 5 to 10 minutes or until a thick meringue forms.


Hi Indian Baker,
Even with superfine sugar you may find some grittiness. We do not use feeling for grittiness as a test for when the meringue is at the right stiffness.
Only for Italian meringue, where the sugar is completely dissolved from boiling it with water, is where there should not be any grittiness.
However, always go by indicators that the author states.
Rose & Woody


Thank you so much for the quick reply Woody! Is it important to whip the meringue till you feel no grittiness when it is rubbed between your fingers?


Indian Baker,
2 or 3 egg whites. Generally, we will beat 2 whites in a small metal bowl that is just wide enough for the beaters for a handheld mixer.

We now add the cream of tartar just after weighing in the egg whites, and use the mixer's whisk the mixture by hand to combine.

Then whip to soft peak on med-high (8 on Kitchenaid) before adding the sugar. Beat on med-high to the stiffness that the author states for the recipe.
Rose & Woody


Indian Baker
Indian Baker
11/ 3/2017 04:10 AM

Hello Rose, I have tried your crisp French Meringue from The Cake Bible and it turned out great! I have all along used a handheld electric mixer for beating eggs. Now I have a KA 5 quart stand mixer. I have a couple of queries, can you please help?

Is there a minimum number of whites you need to whip in the stand mixer to achieve maximum volume?

Beating the whites till it starts foaming(the stage of adding cream of tartar) would be at speed 2? Does the speed level really matter at this point?

And then beating the whites until stiff. This would be at speed 4?

Finally, if using only superfine sugar, is it critical to whip the meringue till you feel no grittiness when it is rubbed between your fingers?

Sorry, too many questions! Am so glad I have this site where I can interact with you!


Rose Levy Beranbaum
Rose Levy Beranbaum in reply to comment from Barbara Miller
04/ 2/2017 02:09 PM

Barbara, just a word of caution: if you do freeze the mousseline separately, be sure to let it warm to room temperature so that it doesn't separate. (i'm not talking about igloo room temperature!--although, come to think of it, igloos can be very warm inside!)


Hi Barbara,
You should be able to treat the pasteurized eggs as you do regular eggs, other than their longer whipping time for egg whites and the need to increase the amount of cream of tartar (see Rose's posting). The buttercream can be frozen for your timeframe, however, we always suggest making a test batch if you have not done this combination before. A 6 inch test cake with buttercream would be a good test, and to see how long you need for defrosting the cake.
Unless scheduling is impossible, we would recommend freezing the cake and buttercream separately. Defrosting the cakes and buttercream the day or two before so that you can freshen the defrosted cakes in the oven. Then frost the cakes and refrigerate before your assembly. The pasteurized eggs will give you more leeway for the buttercream to be at room temperature.
Rose & Woody


Barbara Miller
Barbara Miller
04/ 1/2017 06:01 PM

Dear Rose - I love your cookbooks so much and am very grateful to you for all the time you take to explain the reasons for instructions! I am baking a wedding cake for our daughter who is getting married in a couple of months. I need to bake the cake and frost it 2-3 weeks ahead and freeze it. I will chill the filled and iced tiers in the fridge until the buttercream hardens, then wrap tightly with 2 layers of plastic wrap followed by aluminum foil drugstore wrap (as in your wonderful Cake Bible). I plan to put the tiers together and pipe simple border the day before the wedding. My question has to do with pasteurized egg whites. I am so relieved to learn that these can be used in the Mousseline Buttercream since I would otherwise worry about salmonella. I plan to make the big (11 cup) batch of your Mousseline Buttercream from the Cake Bible, and flavor it with your lemon curd recipe. My question is whether the buttercream will freeze as well (if kept in freezer for 2-3 weeks) if the buttercream and lemon curd have been made with Davidson Safest Choice pasteurized eggs. THANK YOU!


Hi Maria,
We recommend adding 3/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar to your egg whites to stabilize them. We also suggest to let them 'skin' overnight which means to let them sit uncovered before baking, and them bake longer til fully set. You may want to contact the author for her/his advise and/or check her/his website to see if there are any errata/corrections to the recipe.
You can also post your question on Forums section for others in the international baking community to give their comments.


maria glekas
maria glekas
05/15/2014 07:49 PM

Dear Rose

I have a problem with egg whites collapsing when I bake them. I like to make coconut macaroons which I like very much, I have tried this recipe many times 6 egg whites 300gms castor sugar 300gms desiccated coconut and 1tsp vanilla. I Whisk the egg whites until stiff and then add the sugar a spoonful at a time add vanilla and fold in the coconut. I pipe the mixture on a tray covered with baking paper and bake at 160C for 15-20 minutes. Every time I make them whilst they are baking they collapse into a flat biscuit instead of a macaroon. I was thinking of adding cream of tartar. Do you think this will help to hold their shape while they are baking. Thank you


no judith, it is not considered pasadich. you could add a little lemon juice to the egg whites--say 1 teaspoon for 4 egg whites as acidity helps to stabilize them.


