Overheated my egg whites for buttercream
Posted: 20 May 2008 08:34 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I just joined the forum.  I have had TCB since it was given to me as a gift in 1989.  I’m relatively fearless, but have taken on a larger project.  Which is the reason for my questions.

After spending a few hours (that I had to spare, ha ha) perusing all of your comments, and I do mean almost all.  I decided that this was the place to ask my questions.

For food safety reasons, I was going to pasteurize the egg whites for the Mousseline Buttercream.  Thanks to all of your comments, it was easy to choose this recipe for the buttercream.

I read that you could hold them at 140 for 3.5 minutes or 1 minute at 160.  Since eggs start to cook at 160 the 140 hold seemed a safer route with more margin of error.  Well . . .

Around the edges where the bowl touched the pan the eggs started to coagulate.  The constant mixing brought small particles of soft-cooked egg into the mass of whites.

I strained the whites in case there were any larger pieces.  I lost about 1/4 cup of whites through this experiment.

My question is.  Will the soft pieces of white affect how the eggs whip up or hold their structure?

I tried to make a mini batch of buttercream, but only got as far as the whites and the extra sugar.  With such a tiny quantity of syrup, I misjudged its temperature (I think).  Anyhow,  I didn’t waste the butter.  But the whipped eggs did not belie any texture of cooked egg.

Has anyone else tried to retrieve slightly overheated egg whites for buttercream?  Or is it better to just cut my losses and start over?  I’m thinking pasteurized egg white in a carton. (otherwise I’ll have another 12 egg yolks around, the first 12 will go into the cakes).

Wow!  This was spurred by the thread discussing whether the hot syrup really brings all of the whites up to a sufficiently high temperature to effectively kill any bacteria that might possibly exist in the eggs.  I personally, am not concerned, but as this is for someone else, I thought I would take the extra step.

Thank you for any advice.

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Posted: 21 May 2008 12:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Jenny:
Not sure where you live, and I don’t know if it is available in your area, but I am able to buy pasturized egg whites in a container.  I’ve never tried to use them in Buttercream, but I’ve hear that they work fine.  You could give it a try.

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Posted: 21 May 2008 04:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Bill,

I just got back from the store with a carton.  Actually, the price isn’t even too bad.  $2.49 for about 2 cups of whites.  Compared to the $1.78 I spent on a dozen garden variety eggs.  Luckily I can use the yolks in the cakes, so they won’t go to waste.  But if I ever needed “just whites” without a yolk project to balance it out, I might go with them as a first choice. 

I use the dehydrated egg whites all the time for royal icing, and they have gone up around $2.00 a can since November.  The liquid whites are actually about half as much, and I assume you could freeze them in small batches.  Dehydrated ones cost me $6.81 for 21 egg white equivalents, or around 32 cents per white.  The liquid yields about 16 egg white equivalents for $2.49, or about 16 cents each.  The shelf stability of the dried is way convenient, but if liquid will freeze, I may be changing my methods.

Thanks for taking the time to reply.

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Posted: 21 May 2008 10:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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FYI…if your egg whites started to coagulate at or before reaching 160 degrees on the bottom of the bowl, then that means one of two things:

1. Your water bath was way to hot…it should just be at a bare simmer, not even boiling.

2. The bowl you had the egg whites in was touching the water—which they shouldn’t do as it does increase the temperature of the whites way to fast. Also, if you are heating egg whites without any sugar with them, they should not be heated in a metal bowl, but a glass or ceramic bowl—which transfers the heat to the egg whites in a much gentler manner than metal.

Also, the only time you should be heating the egg whites in this manner is if you are making a Swiss Meringue style of buttercream…where the egg whites are combed with sugar (and sometimes cream of tartar) and then whisked over a water bath till they reach 160 and then whipped fully and until cooled before adding the butter. The sugar helps to protect the egg white proteins and raises the temperature of coagulation to about 180 instead of 160.

If you are making the mousseline style buttercream (which is basically an Italian Meringue style), there is no reason to heat the egg whites, as the hot sugar syrup takes care of that by the cooking the eggs by bringing them up to about 165-170 during incorporation.

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Posted: 21 May 2008 10:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Thanks, Roxanne,

I have ditched the egg whites.  I was using a glass bowl, not touching the water.  The water did get too hot, and the eggs started to cook around the edges where the bowl touched the pan.  Lesson learned.

