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Apr 10, 2010 10:19 PM

How many eggs should you put in a cake?

Being a novice baker, I am sometimes surprised by the amount of eggs some cake recipes ask for, such as 5 large eggs "plus" 5 egg yolks(...???)

Above example was the most extreme case I've ever seen, while most recipes call for about 2~3 large eggs.

Strange thing is, whether if you are using 5 eggs or 2 eggs, it usually yields cakes of about the same size. Since these weren't Genoise cake recipes, in this case I was guessing the eggs were more for the texture and flavor.

However, since I'm not willing to invest 10 eggs into one cake, especially with my novice baking skills, I have no idea what kind of difference 5+ eggs makes compared to 2.

Should I be using recipes with more eggs than 2~3??
I really want to know if is better to use more eggs or what kind of difference it makes.

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  1. What kind of "cake" are you talking about?

    Beaten eggs are a leavening agent as they incorporate air into the batter, which will expand in the oven and cause the cake to rise. Some cakes use beaten eggs as their only source of leavening, such as flourless cakes and tortes.

    So, it just depends on the type of cake you are making. Sometimes if you have other ingredients like flour or yeast you won't need as many eggs, other times 5 or half a dozen isn't out of the question.

    6 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      I agree, it depends on what kind of cake you're making. Angel food will use a ton of whites... whereas the average chocolate birthday cake will use 2 large eggs.

      I'd suggest checking out Bakewise by S. Corriher, or The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum at your local library - both of which are a good resource for the "why?"s that come up in baking.

      1. re: ipsedixit

        I was talking about the common "yellow cake, chocolate cake.. etc" kind of recipes.
        Like the ones you can find easily on food websites.
        (Sorry if didn't make that clear enough)

        I mentioned in the previous post, these weren't cakes like Genoise where beaten eggs are suppose to make up for all the air and volume of the cake.

        So I was wondering if the eggs contribute a lot when it comes to flavors.

        1. re: SiriusBeta

          Well, like I mentioned up above, there are many types of cakes and the type you make will determine how many eggs are used.

          Fro example, a typical yellow cake batter will call for anywhere between 6-8 large egg yolks, whereas a "white cake" batter will call for the same quantity -- but it will be for whole eggs (yolk and whites).

          Then if you look at things like chocolate cakes, a typical chocolate cake recipe will call for anywhere between 5-8 large whole eggs; while the flourless variety will sometimes require up to 10 or more whole eggs.

          But to answer your last question, eggs role in cakes isn't necessarily to contribute flavor, but more as a binding agent, which ultimately determines the texture of your cake (e.g. light and airy, or thick and dense).

          1. re: ipsedixit

            And my favourite angelfood cake calls for 18 egg whites. So 5-6 eggs doesn't really sound like that much...

            1. re: Indirect Heat

              Not to mention, how big is a bundt pan...? the one thing i see being neglected in almost all of these comments is how large a cake the recipe makes.., you can say wow, it took 2 dozen eggs, but is it a wedding cake...? A bundt pan is rather large and you need about 2 egg whites for every egg generally

        2. re: ipsedixit

          exactly, ant that is why you want to beat the eggs first and then incorporate the flour... that much beating for flour forms the gluten and makes them tough and chewy... great for bagels, not for cake

        3. Just how much do 10 eggs cost where you are??? I noticed this year that for my Easter baking, my flour, sugar and egg costs were identical. And I live in Paris, where eggs are not cheap, compared to a lot of the Western world.

          (And of course, all of the above was nothing compared to the ricotta costs, not to mention the lamb...)

          2 Replies
          1. re: tmso

            I'm from Canada,
            I can go to Costco and buy 2.5 dozen eggs for a decent price,
            can't remember how much exactly,
            but because of my previous attempts with Genoise cakes (all gone bad)
            made me more cautious when it comes to recipes with 5+ eggs.. :S

            1. re: tmso

              I'm in Southern California and I can get a dozen fresh eggs (no not free range or organic or specialty)... but regular non-expired Grade A eggs for $1.00 a dozen at the dollar store.

            2. Some cakes are leavened only with beaten egg whites. These types of recipes (often French) call for more eggs. Look in the recipe and see if it calls for baking powder or baking soda -- usually these recipes use fewer eggs, and often, more flour. The French-type recipes with more eggs produce a different-textured cake, and which kind you will prefer only you can say. I love French-style cakes with a lot of eggs and not much flour, but many people prefer American-style cakes.

              3 Replies
              1. re: visciole

                Yea... I tried Genoise cakes a few times, threw in bunch of eggs in there
                and failed all the time so far.
                I guess I didn't fold in the flour fast enough.

                I found American-style cakes that depends on baking powder/soda to be easier to make,
                and must say it didn't taste that great to me though.

                1. re: SiriusBeta

                  An American style cake that uses baking powder and soda is definitely easier to make well. If you like the denser, richer style French cakes, I find the instructions Julia Child gives in her "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" to be quite clear and helpful. I particularly like the "Reine de Saba" chocolate-almond cake, and after a try or two it's actually pretty easy to make.

                  Any cake does take some practice to make well, though. In general cakes are harder to make than cookies, bars, tea breads, etc.

                  1. re: SiriusBeta

                    Probably over beaten and formed the gluten... try cake flour or beating wayyyy less.....

                2. I made a 2-layer maple cake yesterday, using 1 whole eggs and 3 yolks. The cake had a lovely texture and crumb. I think 1 to 2 eggs per layer is pretty standard for a traditional American layer cake.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: pikawicca

                    umm... maple cake, that sounds great :)

                    by the way, did you use baking powder/soda? if yes, how much?

                    1. re: SiriusBeta

                      Recipes vary, but this one called for 1 T. baking powder. The Maple Cake recipe is currently one of the "most popular" on epicurious.

                  2. I'm not sure why you would have a problem with the quantity of eggs called for in a recipe. Its not necessarily better to use a recipe with more or less eggs (or flour, butter, sugar for that matter). Each recipe has a certain proportion of ingredients and there is no rule of thumb. The egg can be used for flavor, texture, taste, color.

                    If you use a good source for your recipes, follow the instructions and you'll generally have good results. I wouldn't discount a recipe just for the quantity of any ingredient, esp a "relatively" low cost ingredient like eggs.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: ESNY

                      I agree with ESNY wholeheartedly!

                      My advice to folks who are just starting to bake is - find a good resource, and follow the recipe precisely. Don't change anything. If it works, great! Once you start successfully making stuff from recipes successfully, then you can start to vary things. Then you'll know that the cake turned out badly because you changed the number of eggs, amount of flour, etc, not because of technique, oven temp, ingredient quality.

                      1. re: ESNY

                        I was wondering what kind of difference 5 egg cakes have compared to 2 eggs cakes,
                        such as in flavor or texture.

                        and I agree with the advice, I'll try to follow reliable recipes from now on.
                        Thankfully so far most (..but not all) recipes I've used were from professional sources,
                        from now on I'll try to only used the reliable ones.