Egg base

Egg base

By
Nick Palumbo
Contains
5 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781742705156
Photographer
Billy Law

If we could go back a few hundred years we’d find that all gelato recipes contained egg yolk … and for good reason.

Today — unless we are talking about a crème anglaise, a custard made exclusively with egg yolks, sugar, milk (and sometimes cream) and used as a base for ice cream — egg yolk in gelato is used predominantly for flavour, but in the past it was used as a source of fat, protein and as an emulsifier. It was the one magical ingredient that was used instead of cream (fat), skim milk powder (protein) and stabiliser (lecithin, found in egg yolk). It’s not that the gelato makers didn’t want to use cream, skim milk powder and stabiliser, it’s because those ingredients didn’t exist then (except cream).

Take the following recipe, which is about 350 years old:

Milk: 1 kg Sugar: 300 g Egg yolk: 200 g

Look familiar? If we add cornflour (cornstarch) to this recipe, what do we get? The pastry chefs among us would instantly recognise this as custard (or crème patissiere). And if we then added gelatine and some whipped cream? We’d have a bavarois, or bavarian cream. So we can see that the first ice creams and gelati were based on these custards from the world of patisserie.

Using eggs requires a fair amount of care. Eggs carry bacteria so it’s important to clean the outside shell in a food-grade sanitiser before cracking the egg open. If you are using a fair amount of egg yolk, you could use frozen pasteurised egg yolk, which is available from most food service companies. The advantage here is that the egg yolks have been processed in a controlled and sanitised environment (as long as you thaw them out in a fridge) and it’s a great way to save time.

If the idea of frozen eggs doesn’t appeal to you, then ensure that the eggs you use are fresh and handled properly. If you don’t have a food-grade sanitiser, wash the eggs in lightly soaped cold water and rinse well.

One last tip: If using the professional method, ensure that you select the medium pasteurisation cycle (i.e. 75°C and hold for 15 minutes), as you don’t want to run the risk of overcooking your eggs using a high pasteurisation.

Recipes in this Chapter

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