JennyB

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Posted: 07 June 2008 11:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Hello,

I am a worrier by nature, and have made several batches of Mousseline with the carton egg whites.  Now the first batch of Mousseline I made I used regular egg whites, the normal kind sold beside the milk (not organic) and I fell in love with Mousseline.  In fact, I even used salted butter, and still loved it.  (It never went on a cake, but I saved it in my freezer to use on toast some morning when I find enough High-Falutin’ people to share it with as a gourmet spread)....anyway…the second batch I did with unsalted butter…real egg whites.  Totally fabulous.  I had a big gig to do and was really worried about the potential hazards, and sought to console myself with any number of egg white alternatives.  The majority worked, some worked better.  None were quite as good as the real egg whites, but all were still relatively fabulous and all generated a number of good responses.  The best came when I used mostly Egg Beaters 100% whites with a smidgen of either Wilton Colorflo or CK powdered egg whites.  I think the whipping agent in the powdered egg helped them stabilize a bit.  I also used White chocolate, and honestly….(they must be shortening people) thought it was the best icing they ever tasted.  I don’t necessarily have a high-falutin’ clientele, but I can tell you…that the carton egg whites worked pretty well (I did whip them with sugar) and saved me from having to try to pasteurize and not succeed. ( I don’t have the cash flow to blow a carton of eggs).  For my own family, I will probably use organic real eggs in perhaps cooler months, since Cincinnati is hot and humid.  For others…the carton egg whites work very well. 

PS, by the time you pasteurize your own egg whites, you could buy them.  Some brands say “because they are heated are not recommended for meringue…” but I just buy some that don’t say that.  Egg Beaters 100% Whites don’t say that.
My friend is a culinary student, in fact, and I consulted her, and she said in class they learned how overblown the salmonella stuff is, but then you hear from someone who had it, and you start to lose sleep. 

So go with your tastes as far as your conscience allows!

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Posted: 07 June 2008 11:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Cakemom,

I ended up jusing the All Whites product.  Long story short.  Ruined eggs trying to pasteurize them.  Bought carton of whites so as not to waste yolks.  Had to bake more cake, had more real whites.  Sabotaged my whites by trying to save time by beating them ahead of time.  They sat out too long (4 hours.  Don’t ask) and I threw them away. They had deflated and as I started to re-beat, I realized how long it had been.  Used carton of All Whites in the end, anyway.  As I said on another post.  Maybe we need a Bloopers and Blunders forum. 

The All whites seemed to work fine, despite the meringue warning because they are heated.  The buttercream looked great, tasted great.  I would use them again.  I did notice the consistancy difference compared to fresh egg whites.  They are more watery, less viscous.  Maybe they mean not good for things like simple fresh meringes, such as pie toppings, or baked alaska type things.  I can’t see where it would make much difference in a baked product like a meringue cookie.  In theory, if the foam holds long enough to set, it would work.  I had no problems achieving volume.  I didn’t do a side by side comparison with fresh eggs. But it seemed good.

I’m a cake batter lickin’ , cookie dough eatin’ gal.  I indulge in the occasional soft-cooked egg.  I have never had food poisoning related to my home kitchen, or anyone elses.  I don’t lick my fingers after handling raw chicken (ewww), but I do let my kids lick the beaters from my baking projects.  I have never used organic eggs, butter or milk.  The only time I ever got truly sick (didn’t eat for two days) was from some bacon in an eating establishment, which shall remain nameless.

But,  I completely agree on the extra cautionary measures involved when baking for large groups of non-family members.  If you don’t know your audience.  If you don’t know that some immune-compromised person might partake, I would much rather take the safest route.  Especially since the argument whether the hot sugar syrup really pasteurizes the eggs is really not resolved.  Some say yes, some say it never reaches a high enough temperature. Some say that the high fat and sugar content of buttercream make an anaerobic environment, which prevents bacterial growth.  There is too much at stake and not enough cut and dry answers. 

Prior to this attempt, I hadn’t made buttercream with just egg whites.  I had only made the Classic or Neoclassic ones.  I think I did heat the yolks once.  Maybe I was pregnant or something.  It’s been so long.  So.  I still think I can home-pasteurize the egg whites.  I just need to be more careful next time.  I love a challenge.

Onward and upward,  maybe to bedward (yikes, look at the time!)

JennyBee

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Posted: 08 June 2008 12:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I hear ya.  I love eggs over easy with toast.  Some restaurants probably would rather I sign a waiver.  Funny thing is…I used to demand my meat cooked thorougout but not black, and they hate me for that.  Not until recently did I realize the flavor and texture advantage of “a little bit of pink “.  And how hard it is for them to cook it “done but not blackened”. 

Seriously, raw eggs and I still enjoy a close relationship, but raw meat would like to see other people.

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Posted: 08 June 2008 04:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I’ve had salmonella myself, but not from raw eggs—from some chicken burritos I had at a restaurant while traveling. (The restaurant shall remain nameless because I really don’t remember its name any more!)

It was a very unpleasant experience—but I survived, as you can see. The initial nastiness was intense but quickly over. For me, the worst part was that my gut remained very sensitive and irritable for several weeks. I had to change over to a very bland diet and boy was it boring!

I agree that I am comfortable using raw eggs where the preparation and serving is all under my control. I know I will take precautions! I haven’t done much baking for other folks but if I did, yeah, I would worry more about people leaving things out at room temperature longer than they should, people with immune system problems, etc.

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Posted: 13 July 2008 11:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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When using pasteurized egg whites, know that it can take twice as long to achieve the desired stiffness.  I always use pasteurized whites when making cakes for a crowd, or for anyone who is not family. smile

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