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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.

                      2. This is from the Woman's Home Companion Cook book (1945 edition). I always thought it amusing that this book has recipes for a Two-egg Butter Cake, a Three-egg Butter Cake, a Four-egg Butter Cake and a Five-Egg butter Cake. So, the OP's query made me look...

                        In the intro to these recipes the editors write: "The richness of a butter cake depends upon the number of eggs and the amount of shortening. The Three-egg cake (or the two-egg when reduced to two 8-inch layers) is the standard butter cake, moderately rich and good for family purposes. The two-egg cake is a lean economy cake; four- and five-egg cakes are de luxe cakes for festive occassions."

                        I compared the quantities of the ingredients. The amount of flour, salt, sugar and vanilla are the same in each. However, as the eggs increase in quantity, the amount of baking powder decreases by 1/2 teaspoon per additional egg. The amount of milk also decreases. And even though "shortening" is called for (and we may presume that means butter, as per the intro, and the cakes' names) the amount increases as the eggs go up. The Two-egg cake uses 1/2 cup, whereas the 5-egg cake uses 1 1/4 cup.

                        hmmm, feel an experiment in my future....

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: clamscasino

                          well that's pretty interesting... thanks! may experiment myself... esp of interest is the increase in butter with increase in eggs...

                          1. re: clamscasino

                            wow, thanks for the great information :D
                            this was exactly the kind of answer I was looking for :D

                            1. re: SiriusBeta

                              You're very welcome, although I admit to not knowing exactly what "de luxe" means. If you would like, I can post the recipes for any of the variations.

                            2. re: clamscasino

                              Just reading over what everyone is saying here, it seems that everyone is missing the gluten or protein content in the flour and how the way you handle it changes everything... for example, a standard flour has 11-13 % protein, a pastry flour 9 and a cake flour 7. If you over stir, the cake will be tough. (the extra gluten is what makes bagels chewy for example, and just folding the wet ingredients into a muffin batter makes the muffins fluffy and moist) Most people that have used a cake mix are used to the instructions to stir 2-3 minutes, that is fine with 7%, but with 11-13, you have a yoga brick... 1-2 whole eggs is pretty standard per layer for a 2 layer 8" cake.

                            3. Elvis Presley pound cake at epicurious.com calls for seven (7) eggs! Made this cake for an Easter brunch and it was fabulous but it is definitely at the extremes in the egg requirements

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: foufou

                                whoa.. I guess those are better reserved for the holidays

                              2. In the Cake Bible, Rose Levy Barenbaum gives brilliant explanations about how each of the ingredients affect each of the cake recipes in the book. If you don't want to invest in the book, I am sure it is available in the library and that it would answer all your questions about eggs/leavening/baking powder/baking soda/ etc. It's pretty definitive, IMO

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: roxlet

                                  That sounds like a really helpful book!
                                  I'll definitely look for it, Thanks

                                  1. re: SiriusBeta

                                    Rose Levy Beranbaum also has a website you might find useful: http://www.realbakingwithrose.com/

                                  2. re: roxlet

                                    I second the suggestion to get the book. I have used mine so much that the binding has split and sections are falling out. The book is definitely worth the price - you can buy it used on Amazon for $10. I like the fact that she gives weights for everything - who the heck measure out 13 tablespoons of butter (for example) ?

                                    I make Genoise all the time, and it turns out perfectly. I use RLB's technique.

                                    I find the comment curious that no matter how many eggs you use you always have the same size of cake. For Genoise I use 4 eggs for an 8-inch cake, and 6 eggs for a 9.5-inch cake (adjusting the amounts of the rest of the stuff accordingly).