Tempering eggs isn’t easy. Even after doing it hundreds of times, I still reconsider recipes that require me to slowly drizzle scalding liquid from a heavy pot with my non-dominant hand while simultaneously whisking with the other. It’s messy, it’s hot, it’s frustrating. Luckily, you can make tempering a heck of a lot easier (and safer) with a baster.
Tempering, a process where you bring delicate eggs up to a higher temperature, is done to prevent the egg’s proteins from coagulating in visible bundles after reaching 62°C, the temperature at which eggs cook. This is all in an effort to make a rich, thick, and silky liquid. It involves consistently pouring nearly boiling liquid into a bowl of eggs while you whisk them. Puddings, curds, kaya jam, custards, Bavarian mousses, and even some soups are thickened with tempered eggs. The constant movement and thin drizzle of hot liquid prevents any one section of the egg from cooking in clumps, while the overall temperature slowly rises up to, and past, 62°C. This results in a smooth, lumpless product.
I don’t know when the last time you tried to precision pour a three pound pot of scalding milk using your weak hand was, but frankly, it can be a hot mess. You can easily miss the bowl, splash hot liquid, or simply forget how to make your hands do different things at the same time. After all the pain and tears, if you don’t whisk fast enough, you could still end up with chunky egg bits in your pudding. Some folks will use a ladle to make things easier, but it can be awkward to scoop and aim using the ladle’s long handle.
A baster, however, is the perfect tool for tempering. It’s made from heat-resistant materials, as its normal function is sucking up 150-degree juice from a roasting pan. The tube shape translates to far less spillage when compared to a ladle (especially if you grab one of the dripless basters). The small opening at the end of the baster can access the liquid all the way at the bottom of the pot, ensuring you won’t miss the bowl of eggs on the other side of the transfer. The best part, besides not burning yourself with milk, is that squeezing the balloon end is decidedly easier to coordinate than tilting a pot or ladle.
So go ahead, make pastry cream. Cook up another batch of chocolate pudding this week. Take that baster out of the drawer, and promote it to year-long use. No longer will you have to hype yourself up to face the messy business of tempering eggs.
The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans
Here are the cheapest plans available for Australia’s most popular NBN speed tier.