Save Time On An Egg Wash, Reach For The Mayo Instead

For many pastry, pie, and bread recipes, the final detail of preparation before the creation goes into the oven is an egg wash, which is added to the top of the dough. The most common type is simply a beaten egg that is brushed on with a pastry brush. Many bakers have experienced the frustration of opening the fridge to grab that egg only to realize they used the last one that morning in their cheese omelet. Before you go texting your neighbors to borrow a single egg or disregard the wash altogether, consider reaching for your jar of mayonnaise.

Sure, it may seem strange initially, but when you think about it, mayonnaise is made with exactly what you need: eggs, along with a little oil and acid like vinegar or lemon juice. You can brush it on top of your pastry exactly as you would with egg, and your dough will bake up shiny and beautifully browned without a hint of mayo flavor. Just like using mayonnaise for grilled cheese sandwiches instead of butter gives a crispy result with gorgeous color, it works similarly in the oven on top of things like pie crust.

Why egg wash at all?

Applying an egg wash is typically optional, but using it to glaze your baked goods makes the final baked product look twice as appealing as not using it. The pastry has a nice shine and an appetizing appearance — and the wash usually gives the top a tissue-thin crispness that can't be achieved if you opt not to use one. If you're sprinkling raw or sanding sugar on top of your baked goods, the egg wash or mayonnaise will help it stick.

When you don't glaze, pastry still gets thoroughly baked and tastes just as it's supposed to, but it tends to have a dull, pale appearance with uneven browning and no pretty sheen. If you're baking up some scones or a pot pie for yourself, using an egg wash or not is no big deal, but if you're preparing for company, an egg wash just makes your baked good look that much more polished, professional, and appetizing. And not only does mayo make a good swap, but you won't have to deal with cleaning up raw egg and shells afterward. Simply brush some on with a pastry brush at the exact same time you would an egg wash, and you're good to go.

Other ways to glaze your pastry

Mayonnaise is just one of several substitutes you can use in place of an egg wash. Milk and heavy cream work very well, with heavy cream being arguably superior because the extra fat gives a bit more shine to the pastry. For a vegan approach, try almond milk or even coconut oil. Similarly, vegan mayo is a great sub for regular mayonnaise. You can use honey mixed with a little water to make it thinner or maple syrup to achieve a nice browned finish to the top of your pastry as well. This method will work best, though, with things that don't require a long baking time, like scones, because the sugars in these ingredients can quickly go from golden brown to burnt.

When you use a traditional egg wash, depending on the size of your pastry, you end up using a fraction of the egg, leaving you plenty of scrambled egg leftover — which you can certainly save and use for breakfast the next morning. But another perk to using mayonnaise instead is that you simply use as much as you need out of the jar, tucking the rest away for future grilled cheese sandwiches, dressings, or tuna salad.