Giada De Laurentiis' Fruity Substitute For Egg Wash

Recipes for baked goods from pies to strudels often call for an egg wash to be brushed over top. This thin layer of beaten egg (or just egg yolks) browns in the oven and creates a shiny and crisp crust. However, you may not always have eggs on hand, or maybe you want to keep your desserts vegan. In that case, pro chef Giada De Laurentiis' favorite alternative can save the day. In a video posted on Food Network's Facebook page, De Laurentiis brushes apricot jam onto pie crust in place of egg wash.

The chef's recommendation adds a bit of extra fruity sweetness, and the sugar in the spread browns just like beaten eggs. When brushed onto a bottom layer of pie crust, instead of over top, the jam's stickiness helps the crust and filling bind together. Room-temperature jam is thick and can be hard to brush on evenly, so microwave it for a few seconds for a smoother application.

While the jam does brown well, it's much higher in sugar than an egg wash, so it's more prone to burning. If your baked goods start browning too much in the oven, just cover them with aluminum foil. Apricot jam's neutral color also won't stain your golden pie crust, like a darker fruit spread could. Put this trick to the test with our orange and almond tart recipe, and you'll never despair because you don't have an egg left over to make a wash.

Alternatives to brushing baked goods with apricot jam

Apricot might not be everyone's jam (pun intended), but peach, orange, apple, pineapple, and fig jam can all provide a similar effect and perfect golden color. Try coordinating the flavor of the jam with your dessert recipe. Orange marmalade could be delicious when brushed onto pain au chocolat, and an apple spread makes your favorite apple pie that much sweeter.

If you don't want fruity flavors in your dessert, you can use maple syrup or honey. Both of these have higher sugar contents and thicker consistencies than egg wash, so thin them out by heating them or mixing them with a bit of milk or water. Mixing the sweetener with milk can tone down the sugary flavor for a more subtle taste. Either way, these options will give you a beautiful golden crust. Just check the oven now and again to prevent excessive browning.

If you're baking savory pastries instead of sweets, save time on an egg wash by using mayonnaise, which contains eggs as well as a little oil, perfect for finishing off your shiny baked goods. The taste of the mayo is subtle enough to pair well with sweet recipes, too, but it's particularly good on top of a chicken and leek pie or savory artichoke strudel.

Apricot jam can also make fruits look prettier

In French pastry-making, apricot jam is also a popular choice for glazing fruit. When you bake an open-faced pie, the fruit filling loses its fresh appearance. Brushing the top with apricot jam after the pie has cooled restores some of the fruit's dewy sheen, and enhances the color of cooked apples, pears, and of course, apricots and peaches. 

The jammy glaze adds the same visual effect to fresh fruit that you pile onto puff pastries or a baked tart crust. It also serves as a barrier between the fruit and the outside air, keeping your desserts looking and tasting fresh. While you can use other types of jam, apricot works best due to its light color and mild taste that doesn't distract from your sweets.

There is one application where jam doesn't work as well as an egg wash: gluing pastry dough together. A dab of beaten egg is often used to seal double-crusted pies and filled pastry pockets. When the egg wash goes into the oven, its proteins stiffen up and it sets into a "glue" to hold the pastry together. When jam meets an oven, the heat can actually dissolve the thickening pectin in spread, leaving it thin and soupy rather than thick and tacky. Melted butter, aquafaba, yogurt, and mayo are all much better egg substitutes in this situation.