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Cake recipes often call for room-temperature eggs, which incorporate into the batter more readily than cold eggs. We wondered, though, if the difference between room-temperature and cold eggs was so great that it could actually ruin a basic cake recipe.
We conducted a blind tasting of two yellow cakes: one made with room-temperature eggs, the other with eggs pulled straight from the refrigerator. The cake prepared with cold eggs produced a slightly thicker batter and took five minutes longer to bake.
The cake made with room-temperature eggs had a slightly finer, more even crumb, but the cold-egg cake was entirely acceptable. Overall, tasters strained to detect differences between the two cakes, so it’s fine to use cold eggs in most basic cake recipes.
Cold eggs can cause problems in finicky cakes—such as pound, angel food, and chiffon—that rely on air incorporated into the beaten eggs as a primary means of leavening. In these cases, we found that cold eggs didn’t whip nearly as well as room-temperature eggs and the cakes didn’t rise properly. As a result, these cakes were too dense when made with cold eggs.
Here’s our tip: To quickly warm whole cold eggs to room temperature, place them in a bowl and cover them with hot—but not boiling—tap water for five minutes. Since it is easier to separate eggs when they are cold, eggs can be separated first and allowed to warm up while the remaining ingredients are assembled. If necessary, the whites or yolks can be placed in a bowl nestled within another bowl filled with warm water to speed up the process.
MAKE IT NOW: Our recipe for Classic Pound Cake is free through October 1, 2013.