An egg wash is usually made with about 1 tablespoon of milk, cream, or water for each large egg, or 3 parts egg to 1 part liquid.
Using an egg wash on yeast breads, pie crusts, and other baked goods can help with the browning process and makes it possible to attach seeds, grains, chopped herbs, or sugars to the crust. An egg wash can also make the difference in the appearance and texture of the crust.
Should you use a whole egg, a yolk, or just the white? Here's a handy chart with the color, texture, and shine you can expect from each type of egg wash.
|Whole Egg + Milk||Color, Shine|
|Whole Egg + Water||Soft Crust, Shine, Color|
|Egg Yolk + Milk or Cream||Soft Crust, Shine, Color|
|Egg White + Water||Firm Crust, Shine|
In addition, brushing with milk or cream alone will result in a soft crust with a little color, and water alone will help achieve a crisp crust.
Salt can help loosen egg whites. Add a pinch to an egg white for easier spreading on savory breads and rolls.
An egg wash can be applied to shaped bread or rolls before or after proofing, but always before baking. If applying after proofing, use a very light touch with the brush to avoid deflating the bread. Avoid using too much egg wash, and if it does or pool in places, carefully dab with a paper towel to absorb the excess.