The Simple Ingredient Missing From Your Egg Wash

Have you ever wondered what gives those bakery counter pastries their golden brown, irresistible sheen? You know, that unmistakable look that has every crust ready for its close-up on your perfectly curated Instagram profile? The answer is simpler than you think: egg wash.

An egg wash is simply a mixture of a whisked egg with a splash of milk or water (not to be substituted with butter) before being brushed over ready-to-bake rolls, pastries, and other bread-based goodies (via Insider). It can be used for everything from topping off pastry dough to make it shine, to dredging meat so the breadcrumbs will stick, to sealing the corners of your egg rolls so the filling stays put, according to Masterclass.

When it comes to baked goods, after brushing with the egg wash, the items are put in the oven where that golden luster develops. According to Canadian Living, the thin layer of egg wash bakes at the same time as the pastry. That's what gives you the rich and irresistible color that elevates both the appearance and rich flavor of your baked goods.

Beware of using too much egg wash, though. You'll run the risk of serving pastry with a baked egg on top. That probably won't result in the picture-perfect pie you were hoping for.

But what if you're ready to make your egg wash even better? You might be leaving out one simple ingredient with the potential to bring your treats to the next level.

Head to the spice cabinet

Get ready for a new kitchen combination that goes together like peanut butter and jelly: salt and egg wash. You might think that addition sounds a little odd, but according to Cooks Illustrated, a pinch of salt helps break down the protein in eggs, thinning out your egg wash and making it easier to brush over your pastry dough.

Salt also makes your desserts taste sweeter. According to Science Focus, when a little salt is added to a dish it suppresses bitter flavors while boosting sweetness. On the flip side, more salt tampers down those sweet flavors and ramps up the savory tastes. Just like with egg wash, a little salt goes a long way. The pinch of salt you add to your egg mixture is the perfect dash of flavor enhancement to make your pastries sing.

So the next time you're getting ready to put a batch of homemade bagels in the oven or top off your apple galette, don't forget to reach for the salt when whipping up your egg wash. It'll make your life easier and more flavorful.