The blog of cooking-ez.com

Is it really necessary to cream egg yolks?


12,9104.7/5 for 3 ratings
Grade this page:

Last modified on: February 28th 2018

Is it really necessary to cream egg yolks?

Let’s try and answer a question that crops up in cookery and patisserie, even if it verges on the existential: do the egg yolks in a custard recipe really need to be beaten until pale, or not?

You might already have noticed in many recipes combining egg yolks and sugar, how they insist that these must be beaten (or “creamed”) together until pale.

For instance, in a traditional real custard (crème anglaise) or confectioner's custard (french pastry cream) recipe, you will find it comes up frequently: first you are instructed to boil the milk, then to beat the egg yolks and sugar together for a good while until the mixture turns pale. This happens as the beating incorporates air into the mixture in the form of tiny bubbles, which create the paler colour.

caster sugar + yolks creamed



Then we pour the hot milk into the mixture and mix well. Result: a liquid (milk+yolks+sugar) and, most noticeably, a lot of froth, which we don’t need, from all the bubbles created earlier.

froth on creamed yolks



This froth will drive you up the wall for the whole time you are trying to cook the custard, as it hides the surface and only disappears when the custard starts to thicken. In a word, this froth on the top is a pain!

So, what can we do about it? Well, that’s easy: it's better just to mix the egg yolks and sugar briefly with a whisk or soft spatula, then continue with the recipe. Beating the yolks for longer until pale doesn’t add anything significant to the recipe.

While we’re on the subject, here are answers to a few basic questions:

- Does beating the egg yolks until pale serve any purpose ? No.
- Will it make any difference to the texture in my recipe if the yolks are beaten or not? No (I tested this by making a confectioner’s custard without creaming the yolks: impossible to tell the difference in either taste or texture).
- Will beating the yolks or not make a difference to how the recipe tastes? No, none whatsoever.
- Will beating the yolks until pale make any real difference to my recipe? No, other than making it take longer, for nothing…

In other words, when a recipe tells you to beat the egg yolks until pale, you can quite happily dispense with this step, as it serves no useful purpose, other than wasting your time and creating annoying froth while you cook the custard.

To sum up: Is it necessary to the cream egg yolks when making a custard? The clear answer is no. In fact, it serves no purpose in the vast majority of recipes (I’ve been looking for an exception where it might be useful, but not found one).

confectioner's custard



PS: Just one slight damper on what I’ve just said, chipped in by my son Nicholas, who is a professional cook (and his dad’s pride and joy!). He tells me that he systematically creams his egg yolks because that’s how he was taught. The froth, which is admittedly annoying, disappears just as the custard is cooked, so this is a pretty good indicator that it’s time to stop the cooking. Now that makes sense…

Back to top of page

Lasts posts

Other pages you may also like

Egg yolks and caster sugar
Egg yolks and caster sugar
We often come across recipes where we need to mix egg yolks with caster sugar. This would appear to be a very ordinary and simple thing to do but, be warned, these two ingredients can behave oddly together.Let’s take confectioner's custard (crème pâtissière, or french pastry cream) as an...
9,7504.5/5 for 10 ratings
Stand mixer tools
Stand mixer tools
1: WhiskMade up of lots of thin metal wires, this is mainly intended for whipping, to liquefy, mix and, above all, incorporate air with its rapid movement. Typical examples: beating egg whites or whipping cream.So this is a tool that needs to turn at high speed, in mixtures that are very fluid,...
1,0223.8/5 for 6 ratings
What can I use for blind baking a pastry case?
What can I use for blind baking a pastry case?
When it comes to home-made desserts, tarts are always popular. They can be divided into two basic types: those cooked with their filling, such as an apricot and almond cream tart, and those where the filling is added after baking the pastry case, such as a strawberry tart or chocolate tart. For...
4,1444.3/5 for 4 ratings
A few tips for effective kneading at home
A few tips for effective kneading at home
When you have to knead dough for bread or some other recipe, you may well use a food processor or the type of machine known as a stand mixer. The best-known brands are Kenwood and KitchenAid. They are useful tools, but here are a few tips to help you get the best out of them.Let's start with...
5,063 23.7/5 for 43 ratings
The 3 essential knives
The 3 essential knives
You must have heard a chef or cook say: "There’s no good cooking without good ingredients". This is very true, of course, but for any amateur or beginner it is equipment that really counts to start with. What I mean is that you should not skimp on kitchen equipment, good utensils, a food processor...
3,398 65/5 for 2 ratings

Post your comment or question

I am not a leaving thing

Follow this page

If you are interested in this page, you can "follow" it, by entering your email address here. You will then receive a notification immediately each time the page is modified or a new comment is added. Please note that you will need to confirm this following.
I am not a leaving thing
Note: We'll never share your email with anyone else.
Alternatively: you can subscribe to the mailing list of cooling-ez.com , you will receive a e-mail for each new recipe published on the site.

Back to top of page