Bread is a staple of almost every culture, and its slightly sweet and rich flavor is only heightened by the golden crust that envelops it. Find ways to enhance the browned finish of a loaf or buns no matter its intended purpose. An egg wash is simple to prepare and leaves a golden finish. Use the yolk, the white or both to achieve the effect you want.
Egg white washes produce an appealing soft shine on breads and rolls, which is the primary purpose for their application. They also keep the crust from becoming hard during the baking process. A simple trick when preparing this wash is to mix a pinch of salt into the eggs and whisk them thoroughly before brushing the mixture to the top before baking. The salt breaks down the egg slightly, making the wash easier to spread and preventing globs.
An egg wash using only the yolk produces a darker, richer color than either whole egg or egg white glazes. The color deepens the longer that the bread is in the oven. It also adds a rich and sweet flavor to the crust. To create the glaze, whisk one part water with three parts yolk.
Whisk the yolk and egg together to create a glaze that is shiny and darkly rich in color. As with the simple egg white wash, combine the egg thoroughly with a pinch of salt before brushing it on to dough. This prevents unbecoming globs from forming on top of the dough and allows the wash to spread evenly over the prepared dough. Add a little milk to the whole egg before whisking to enhance the browning effect.
Those who are allergic to egg or are vegan may use water as a wash. While it lacks the shiny finish of an egg wash, it does result in a golden crust. A milk wash darkens the crust more than water, and cream even more so. Apply melted butter, but not before baking. Brush it on either right before or right after you remove the bread from the oven. For a truly thick and chewy crust, omit the glaze altogether.