Like any finishing touch, a nice glaze can really take your baked goods to the next level. Whether you’re looking to add something a little bit sweeter to an otherwise simple pastry, or use this opportunity to introduce a whole new flavor to the mix, a glaze can be a Texas culinary arts student’s best friend. When done poorly, however, it can negatively impact the baked good you’ve spent the last couple of hours pouring your heart and soul into. Here are a few tips to make your glazes enhance your baked goods:
Know when to keep it simple
Sometimes, all your pastry needs is a simple swipe of egg wash or olive oil. These ingredients are light and easy, making some bakers feel like they’re taking the easy way out. However, if the bread – or muffin, or danish – isn’t broke, don’t fix it! If you want to sprinkle another ingredient on top, an egg wash is a great way to get things like seeds to stick to the surface, but otherwise, it can just supply you with a golden crust. To make an egg wash, just beat an egg white, then add a dash of salt and some water. If you want your bread or pastry to take on a darker color, use the whole egg instead of just the white before you bake it. Olive oil, on the other hand, will soften the crust and give your pastry a rich, savory flavor. The oil can be added before and after you bake it.
Some baked goods should be cold
A simple glaze isn’t always the best choice. Rich, decadent baked goods like cakes deserve something a little fancier, like a ganache. However, thicker glazes like this should only be used on chilled pastries. When you put a pastry like a cake in the refrigerator, you’ll notice it feels heavier and sturdier. This is the best canvas for an elaborate and heavy ganache topping. If you’re drizzling the ganache on top of the cake, make sure you move slowly. This glaze can get very messy, and you don’t want to end up adding too much to the cake, as the rich flavor can get overwhelming very quickly.
Add some sweetness
If you want to add some sweetness to any of your baked goods, a sugar glaze is exactly what you need. These glazes are so versatile, adding a little something extra to your muffins, cookies and just about anything else. Part of the reason these glazes are so popular is the fact that they’re quick and easy to make. Simply pour some powdered sugar into a bowl, some vanilla extract and milk. If you want your glaze to take on an icing-like consistency, add just enough milk to turn the mixture into a paste. If you want it to be more of a watery drizzle that’ll harden, add more milk. Add some color to the glaze with food coloring, or flavor with your favorite fruit juice, chocolate or even mint!
Add a little less sweetness
Some baked goods, like sweet breads, could benefit from a light, sweet glaze. However, using a typical sugar glaze can taste overwhelming, especially if you don’t want the bread to seem like a dessert. For a subtly sweet glaze, water down honey and brush it on a warm loaf of bread or pastry, or add a dash of honey or sugar to some warm milk to brush on the top of the pastry before you bake it.