Judith Apisdorf
Judith Apisdorf
04/12/2014 09:15 PM

Do you know if cream of tartar is O.K. for Passover?


Terri, I haven't used the egg whites in the carton for a long while now so I really can't answer this. Duck egg whites are not a good substitute for chicken egg whites as they will not whip well at all.

To freeze egg yolks add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar per yolk.


Terri Pelan
Terri Pelan
06/19/2012 09:41 AM

Hi Rose~ love your information on all aspects of baking- ingredients and final products. I have 4 egg related questions if you don't mind.
Have you tested features of fresh egg whites versus the pasturized whites from a carton --and noticed any differences either way?
And do you know if the carton egg whites lose their benefits if frozen... especially near expiration date?
And if measuring in metric, can duck egg whites be an alternative to chicken with the same results, or does the science component play different in the product/cake?

I am not sure if I can freeze the yolks to use later, and for dating the package .... how much later is "ok"? While I love to make brulee'- I SHOULDN'T make it so often.


Woody Wolston
Woody Wolston in reply to comment from Mitch
06/ 7/2012 08:47 AM

Hi Mitch,
We do not recommend adding cream of tartar if you are using a copper bowl as it will react with the copper. For most meringue recipes, using grease free steel bowls and whisk beaters with 1/8th teaspoon of cream of tartar per egg white will produce excellent results.
However, when using Safest Choice Pasteurized Egg whites, you should then use 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar per egg white.


Should I still add cream of tarter if I'm using a copper bowl for making the meringue?


marilyn, in the past when i used unpasteurized egg whites for baked meringues, i did not use cream of tartar at all as so much sugar is used to stabilize them there was no risk of overbeating. i would still use the cream of tartar recommended for pasteurized egg whites to ensure that they beat more quickly and to the best consistency.


I am assuming this information is about a soft meringue, such as on a pie, and not the meringue that is baked to be firm and crispy. Is that correct? I am glad to get the information about the frozen egg whites, too. Thank you!


yes JBL, for 90 grams of egg white 3/8 teaspoon cream of tarter, for pasteurized egg white 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar.


Hi Rose, For 90g of egg white shouldn't it be 3/8 (or 1/4 + 1/8) teaspoon cream of tartar and not 3/4 teaspoon?


yes--i find frozen egg whites work perfectly well.


good to know that i am thinking alike. have you done testing making meringue with frozen whites (homemade ones, without the chemical additives added from the store bought ones). i have, but not that many times, and it whips good!

fluid ounces removed? what a blessing!!! i always get confused when ounces are listed. and more so, it can be ounces meaning volume (fluid) or ounces meaning weight. gosh.


you're right, hector. cream of tart is a major safeguard and it's fine to add it right at the beginning. but i did find years ago that increasing it beyond a certain point has a negative effect. maybe your eggs are fresher and more acidic. there are so many factors at play which is why baking is a science but also very much an art. you'll be happy to hear, by the way, that i made a major decision today for my next book. instead of fluid ounces there will be mL! much more precise and useful, especially for other countries.


How interesting and how idiosyncratic for myself!  When I make the Hawaii Way cake, a 12 tier cake frosted entirely with mousseline buttercream, I scaled up the buttercream recipe (cake bible) to fill my 6 qt mixer to the brim.  I call it my 15.4 cup italian meringue buttercream.  At this scale, I weighed creme of tartar for the meringue.  

That was 5 years ago.  Today, I have a much more accurate kitchen scale and I realize now that I was adding almost twice more creme of tartar than needed!

I use fresh egg whites.  With that much more creme of tartar, I did not notice any negative effects on the meringue, at least for buttercream making purposes.  And that Hawaii Way cake used at least 12 batches of my 15.4 recipe!  So I must disagree that adding too much will have an adverse effect?

on another note, baking thru Rose's new cake book: Rose's Heavenly Cakes, there are a few small scale mousseline recipes, such as small as one with only 2 egg whites.  I read all the time that adding creme or tartar before beating the eggs will slow down the process, but my thinking was:  who cares for it to slow down, it is just 2 egg whites, so I added the creme of tartar BEFORE I TURNED ON THE MIXER!  And it worked fine.  I think the recommendation applies more of you have a less powerful mixer or if you are whisking by hand.  Today, I whip all my meringues with the creme of tartar ADDED BEFORE TURNING ON THE MIXER, and just let it whip and forget it.

I also realize that sometimes too many times I forget to divide the sugar and use some for the meringue.  I have been using all the sugar for the syrup!  And voila, the meringue turns just fine.


thank you julie!

yes tracey--exactly so!


Does using pasterized egg whites mean no risk of salmonella?


Rose, what a beautiful, dense and creamy meringue! It's so helpful that you've worked out the new recipe so no one will run into problems. I keep looking for pasteurized eggs in my area, can't wait to try them.



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