Removing that eggy smell from cakes
I've been baking for not that long now and I usually peruse the web and the hundreds of books I have at home before I attempt a recipe. However there is one thing I am just not able to get down right.
Whenever a cake or something involving eggs is baked, I get a really strong eggy smell that puts me off. Even after it has cooled down, the egg smell and taste remains. But I don't notice this in cakes from stores or bakeries. I don't know what to do to neutralize this, or is it completely normal?
I use brown farm fresh eggs that aren't pumped full of stuff (at least that's what they say on the packaging).
Update: I will try to figure out what the cheap eggs taste like in the next cake that i bake. Furthermore, i will also compare with results i obtain from a new professional line oven that i am purchasing soon. One of these is the culprit, since whenever i eat baked goods elsewhere this issue is rarely experienced.
Do cakes from stores/bakeries/restaurants smell too eggy to you as well? If not, perhaps the eggs you're baking with have a stronger flavor than normal.
'farm fresh' means different things to different groups ... eg, they came straight from the farm and straight into the coolers to be sold at some later date. If you have a farm stand near you that can get you really fresh eggs, you might see if that makes an improvement, as older eggs can smell a bit more.
It is normal that eggs smell of eggs, yes. Some people are just more sensitive to certain smells than others and detect them in smaller amounts, and sometimes all people perceive a smell with equal strength, but a few will have a negative reaction to a smell commonly regarded as pleasant.
If you react with unusual aversion to the smell of baked eggs, there is nothing you can do about it. If you are indeed using standard recipes from widespread books, they probably smell OK to the general public.
There is no way to remove the smell of eggs. But you can do two things:
- avoid overcooking the eggs. When somebody finds the eggs smell unpleasant, they are usually reacting to the sulfur compounds egg proteins form under high temperatures. This is not a universal solution, because a properly baked cake has been exposed to temperatures high enough to form lots of these compounds. But in dishes which can be overcooked, such as custards or boiled eggs, less cooking is usually much better smellwise.
- choose recipes with less eggs. This will mean that you will have to restrict your cake eating habits a lot. Genoise is probably completely out of the question, but if your sensitivity also shows at pound cake and similar, then there aren't many traditional types you can bake. It is possible that whites-only or yolks-only cake types won't trigger your problem, but if both do, you will possibly have to start replacing some egg in normal recipes. Sadly, eggs are very important for the texture of a cake, which means that substitutes only work in certain types of cake (pound cake, sponge cake) and even then, the larger the proportion of substitute to egg, the worse the final texture. But it may be worth it, if it lets you enjoy cakes you wouldn't eat when made with eggs.
Update after comment
If you don't smell this in bakery cakes, there are still a few possible explanations:
- the sensitivity theory is right, and the bakeries in your area rely on some kind of product different than fresh eggs, such as powdered eggs. The processing used in industry ingredients could change eggs in some way which removes the components which cause your sensitivity. This should be easy to test: if you can eat homemade cake with fresh eggs, it is not the cause.
- the smell compound to which you react could be something entirely different from the sulfur compounds always present in eggs. You said that you are buying fresh farm eggs. But the point is that fresh heirloom products are normally much more chemically diverse than mass-produced food. It is especially noticeable in fruit and vegetables, but I guess that chickens held under less-than-optimal conditions and fed standardized food mix will produce eggs which have much less exotic trace compounds than those of chickens raised on small farms under sunlight. You could try baking with the cheapest supermarket eggs and see if this solves the problem for you.
- maybe my sensitivity theory is completely wrong, and you are indeed doing something unusual to the cake. As mentioned above, overcooking is a suspect. If your oven is hotter than the dial shows (very common), you may be consistently overcooking every single cake. Try inserting a roasting thermometer into your cake and yanking it out as soon as it reaches 90 Celsius. It might have a slightly floury taste, but at least you will know if it is the smell of overcooked egg or something else which bothers you.
The thing is, i guess i should have clarified, i don't really get this smell or this aversion to the smell when it's a cake that has been baked by someone else(usually store or bakery bought). Perhaps i'm just smelling it more because i was handling eggs throughout the baking process?
I too thought of the possibility that i may be tasting eggs that are of a higher quality only infrequently and as a result am not used to the smell. However i would add more credence to the overcooking theory of yours. My oven is not the best and the temperature, i am sure is unstable, I have no confidence in it. To overcompensate for the lack of heat it generates i usually leave what i'm baking in a few more minutes than prescribed because it usually seems undercooked.
If you don't have an oven thermometer, you can calibrate it using water (boils at 100 Celsius) and sugar (burns at 192? Celsius, search for exact temp and method online). Personally, I think the hassle is not worth it, because a thermometer is one of the most useful tools in the kitchen and it will cost somewhere between 15 Euros for a basic model and 35 for a fancy one.