Cooking question

I’m trying to make a cake, and the recipe says that I need to beat the egg yolks until light, and beat the egg whites until stiff. I sound like a schmuck, but the egg yolk is the yellow thing, right? And the egg whites are… the other liquid stuff in the egg? How do I separate these two things? With my hands, just pull out the yolk?

Actually, what does “beat” even mean? Use the blender on it, correct? How will that make anything “stiff?”

Help, please! This cake needs to be finished in five hours!

To separate the egg white(the clear liquidy stuff) from the yolk(the yellow part) there are a couple things you can do. The easiest would probably be to go to a kitchen supply store. They should have egg separtors. If that isn’t an option, you can crack the egg open over an empty bowl. Instead of emptying the eggs contents into the bowl, keep the yolk in one half and gently pour the yolk into the other half of the eggshell. The white should fall off and into the bowl. Do this until you have no more white coming off of the yolk.


From this site.

“Beat” normally means to use a fork, whisk or eggbeater to rapidly stir the eggs, or separeted components of them. Blenders are far too fast and introduce too much air. I use a fork. You’ll know when the whites are stiff, trust me.

To separate yolk from white, you crack the egg and kinda slip the yolk back and forth between halves, letting the white leak out into a bowl. Put the yolks in a separate bowl.

You should have an electric mixer or beat by hand with a whisk. A blender is less efficient, but should work. It just takes more time to aereate the eggs.

Beating the yolks until “light” means to whip them until kind of frothy. You are actually whipping air into the yolks which is why an electric mixer or whisk is more efficient than a blender.

Beating the whites until “stiff” means to beat them until they turn an opaque white and hold peaks when you lift the mixer/whisk out of them. If you know the term “meringue” as in lemon meringue pie, that’s the effect you want. Like whipping heavy cream into whipped cream, the same thing happens with egg whites.

Good luck!

I used to fuss around with egg separators and half eggshels when separating eggs, but now I just crack them in a bowl and gently lift out the yolks with my hand (allowing the white to slip between my slightly opened fingers) - it’s almost impossible to crack eggs without getting some on your hands anyway, so why not?

Instead of repeating the good advice that’s already been given, let me give you some related advice:
When beating the egg whites it’s important to have a clean bowl and a clean whisk. A small trace of yolk (or other fat) will render it a lot less stiff. Be warned that if you’re beating by hand it will take quite a while for them to stiffen.
In my experience it is easier to beat if the eggs are not too cold.

Tradition dictates that a copper bowl be used, when making meringue, the reasoning behind this is rather esoteric, but involves Cu ions forming stable compounds with certain proteins. If you don’t have a Cu bowl, don’t worry. Glass, enamel or stainles steel is almost as good. If possible avoid plastic (and wood) though - a well-used plastic bowl will have loads of impurities and will not give you as stiff a foam.

And finally, most important:
Have fun!

As an aside, what happens if after beating the egg whites, I add in the yolks and mix them in with the stiff whites, and then make me an omellete with it? Is my omellete going to be more fluffy/heavy/whatever than normal (assuming normal is beating the white + yolk together)?

Yep, you certainly could do that, and you’ll get a thicker, fluffier omelet. I wouldn’t beat them too stiff, though. Just incorporate enough air to give the omelet some extra body. But play around and just see what you like… That’s the fun part of cooking, experimenting and discovering.

yes, it’s VITALLY important that you don’t have the egg white contaminated with even the smallest bit of yoke or anything cause you’ll never get it to beat stiff enough.

gouda in theory, if you want your omelete very light and fluffy, that would work, but when you add the yoke (and anything else) it would be very important not just “fold” the ingredients together and not stir or whisk or beat them…doing that will acutally remove the air you’ve just put in.

that should have been "it would be very important TO just “fold” the ingredients together "

Thanks a lot! I’ll give it a shot at breakfast tomorrow!

If you beat in confectioner’s sugar and some spices, you’d have Tom&Jerry mix. Stir a tablespoon in with rum and boiling water, slurp.

I’ve made soufflé omlelettes (with whisked egg whites) before and they are great; yes, you need to fold the yolks and any other ingredients into the whipped whites. I would also recommend frying then finishing under the grill; attempting to turn the omelette will make it sink.

Be sure that all of your utensils are dried scrupulously before use. Water will help defeat the fluffing of the whites. A tiny pinch of salt will assist in breaking down the protein chains in the whites during whipping.

Beating the yolks assures an even consistency and helps avoid pockets of overly moist or dry batter in the cake.

All the other advice is in good order.

If you would like to completely understand what is happening with your eggs, read “On Food and Cooking” by Harold McGee. It is a superb treatise on the biochemistry of food preparation.

It might be better to just crack the egg into your hand and do this, rather than lifting out the yolk from the white after it’s in a bowl. This is probably fairly safe with fresher eggs, but might ruin whatever it is you’re making with the whites if the eggs aren’t as fresh and part of the yolk escapes you.

Oh, and copper bowls and the teensiest bit of cream of tartar will help your egg whites hold a peak, but you’ll be fine without them - but it is an excuse to waste money on an expensive copper bowl if you really wanted to :slight_smile:

Make sure your eggs are at room temperature before attempting to whip the whites. This reduces the albumen’s viscosity and promotes aeration during the whipping process.

Three other secrets:

  1. Since this is for a cake, take a little bit of the sugar (since it’s only one white, maybe a tablespoon (15 ml)) - and add it to the egg white. That helps stabilize the beaten white.

  2. You get best results when whites form soft peaks - sort of looking like soft ice cream, with a nice sheen. If you beat egg whites until they’re dry, they become less flexible and dont’ give as much lift.

  3. When you fold the white in, be gentle. Here’s a great page showing how it’s done - click on the pics, they’re thumbnails.

Oh, and is generally a great website, enjoy!

I wonder how the cake turned out?

For omlettes, you can put a little milk in with the eggs, about 1/2 to 1 tablespoon per egg. Maybe not as fluffy as the egg white method, but a lot easier.

Quick way to get your eggs to room temperature: Put them in a bowl of hot tapwater. The water will cool down and the eggs will warm up until their temperatures are equal and pretty much at room temperature. Takes 10 minutes, tops.